School Shootings: Three steps to curb them
Unlike W. Somerset Maughan, who said "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are," here are three rules for solving the school-shooting crisis in America. Fortunately, people who are sincerely interested in solving the school-shooting crisis know what they are:
1. At every school entrance, post this sign and mean it: "Gun-free Zone, except for armed faculty and security personnel."
2. Equip each entrance with a metal detector and an alert staff.
3. Invest the same money and determination in our school children that we apply to safeguarding our money in banks and in keeping armed terrorists off of airliners.
If the American taxpayers are unwilling to take these three steps, then the pitiful alternative is to make political noises about gun control which have proven time and time again to be ineffective. America’s largest cities have the nation’s most stringent gun-control measures and also the highest rates of murder and other gun-related violence.
Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction of the political noise-makers is to blame the National Rifle Association (NRA), which just happens to be our nation’s premier advocate of firearms safety and training. NRA members do not shoot people. They shoot paper targets and, in season, game animals. They also defend their homes against violent intruders. Each month, the NRA magazine has a full page of newspaper or police accounts of armed homeowners successfully defending their homes and families.
Ironically, the school-shooting and the homeless crises in America have the same roots back in the mid-1970s. During those years, and boosted by a number of decisions by the Warren Court, the anti-institution movement moved into high gear. Yes, there were some government-run mental institutions where patients were abused; however, they were in the minority. Yes, there were some nursing homes where patients were abused; however, they were in the minority.
Then, in 1975, along came the Hollywood movie, "One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest," and the anti-institution movement took off like a rocket. Hundreds of government-run mental institutions were court-ordered to shut down. Hundreds of thousands of the mentally ill were put out onto the streets. Or, dumped back into the hands of their families who had no idea of how to care for them. You can mark the upward trend in the numbers of the homeless from back then.
So, how are the growing numbers of today’s homeless related to the spike in school shootings? The court orders and statutes that were passed back in 1970s have combined to make it impossible for a person like the Parkland, Florida, shooter to be taken off the streets before he killed 14 former classmates and three teachers. Law enforcement, despite what it might learn from monitoring social media, cannot act until the perpetrator acts.
And what is the solution to that problem? This writer has no idea how to untie that legal Gordian knot. But there are three relatively simple, albeit expensive, steps to take that can safeguard our school children. Please, go back to the top of this column and read them again. It is long past time to end the gun-control bloviating and actually do something that works.
©2018. William Hamilton.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and was a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: The Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017).
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