I almost never delve into politics, but I can’t help it at this point. On Wednesday afternoon, 17 students and staff members in Parkland, Florida were gunned down by a crazed murderer, a 19-year-old kid who had been expelled from the school. As a coach who spends a lot of time in and around a high school, this hits close to home.
Our schools are under attack.
This isn’t hyperbole. It’s a fact. According to some, this was the 19th school shooting . . . of the 2018 calendar year. And it occurred on February 14, only 45 days into 2018. That’s just over two days between school shootings. If almost any other institution were under this frequent of attack, there would be significant changes taking place to security procedures. (UPDATE: The definition of “school shooting” is unclear at times, so thanks to reader Mark for sending me this LINK. The actual number of shootings during the school day appears to be lower, but is still very concerning.)
If someone walked into courthouses around the country and opened fire every two to three days, things would change. (Note: They don’t have to change, because many courthouses have security guards, metal detectors, and other safety features.)
If someone walked into an NBA arena every few days and started shooting, there would be changes. (Note: They don’t have to change, because NBA arenas have security guards, metal detectors, bag searches, and other safety features.)
This isn’t happening at malls or fast food restaurants. It’s happening where children go to school. According to the National Center for Education statistics, there are 50,700,000 students across the country, and there are 3,200,000 teachers. That’s almost 54 million people who walk into schools about 180 days per year, and they’re largely unprotected.
There are a lot of possible reasons for schools being targeted. Maybe the killers know they’ll get a lot of publicity. Maybe when someone is 19 years old and his brain isn’t fully formed yet, the thing that makes the most sense is to go after people who are roughly his own age. Maybe they know a school is a pretty soft target. But regardless of the reason, they’re aiming at schools.
So we need to do something. I don’t have all the answers, but we as a group must have it somewhere inside of us to help effect change. Some combination of the following options (or things I haven’t listed) has to make a difference:
- Take away guns
- Improve mental health treatment
- Install metal detectors
- Hire more security personnel
- Make it more difficult to purchase weapons
- Build fences around schools
- Secure school entrances
- Arm and train more school personnel
Very few problems in America have ever been so big that we haven’t been able to beat them. We’re building electric cars. We put men on the moon. We cured polio. We know how to drastically slow the progression of HIV/AIDS.
But until we see school shootings as a common enemy – like we saw the Russians and tuberculosis – we won’t take the epidemic of violence seriously enough to fix it.
Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/OFURiKxfGS
— Dianne Gallagher (@DianneG) February 15, 2018