The (Medford) Mail Tribune, June 12:
Local officials are urging increased measures to make schools less vulnerable to intruders carrying guns. That’s a good idea, especially the recommendation of a school resource officer that districts in the area should standardize their emergency plans. But no one should get the idea that even the best precautions can guarantee everyone’s safety under all circumstances.
Improving planning and preparedness is one logical step in response to school shootings. Another would be imposing universal background checks to limit mentally ill individuals’ access to firearms. We’re not holding our breath on the latter; despite majority support for the move among the general public, the gun lobby will fight anything they see as an infringement of the Second Amendment, no matter how reasonable.
And no, even improved background checks won’t prevent mentally ill people from getting guns in every instance. But even one success could save lives.
The June 10 attack by a teenaged gunman who killed a fellow student and then himself at a Troutdale high school followed by days another shooting on the campus of Seattle Pacific University that killed one and wounded two.
The Troutdale shooter was likely suffering from mental disturbance, though he’s dead, so there is no way to say for sure. The Seattle Pacific shooter, who was arrested, is definitely mentally ill, and told detectives he deliberately stopped taking his medications because he “wanted to feel the hate.”
Meanwhile, local officials are looking to increase security measures in schools. Ernie Whiteman, a school resource officer at North Medford High School, noticed that Reynolds High School in Troutdale had a Twitter feed to notify parents when students were evacuated after the shooting. Whiteman wants to implement a similar alert system here, and is working with other school districts to standardize emergency procedures across the county so responding police agencies know what to expect.
As far as security systems go, it’s simply not possible to make school buildings impenetrable under all circumstances. But some steps can be taken, such as ensuring classroom doors are lockable from the inside and installing panic buttons and buzzed entry systems.
On the prevention side, identifying and reaching out to troubled students with mental health professionals, as Medford is doing, is another positive step.
Ultimately, it may take concerted public pressure on Congress to get any traction on sensible gun sale restrictions. No one is proposing to take guns away from law-abiding, rational citizens, but not everyone with access to guns falls into that category.
And still, as the body count mounts, the gun lobby opposes common-sense efforts to deal with that small group of people.
As President Obama said after Tuesday’s shooting, “There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.”
Except, apparently, this one.