School safety spending makes sense, but more guns in school doesn’t – Herald Democrat


Monks Register

The research casts doubt on the idea that what a school gains in deterrence and response time will outweigh what it loses in increased risk of accidents or other problems.

Iowa is investing in the physical safety of people inside school buildings, dedicating $100 million in federal funds to assessing and improving building safety.

It is not a comprehensive approach to all aspects of physical safety and health – no commitment to large-scale investment in ventilation upgrades and nursing staffing, no separate work to make more difficult to obtain dangerous weapons. That step apparently necessitated the confluence of the second US elementary school shooting massacre in a decade and the availability of billions of dollars earmarked for coronavirus-related responses in education.

But it is something. Expert reviews of building vulnerabilities, funds dedicated to improvements, a state agency devoting its time to researching and promoting best practices – all these aspects of the governor’s new Office of School Safety are welcome. .

Yet Americans have painfully realized over the past 30 years that they cannot make schools impregnable. Every safety measure and technological advance represents an attempt to improve the odds of avoiding or mitigating disaster. It makes sense that, in an attempt to find another piece of preparedness, some schools have responded by bringing more weapons into buildings, handled by law enforcement officers or school staff.

In Florida, it’s the law that every building has someone armed, a policy put in place after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a Parkland high school. Some Republican politicians began tossing around the idea of ​​arming more American teachers after this spring’s massacre of 19 young children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. And in Iowa, the Spirit Lake School Board has adopted a policy to train up to 10 people — including no teachers — to carry guns in school buildings.

This impetus is understandable, and feedback from school board members and Spirit Lake administrators reveals that the idea was thoughtfully developed. If such a policy is to be implemented, it is wise to exclude classroom teachers and require extensive training for staff who will be armed, as the Spirit Lake council has done. The Dickinson County News reported that school board member Scott Trautman said he was “as far from saying yes to this as I could imagine” when the proposal was first presented. He has now voted twice for the policy. “My love for children far exceeds my dislike in guns,” he told the newspaper.

But research – on adult guns in schools specifically, and what happens in any place where guns are kept in general – casts doubt on the idea that what a school gains in deterrence and response time will outweigh what it loses in increased risk of accidents or other problems.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has documented nearly 100 incidents nationwide, over five years, in which adult firearms were mishandled in schools. Any such case could have a tragic outcome. We already see it with poorly secured guns in homes. And at least two studies have found no benefit in reducing mass shootings by having armed officers on school campuses. Anecdotally and infamously, armed officers — including from the school district’s own force — responded quickly to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, then did nothing.

Four years ago, when President Donald Trump suggested that guns were the complete answer to school safety, this editorial board offered 26 questions that such a plan would need answers to. Trustees and managers at Spirit Lake and other places who are considering arming staff would do well to explain to their constituents their answers to some of them, like “Will racial sensitivity classes be necessary?” and “Will a (staff member) be responsible if students take a… firearm and shoot themselves or others? In the absence of restrictions on the acquisition of firearms, especially the most dangerous semi-automatic firearms, the work of the Iowa Governor’s Office of School Safety is the most promising response. As the bureau further steps up its work, its chief, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Public Safety Don Schnitker, told Axios at the start of the school year that dozens of districts had already signed up to do assess building vulnerabilities. They can then receive up to $50,000 per building for improvements. Schools can also obtain emergency radios and enroll in training programs.

Iowans should encourage their local schools to take full advantage of these resources and advocate to keep guns out of schools.


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