Conservatives have been challenged to discuss and present solutions in the wake of yet another slaughter of the innocents by gunfire at the hands of disturbed individuals.
While nothing, and I do mean nothing, will stop any killer who is smart enough and careful enough to plan a specific attack on specific individuals, there are a few common-sense, stop-gap measures that can and should be put into place to stop and prevent further attacks in these so-called “gun-free zones” that have actually become little more than target rich killing fields.
In Columbia County, if I rent any public-owned space and the attendance is expect to be more than just a handful of people, I am required to have a certified police officer on the premises. By rule, the larger the crowd, the larger the contingent of officers on hand.
So how many officers are required on the premises of any of the county’s elementary schools? That would be zero.
Currently, school resource officers are shared between middle and elementary schools, but even that arrangement is based on the whim of the current political leadership, and it could change or be eliminated completely at any time. I say we need at least one, and likely two or more, armed officers at every public school in the country, and we need them now.
Two recent out of town trips by plane put me and my family up close and personal with more TSA officers than I can even begin to estimate. Four or five in Augusta, about two dozen each in Dallas and Baltimore, and way more than that in Atlanta. I have no problem with 99 percent of these folks, and I appreciate their diligence in the face of largely angry, frustrated and occasionally disrespectful and disruptive travelers. No one is ever happy to be screened by airport security, yet we have legions of these officers in place all over the world.
So with all the massive security in force at airports, why do we seem to skimp on security in the one location where more of our most precious possessions are stockpiled in large numbers than anywhere else? It makes not one damn bit of sense, and it needs to change.
As far as others on campus who might be able to help in such a situation, I say get out of their way. In the column I wrote for the Spirit the week after the Columbine massacre, I questioned how safe my second grade daughter was sitting in her little bitty desk at National Hills Elementary School. As I learned, there was no officer on duty at the school (at the time) and guns, as always, are completely banned. Just out of curiosity I contacted the only male I knew who worked on campus, Principal Harry Hamm. I asked him if he knew of any of his staff who had military or law enforcement training, and he told me there was one person who actually had Green Beret training. It happened to be Hamm himself.
I asked him if he would have a gun on campus if he was allowed by law to have one, and he said, “You better believe it!”
Obviously, such a dangerous tool would be kept under lock and key (preferably a combination lock), just like a fire axe or acidic drain cleaner. But who in their right mind can attempt to articulate an argument that a man trusted to be an elementary school principal, who was a combat war veteran with Green Beret training, is not to be trusted with access to a locked away gun on school grounds?
For that matter, who can debate that the state should offer defensive firearms training to any and all certified personnel who meet the qualifications to have access to that locked gun cabinet if and when the time for action arrives?
People seem to have forgotten we have already had one local experience with an armed nutcase intent on killing innocent school kids. In September 1988 it was Jamie Wilson pulling the trigger at the Oakland Elementary School in Greenwood, S.C.
What stopped him? A phys-ed teacher named Kat Finkbeiner, who despite being shot in the hand and the face, managed to fight the 19-year-old gunman until other personnel were able to take him down. twenty-four years later, Wilson remains on death row for the murder of two eight-year-old students that day.
Seven children and two teachers were hit. No one ever shot back.
Give educators such as Harry Hamm and Kat Finkbeiner the ability to respond if ever engaged, and maybe these rampages will begin to end. At the very least, they will be far shorter in duration and body count.
Arm every teacher? That is impractical. Give trained and certified personnel the ability to respond to armed attacks in kind, and the bloodshed will be reduced. You Might Also Like:
Common Sense and an Ounce of Prevention Needed in Wake of Madness
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