We must take all steps to keep kids safe

Each time a mass shooting occurs in one of this nation’s school buildings, renewed cries go out demanding increased gun control or new legislation imposing new limits on Americans’ rights to purchase and own weapons.

“Government will protect us, if only we had more gun-control laws,” these opponents of the Second Amendment argue.

But as more details roll out from the horrific massacre Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, what becomes increasingly more clear instead is how our government failed us.

There was a failure of school security, including an on-duty sheriff’s deputy who remained outside during the shooting spree, refusing to enter the building to confront the teenaged killer. There also was a failure of the FBI who dropped the ball on tips and reports involving the accused killer, former student Nikolas Cruz, that could have headed off the attack.

There also was an apparent breakdown of any attempts to fortify the school against dangers. We know this now because a police report indicates that Cruz, 19, arrived at school by Uber, and simply walked into the school with a bulletproof vest, hauling a black duffel bag carrying weapons and a black backpack hiding extra ammunition.

Within a minute there were gunshots.

We also know that Cruz’s history of mental illness and threats posted on social media probably should have kept him from legally purchasing the weapons he owned and allegedly used in the Feb. 14 carnage.

And aren’t most schools already designated “gun-free zones?”

So when clues are there, but they are ignored; and gun background check laws already exist, but apparently aren’t followed; or guns already legally banned from schools still make it inside, why do we think that newer, stricter gun laws are going to protect our kids any better?

Have our strict drug laws halted drug use in our nation, after all?

We believe that fortifying schools with improved security, locked exterior doors, metal detectors scanning all who enter and, yes, even arming teachers and administrators who choose to be, are efforts that more likely will keep our kids safe.

Many local school districts, including Warren City Schools and Austintown Local Schools, keep armed police in the buildings. They screen visitors and late arrivals. No one may gain entry to the building without first being buzzed in. Warren City School District possesses metal detectors that, while they aren’t used every day, can be implemented in special circumstances.

Now, some might argue against routine metal detector screenings at the doors of our school buildings. But we ask why is it OK to screen passengers boarding an aircraft or crowds entering a Major League Baseball game, but we avoid similar efforts to protect the lives of those who are most precious?

Many new school buildings in Trumbull and Mahoning counties also have been constructed with bulletproof glass, safe rooms and buzzers and intercom systems to screen visitors. Windows are labeled with room numbers, visible from the outside, to enable police to pinpoint the exact location of intruders in our childrens’ classrooms.

Are these unnecessary costs? Is it wrong to take steps to ensure our schools are safe havens? Of course not! And for those who argue that schools should not feel like prisons, let us remind you that prisons are intended to lock bad people inside. Fortresses, however, are intended to keep bad people outside.

Sadly, this was the sixth school shooting resulting in injuries this year and the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.

The National Association of School Resource Officers opposes allowing firearms on school campuses except those carried by carefully selected, specially trained police officers. The organization provides specialized training for law enforcement officers assigned to work in our nation’s schools.

But let us remind you of this: There was an armed, uniformed officer outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. When the shooting began, he did not go inside.

President Donald Trump believes highly trained and armed teachers would act as a deterrent to attackers. We agree. If teachers or administrators wish to be trained and carry a weapon, we believe they should have the right.

Why impose limits when it comes to keeping our kids safe?