Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013 5:33:59 PM
In September, I started teaching at the elementary school my four daughters attended when they were growing up. The opportunity presented itself and, being an empty nester with time on my hands, I jumped right on it. I have to say that, even before the most recent event, the thought of some psycho walking into the school with a gun had a place in the back of my mind. Following the Newtown incident, the thought has taken more of an up-front position. I also have to say that I have no idea what the answer is. I have no idea how to stop this madness.
Our district has taken steps towards making some changes, one of which involves putting an SRO officer at all schools instead of just the high schools. The first week following the shooting in Newtown, all elementary schools in our county had police officers on site. The mayor of the north area decided that they were going to make this a permanent situation. He is now under attack from various individuals as well as a group or two who are saying things like, “Having more guns is sending a mixed message.” I disagree.
The week that an officer was housed at our school, everyone felt safe and secure. The students did not mind one bit having him there. He was friendly, kind and took time to answer questions and make suggestions. Our students are taught that police officers are the good guys. The fact that he carries a gun did not send any sort of mixed messages or make faculty or students or parents feel threatened or afraid. On the contrary, everyone felt something akin to carefree.
I’m not sure how having guns in the hands of the good guys is a mixed message. If that is true, isn’t it a mixed message that police officers carry guns while on patrol? While walking their beats? While making arrests? Come on people. It’s a sad state of affairs that we live in a time when a major concern is the safety of our school children. But the fact is, this IS a concern. It IS a reality.
Personally, I believe that the mental health issues that need to be addressed will have a much greater effect on this problem than gun control. If we stopped allowing guns right now- the manufacturing/selling/owning/whatever of all of them---there would still be millions (at the very least) of guns and access to them. If someone wants to get a gun, that someone will be able to do so. Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at what makes someone want not only to access that gun but also to hurt and kill innocent children.
No, I don’t have the answers. But, until there are answers, I don’t mind having an officer on campus. A little peace of mind does make a difference. A visible, armed police officer does act as a deterrent.