By Thomas Schwiebert
There will always be a division between the master and the novice; the student and the teacher; the superior and the subordinate. Yet recently, common ground has been attained between Storm students and teachers over one concern: survival.
One of the unifying issues among both teachers and students is the ongoing problem of school safety. Hardly a week passes without news of mass shootings, and schools around the US are taking the matter of security into their own hands. As the 2019 school year kicks off we’re seeing the Storm implement new security measures, including an extra set of locking doors, and student ID cards.
The desired function of the newly designed entrance would occur as such: the moment the tardy bell rings the doors automatically lock. The only entrance into the building would be the three massive doors that funnel the student body into the attendance office. Once inside the intimidating fortress, you are either required to show your student ID or acquire a visitor pass.
At first glance this seems like a bulletproof solution, but there are some major flaws in this new system. A vast majority of school shooters are students, according to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at NPS. Since students are let into the building, this whole system is completely ineffective against the primary threat of a school shooting: a student with a gun.
The student body is not oblivious to this fatal error. In fact, this issue acts as the grounds for much of the general outrage around the doors. Sophomore Max Sulivan expressed his disdain for this flawed system
“I don’t think the staff really think the doors are going to solve anything and the student body doesn’t either,” Sulivan said “I think we all understand that the school has no other option but to do something about the security of the school.”
Another major criticism is that when it comes to preventing school shootings a better use of those funds is to hire more counselors. Yet, an unfortunate misconception has been made by Storm students on what the function of the new doors and lanyard system is. Neither were ever intended to stop a school shooting, leading to a fatal flaw in our oppositions.
Principal McDonald suggested that the district began the implementation of the third door for a reason most of us overlooked.
“I think it was a concern that we had too many ways to get in and out of the building, we didn’t know who was coming in,” McDonald said.
These new security measures are more for managing the student body in a tighter and more controlled manner than they are for school shooting prevention.
One such administrative benefit is that the freshmen have an ID color that is in stark contrast to the others, allowing the administration to easily manage their comings and goings, especially at lunchtime.
If these measures are ultimately ineffective, what can we do to thwart a school shooting? Regrettably, schools are largely at the mercy of the United States Federal Government, who have been mostly inactive when it comes to school shootings prevention.
Even small efforts to enforce restrictions on gun sales have been shot down by President Trump. On Feb. 27th, the House passed a bill to impose universal background checks on both private and commercial gun sales. Even though the Bill was overwhelmingly positive with a 240 to 190 vote, Trump stated that he had every intention of vetoing the bill. This is potentially disastrous as with current gun laws, once a distressed or mentally ill person has thoughts of violence, there is little in place to stop that person from acquiring a firearm.
The separate but related discussion about the global mental health epidemic may be vital in this fight against school violence. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 60% of gun deaths are suicides, some of which occur in schools.
Despite this, the school has made significant efforts to increase security beyond just the doors and lanyards. McDonald explained the detailed and rigorous process for vetting adults in the building.
“If you’re an adult, you have to show your driver’s license, that runs you through a criminal background check, and you get a sticker that gives you legitimacy while you’re on campus,” principal McDonald said, “If you come up on one of the many search databases and are a person of concern, then the system will notify us, and you won’t be allowed in the building.” While it is a dismal prospect that our school has little power to prevent school shootings beyond these deeply flawed systems, we are not without hope.
The problem of school shootings is thoroughly rooted in many aspects of our society including a fractured perspective of mental health and loose gun laws.
It is our civic duty to participate in ongoing dialogues with our school district, support safer regulations, and be aware of the barriers inhibiting our community from resolving mental health issues.
Until and unless we see significant reforms the insufficient laws and culture around weapons, security systems like the doors and lanyards will continue to appear in our lives and our futures will continue to be at the hands of unwavering politicians.