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Saturday, 03 March 2018 08:32

What CAN we do: Mass Shootings Featured

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The question of allowing trained personnel to have access to firearms in schools should not be the outrageous non-starter that anti-gun activists assert. It's an issue at least worth debating among reasonable measures to halt the senseless mass death inflicted by shooters armed with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.


The gun debate for too long has been stalled by intransigence. The moment one side offers an incremental solution, the other side quickly dismisses it as unworkable. The result is that no changes are made, the mass killings continue, and the gun lobby emerges victorious. One issue that won't go away is what to do in those crucial few minutes when an active shooter is on the loose in a school but police have yet to arrive.


So far, those favoring sharp curtailment of gun rights have instantly rejected the idea of arming school personnel, yet they have offered no viable response plan when an active shooter is slaughtering kids. President Donald Trump fumbled and bumbled his way through an effort to articulate why guns in schools might work in response to the Feb. 14 high school massacre in Parkland, Fla.


Speaking at a White House forum last week that included parents and colleagues of Parkland's victims, Trump called for arming up to 20 percent of teachers, citing the "deterrent value."


There is no deterrent value to putting guns in schools. Suicidal maniacs with assault rifles and high-capacity magazines have a death wish. Nikolas Cruz, the gunman in the Parkland shooting, is an outlier as a survivor. Most shooters will take their own lives if police don't do it for them.


Even if a ban on assault rifles occurred tomorrow, 5 million to 10 million AR-15 type assault rifles would still be in circulation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates. It's not a question of if but when another school mass shooting will occur.


What's the plan for that?


A program enacted in Texas in 2013 allows schools to apply for a highly restrictive program in which a volunteer staffer undergoes extensive police training as a school marshal. The staffer must pass a thorough background check and complete 80 hours of training. An estimated 172 of Texas' 1,023 school districts participate.


Similar to an air marshal on a commercial airliner, the school marshal's identity is secret, known only by the top administrator and police. The weapon must stay hidden, locked and secured but within quick access.


This is not the gun-crazy idea that critics suggest, nor is it a golden solution to mass shootings. It's a reasonable, incremental plan to minimize casualties in those crucial minutes before the police arrive.


The fire-stoking rhetoric is getting us nowhere. Let's give serious thought to serious solutions.

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