Lincoln County Schools are going through the same tough test that all U.S. school districts are facing: How best to respond to security concerns after the massacre in Newtown, Conn.?
Our school board is wisely moving forward with projects that would have made sense even before the tragedy, beefing up entrance security, adding more surveillance and implementing more sophisticated procedures to track who is or isn’t on campus.
While the price tag isn’t yet known, it appears likely that school administrators can put these measures in place relatively cheaply and should be able to tap into excess bond revenues to cover the full cost. That’s excellent news for taxpayers, provided the final math works out that way.
Some of the other proposed responses to the tragedy that we’re seeing around the country are far less sane. At the top of the list is a radical crackdown on gun ownership. But the culprit in Newtown did not own the guns he used. They belonged to one of his victims, his mother.
It’s too easy to blame guns for what this troubled young man did. We instead should ask whether restrict guns as a public policy solution is logical after such a crime. Anyone who commits murder is breaking the law, so presumably a law against owning a gun isn’t going to deter that person if the laws against taking a human life don’t prove sufficient.
People who commit such crimes are not rational individuals anyway. Laws intended to appeal to someone’s reason are thus of little help.
Crazed mass murderers have proven very resourceful at finding horrific ways to perpetrate evil. Those who attacked a federal building in Oklahoma used home-brewed explosives made largely from agricultural chemicals. The worst mass murderers of all used box cutters and stolen airplanes.
Preventing tragedies should focus on identifying and stopping those with ill will. The United States has been successful since 9/11 in reining in Islamic terrorists and no additional acts of foreign-sponsored terror have been carried out successfully on U.S. soil. We did not have to ban planes or box cutters. We did prevent those with known ties to terror groups from travelling freely in the United States.
The attack in Connecticut, as with previous shootings in Colorado, Arizona, Virginia and Kentucky, was the work of a person with apparent mental illness. Our society needs to do a better job of identifying such individuals early and providing them with appropriate care, just as we would anyone with a serious illness.
This may require a federal rather than a state-by-state initiative. Those who exhibit violent and uncontrollable psychoses and who resist medication or therapeutic treatment may need to be locked up permanently for their own safety and for that of society.
Yes, that might be expensive. But banning guns, living in permanent lockdowns and having armed guards everywhere is even more expensive.
As we seek for solutions, we should also step back and recognize that nothing in life is certain. More children die from random automobile accidents than from mass shootings. We can only take reasonable precautions and then pray for the best. This is the compromise of life in an imperfect world.
If we care about our children, hug them and tell them that we love them each day as we send them off to school. We can’t fully control our own futures or theirs. But let’s make the most of the present, living it fully and treasuring the time we do have with our kids. Let’s refuse to live in constant fear of the things we cannot control.