After the horrific murders of 20 children in Connecticut, just before Christmas, the nation is engaged in an emotional and heated debate on what to do regarding gun rights and control. President Obama tasked Vice-President Biden with studying the problem and presenting suggestions by the end of this month. Politicians seeking to be seen doing something during the crisis have drafted another assault weapons ban and a standalone ban on "high capacity" magazines. NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre proposed placing armed security in schools. And, of course, the media in all its forms have pontificated on the news, bans, regulations, and the potential impact of all this on our daily lives.
Second only to the shrill debate over potential bans or a presidential executive order is the debate over placing armed security in the schools themselves.
One side derides the proposition as akin to creating a "police state" and laments that America will become an armed camp. Those who oppose providing armed security in the schools tend to favor gun bans, lists of owners, and other actions that do not actually focus attention on a potential criminal or event.
The other side of the argument wants to place the emphasis on security in and around the schools to create a truly safe environment for the children. The ideas range from using local police forces, concealed carry of weapons by staff, and local volunteers. And, while LaPierre's comments sparked outrage in some corners the truth is that the idea of armed security is very mainstream.
We provide armed security in every bank I have ever visited. We provide armed security in our airports. Armed guards escort NCAA and NFL coaches and staff on and off the field of play. You will find armed security in many retail stores, malls, shops, stores and the like. Normally these places are not the subject of mass killings.
We provide armed security to the president and his immediate family. We provide armed security to the former presidents and their families. There are supposedly 11 secret service agents guarding First Daughters Sasha and Malia Obama. If we do not object to protection for our presidents' kids the question becomes why we would object to arms in the school for the more plebian children.
School security need not be a huge burden on our communities or even the federal government. One public company, Front Sight Firearms Training, will help train school staff. A portion of a promotional email reads, "Front Sight will once again offer free firearms training to any school administrator, teachers, or full time staff members designated as school Safety Monitors. Front Sight will accept for training up to three staff members from each school, college or university. Applicants must submit a letter requesting training on school letterhead signed by the top school district official and designating the applicant as the school's Safety Monitor" (hat tip to Pundit Mike Cooper for clueing me in on this).
Other simple security solutions for our schools and public places fall into the entry-control formula used at airports. Essentially, if you don't have a connection already inside, you don't go in without further screening. Entry to schools should be handled in the parking lot, with a guided path to the office, and final vetting before allowing someone to move through the halls. If manpower permits, those visitors might even be escorted.
There are no magic bullets to the conundrum of protecting our schools and public places from violent actions by a determined person. But, proper risk management allows us to place security in the most likely avenues of approach.
It's time to get serious about protective measures in public. There is a place for an armed presence as well as prudent controls. Sasha and Malia are safe, but what about the other 92,000,000 students aged 3 to 24?