From the Braver Institute
One day last month at lunchtime, I walked into a local school.
Big deal, you may say.
I tell you it would have been a big deal if I was a psychopath bent on doing great harm to the children in that building.
As I mentioned, it was lunchtime and there were kids everywhere. I walked right in. There was no checkpoint. No metal detectors. No locked door. No guard. There was absolutely nothing to hinder me. Oh, there was a sign that read “All visitors must check in at the office.” I guess a sign like that would be enough to send a bad guy packing.
Here’s the thing that really gets me. Have you ever been to a Social Security Administration office? How about a federal courthouse? The Sault Locks? All of these places have security guards.
I have been in Social Security Administration offices where there have been three people in the whole building, and there is a guard to keep them safe. I have been in federal courtrooms where there wasn’t even a judge present. He was in another city, and he presided over the case via closed circuit TV. At least the guards were keeping that camera system out of harm’s way.
Our tax dollars are being used to keep these federal installations safe. We have no choice in the matter. To me it seems a little silly to have guards at the Sault Locks, standing at a little turnstile checking IDs, making sure nothing bad happens to our precious shipping channel, yet we have no one guarding our children.
It seems to me that if terrorists were hell-bent on destroying the locks they would certainly have the ability to take out a couple of security guards. But a guard or two at our schools would do much to keep out people who seek to do our children harm, especially if there were a security door system in place. All visitors would go through this door. A security guard, behind security glass, would check the visitor in. After the visitor is cleared, then and only then would the second door open.
You may say that this is a little extreme; that it would cost too much to do. I ask: What exactly is the value of one child? Is it not worth doing if one child is saved? We have no choice in the matter of having security guards at federal buildings, we should have no choice but to post a guard at our schools.
The world is not going to change. Things are going to get worse. People who would do harm to our children will continue to slip through the cracks of the system. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we are doing something about it with some silly debate about how many bullets a gun can have in it, as if less bullets, or no bullets at all, would stop those who would do our children harm from attaining their goal. Remember Timothy McVeigh? He managed to kill 168 people without firing a single bullet. He used fertilizer and fuel oil.
Another enemy we have in our fight to keep our kids safe is a twenty-four-hour news media culture.
Thirty years ago these people would have gotten a sixty-second mention among all of the other events of the world somewhere in the evening news. These days killers get programming devoted to them and their evil deeds all day, all night, all week, all month, almost until the next psycho steps up to steal the spotlight. It then becomes a contest for these people to see who can outdo the last.
As far as controlling the bad guys goes, we must do one of two things. Either we find some way to keep them off of the streets (which would be impossible since we don’t know who they all are) or we eliminate the ability for these people to get close enough to do harm to our children.
Perhaps protecting our schools is a role for the National Guard. I know that these brave men and women give an awful lot in service to our country already, but is protection of our children not the single most important reason for any protection at all?
How safe is too safe? Exactly how much is too much to spend to keep our children safe? Hiring security for our schools seems like a very small price to pay indeed.
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Note from Waye: I write this column well ahead of deadline. Because of Christmas, this week’s column was written early last week for a Friday deadline. I was more than a little surprised when I heard what Wayne LaPierre of the NRA suggests we do to keep our kids safe. I just want to be on the record as stating that I did not just take what he said and make it my own. I wrote this week’s column before the NRA made any kind of statement. While our positions are very similar, I want to be clear that I do not take marching orders from the NRA or anyone else. I think for myself.