Let’s not wait for another shooting to start implementing school safety measures


Gerald Herbert/AP

A picture taken of a memorial created after a school shooting

My 10-year-old cousin is very talkative, and she loves singing and acting. She’s a very happy kid, and she’s very young. A couple of weeks ago, at the middle school she will go to next year, a student brought a gun to school.

This was shocking to me. I’ve seen countless news stories and read even more articles just like this one about other incidents with a gun at a school, but hearing of this case felt different.

It was a new type of wake-up call—the kind we all need to hear before it’s too late because that’s exactly how action to combat the danger of gun violence has come about: a wake-up call because of a tragedy. Let’s not wait for these tragedies to happen again. Once is enough, but now, it’s been far more than that.

At one such school, Holman Middle School, a gun incident brought about reactive action: Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell promised the implementation of programs to discourage youth violence and security measures such as metal detectors and increased surveillance.

Let’s not wait for these tragedies to happen again. Once is enough, but now, it’s been far more than that.

This is exactly the kind of action we need to see in order to prevent firearms from entering schools, but we need to see this happen proactively rather than reactively. If these measures were already in place, the student might not have brought the gun at all. While this situation was de-escalated in a timely manner, the same cannot be said for many other occurrences.

At an elementary school in Virginia, a six-year-old boy was rumored to have a gun, but school officials didn’t take the necessary action, and a teacher was shot.

Since then, this school has also taken more precautions, and more recently, authorities were able to quickly handle a shooting threat from another student there. This is the proactive, preventive action we need.

Similarly, it is also crucial to have disciplinary action that works with students to ensure that they aren’t inclined to pick up a gun. This goes for all children who have a gun, and therefore a risk, in their home. According to Harvard Health, this is the case for one in three children, and a vast majority of them know where the gun is. To add to that, children as young as three years old have the strength to pull the trigger.

So, no kid is “too young.” Ensuring safety means also ensuring that those who have a licensed weapon are the only ones who are handling and using it. Yes, it may seem like a good idea to ensure protection for children who may be home alone, but at the same time, there are many other things, even ordinary items, that can be used instead.

These alternatives won’t pose the same threat guns do to schools’ safety. And, ensuring that students, who account for half of the number of school shooters, don’t have access to a firearm they are not licensed to have is going to help the number of school shootings go down.

Proactive, preventive disciplinary action from schools and parents alike is the answer; it works to stop school shootings before they happen rather than after. Then, the number of shootings will go down. Then, and only then, will kids like my cousin, kids like me, kids all across the U.S., be safe.