Safety First for Students and Schools

by Sean Flynn

Inland Empire residents know from painful experience that America faces an unacceptable level of gun violence. Whether at a holiday party in San Bernardino or a high school in Palmdale, far more needs to be done to prevent these horrific tragedies.

As we discuss our options, I would like to point out that there are at least five common-sense solutions that can be enacted immediately to help safeguard students and schools from yet another school shooting.

A key problem is that students and schools have been left defenseless.  It wasn’t always like that. When I was growing up in the 1980s and attending junior high and high school in the gang-plagued Los Angeles Unified School District, we had metal detectors to stop students from bringing weapons (both knives and guns) onto campus.  It worked, and metal detectors are something that we now as a society embrace at airports, concerts, and government buildings.

We need to place metal detectors in schools once again. Nobody should be able to walk casually onto campus with a firearm and shoot children.

Let’s also embrace more recent prevention technologies.  Consider the electronic door locks that the Chaffey Joint Union School District just installed at each of its schools.  Every principal in the district now has a mobile app that allows them to lock down their entire campus in just eight seconds if there’s an emergency.

Another proven lifesaver is acoustical gunshot location.  These cost-effective systems can detect when firearms have been discharged, tell authorities the location within 10 feet, and indicate if multiple shooters are present.

San Francisco credits this technology with helping to reduce both gun crime and homicides by fifty percent over the past 10 years. It’s time to have this technology at every school.

Here’s another safety measure: The schools I attended back in the 1980s had police officers patrolling the halls and walking the perimeter. They were some of the nicest adults I ever met, but their purpose was simple and meaningful: If anyone tried to harm me, they would stop them…dead if necessary.

Society also needs to reconsider how it deals with people who are prone to violence and mentally ill.  It’s time to have a serious talk about the best ways of restricting potential predators from gaining access to firearms.  Both of those debates will be heated, but both sides should consider a new type of restraining order that can deny firearms to potential shooters.

It’s called a Gun Violence Restraining Order and it allows family members and others who are close to a disturbed individual to present evidence to a local judge who can then issue a 21-day restraining order that allows the police to temporarily deny weapons to the disturbed individual.  This is a sensible safeguard that strikes an appropriate balance between public safety and Second Amendment rights.  Gun Violence Restraining Order are available in California now.

We also need more high school counselors.  I suggest we have two per school, one male and one female.  The counselors’ job is to discover and help the lonely, chronically disturbed kid or the ones who are struggling with bullying, depression, or anxiety.

Another step is to deny fame to school shooters. We know that “getting famous” is a major motive for many shooters.  So I would like to ask our news media to voluntarily refrain from broadcasting the names and images of school shooters.  We currently use this model for rape victims and for children under 18 years old.  We can do the same with these killers. We must deny them the saturated media coverage that they crave.

The best defense is the one that’s never used.  But we are in a crisis and have to take steps to get ahead of these incidents.  My suggestions are proven, practical, and cost effective. I hope we can implement them as soon as possible.  Our children must be protected.

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