IF A PAGE of history is worth a volume of logic, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once noted, then a couple of paragraphs from a newspaper is worth a volume of legal theory. Case in point: The latest, as of this writing, mass shooting.
This time it was in California. (Unless another has happened since deadline.) A dozen people were killed. And all of California’s gun laws didn’t stop the suspect.
California has banned assault weapons. It regulates ammunition sales. It has red-flag laws. It outlawed large magazines for guns. What law would have prevented this latest shooting? Or the next?
A wise-acre might say that a law excising the Second Amendment from the U.S. Constitution would do the trick, but it wouldn’t. Even if 3/4 of the states agreed to such a thing—a big if—how take all guns off the streets? There are more guns in this country than people in it. Such an effort would take a generation, maybe two.
But there is another way to approach the problem. And, believe it or not, it involves the law.
THIS NATION’S schools have long been Soft Targets, and the crazies know it. We remember writing editorials back in the 1990s, immediately after Columbine, pleading for more security at schools, including video cameras and better locks on school doors. We got letters. Many complained that we can’t turn our schools into prisons!
Go to a school today. If you can walk into a classroom without a key or a security guard asking for identification, then somebody has made a mistake. What was an outrage in 1999 is common sense in 2018. Or should be.
The same types who clutched their pearls when it came to locked doors complain today about armed security on campuses. More guns are not the answer! They rarely explain how armed security is very much the answer at football and basketball games. For some reason, cops are needed to protect our kids gathered on Friday nights, but not that morning.
The governor’s commission on safety in the schools has wrapped up business, bless every member on it. The governor will now decide what to do with its recommendations. The other day, the final report was issued, and there seemed to be a lot of good suggestions. Something about updating school and district online profiles—so emergency workers know the layout of the campuses. Something about providing safety options when designing buildings. Something about a school bus safety initiative.
“This is going to be a report that’s going to have a big impact,” said the commission’s chairman. “This is something that can really, really help make a difference.”
But the most controversial part of these recommendations, and the part made public months ago, is certainly the part about having armed folks on campus. The commission has recommended that no school should be without an armed presence when class is in session, or during major extracurricular activities. And as controversial as it is, it will still almost certainly be the most effective recommendation.
When cops are available, sure, use cops. But there are certain school districts, certain campuses, that are rural, and might not be able to afford police officers, even if inside a city’s boundaries. Those campuses should have the option of arming a few volunteers on campus, whether a vice principal or English teacher—if those volunteers can pass a battery of background checks and training classes.
There will be those who will complain, Governor. Then again, they complained about locks and cameras.
If a law can make our schools a little safer, then by all means put these recommendations into law. And let’s do so soonest. Before the next crazy ignores two dozen other laws and that No Guns Allowed On Campus sign near the front parking lot.