Forgive my forwardness, but I know what could radically reduce gun violence on U.S. school campuses without adding more gun regulations, placing more restrictions on the mentally ill, outlawing guns or even involving Washington, D.C. And I bet it could be enacted sooner than any other proposed remedy.
Before I share that rather simple but sincere remedy and strategy – one that is so obvious that it eludes even the most astute politician steeped in partisan politics right now – my heart is aching to convey our condolences from the Norris ranch.
My wife, Gena, and I join the rest of the nation in sending our most heartfelt and deepest sympathy to the Florida victims of this week’s school shooting. The mere mention of the names and ages of those who have fallen brings tears to our eyes even now:
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
Scott Beigel, 35
Martin Duque, 14
Nicholas Dworet, 17
Aaron Feis, 37
Jaime Guttenberg, 14
Chris Hixon, 49
Luke Hoyer, 15
Cara Loughran, 14
Gina Montalto, 14
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Alaina Petty, 14
Meadow Pollack, 18
Helena Ramsey, 17
Alex Schachter, 14
Carmen Schentrup, 16
Peter Wang, 15
We pray for everyone who was and is affected by this horrific, barbaric criminal act, particularly the families and friends of the slain. Words can’t express the grief, horror and outrage we also feel and are now going to harness for good in this column and in fighting for a better future. The fallen will not have fallen in vain!
What will stop this string of heinous mass murders on our school campuses? At this point, we shouldn’t fear looking at anything and everything that can protect and save our children, including our greatest biases on the issue.
Let’s start by taking the most obvious step as our first step. It’s one everyone (Republican, Democrat, independent, old and young) should be able to support.
What would you do if someone kept breaking into your house? What would you do if someone kept threatening – even worse, killing – your loved ones inside when they weren’t expecting it? What would you do? You would do whatever is necessary to save them, right? At very least, you would likely start by bolstering and further safeguarding your entrances, right?
We as a country need to do what Israel did: The Holy Land mandated armed guards at the entrances to all schools in 1995, and those guards are backed by local law enforcement and special police forces. While these school defenses are primarily intended to thwart terrorists, they also deter any would-be criminals who would cause harm to children.
Israeli schools have only suffered from two shootings in the past 40 years: one in 1974 (22 children and three adults) and another in 2008 (eight youth).
True, Israel has fewer guns per capita than the U.S., but it’s also a tiny country with virtually no opportunity for hunting or other recreational use of firearms. Anti-gun advocates love to point out that there are only about 500,000 weapons that are privately owned in Israel, but that’s in a country (area) that is only about one-fifteenth the size of California or one-twenty-fifth the size of Texas. (To read more about Israel’s exemplary model, please read my column “Israel: America’s model for reducing violent crime.”)
Twenty-eight years ago, in 1990, then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., introduced the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 into the Senate, and it prohibited “any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a loaded or unsecured firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.” It was passed by Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush.
If I were the president or a member of Congress, I would work immediately to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act, to free local communities to better protect their children. But, in almost half the states of our union, we don’t need to wait for Washington or our state’s capitols to bring about needed change to protect our kids.
As even NBC News had to report: “The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 prohibits anyone from having a firearm in a school zone. But that law includes the same exception recognized [in 17 U.S. states]: It doesn’t apply if the weapons are ‘approved by a school in the school zone.'”
I’m sure many would be surprised right now to learn that 17 states allow adults or teachers to carry a loaded gun on school grounds, generally provided that they have written permission from a principal or the school board.
Those 17 states include:
- Alabama (which bans possessing a weapon on school grounds only if the carrier has “intent to do bodily harm”)
- Connecticut (with approval of “school officials”)
- Hawaii (no specific law)
- Idaho (with school trustees’ approval)
- Iowa (with “authorization”)
- Kentucky (with school board approval)
- Massachusetts (with approval of the school board or principal)
- Mississippi (with school board approval)
- Montana (with school trustees’ permission)
- New Hampshire (ban applies only to pupils, not adults)
- New Jersey (with approval from the school’s “governing officer”)
- New York (with the school’s approval)
- Oregon (with school board approval)
- Rhode Island (with a state concealed weapons permit)
- Texas (with the school’s permission)
- Utah (with approval of the “responsible school administrator”)
- Wyoming (as long as it’s not concealed)
California was included on the above list until Jan. 1, 2018, when liberal Gov. Jerry Brown enacted AB424, which removed the superintendents’ rights to approve someone carrying a concealed gun on campus. So what this means is, California schools have just made it easier for gun-wielding sociopaths to commit mass murder at schools. Unbelievable!
Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, Florida is also not on the list. But imagine if the Sunshine State were. Imagine if one of the coaches, who also served as security personnel at the school, could have shielded and defended the students with bullets rather than their bodies. Imagine how many murdered kids might still be alive. Imagine how the coaches’ own lives could have gone on and continued to encourage young people.
I’m not advocating here that every teacher or coach carry or obtain a concealed permit, though 81 percent of U.S. law enforcement officials think teachers and principals should be. I’m simply advocating here that we start the journey out of this national black hole of campus bullets by immediately working in every community and state to post active guards at the front of every school every weekday.
Can any teacher, principal or parent give me good reason why they wouldn’t work to secure armed entrance security at their local schools as soon as possible, especially in light of at least five school shootings that have occurred across America since the turn of the year (not 18 as falsely reported this week by mainstream media)?
Who among our fine law enforcement or military personnel (in any branch) wouldn’t consider it their greatest duty and honor to take a paid or volunteer shift as a guard in front of our schools protecting those precious souls?
I find it absolute lunacy and abhorring that we protect with a gun every important institution and person of notoriety across the country, but we leave U.S. children – our national treasures – to be prey of the predators of gun-free zones where children all gather in mass for nearly eight hours a day.
Consider this photo post a friend sent me the other day comparing the places and people we post guards:
We even have armed guards now in front of many grocery stores and restaurants, but we can’t or won’t post them at our schools?!
Can any rational, law-abiding American give me a single good reason why we wouldn’t have armed security at the primary entrances of every school across our union? Does anyone really not believe an armed guard would help deter criminals or crazies from entering? Even if they tried to scale in another way, they would know armed security is a new normal for school safety and that guards are present on campus.
You want to know another absolutely insane byproduct of so many mass school shootings?
Larry Hatfield, president of Eagle Investigation and Protection Services as well as a veteran board member for Crime Stoppers of Houston, shared with me that he was watching a television segment about “how to survive an active shooter.”
Larry explained it this way: “My head began spinning when they actually had people on the show displaying and marketing body armor for kindergarten and elementary school children. A company has actually designed armor plating to go into children’s backpacks!”
Larry went on to say with disbelief: “I don’t know if your mind and heart reacts the same as mine to that. But I’ve got to say it’s outrageous to think this is how we address crime in the 21st century. Our strategy seems to be to offer more understanding and leniency with the criminals, while asking law-abiding citizens to do more and more to protect themselves and alter (sacrifice) their own lifestyles.”
How many school massacres will it take before we protect our children at the places in which they assemble and live nearly eight hours a day, every weekday?
If you believe creating (volunteer or paid) teams of active and retired law enforcement and military personnel, veterans, etc., as posted guards at schools would be the first of first steps for every community and school across the nation, please share this column on your social media and with local officials – school, police, veterans, etc. Then volunteer to help recruit them. Quit waiting for Washington politicians to make a move, and get ‘er done!
Four years ago, I wrote a four-part series on reducing violent crime in America, especially in schools. Everything I wrote still stands. To educate yourself more about this issue, please check out my series below. Most of all, keep fighting for America’s kids! They are our future!
Part 1: “Israel: America’s model for reducing violent crime”
Part 2: “Do gun bans actually curb violent crime?”
Part 3: “Reducing violent crime in the U.S. from the inside out”
Part 4: “Reducing violent crime in the U.S. from the inside out”