In a country awash with guns, how Americans try to keep students safe
METAL DETECTORS AND SAFE ROOMS
Since they can’t put the brakes on the proliferation of firearms – there are more than 400 million in circulation in the United States – many schools are instead tightening their security.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), 97 per cent of schools already control access to their buildings, and 57 per cent to their grounds.
But, as the massacres continue, some are fortifying their campuses. A study reported on by the New York Times last year showed schools are spending billions of dollars each year to increase security against mass shootings.
Metal detectors are increasingly popular. Nearly 15 per cent of high schools and 10 per cent of middle schools are equipped with them, according to the NCES.
And each tragedy begets more: After a six-year-old shot his teacher in Virginia in January, school authorities in Newport News county decided to fit all their schools with them.
More than 90 per cent of schools have installed surveillance cameras, while others have sophisticated alarm systems.
Some schools in Arkansas and Alabama have even begun installing armored “safe rooms” where students can take cover in case of either tornadoes or gunfire.
Experts and parents have long debated the effect such security measures have on children.
Stacie Wilford, a 41-year-old nurse whose daughter attends school not far from where the Nashville shooting took place, said that on Monday the institution emailed all parents informing them that classroom doors will now be locked during classes.
“She said, ‘Mommy I’m going to be afraid to go to the bathroom at my school’,” Wilford told AFP of her daughter. “So, it’s a lot.”
ARMING SCHOOL STAFF
With each new attack on children, some gun advocates push the highly controversial suggestion that school staff to be armed, arguing that it presents a deterrent.
Chuck Chadwick, a security executive in Texas, lamented on CBS that the Nashville academy, like most private schools, did not have an armed guard.
“It’s like the board doesn’t want any guns on campus and that’s great until something happens,” he said.
Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn wanted to recruit retired military and police officers and deploy them to schools across the country.
The gun lobby Gun Owners of America went further: “Armed teachers are a 100 per cent effective deterrent!” it said after the Nashville killings.
Florida passed a bill in 2019 allowing its teachers to carry guns in classrooms, after yet another massacre the year before.
Those against such a move have long warned that it places an undue burden on teachers, that having more guns on campus increases the risk of someone getting hurt, and that there is no guarantee that the move would stop would-be shooters.