School Shootings are not Mandatory
Mass shootings are one of the biggest issues America is facing right now as a whole, however according to an FBI study on Active Shooter Situations between the years 2000 and 2013 “Educational environments were identified as the second-largest location grouping (39 [24.4%])”(United States, Congress 2000-2013, 13). While according to another FBI study on the subject over only 2016 and 2017 said “Seven of the 50 incidents happened in educational environments”(United States, Congress 2016-2017, 6), which again was the second highest among the other locations. It is also of note that these occurrences are endangering children and young adults in what should be viewed as a “safe environment” meaning it should hold more emotional value in the hearts of American citizens.
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Therefore, there must be some kind of solution to the problem, but that has been in high debate as it seems everyone has a different idea . When in fact it could just be caused by the fact no one is working together to find a solution. The various solutions include but are not limited to: mental stability, increasing gun laws, and increasing school security. However, according to the K-12 Shooting Database, shootings in schools due to ‘escalation of incident’ have risen to over 365 between 1970 and the present (Riedman, Incident by Category graph). Which is very ambiguous in its true cause. Any of these ‘escalation of incidents’ could have been caused, and solved by any of the above mentioned solutions. This also means that there is a high chance there needs to be a combination of the solutions to truly cut back on the epidemic plaguing the American School System.
Mental stability, and security is the first solution to touch on. This not only covers issues with depression, and anxiety disorders, but also issues with bullying, anger issues, and how to cope with disagreements within peer groups. Using graphs surrounding categories there are many that would require mental health rectification. These being broken down to Murder Suicide (27), Mental Health (32), Bullying (34), Anger over a grade (40), Suicide/Attempt (124), and Escalation of Dispute (367). Causes like anger over a grade are included, because it shows that the student does not know how to properly deal with the anger, which could be solved given the correct support and coaching. Increasing proper teaching and support systems in schools could greatly improve the numbers involved in school shootings, as they would have other answers to their frustrations. Children and teens with mental illnesses might not feel safe coming to teachers or other staff because teachers are not always approachable people. Asking a selection of random students at Liberty High School if they feel safe going to a staff member for mental health related problems revealed that most answered “It depends” and just simply “No”. This points out that the resources should not just be offered to students, but coaching and classes should be offered to staff as well.
Schools are one of the only government buildings without metal detectors. Places like police stations, and courthouses have them to “maintain the safety” (Belo). Schools are clearly lacking this extra, readily available layer of protection. Many places may even be considered safer than schools that probably should not be, such as concert venues and hospitals, which scan for weapons among other things before you can enter. The main source of affiliation for the shooters to the school is of course the shooter being a student, meaning that the use of better security measures would clearly cut down on these events (Riedman). The pros of metal detectors as outlined in an article by Real Time Networks are “1. Quick – Metal detectors are much faster than doing manual security checks.”, which would assist in getting students to class in a timely matter. “2. Effective – Metal Detectors can alert security professionals of well-concealed objects that may have been missed during a manual examination.” There is no way to hide something as it is a full body scan. And “3. Non-Invasive – Metal Detectors are simple and save guests from being subject to manual pat downs and security checks.In addition, you have an always-present and strong deterrent for anyone looking to bring weapons into your facility.”(Belo). The last two point out that it makes it more comfortable for anyone entering the building as having a deterrent and the comfort of a low to no touch circumstance would be more convenient. With just one change, safety for students increases exponentially.
Of course, there is also the obvious option to increase control on gun laws. Brian Duignan wrote in Gun Control in the U.S. “In the United States, mass murders committed with guns are so frequent that the vast majority of them are not even mentioned in mainstream media outlets.” (Duignan). Showing that the issue of mass shootings in general should be more public before any decisions based around gun laws are made. Many say that simply decreasing the availability to automatic weapons would serve as a solution, however once again looking at the graphs in the K-12 database handguns make up the most prevalent guns used in School situations sitting at 917 total incidents since 1970 (Riedman). In a comparison to the rest of the world in terms of gun ownership, other countries do not even come close to half of the number of guns owned per 100 people (Masters), and those countries do not have close to any problems with mass shootings.
Although the solutions proposed may seem easy to follow through on, there are of course flaws to come across. One of these things is funding for schools to enact the programs that would be of assistance to students and teachers. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, is a program designed to get teachers the proper training to identify the true warning signs of a mental illness in adolescence. In their opening article they state: “Funding would also allow school-based mental health professionals to coordinate services and supports between schools and the community mental health system.”(NAMI). Some may counter with The Mental Health in Schools Act which was a bill passed for this very reason, but at this point it is simply not enough. NAMI are for increased funding, and this program may be one of the best to access for the matter.
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Another counter would be that increasing security in schools more than they have already may not be possible without causing damages. Ken Trump with the National School Safety and Security Services expressed the opinion not to jump to knee jerk reactions as the debate ““do everything we can” versus “we don’t want to create a prison-like climate””(Trump) still has heavy traffic. Of course that is a valid opinion, however student safety should come before comfort if things such as metal detectors would even effect that. Along with this idea, the time of shootings is also debated. While most think that the majority happen after school, a graph from the K-12 database shows that more than half of the total incidents happen during school hours. Further, they happen during morning classes, which is what something like metal detectors would assist with.
Out of all of the plausible solutions the rectification of gun laws is the most controversial. This is so, because of the second amendment which states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”(Duigan). The majority of American citizens take this very seriously, as they see it as one of the parts of America that truly give citizens freedom. Many even propose that having guns makes them feel safer. However, there is a clear parallel between the permissible gun laws, and mass killings. Nowhere else in the world has such lax gun laws, and nowhere else in the world has nearly the death toll to mass shootings as America. To make matters worse, the National Rifle Association of America “typically declined to issue public statements following mass murders committed with guns.”(Britannica NRAA), and if they do say anything it is completely ignorant to the real problem such as, “that mass shootings could have been avoided or mitigated if more bystanders or victims had carried guns with which to intervene or defend themselves, and that such tragedies are simply the price that must be paid for the freedom guaranteed by the Second Amendment.” (Britannica NRAA). The lives of hundreds of children are no price to pay, when it could easily be avoided. No freedom to a violent weapon is worth 943 casualties in just two years (United States, Congress 2016-2017). Perhaps this reason could be more argumentative if the main representative was not above sacrificing innocent human lives to the violence of gun owners.
In conclusion, the three ideas proposed are in fact doable. Not only doable, but together would increase safety for students of all ages in America. If information begins to be displayed correctly to those making decisions, and people are open to woking to make safety a possibility (possibly by doing more than even the aforementioned proposals). It is clear that we may be able to end more than just school shootings but other categories of mass shootings as well.
- Belo, Matt. “15 Places Walk-Through Metal Detectors Are Being Used Today.” 15 Places Walk-Through Metal Detectors Are Being Used Today, www.realtimenetworks.com/blog/15-places-walk-through-metal-detectors-are-being-used-today.
- Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “National Rifle Association of America.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 28 Mar. 2019, www.britannica.com/topic/National-Rifle-Association-of-America.
- Duignan, Brian. “Gun Control in the U.S.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/story/gun-control-in-the-us.
- Masters, Jonathan. “U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 14 Nov. 2017, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-gun-policy-global-comparisons?gclid=CjwKCAjw7_rlBRBaEiwAc23rhm8gMAp4nY6fDgz1ol26hdNnQc5fPVwu_SVV_9xxAI1AQJgaiADAchoCCjcQAvD_BwE.
- “NAMI.” NAMI, 2019, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Public-Policy/Mental-Health-in-Schools.
- Riedman, David, et al. “School Shootings Graphs & Data.” K-12 School Shooting Database, Center For Homeland Defense and Security, www.chds.us/ssdb/category/graphs/.
- Trump, Kenneth. “School Metal Detectors.” Https://Www.schoolsecurity.org/Trends/School-Metal-Detectors/, National School Safety and Security Services , www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/school-metal-detectors/.
- United States, Congress, “Active Shooter Situations in 2016 and 2017.” Active Shooter Situations in 2016 and 2017, The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Team, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2018, p. 6.
- United States, Congress, Blaire, Pete J, and Katherine W Schweit. “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents 2000-2013.” A Study of Active Shooter Incidents 2000-2013, Texas State University, and The Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2014. file:///Users/sabrinagunion/Downloads/(U)_ActiveShooter021317_17B_WEB.PDF.
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