America is once again reeling from yet another deadly mass shooting. The victims at Santa Fe High School were taken from us too soon, and the prayers of Texas and the nation are with their families. There is something especially haunting about a killer targeting a school, where parents send their children on the assumption that they will be safe as they learn. Experience is a hard teacher, and with 2018’s second major school shooting behind us, its lesson is clear: We must secure our schools.
All over the country, schools lack security measures of any consequence — not enough armed personnel, few safety protocols and insufficient entryway monitoring. No federal government agency, airport or congressional office building would tolerate such vulnerability, so why the resistance to outfitting schools with the same level of security?
American policymakers should look to Israel for guidance. Living constantly with the threat of terrorism, Israel solved the problem of school security long ago by hardening the target and tightening security practices. Every school with 100 or more students has at least one well-trained armed guard stationed at entrances to monitor who comes and goes.
These guards operate under the auspices of the Israel Police and undergo rigorous training every four months. Roughly 40% of applicants fail the training test, ensuring that only the cream of the crop defend the schools.
Israel also rigorously trains students on how to respond in case of a crisis. We should continue to increase our efforts to do the same. We already require students to participate periodically in fire drills. But the last school fire that killed 10 or more was in 1958.
We do need to train and arm capable teachers and resource officers inside schools. In the Santa Fe shooting, resource officer John Barnes heroically engaged the shooter. He was seriously wounded, and while he did not successfully bring the shooter down, who knows how many lives Barnes may have saved while diverting the shooter’s attention from the defenseless?
Recent news reports detail other incidents where school resource officers stopped potential shooters before they could inflict extensive damage.
Even so, arming resource officers and teachers must be viewed as a last line of defense. We must stop killers outside the school, as in Israel. Here’s what we should do:
►Districts should post trained and capable armed guards outside as well as inside schools.
►They should also consider reducing the number of entrances to the building, so these guards can monitor traffic.
►Where feasible, schools could install metal detectors to ensure that nobody can sneak a weapon onto campus.
►Classroom doors must be made more secure against an attack. Classrooms should be equipped with the means to barricade these doors.
School shootings are a matter of seconds and minutes: Precious moments of delay could be enough to stop a shooter.
After so many tragedies, we should consider everything to protect schools, not waste our time with futile and unconstitutional new gun control. The Santa Fe shooter, who had also built operational bombs, was apparently ready to kill using any means necessary, with guns or without.
Moreover, not even the most avid mainstream gun-control proponents have proposed banning the guns he used: a shotgun and a revolver. Whatever one thinks of the Second Amendment, even repealing it wouldn’t erase the roughly 300 million guns already in the country — it would simply disarm the law-abiding. In other words, nothing of practical use — only cheap political points — can come from muddying the waters with more gun control propaganda.
After 9/11, we didn’t ban box cutters; we prevented passengers from carrying box cutters onboard planes by ramping up security at the airport itself — hardening the target. We should apply the same principle to our schools and spare no expense in doing so. What could possibly be more important?
Nothing is foolproof. No policy proposal will work 100% of the time, nor will it eradicate evil men intent on wanton destruction. There is a deep-seated cultural decay — fatherless children, degradation of human life across society, widespread moral confusion, etc. — at the root of this issue, and politics alone cannot repair it. But we owe it to our children to at least ensure their safety while at school. Israel has done it, and so can we.