Last Wednesday’s Florida school shooting can no longer be called an “unimaginable horror.”
If fact, such massacres have become very imaginable.
Tragically, they have become very predictable horrors.
A predictable tragedy that the United States people and its leadership has seemingly been content with as a tradeoff for its Second Amendment rights – until now.
Last week’s killings at a high school has energized more discussion, more talk and even protest which leads me to believe change is on the horizon.
But change will not happen overnight. It will be a step- by-step process.
Having listened to many from many different angles, we think there are some specific changes to consider, including:
Mental Health: Perhaps the most costly changes of all.
Funding for more mental health professionals should include those in the military, VA mental health professionals as well as community and school counselors. For instance, Southern Boone High School has two counselors. They had two counselors a decade ago when the school had a smaller student population. The same can be said for our Primary, Elementary and Middle School. Improving mental health starts wtih basic steps when young people are learning to make the right choices.
More Defense in Schools: Costly, but easily done.
SoBoCo only recently installed locks on the doors and leadership has noted it is difficult to change the culture of a semi-open campus. That change can be and should be easily accelerated this spring.
Other good ideas that should be thoroughly explored include another school resource office – to concentrate on the Primary and Elementary schools at the south campus and Ashland Police spending more time at the schools on a daily basis.
Both of these ideas cost money. Currently, the City of Ashland can’t afford to fill out its police staff.
Will this community pass a park’s tax in April – which will free up General Revenue funds in order to hire another cop?
It’s a hard choice, but since most parents are working out of town during the school day, it makes sense to pay for additional law enforcement presence.
Arming a few select teachers is a good idea to explore. First the district needs to determine if any teachers or administrators are willing to be armed.
Then they need to have a liability discussion with the State and its insurance carrier. Then select faculty members willing to bear the responsibility, those volunteers should be thoroughly trained – at least as well as law enforcement officers – and that could take as much as a year or more.
Guns and Accessories: This is as difficult as any other change that needs to be discussed.
I am a firearm owner. I believe in the Second Amendment as strongly as I believe in the First Amendment. However, as firearms have changed, regulations for owning them have changed. More changes, restrictions and checks should be a part of the discussion.
You can forget about talk such as “get rid of the guns.” That horse left the barn a long time ago. But even responsible gun owners, hunters and sportsmen are willing to discuss a few ideas that will make us all safer.
Other states – Connecticut and New York among them – have successfully made changes to firearms and accessories restrictions, including restricting magazines to 10-shot magazines.
Perhaps the age to purchase an AR-15 or other (future) assault-style firearms should be increased to 21.
Other improvements to gun ownership should include more stringent purchasing requirements. It should be at least as restrictive to purchase a firearm legally as it is sudafed – which our state government restricted after it was realized the over-the-counter drug was being used to make meth.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was famous for his vigorous protection of the Second Amendment. However, while upholding those rights in 2008, he wrote:
“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Justice Scalia also noted that all freedoms have limitations:
“…like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” It is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
It is time to begin the discussion of how we are going to limit our Second Amendment rights – at the local, state and federal level.
Enough is enough. Action is needed from many different angles. There is no reason why students cannot be as safe in American schools as they are in other countries.