Whether a single child is injured or there are multiple fatalities, school violence is entirely unacceptable. No student should fear for their life or watch their peers die within the halls of our educational institutions. Unfortunately, no matter how much I despise modern America’s current mindset – her moral decay, decadent culture and glorified lack of respect for human life – there are no easy answers. Strict gun control is far more of a fallacy, an urban myth, than a proven course of action in a country predicated upon individual liberty and self-defense. Advocating harsh, new restrictions to combat mass shootings is a political ruse, a public disservice announcement, for bureaucrats cannot account for the estimated 300 million privately owned guns in circulation. Although I do accept the need for background checks and age verification, gun confiscation is largely the manifestation of orchestrated opportunism repeated at every conceivable tragedy rather than acknowledging firearms save just as many lives as those universal limitations supposedly protecting them.
Regardless of the prevailing narrative, it’s common knowledge criminals, terrorists and everyday, unsuspected strangers will always find a means to unleash their hate if they truly so desire. And, as today’s shooting clearly confirmed, the guns fired were legally owned by the suspect’s father and the 17-year-old boy himself had constructed multiple explosive devices which, thank God, were never detonated. Whether you smuggle and assemble explosive compounds on campus, wield a machete in the parking lot, disperse a toxin in the cafeteria or bring lighter fluid and a match to school, the threat of unforeseen harm will always exist. Therefore, lasting solutions must be built around treating the actual problem, the psychological and behavioral triggers of a human being’s conscious decision to kill, not endlessly debating the diabolical attributes of an inanimate object for talk show ratings. Whereas respect for God, the rule of law and our fellow man was once the common thread in nearly every American home, deception, rage and petulance are quickly become the adopted virtues of a nation in distress.
Personal disagreements aside, every demographic in America should be united in our inherent obligation to keep our sons and daughters as safe as possible. While it is true human nature cannot be regulated or entirely prevented, we all must commit to constructive discourse, creative problem solving, instead of tiresome third-party blaming or seeking to score immediate political points after every senseless loss of life. Arming teachers is a promising start, but those individuals must still locate and successfully confront armed intruders before innocents are murdered. New technological advances such as easily-deployable door blockades are affordable and effective, if alerted in time, and impenetrable classroom shelters can repel military-grade machine guns, raging fires and hurricane force winds; yet, as expected, the cost is hardly feasible for the number required. No matter what the final remedy, or how much communities are willing to spend, it is readily apparent a national protocol must be implemented to deter as many future attacks and save as many lives as our collective concern allows.
If security is so paramount at airports and courthouses, why aren’t the same precautions not taken at our schools where there is far more potential for mass casualties and “political” statements? No matter where you’re from or how peaceful the people, all public schools should be required to implement body and bag scanners by armed, trained personnel, as well as functional cameras monitoring both around the outside perimeter and inside the property. Furthermore, all foot traffic going entering and leaving each building should be limited to one or two access points, with all other exits only being accessible to those fleeing the premises due to an emergency or eminent danger.
For those who decry the momentary inconvenience or the invasion of their teenage privacy, I have a single, comforting affirmation. You’re in a public facility, not your home, and if you’re physically able to complain about such trivialities then the good news is you’re not dead. As for the inevitable cost for such protections, if our government can waste millions on a legal slush fund for political sexual indiscretions or donate billions to terrorist regimes, surely we can find the means to protect our children, our most precious resource, even if that endeavor requires raising local or state sales taxes by a quarter or one-half of a percent; a small price to pay for a clear conscience and an empty grave.
While increased safeguards are self-explanatory and many districts have already taken aggressive measures, the current state of mental health in this country, especially among disgruntled adolescents, is a daunting proposition. What is it that leads so many of our youth to believe, specifically boys, that their high school experiences are an inescapable harbinger for their remaining lives? How does killing others, indiscriminately or not, redeem their unfulfilling lives or assuage their lingering pain? Only in the deluded heart of a lost soul would such a proposition even exist. Individuals are ultimately accountable for their actions, just as spectators can intervene or ingnore the forsaken signs of festering depravity.
Identifying and preventing bullying is a powerful tool in our classrooms and the omnipresent playground of social media, but giving kids a sense of identity and self-worth, an ingrained confidence to cope with the inevitable pressures and disappointments of life, is far more valuable. Parents, teachers, friends and neighbors must all become more invested in the mental wellness of our younger generation, their struggles and needs as well as the unknown reality of countless dysfunctional homes, if these horrific atrocities are ever to become the exception rather than the norm. More than ever our communities need role models, not complicit bystanders crucifying the NRA or law-abiding gun owners for the aftermath of their apathy. Unless we as a society are satisfied with shameless Hollywood celebrities contributing to a detached culture of moral disrepair, then perhaps the time has come to once again foster well-adjusted kids who can still discern between the human toll of violence, and the live death toll of a video game.