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Opinion

Schools need security force

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October 20, 2006

Do you trust school principals, teachers and custodians with concealed weapons on school grounds? Wisconsin Rep. Frank Lasee does, and he thinks the rest of us should too.

Although I do understand that Lasee is using a shock-factor tactic to make us think of lesser alternatives, there are so many things that can go wrong with putting guns in schools. The issue shouldn’t be whether or not we put guns in schools, but how to keep guns out of schools.

At first Lasee was saying that teachers should basically have the guns in their desks for whenever they need them. Later he said the guns would be locked up in the school so they wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. I wonder what the chances that the armed “bad guy” will be near where the school guns are kept so that a staff member can say “Hold on a sec,” and run to get a school gun? I don’t think it’s very likely.

Let’s say a student brought a gun to school with the intent to kill, and a school official had a gun in their hands — do you think they’d be able to shoot little Johnny before he shot them first?

Under normal circumstances, the staff member may be a perfect shot, but under pressure they might miss and either hit someone else or the bullet may ricochet off a locker and hit an innocent bystander.

We need to identify and counsel these troubled students before this happens. It’s difficult to profile and identify troubled students, but maybe that is something we should spend more time on. Although categorizing students isn’t a good idea — especially if other students find out that Johnny is on the “most likely to shoot up the school” list — it is a good thing for staff to know about so they can report odd behavior or conversations they may notice
I’m not saying all “troubled” students are dangerous. In fact, I used to be a “troubled” student when I was in high school. What I am saying is that we should have more outreach programs for students, and we need to educate the parents on gun safety in their homes.

Parents need to realize that no matter how bad of a neighborhood they may be in, they shouldn’t leave an unlocked gun around the house. If you need to have a gun in your bedroom, use a trigger lock and have the key on a string around your neck at all times, even when you sleep. Also, hide it in a place that little Johnny can’t reach, and most importantly, doesn’t know about!

We also need to keep random people out of schools. Two of the recent shootings were middle-aged men who came into the schools with guns. As for the one in the public school, he shouldn’t have been able to get past the front hallway. Maybe schools should invest in silent alarm buttons around the school (like the bank ones in the movies), such as under teachers’ desks and the hall monitors’ desks, which would alert the police that their assistance is needed.

I propose that instead of having school staff carrying around loaded guns, we should have school police officers roaming the halls and the perimeter of all schools. An armed police officer would deter Johnny from bringing a gun to school more than a staff member whom he’s known for years with a gun locked up in a safe in the school office.

Nicole Aune is a student at UW-River Falls.