Three days after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, I walked through the unlocked door of my children’s elementary school and no one tried to stop me.
There was no new security, no buzz-in system, no anxious principal hovering near the exits and inspecting ID. As teachers shepherded their classes to the gym and library, none of them stopped and asked me who I was or why I was there. Everyone treated it as if it was a normal day, because it was.
The murder of 20 children and six adults is heartbreaking. I spent most of the week after Sandy Hook grabbing my children for random hugs, most especially my six-year-old, Naomi.
What happened there, however, should not in any way lead to increased “security” measures at any school anywhere. There is nothing any elementary school can do to prevent shootings such as the one that happened at Sandy Hook.
After any tragedy, it’s normal for society to ask what could have been done to prevent it from happening. While I think there are a lot of things both this country and the United States can do to prevent gun violence, locking down a school is not one of them.
Sandy Hook itself proves that. The school had a security system that required visitors to be buzzed in after 9:30 a.m. According to news sources, the shooter arrived at 9:35 and simply shot his way through the door.
Unless we start installing bulletproof glass in schools, none of these security systems will ever be able to prevent a determined gunman.
About that bulletproof glass: Some school boards in the U.S. are actually talking about doing that. They can’t pay teachers what they’re worth, but they’re magically going to find enough money to protect kids as if they’re ambassadors in Afghanistan? Sure.
Others have argued the principal should have been armed, and then could have killed the shooter.
Columbine High School had armed guards, according to American anti-violence think-tank the Violence Policy Center. The guards shot at the two gunmen but were unable to stop them.
I live on a military base, where at least one person in every home knows how to shoot a semi-automatic and has a certain comfort level with weapons. The military is obsessive about gun safety and protocol. I think most of the parents in our neighbourhood would be in an uproar if we knew there was a firearm, loaded or unloaded, in the elementary school. Kids do stupid things.
In the end, it all comes down to statistics and tenacity. Statistically, the most dangerous thing your child will ever do is ride in your car, truck or minivan, properly buckled, less than a kilometre from your home. Yet we don’t stop taking our kids in the car. We take reasonable safety precautions and continue on to skating lessons and soccer practice.
Statistically, at least 99.99 per cent of children in North America will never witness a school shooting. So why should we behave as if this situation is imminent? Why should we lock up our kids in school as if it is a prison?
As for tenacity: We must live. We must continue, despite the evil, the twisted, or the sick who would do this. We must continue to live, and we must let our kids live.
I commend my local school board and our neighbourhood school for its calm, logical, confident response, which has been to change nothing.
© Copyright 2013