Some would say that there is a lack of religious upbringing while others would maintain that society is too permissive, that we do whatever makes us happy. Some want to assault the NRA and ban firearms, while others want all teachers and administrators to be licensed to carry.
Yes, as we face yet another tragedy, we can pray for those who are in deep grief as we establish memorials. We can talk with our children and each other to help process this tragedy. We can also seek solutions with the intelligence God gave us to address problems that are inevitable as we navigate life.
I have spent decades in educational settings, have served as a professor/advisor in a women’s prison, have volunteered in recent years in a parochial school with tight security, and have supervised the person who ran the largest college prison program in Texas when I was President of Lee College. I, therefore, know about schools. I have also taught murderers.
Any plans we have to protect our students are not foolproof. The perpetrator can be among us, as a student, a teacher, a staff member. As President of Lee College, I escaped being kidnapped and beaten by an inmate who was recently released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after being there for a relatively short time for killing his child. He had been a student in our college program in the prison. The person he kidnapped in lieu of me was fortunate to escape with her life albeit with heavy emotional and physical damage. She indicated at the time that what she had learned in a workshop at the college several months earlier saved her life.
Let’s not talk at this point about programs to rehabilitate addicts, to mandate that failing parents be reeducated, or that we do a better job pf identifying those with mental health issues and counseling and/or medicating them. Neither should we be talking about making the possession of firearms illegal. We must be pragmatic. What can we do NOW?
When I teach in a college classroom where I consider myself and my students to be particularly vulnerable, I coach them during the first week on a plan if there is an intruder. We’ve never had to implement the plan, but I know that no matter how safe we view our situation to be, problems can emerge.
We regularly find ourselves in a host of venues such as restaurants, sports events, and shopping malls where we are vulnerable. In most of these places, we can only be aware of our surroundings without being paranoid about it.
“Wild Bill” Hickok always played cards facing the door of the saloons he frequented, but he made a mistake in 1876 by not following that protocol and Jack McCall killed him by shooting him in the back of the head. Hickok was holding the infamous Dead Man’s Hand, two aces of spades and two black eights.
Let’s move back to the event under discussion even as we acknowledge that we can never be totally safe no matter how careful we are. It’s time for action. I have written House Speaker John Boehner with my suggestions and have encouraged my friends on Facebook to write their elected representatives.
Allow me to share my ideas with you.
Pressure Congress, President Obama, state and local elected official to enact legislation immediately requiring schools and colleges to have armed, trained guards on the premises. Of course, these men and women are more expensive than the minimum-wage- type employees that many colleges put in uniform and call “security officers.”
The mandate should also include a provision that all classrooms and office doors have lock-down features, and that all faculty and school personnel be trained annually in working in situations in which violence erupts.
Our legislators are fond of making unfunded mandates and prattling endlessly in Congress or state legislatures about issues, attempting to make others see them as concerned, intelligent representatives of the people. These mandates should be FUNDED.
And time is of the essence. Let’s quit wringing our hands and saying “Woe is me.” We are quite wealthy as a country in spite of the “fiscal cliff” that confronts us each time we pick up a newspaper or turn on our televisions. Change is necessary now, and I daresay that no thinking democrat or republican would oppose such legislation and funding. Our children, our college students, and our school employees are worth this investment in their safety.