Tightening Security At Our Schools

I’ve wrestled mightily with the too-frequent school killings matter, come up with some ideas, chucked them, written potential columns about it and tossed those out – except for this one.

Nothing meets all the tests of practicality and the objections many of you would have.

This isn’t about outlawing handguns, assault weapons and large ammo clips. A student walked into a California classroom recently and killed with a shotgun – an ordinary family hunting gun we’d never dream of outlawing. Then there are all the guns already out there, legal and hidden.

A tougher background check is meaningless. Today’s OK buyer can turn into tomorrow’s nightmare gun owner.

So I think the best answer lies in school security, just as the best weapon against hijackers and bombers has been airport and potential-target-buildings security.

We’re probably resigned to thinking of schools as places requiring extraordinary security. The school President Obama’s daughters attend has 11 armed guards.

I’m not considering cost in what follows. I don’t think you can when the safety of schoolchildren is the issue.

We likely must start thinking of schools just as we think of the White House, the Congress or even our governor’s office. You can’t get in with a weapon, especially not a gun.

The problem is not guns per se but that there are crazy people who use them for crazy reasons we can’t begin to understand. We must keep them – the crazies – off school campuses, especially if armed.

So a school must become a maximum security area just like any of our military bases on Oahu.

That would seem to mean fences too high to be climbed without a ladder and well-trained, armed security guards sufficient in number to eye the whole campus.

Everyone entering the campus is checked for weapons.

Classroom doors should have locks operable only from the inside and an eye hole to verify who’s at the door. A gunman who did manage to get on campus could shoot the locks, but that would take aim and time and give some advance notice.

Some of you will object to turning the wonderful learning experience that is a school into a fortress. I share that concern. But children are among the most adaptable creatures on earth. The unusual becomes the norm for most of them the next day. And most of us have come to accept armed police on special duty at everything from sporting events to farmers markets. You know your bag or pack or purse may be inspected at the stadium.

Frankly, I don’t see any alternative to this guarded-campus idea if we’re going to stop school shootings.

And a Jan. 9-13 poll by Pew Research found 64 percent of those surveyed favor armed guards in our schools. The poll interviewed 1,500 adults.

We are absolutely not going to get rid of all the guns, and there’s no way of telling when an OK person will turn crazy.

We need a public discussion about this, and maybe this column will start one.