Nevada school shooting shows limits of security

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Another school. Another firearm. Another shooter. In this case, a shooter too young even to be called a gunman. The result, unfortunately, is yet another senseless episode of gunshot injuries and death.

On Monday morning, just before the start of classes at the middle school in Sparks, Nev., a 12-year-old boy fatally shot a teacher and wounded two fellow students, also both 12, before turning the gun on himself. The teacher, identified as Michael Landsberry, has been called a hero for his valiant attempt to convince the armed youngster to surrender.

The specific location of the shooting spree — on the playground within the school's campus — points out the limitations of many of the security-minded proposals that have been debated in the months since last year's Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre. No form of access control — be it a metal detector, school ID cards, or locked doors and windows — is sufficient to protect the lives of innocent children and staff members. No threat of armed resistance, such as a school resource officer or teachers with loaded guns in their desk drawers, can deter this type of senseless violence.

In January, the National Rifle Association, hoping to deflect criticism as well as efforts to tighten gun control laws, promoted a "more guns" national strategy for school safety. The so-called "School Shield Program" would furnish every school in America, regardless of size or grade level, with trained sharpshooters. In subsequent months, lawmakers in as many as six states have sponsored legislation to arm school teachers and train them to shoot. A new South Dakota law, for example, created "school sentinels" — teachers, administrators, security guards and even volunteers from the community — empowered to carry guns inside of schools to protect the student population.

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