Home > Uncategorized > The Arms Race is On As School Districts and Colleges Buy Semi-Automatic Weapons

The Arms Race is On As School Districts and Colleges Buy Semi-Automatic Weapons

April 20, 2016

In a story that defies logic and credulity, Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post opens his article on the use of guns on campus and in public schools with these paragraphs:

In the wake of numerous massacres on school grounds, many educational institutions – particularly colleges – have armed officers with high-powered weapons to defend against active campus shooters.

And now at least one public school district is following suit.

Izadi goes on to report that Douglas County Colorado school district will be purchasing 10 semiautomatic rifles to arm its security officers and offering a 20-hour course that commissioned police officers will need to complete before they can use the weapons, which ill be kept under lock and key and “…only be deployed if there is a situation where they need to be deployed” according to the district’s Director of Security, Richard Payne. A school district serving 767,000 students in 81 schools, Douglas County has a police force of eight armed security officers.

The balance of the story describes the millions of dollars being spent arming and training guards on campuses to prepare for the worst case scenarios. The article reports the facts without judgement… but here are some judgements I made after reading it:

  • The notion that there are “numerous massacres” stretches the definition of “numerous” and, in doing so, reinforces the fear factor that compels school districts to hire “Directors of Security” and give them free rein to acquire whatever armaments they deem necessary to keep schools safe.
  • The notion that the possession of these semiautomatic weapons will help the security teams “defend against active campus shooters” is equally preposterous. The term “defend” implies that the security personnel will stop the “campus shooters” before they wreak any havoc. I cannot recall any case where a “campus shooter” forced their way into schools or confronted an armed security guard until after they had shot innocent students and teachers.
  • The notion that 8 security officers armed with semiautomatic weapons can “defend” 81 schools spread over an entire county is preposterous… and the solution isn’t to expand the number of officers and increase the power of their armaments.
  • The fact that the high powered weapons “…use a more powerful projectile, which can penetrate brick walls and metal doors that separate classrooms” makes their use in shooting incidents problematic since innocent bystanders may be hurt as security forces “defend” them.
  • The dollars spent by school districts and colleges on personnel, armaments and training for security forces should be spent for mental health counselors.

Fear is a powerful marketing tool and there isn’t a parent in the country who wants to put their child in harm’s way… and articles like this that matter-of-factly report that “numerous massacres” occur on college and school campuses and unquestioningly accept the idea that more armaments will help “defend” innocent children from “active shooters” reinforce unfounded fears and play into the arms race underway across our country. Children don’t need more SROs with ever more powerful guns. They need nurturance and assurance that “massacres” are highly unlikely and extraordinarily exceptional events.

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