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December 20, 2012
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Guest column: Why school security must change

There’s an old saying that defines insanity as the process of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Of course, we use words like “insane” to describe gunmen who spray their innocent victims with multiple rounds of ammunition. In their twisted little world, active shooters continue to carry out the same old plan that they’ve been using over and over again for years. The problem is that instead of expecting different results, they expect the same results — and they get them.

Meanwhile, victims and their families pay the same heavy price because schools continue to offer up little to no change in their security measures. Whether it is cost concerns or complacency, school officials seem to expect different results from the same old past security failures.

In all fairness, some schools have installed metal detectors and now have only a few entrances that lead inside after a screening process. The problem is that none of these security precautions will stop an armed gunman loaded with firepower and bent on destruction.

School officials claim that they learn something new from every shooting and make necessary improvements in their security measures, but the evidence shows that armed gunmen are able to walk onto school campuses 15 years after Columbine and still not have to think twice about their murderous tirade being foiled by anyone.

In fact, Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., had just implemented new security measures earlier in the year, and we saw the unfortunate results of those measures (or lack thereof). Worse is that Sandy Hook officials never dreamed of employing armed personnel to patrol their halls.

For years, school and law enforcement officials have touted how security measures have greatly improved since Columbine; but how exactly has it improved? How can we call it improvement if shooters can still walk onto a campus armed to the teeth and not be immediately shot down?

What’s more telling is that recent active shooters have equipped themselves with body armor as if expecting a gunfight from the opposition, but in the end it’s their own firearm that ends up taking their life. This is a sad indictment against the evolution of school security.

America has yet to see a school shooting foiled because of somebody armed on a school campus. The main reason for this is because campuses all across America are under a gross misconception that firearms in the hands of many law-abiding citizens are more dangerous than firearms in the hands of a few criminals.

Many people believe the notion that metal detectors, locked doors and foul language will deter any future attacks. But the only sure way to keep future gunmen from successfully repeating the same carnage is by schools doing something completely different than what they’ve been doing.

Some suggest that a ban on assault rifles and handguns might cure our problem, but there is no reason to take away the rights of every American for the sins of a few. In cases of human security, it’s necessary to fight fire with fire, and it’s high time that schools begin to recognize this fact.

Allowing teachers and administrative staff to be armed is a start. Providing armed security on school campuses is even better. There are plenty of law-abiding citizens who can provide armed security on school campuses across America. Local police departments should also increase their patrol checks during school hours, and it is to be hoped future grants will allow for the hiring of more law enforcement personnel to specifically patrol campuses.

People may argue that this approach sounds irresponsible, primitive or even costly. But quite honestly, there are little if any other options available besides homeschooling. Waiting until dozens of children lie dead on a classroom floor before we decide to implement armed security is the worst thing we can do.

First of all, school shootings rarely if ever happen in the same place twice, which means extra security in those places ends up being a dog and pony show in order to calm community nerves.

Secondly, if we wait to add armed personnel until after tragedy strikes, then the message we are sending to our kids and teachers is that they are only worth the cost of protection after some of them have paid the ultimate price.

If something is not done immediately, sooner or later school officials will grow more and more complacent and think that their textbook security procedures will be enough to save students and faculty from impending doom. Sadly, the day will come again when yet another armed psycho arrayed in body armor and bullets comes waltzing into a classroom and sends dozens to their death.

We must ask ourselves: How much do we value our children and our teachers? Aren’t their lives worth the increased cost of security and protection? I think we all know the answer to that.

Sam King of Coquille is a reserve police officer in Coos County and an undergraduate student at American Military University majoring in Security Management. He can be reached at

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The News-Review Updated Dec 20, 2012 04:30PM Published Jan 2, 2013 04:58PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.