Opinion: Pass sensible gun safety regulations, says long-time educator
To the Editor:
One of my representatives in Congress has proposed a bill to deal with school shootings that focuses on “hardening” our schools. I write this letter with over thirty years of experience as an educator. I was a fifth grade teacher during the horrific Columbine shooting in 1999. When innocent children were gunned down at Sandy Hook, I was a superintendent. I was mentoring future principals when violence visited a high school in Parkland, Florida, and supervising student teachers when the nightmare at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde happened recently.Following the Columbine tragedy, schools responded by radically changing their safety protocols. Today if you attempt to visit schools, you will find the doors locked. You will need to “buzz” a receptionist, look into a camera and state your purpose for visiting. Most schools now have bulletproof glass on the ground level and automatic locks on classroom doors. Lockdown drills are practiced regularly with students hiding in a corner out of sight. Each time I had to walk down hallways as a superintendent after announcing, “LOCKDOWN, LOCKDOWN, LOCKDOWN!”, I had a lump in my throat. It was always astonishing how quickly a school district turned from a vibrant place of learning to what appeared to be a ghost town.
Those drills often brought to mind my own experience as a student during the1960’s, when children were trained to dive under their desks and cover their heads to survive a possible nuclear attack. Those “duck and cover” drills were just as naïve as the speculation today that a School Resource Officer can stop a person in full body armor with a high-capacity assault weapon from slaughtering innocent people. Those drills gave me nightmares as a child. No doubt today’s children have sleepless nights as well.
So instead of proposing legislation to “harden” schools that already are, wouldn’t it be wise to instead pass sensible gun safety regulations? Consider FOX News’ recent poll: 88% favor background checks, 82% favor age 21 to purchase an assault rifle, 81% favor Red Flag Laws, and 63% favor a ban on assault weapons. I encourage my Congressional representative to meet with educators to ask what would really help to reduce gun violence and also to publicly debate her opponent for the midterm elections so her constituents can clearly assess who they want to cast their vote for this November.