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New security unlikely to save lives in true emergency

February 12, 2013

After the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 dead, it makes sense that LZHS and schools around the country are re-evaluating their own security to prevent more tragedies. However, the new security measures at LZHS would likely not be very useful in a real emergency.

            Although it is comforting that the school wants to resolve security deficiencies, moving the security desk closer to the door and prohibiting the use of the senior doors before 7:30am would not deter an armed intruder.

            The few unarmed, physically unintimidating security guards here are little defense against someone with a firearm, regardless of which entrance or what time of day a shooter might attack.

It is, however, difficult to blame the school for the relatively ineffective security, as there is no easy solution to a nationwide problem like gun violence in schools or mass shootings. Since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, issues like gun control, bullying, and mental health have been debated as the causes of such tragedies.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) suggested after the Sandy Hook shooting that putting armed security in schools would stop any killers. At their press conference, they said “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” However, placing firearms in such close proximity to impressionable children can give them the wrong idea about the commonality of gun violence in schools, as well as give access to weapons to volatile students or teachers. Armed security guards are not very cost-effective, either.

            In a televised speech immediately after the Sandy Hook tragedy, President Barack Obama promised to use his executive power to prevent future incidents. He created a committee to discuss and propose gun control legislation led by Vice President Joe Biden, who in January suggested increased background checks to buy a gun and a ban on assault weapons. Yet, resistance remains from Republicans and gun enthusiasts citing the Second Amendment.

            As the nation is embroiled in a gun control debate, schools have struggled with questions on how to protect their students. LZHS’ new security measures were simply a reaction to the realization that schools everywhere are vulnerable to similar attacks, but the changes would not stop anyone intent on wreaking havoc.

“I think that in the face of adversity whether you’ve practiced it once or practiced it a hundred times, no situation is going to be ideal,” Ryan Rubenstein, assistant principal of facilities and activities, said. “But I would say that the procedures we have in place (not necessarily for the emergency itself, but to me almost more importantly, post-emergency) when it comes to the media circus, the immediate response from first-responders, we have plans in place and we are continually looking at those plans to evaluate what’s best. In terms of things that kids shouldn’t have to think about if there were any emergency here at school, like where we are going to take students to meet parents, where we are going to send the media; all of those different types of things, we have to take into consideration.”

            There is not much a school with a limited budget, like LZHS, can do to truly maintain the safety of its students against variables like school shootings. Until the government is able to come to an agreement, LZHS and District 95 officials must continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the current security and what new measures can be instituted that would actually assist in stopping a shooter.

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