, Gloucester, MA

January 2, 2013

Letter: Practical steps to boost school safety

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

As the story unfolded concerning the recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., I was greatly saddened about the senseless deaths and our society’s decline.

Everyone wants to help stop or minimize this from happening again. Most of us feel the pain of this tragedy and simply want it to go away.

Unfortunately, there are some who use such an incident to further their own prejudices and agendas. This does nothing for Newtown or future victims.

It is very disheartening but true that we will probably have more deplorable incidents no matter what we do since evil exists. I believe we should work to reduce the likelihood of another incident and to minimize the terrible results if it happens. But it is simply wrong to blame inanimate objects for the sick and senseless murders in Newtown. If we really want make schools safer, we have to use our heads and not our emotions. There is enough sorrow and fear generated by such an incident that we cannot afford generating additional ugliness.

The real issue is whether we can legally do anything that would reduce the chances of repeating this horrific tragedy. The first major obstacle is to realize that a “Gun Free Zone” will never stop a monster from ignoring the sign. While this may seem obvious to most why then do we have such a foolish law in the first place?

The second obstacle is to come to the realization that the police cannot be in every place all of the time to protect our children and ourselves from harm. Even a quick 911 call will not necessarily get police help as quickly as needed.

The third obstacle is realizing that restrictive laws cannot make you safe. Connecticut and Massachusetts currently have some of the strongest and most restrictive gun laws in the country. In our hearts, we know that more restrictive laws will ultimately not help either. We have thousands of laws that are ignored by the criminal and the insane.

The immediate question is how do we minimize the risk of another “Newtown” from happening in this country.

For a quick and short term solution, we should “beef up” the security in our schools through a greater police presence. The police can either visit more frequently or actually be present in larger schools. Security is routinely used by our politicians, movie stars, singers, and celebrities why not for our children? Security is used at some schools now, so why not temporarily extend that protection?

I am sure that there are many responsible teachers, administrators and school workers who are tired of allowing our schools, our children and themselves becoming victims. The qualified ones should be encouraged to become proficient in gun handling and shooting. They should be encouraged to legally carry (concealed of course) in schools.

Obviously, this would require that the “gun free zone” laws be modified or eliminated. Law abiding citizens have a Constitutional Right to defend themselves and others. When the criminal and even the insane know that a potential victim may be armed, there is no attack.

Once the “bad guys” realize that they may be stopped by a conscientious citizen when they invade a school, the risk to our children will significantly go down. This situation has overwhelmingly been proven in our states’ crime comparisons (right to carry states versus more restrictive states). The police presence in our schools could then be minimized.

If you rationally investigate the tragedy at Newtown, I believe you will see the merit in this very practical remedy.