Letter to the Editor: Safe Schools

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Editor:

I have given a bit of thought regarding school security, especially since the Parkland, FL school shooting. I had attended the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado post high school. One of the women I dated there, Cindy C. went into law enforcement in Public Safety Dispatch. Later she had become the Jefferson County S.O’s head dispatcher when the Columbine High School shooting went down. Years after she related a lot of details that weren’t common knowledge that that situation taught law enforcement. Cindy, post Columbine has traveled and lectured extensively on this topic.

Another situation I remember from the news some years ago was an anti-Semitic gunman shot up a Jewish Synagogue in California, killing several people. That sort of incident has never reached the news as having happened again, having a repeat, similar incident. The Jewish community realizes that even though their Synagogues are houses of worship and historically in the past 50 years ‘guns don’t go to church.’ The Jewish community was an easy, unarmed, target. The Jewish community has adapted and now hires visibly armed guards. Low life, knot-heads know this and don’t attempt to gun down Jewish worshipers at synagogue. You readily think twice about going somewhere and shooting up a church or synagogue when you know that there will be someone there shooting back, shooting back for effect.

Schools today are houses of learning. There are elements that want to keep guns and the implied gun violence out of school. The paradigm must shift and adapt to today’s realities.

My proposal is to install a 4 digit, spring loaded, lock box /gun-safe storage device for a single, side arm and magazines, bolted to the top of every teacher’s desk in every school room and in the school’s primary receptionist’s desk in visible, prominently display and readily reachable but safe and secure from students.

If a receptionist, a teacher or staff is willing to assume the responsibility of having a gun in the safe bolted to their desk then the school or the school district should underwrite the training, and practice ammunition for gun proficiency.  Preferably would be personal ownership of the gun by the person who is in close proximity to their gun safe. Enable this policy and practice as opposed to the traditional, keep guns out and ignore the current paradigm.

The key concept would be that there might be, or could be a gun in every room. Not that there would be a-gun in every room. This would create a tremendous element of uncertainty in a perpetrator that the area-school could have someone shooting back.

Some teachers from an idealistic standpoint are absolute opposed to the presence of any type of gun. In today’s reality this has to change. This proposed program would not force a teacher to participate and have a gun in their class room. This program would encourage teachers with guns to bring and safely store their weapons in a secure but be in a readily accessible manner.

Comments from one of the USUE’s Campus Security was that young students, particularly teenage males, will fuss with the security code until they get the box-gun safe open. This is true and not deniable. I can envision a program where every student knows what the lock box is for that is bolted to the top of the teacher’s desk. Students would have to be trained and disciplined to not touch – try to open it. If a student accidentally touches the box then that is one thing, but if a student actively tries to open the lock box – gun safe then stepped discipline begins: First time, verbal warning, Second time, written warning, Third offense letter or note in file and temporary suspension. For repeat offenders, if the preceding does not work and effect positive change – no more tampering, the offender  would then be charged with attempted possession of a fire arm by a juvenile and prosecuted through the Juvenile Court system for a gun offense. This would also entail the offender being denied lawful possession of any fire arm until they were 21 years of age.

Discussing this idea with the Price City Police Dept. Sargent, he commented that what he did not want to see was teachers having concealed weapon carry permits and becoming lax about securing their firearm. Specifically he mentioned that women with conceal carry typically have their firearm in their purse and then leave their purse hanging on their chairs. This creates a dangerous practice and could lead to more problems. My idea would be to have the firearm in a lock box – finger operated, number code opened, gun safe readily accessible in an emergency.

I discussed this proposal with one of the teacher’s aides, Ms. T, at my foster granddaughter’s Head Start class. She readily agreed to the idea of a secure, visible, readily accessible, lock box. We discussed the practice concerning women leaving their weapons in their purse. Ms. T informed me that school policy (probably district wide) is that personal belonging like a purse are required to be locked in a closet during school. I then mentioned that in an emergency you would be shaken up and then fumbling to find and insert the correct key to get to a weapon.

Note: the news has reported that time from the first shot fired at a school shooting to being over and done with is three minutes. Columbine High School nineteen years ago this month was the first and was exception to this three minute pattern.

This is the sort of thing that we can play “what if games” all day long with but the principle would be: a lock box – gun safe visible in every class room. Students and the public would know that there might be or might not be a gun inside. Who has a gun and training would be no one’s business except possibly a superintendent level administrator.

There has been a bit of discussion in the news regarding having more resource officers in schools, hiring unemployed ex-military service personnel. This would achieve a visible deterrent, much like the armed guards at Jewish Synagogues. This would, in the long run be very expensive. An employee, receiving wages and benefits runs in the $50-$90K/yr. range. A lockbox – gun safe maybe $200, conceal carry and specialized school training maybe $50- $150, both of these would be onetime expenses, presuming the teacher already owns a suitable hand gun, allowance for practice ammunition $1200/year. This all adds up to less than a couple of weeks of salary that the additional personnel would cost.

A friend, Joy, when I broached this idea said absolutely not, some of her teachers had been so mad at her in school that they had wanted to kill her. Giving a teacher a gun and life or death would be anathema. I could see some problems, in this area. I would propose a stiffer conceal, carry, with school application training. Anyone in training that exhibits undesirable demeanor would be quietly asked to drop the course and then not be recommended – approved for bringing a firearm into their schoolroom desk lockbox –gun safe. However who did pass and who did not pass would be only known to the superintendent level administrator.

For this type program to work every desk in every room, and on the school receptionist’s desk would be need to equipped with a lock box – gun safe.

Thank you,

Jim Darter
Spring Glen, Utah.

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