Whether or not armed security guards should be in schools has been a debate for years but has really been brought into the limelight since the most recent tragedies of Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook. The supporters of having armed security in our school districts believe that it is a needed layer of security and helps to diminish response time if necessary while keeping children, parents and teachers feeling safer to be in school. The ones against having guns in the schools believe that we have had armed guards in schools and it did nothing to stop it.They also believe that the cost is too high while also worrying about their children’s psyche from being around loaded weapons every day. No matter which side you are on, there are great arguments for both sides that are logical as well as emotional and it is everyone’s job to listen to all of the information that is available and make their decision based on what they feel is the best choice. That choice could be one of the most important decisions that they ever make because it could mean the difference between life and death.
Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and the University of Texas at Austin were some of the most televised and the deadliest school shootings that have ever occurred in the United States. Since 1992, there have been over 387 school shootings which are way too many for the United States which poses the question, why did these tragedies happen in the first place? If we had armed security guards or a military/police presence at our institutions of development and higher learning would these tragedies have been prevented or could there have been less loss of life?
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The answer is that having an armed guard would not have prevented these attacks from individuals whose entire intention was to commit murder. Look at Columbine and Virginia Tech, both of these facilities had armed guards on their campus and it did nothing to stop the attack. The attackers observed the guards behaviors and learned their routines for patrolling and made their moves when they could get past the guards without detection.
This also raises the question is if the school is liable for the deaths of these students since they had trained professionals on site and they did nothing to stop the attack could the school be charged with negligence? So with the evidence of having two of the most brutal school shootings of all time happen while armed security was present, what makes you think that they could stop an incident somewhere else? Deciding whether or not armed security would actually stop an attack is important but so is figuring out how to pay such high costs to have these armed personnel on site to protect our children.
Most schools are struggling as it is to keep viable programs such as the arts running while also trying to keep their schools staffed with teachers and other personnel. How could they even fathom paying more money for security when they cannot even keep an art class going? The average salary for armed security guards across the country is around $55,000 per year then you have to factor in training, equipment, uniforms, and benefits so, on average a school would have to pay $100,000 per year for one security guard for their school.
Now some school districts only have a few schools but others have a lot more and they would have a hard time paying for that. Of course, a lot of people would argue that you should not put a price tag on our children’s safety but in many cases the price of their educations would diminish because less money would be spent there to be able to pay for security. Could a school district along with the parents choose to take education away from the students in order to add armed guards in the chance that something goes wrong?
Education is a key component in raising a smart, self-sufficient adult. The other factor that becomes a part of cost is having the money to pay for the lawyers and incidentals in the chance that the security guard acted inappropriately. What if there is an accidental shooting or a guard becomes over zealous in what they feel that their responsibilities are? These factors could lead to major lawsuits that the school would be responsible for by either having to represent that officer or in paying settlement and court costs for a lawsuit.
These are added costs that the majority of the schools across the United States cannot afford to take on. The safety of schools have been tested more in the recent years with news coverage of the most recent incident in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where twenty children and six staff members lost their lives. With the recent rise of school shootings it is no wonder parents are concerned for their children’s safety in schools.
Where drugs and peer pressure were once major concerns, in today’s society, we worry about our children dying in the hands of armed shooters. While there is much controversy over how to protect the future of America’s children, lawmakers are supporting a bill to allow armed guards to stand and protect our children in the school systems by creating laws to allow armed security in the schools. “The Indiana amendment's sponsor, Rep. Jim Lucas (R), said he believes mass shootings like the one in Newtown could be prevented by more firearms. ” (Resmovits, 2013).
In support of armed guards, the National Rifle Association has paid for research and found among the study’s central conclusions is that ‘‘the presence of armed security personnel adds a layer of security and diminishes response time’’ in a shooting, (Asa) Hutchinson said. (Asa Hutchinson) cited a 1997 Mississippi incident in which an assistant principal ran to his truck to retrieve a . 45-caliber semiautomatic pistol and subdued a gunman who had already shot two students (Stolberg). ” New legislation would allow armed teachers, staff members, or on-duty patrols to respond if a situation were to occur.”
“The (National Rifle Association's) model legislation would lift restrictions on guns in schools and require specific training for school employees who choose to carry guns. ” (Resmovits, 2013). In this time of uncertainty, President Barack Obama, is trying to pass stricter gun laws. “As President Obama tries to persuade a reluctant Congress to pass new gun laws, the poll found that a majority of Americans -54 percent- think gun control laws should be tightened, up markedly from a CBS News poll last April that found that only 39 percent backed stricter laws.” (Cooper and Sussman, 2013).
There is much speculation this increase could be as a result of the Newtown shooting. Meaning people are seeking security, parents are worried for their children, and there is widespread fear of a situation like Newtown ever happening again. Which brings us back to our controversial view, why is having an armed guard important? Having an armed guard might also dissuade any possible shooters from attempting to attack the school, avoiding the situation altogether. The armed guard would be a figure of authority and possible intimidation of any gunmen.
As the saying goes ‘you can’t bring a knife to a gun fight’ therefore it would be hasty to think schools can stop armed intruders with anything other than a gun itself. Usually these gunmen are suicidal and seeking attention, where they understand their outcome is death, therefore restraining is not enough. A gunman at this level would not hesitate to shoot first, regardless of who is in their way, which is why having someone on site ready to respond and taken the gunman down is an ideal solution. As a parent there is nothing more important than keeping your kids safe and the same goes for a teacher and their students.
Many parents feel that whatever a school needs to do to keep their children safe they are more than willing to agree with. Teachers feel more relaxed that they have someone there to help them in an emergency situation that can help protect the children and children feel safer knowing that they have someone to turn to when their parents are not around to protect them. Some people might argue that having a loaded gun in the school might mess with a child’s mental state because it makes them feel that guns are the only form of protection so they would prefer them not to be there.
The reality of the situation is that we live in a world that can be tragic and devastating at times and a lot of kids are forced to see things that are way beyond their years and they are circumstances that no child should have to deal with. But, the great thing about kids is that they are resilient and very smart and with the proper education could be taught about right and wrong and why they need to have armed security guards at school. It is just like explaining to your kids how to dial 911 or where in the house the smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are.
You also make your kids wear seatbelts and bike helmets to protect them so that they do not get hurt in case of an accident. Parents do these things not to scare their kids but to prepare them in case of emergencies. Children are not equipped to handle an active shooter in school nor should they ever be expected to just like you would not teach a child how to fight a fire but teaching them that this person(s) on campus are there to protect them in that small chance that someone comes into their classroom wishing to do them harm.
Parents and teachers would love nothing more than to let their children believe that the world is filled with rainbows and teddy bears but the reality is that it is not and no matter how much people try to protect children from evil you are doing them a disservice by not telling them the truth. It would be morally wrong to lie to children and to make them feel safe when there is a potential for danger. Ethically it is the responsibility as parents and teachers to teach children that there may be evil in the world but there is also a lot of good and that there are always people here to protect us.
Making a child feel safe and secure while also making the parents and teachers that are responsible for these kids is clearly more important than what it might cost or the possibility that having proper security might possibly fail. There have been too many shooting incidents in the United States but who knows the number of shootings that were prevented because a school chose to have security on campus. Proper knowledge and training is key to making sure that these security guards can do there jobs to protect the innocent.
Another option for a school that may not have the financial resources is to hire off-duty police officers to work details on there days off because this would cost a lot less and you are guaranteed to have highly trained and dedicated people willing to put their life on the line for your children. As a society why are we more willing to pay for name brand clothes for our kids then add security that can save their lives?
During a situation as horrific as an active shooter in a school is a serious issue that unfortunately is our reality today and we have to prepare that it could happen and having armed and trained security personnel on site could mean the matter between life and death and is this something we really want to chance because of money or the possibility that it is for nothing? We do not get into car accidents every day but we always make sure that are children are buckled up so why should adding security measures to schools be any different?
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