Protect school children from the outside

Friday, March 09, 2018

There seems to be something sadly wrong with the ideas being floated to harden school safety even more from the inside, especially that of arming teachers. As schools become more and more walled off from society with metal detectors, locked doors, bars on the windows, armed security guards, etc., we are increasing the fear factor for students and parents and making schools places that are less conducive to learning and less connected with their communities.

It was not too long ago that schools were open buildings where students did not have the fear of being killed. This change is not due to anything the schools have done, rather it has been the lack of laws to keep up with the changing gun environment and the types of guns that are readily available today. Forty years ago, AR-15s and the like were not readily available for the casual teenager to buy and go on a shooting rampage. So the real question is why are they today?

Why have laws that fail to foresee, and prevent, the issue of unfettered access to high powered weaponry? The Second Amendment did not address the issue of semi-automatic weapons. How could they have? Instead, the Constitution is designed so that changes in society can be addressed as needed.

We have needed this issue addressed for many years now, and we have been sorely let down by the politicians. Of course, schools do have to tackle many fundamental security issues these days, and locked doors and security guards are the norm, but we must not do this without also protecting students, and all of society, from the outside as well.

As a society we need to address the problem, that of wide and unrestricted availability of highly destructive modern weaponry. We need simple gun laws that allow for legitimate gun ownership by responsible adults, while reducing the likelihood of irresponsible gun access. That means strict gun license laws with gun licenses earned through taking gun safety education classes and exams. That means thorough background checks. That means age restrictions on high-powered weapons. That means laws that guns must be locked up in safes or have trigger locks. That means gun registration laws. That means closing the private and gun show selling loopholes.

I have also never understood why the NRA is not a proponent of reasonable gun regulations. Having these in place would protect responsible gun owners and make the NRA a proponent of gun safety, and not as they seem to be, a proponent of allowing mass murder.

Thankfully, Massachusetts has adopted many sane gun laws. It’s time for the federal government to step up and do the same. The majority of gun owners are responsible and non-violent, and their ability to own guns must be protected. But no person nor group, not even the NRA, should object to laws that protect owners’ rights while doing more to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have access to weapons of mass destruction.

Steven Howland

Shelburne Falls