There’s a simple $10 billion solution to school shooting tragedies

As I finish this column on the Monday after the Connecticut school shooting tragedy, I just dropped my daughter off at her school with more nervousness and trepidation than ever before. Like most people, I am filled with the sadness and sickness that comes with this horror.  And, like most parents, I am terrified by a thought too horrible to completely manifest, but one that we have all had in the last few days.  
Of course, the great “gun debate” started minutes after this tragedy.  And, it has to be part of the conversation. The idea that some common sense gun control, that doesn’t already exist, might make an incident like this one less likely is not completely out of bounds, but to think that we’re going to pass some additional regulations and magically prevent this type of evil is simply foolish.  
President Obama in his statements about Sandy Hook said “no single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.” If the actions we take are honest and based on the realities of these types of horrors, then he is right. I believe for that to happen our conversation cannot be limited to gun control alone.  
Sandy Hook and incidents like it are more of an indictment of our inability to deal with mental health issues than those of gun control. One recent study I read showed that 38 of the 61 mass shooters of the last 30 years had displayed some sign of mental health problems before their crimes. Yet, we still have laws in place that prevent schools or treating professionals from even reporting the existence of a potential violent person to law enforcement.  
Additionally, if our country continues to embrace the false security of “gun free zones” that protect no one except the evil among us then we will have failed again. It is not a coincidence that every mass shooting since 1950, with one exception, Tucson 2011, has taken place in an area where people were banned from carrying guns. This kind of policy sounds great, and makes you feel like you are doing something good, but does nothing to prevent these kinds of tragedies and may actually create obvious targets.    
What I propose as part of the conversation may strike some as extreme or a father’s knee-jerk reaction to a national tragedy.  So be it. For all the security procedures that our schools can put into place, and Sandy Hook had just enacted many of the same policies our schools have in Morgan Hill, I do not believe we can truly insulate our schools from this kind of terror.  But, for $10 billion a year, we could go a long way towards that goal. So here it is.
I want an armed police officer, or military member stationed at every school in the country.  For $10 billion a year we could put a trained, armed officer at every school, and pay them a salary of $100,000.00 a year. Too extreme? I just don’t think so. Not anymore. I know our natural inclination is that do not want to turn our schools into prisons or somehow invade our children’s innocence with the harsh reality of the real world. Sadly, I think that innocence is gone.  
To those who would say that you don’t solve the issue with “more guns” – just stop. I am not going to argue that we should not have common sense gun legislation, but the idea that a person, well-trained and armed would not have saved lives in any number of campus shootings is simply delusional. At the very least, if the evil assailant is not quickly put down by a trained professional, they might draw their fire and be equipped to handle it, unlike our vulnerable teachers and children.    
To an extent we’ve been down this road before.  We’ve had metal detectors and law enforcement stationed at certain schools to curb gang violence for years. After 9-11 we instituted a program of having armed plain clothes Air Marshalls on foreign and domestic flights. If we didn’t think having armed and trained law enforcement would help in a situation where the bad guys come with guns, then why call them during such an emergency in the first place?  I’m not talking about erecting guard towers and barbed wire fences, but something along the lines of our Air Marshall plan. A presence that our children wouldn’t even have to see, but would be ever present to protect them.
I realize this paints a horrific picture for many people, especially parents. And it’s a place where I never expected us to arrive. All I ask is that it be considered.  Because the alternative, no matter how remote, is unfathomable. At least it used to be.    
Author Jeff Nunes is an attorney at Rusconi, Foster & Thomas, APC in Morgan Hill. He is a graduate of Live Oak High School and lives in Morgan Hill with his wife and two children.

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