Since Nothing Else Works, Arm the Principals
For three days now, I’ve done my best to avoid coverage of the tragedy in Newtown. Stories like this, as horrific as they are, sadly are becoming all too familiar. In fact, the coverage is almost formulaic:
Photos of survivors running from the school
Interviews with concerned parents
Press conferences with the police identifying victims and the murderer
School pictures of the murdered kids
Pictures of the murderer, along with stories about how he was a loner in need of psychological help
Then the eulogies
Then, finally, the tiny coffins and grieving parents behind them
Also formulaic is the response from politicians and pundits. Clamor for more gun control, clamor for better treatment of mentally ill. In the end, it doesn’t ease anyone’s suffering. It doesn’t prevent future suffering.
Indeed, the cold, hard reality, as painful as it may be to admit in times like these, is this
Guns are not going to go away no matter how tough the laws are
Crazy people are not going away no matter how great the treatment programs are
Mass killings are not going away no matter how stringent the gun control laws are and no matter how great our mental health programs are. If some crazy wants to get into a school and kill people, he’s going to succeed.
Worst of all, and most difficult: this wasn’t the first, it won’t be the last, and, someday somewhere, there will be a worse one.
What we have learned, however, is that programs at the school worked – to a certain extent. Split second decisions to lock down the school and hide the kids were effective, assuming the reports we’ve heard are true. In other words, the only things that really have been proven to work in terms of meaningful protection (or prevention) is found at the school itself. With that simple fact, I offer this simple, yet admittedly incomplete, recommendation: allow principals to have loaded shotguns at the schools, train them in their use, and prepare them for the worst. When seconds count, it is, sadly, about the only thing that could make any meaningful difference. Yes, explore our mental health programs and explore ways to ensure the imbalanced don’t get access to weapons, but, in the end, there’s really only one way to end (not prevent) these murderous rampages.
Just like 9/11 made air marshals out of all of us, so, too, should this tragedy make every teacher a sheriff and every principal a marksman.