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December 19, 2012
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Guest column: We need to find a realistic way to prevent school shootings

The recent school shooting tragedy has shocked and saddened all of us.

While we mourn the deaths, we wonder how someone could be so depraved as to deliberately take the lives of innocent children. We also seek to find realistic ways to prevent these tragedies from reccurring.

Politicians and the anti-gun crowd are, as usual, quick to respond to tragedies like this with their usual illogical, hysterical and emotionally based anti-gun rants. This knee-jerk liberal outburst in reaction to gun violence merely gives anti-gun advocates a springboard for gun-control advocacy. It also gives them a moment in the spotlight in which they can appear to offer “the solution” and make themselves feel good, as well as politicizing the issue at the expense of real solutions. They seem more interested in pursuing their agenda. This is not just detrimental to finding real solutions; it is abhorrent, as it allows more of these tragedies to happen. These victims deserve better than to be used to pursue a wrongful and self-serving agenda that does nothing to address the issue.

We already have an abundance of gun laws, some good, and some bad. One thing has become clear, and that is that outright bans on guns and restricting people’s Second Amendment rights are not the solution. (Just look at the crime rate in Washington, D.C., and Chicago). The police, despite their best efforts, normally arrive after the crime has been committed, as was true this week. Disarming law-abiding citizens merely makes for more easy targets for the bad guys. We must stop trying to confront this problem with emotionally driven, liberal solutions and instead use tactics that work. To do otherwise is to invite more tragedies. Gun-free zones do not make crime-free zones. Evil people exist and will always find ways to accomplish their goals. One day after the shootings in Connecticut, a man in Beijing stabbed 22 primary school students with a knife. Unconscionable acts of violence have been committed throughout history without the use of guns. That’s why as Americans engage in yet another round of debates over the issue, it’s important that one thing in particular is not overlooked: the role of evil.

Many of the shooters involved in mass shootings (incidents involving four or more people) have had serious mental health issues. We once used to hospitalize people diagnosed with mental disorders, so they could be treated and monitored in a secure environment. Now we release them into society and tell them to take their medication. Laws have been changed such that the mentally ill cannot be hospitalized until they’ve already attacked someone. A New York Times study found that at least half the killers in 100 rampage attacks showed signs of serious mental health problems; 48 killers were formally diagnosed with mental illness, often schizophrenia.

Our schools in their role of in loco parentis have a high degree of responsibility to take every reasonable precaution to protect our children, and I believe they do try. However, in the area of protection against the type of violence we have just seen, more needs to be done. My suggestion is to make it difficult for a person to enter the individual classroom and make each room a “safe room,” hardening the doors and door locks, much as has been done with the cockpit access doors on commercial airlines. The administration areas should also be hardened and an intruder alert system implemented that would immediately send an alarm out to go into lockdown mode in seconds. As a secondary measure, having one or more school officials trained, equipped (including body armor) and able to offer an immediate armed response to a threat, would save lives. I know it would have in this case, since the perpetrator was not skilled in firearms.

While we all mourn the loss of these innocents, could we please work together to find realistic solutions based on common sense and not emotional and politically driven agendas? Please remember all those families who have lost loved ones and children in this tragedy.

David Sayers of Roseburg has degrees in business administration and criminal justice. He has been involved in law enforcement and the military. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and has more than 50 years of experience with firearms. He can be reached at davidsayers70@gmail.com.

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The News-Review Updated Dec 19, 2012 08:27AM Published Dec 31, 2012 12:24PM Copyright 2012 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.