As another school year ends, the reflection is not on the dance, the prom, the sports or school pride, but on violence. Gone are the days of cheering when school is out for the sake of summer, now the cheers are for the sake of safety.
If we count only students killed in school shootings up through and including the Santa Fe High School shooting of May 18, 2018, we tally the following figures:
January 23, 2018: 2 students killed at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky.
February 14, 2018: 14 students (and 3 staff members) killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
March 7, 2018: 1 student killed at Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama.
March 20, 2018: 1 student killed at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland.
May 18, 2018: 8 students (and 2 teachers) killed at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.
These incidents total 26 students killed in school shootings up through the cutoff date, with another five adults who were also fatally shot, but not included in this tally. (As of May 22,2018, the Post article also referenced five school shootings that left 31 people dead but stated that 27 rather than 26 students had been killed. We do not yet know the source of this discrepancy.)
Although, I do not believe God has anything to do with this madness; I do believe He will use it if we allow Him to do so. Look at where we were a few, not so many decades ago when we attended parent-teacher meetings to stay abreast of what was going on in our school systems. These were the days when parents used their voices and votes to steer the school board. These were the days when it was just understood we needed to protect our children.
The question arose whether I thought taking prayer out of school plays a role in school violence; I have a bit more clarity about the answer today than I did when the question was posed. There is no way we have the power to ever remove God from anything. He is everywhere and wherever there is anyone who acknowledges Him; He is always there. The laws regarding prayer and faith could never dictate my heart. I strongly believe parents are as much spiritually responsible for bringing their children up and they are physically.
Now for the rant: What can we do to prepare for the next school year? How do we strategized with our school districts to create the “village” of protection for our kids? Everyone has an inkling of an idea of a plan, but it seems there are no real solid answers.
I have heard quite a few that do not solve the problem i.e.
- Arm the teachers: We could do that, and with students knowing teachers have guns how safe would your child feel with that situation? Where would these guns be kept? Who would make sure they are not accessible to the children? I do not see this as solving the problem.
- Hire more security guards: A plus, but who will pay for them? People are already complaining about taxes. Some parents may not object, but for those who are not parents the question would arise why should I have to pay more taxes when I have no children in the school district?
- Lock Down: Excellent idea keep the children barred for their protection. Just make sure you are prepared to deal with the mental and emotional impact that has. The school shootings happened in the schools.
- Security Check Points: Sounds good! Make sure there are enough personnel to cover the 100,000 schools in the United States which hosts approximately 15 million high schoolers. Again, who is footing the bill and how long will this take to cover all schools?
Before I tell you what my ideas are, I did a bit of research on this matter globally as well as statewide. Here is what I discovered:
According to the “Experts” this is the profile of a shooter: Family dysfunction, Lack of Supervision, Younger Age Person(s), School Bullying, Notoriety (copy-cat behaviors), Injustice Collector (pay-back), Mental Illness and Video Games.
Between 1982 and 2017, it is reported by Sky News that 92 of the 95 shootings were done by males and the other three involved females. Most shooters are white males. USA TODAY
It is interesting to note not every country is experiencing what we are here in the United States. Some countries are well ahead of the U.S. in protecting its citizens. To be fair, we will examine our constitution regarding the “right to bare arms.”
Gun ownership in the United States is rooted in the Second Amendment of the Constitution: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
However, the right is not unlimited. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld some firearms restrictions, such as bans on concealed weapons and on the possession of certain types of weapons, as well as prohibitions against the sale of guns to certain categories of people.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits persons under eighteen-years of age, convicted criminals, the mentally disabled, dishonorably discharged military personnel, and others from purchasing firearms. In 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act mandated background checks for all unlicensed persons purchasing a firearm from a federally authorized dealer.
At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court has rolled back certain gun laws. In 2008, the court struck down a Washington, DC, law that banned handguns.
Now, let me highlight a few countries that got down to business when tragedy happened in schools:
Canada: Firearms in Canada are divided into three classes: non-restricted weapons, such as ordinary rifles and shotguns; restricted, such as handguns and semiautomatic rifles/shotguns; and prohibited, such as automatic weapons. It is illegal to own a fully automatic weapon unless it was registered before 1978.
Changes to the law in 1995 required individuals to obtain a license to buy guns and ammunition, as well as register all firearms. However, in 2012, the requirement to register non-restricted guns was dropped, and related public records were expunged.
Australia: The National Agreement on Firearms all but prohibited automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles, mandated licensing and registration, and instituted a temporary gun buyback program that took some 650,000 assault weapons (about one-sixth of the national stock) out of public circulation. Among other things, the law also required licensees to demonstrate a “genuine need” for a particular type of gun and take a firearm safety course. After another high-profile shooting in Melbourne in 2002, Australia’s handgun laws were tightened as well. Many analysts say these measures have been highly effective, citing declining gun death rates and the absence of gun-related mass killings in Australia since 1996.
Israel: The country has relatively strict gun regulations, including an assault-weapons ban and a requirement to register ownership with the government. To become licensed, an applicant must be an Israeli citizen or a permanent resident, be at least twenty-one-years-old, and speak at least some Hebrew, among other qualifications. Applicants must also show genuine cause to carry a firearm, such as self-defense or hunting.
Norway: A gun-related tragedy in the Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996 prompted Britain’s strictest gun laws yet. A man armed with four handguns shot and killed sixteen schoolchildren and one adult before committing suicide in the country’s worst mass shooting to date. The incident sparked a public campaign known as the Snowdrop Petition, which helped drive legislation banning handguns, with few exceptions. The government also instituted a temporary gun buyback program, which many credit with taking tens of thousands of illegal or unwanted guns out of supply.
And finally Japan: Under Japan’s firearm and sword law, the only guns permitted are shotguns, air guns, guns with specific research or industrial purposes, or those used for competitions. However, before access to these specialty weapons is granted, one must obtain formal instruction and pass a battery of written, mental, and drug tests and a rigorous background check. Furthermore, owners must inform the authorities of how their weapons and ammunition are stored and provide their firearms for annual inspection.
Some analysts link Japan’s aversion to firearms with its demilitarization in the aftermath of World War II. Others say that because the overall crime rate in the country is so low, most Japanese see no need for firearms.
We are such a proud nation however I think it is time to put pride aside and ask for help. Look into what Japan is doing and see if it will work for us. Whatever we need to do to keep our children safe including removing semi-automatics from the streets should be done.
State laws vary, and you should know your state’s gun laws. For complete coverage of your state check out http://lawcenter.giffords.org/search-gun-law-by-state/
- Community and Law Enforcement Cohesiveness Campaigns Across America:
Engage every community agency especially your local churches, chamber members and the general populace in prayer rituals for protection monthly. During this time have open conversations about fears and freedom. Allow children to participate. Have programs dedicated to reaching children afterschool and during summer months. Revise Girl and Boys organizations to stay connected with community children. Keep the focus on God, Family, Church and Community. Engage law enforcement on every level with programs to come into churches and schools to talk to kids about their fears and how to stay safe.
We are the United States of America and as long as we stay united we cannot fail.
God Bless America and God Bless the people of the world to make this world a safer one for our children. We are the true Child Protective Services.