School Security: Time to Get Serious?

Source: Newsday

Source: Newsday

A mass shooting took place in an Oregon college, resulting in the deaths of 10 people. On Thursday, October 1, Christopher Harper-Mercer, the 26 year-old gunman, entered his writing class in Umpqua Community College armed with six guns and fired a shot to the back of the room. He then forced his fellow students to the center of the classroom, where he deliberately spared the life of a student and gave him an envelope for him to pass on to the police. He fatally shot nine victims, one of whom was the assistant professor, and finally himself.

The Oregon College Shooting is one of the 153 school shootings in America since 2013. This appalling number averages out to about one shooting per week. Why are school shootings so frequent in our country? The reason partly stems from our ineffective school security system. “Our school security system is in desperate need of revision,” said Kevin Ordonez ’17, “because criminals or students always manage to somehow bypass the system and cause unnecessary mass killings.” With the fear of school shootings perhaps higher than before, schools across the nation have implemented security measures—including security cameras, metal detectors, and security staff—to protect the students from any potential harm. But along with these security measures comes with the spending of millions of dollars.

According to IHS Technology, in 2014 the total market in schools and universities for video-surveillance equipment, access-control equipment and mass notification totaled to about $768 million. The number is expected to climb to approximately $833 million in 2015 and about $907 million in 2016.  BSGE, along with nearly all of NYC’s schools, has recently installed a security alarm on its back door to prevent people from leaving or entering the school unnoticed. Along with this, the New York State Education Department has passed a requirement stating that all schools must have 12 annual fire drills and 8 between September 1 and December 1.  Yet, with all of this added security, school shootings continue to rise.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration for the high frequency of school shootings is our country’s lack of gun control. “I don’t generally feel unsafe here [BSGE],” said Mr. Stone, BSGE’s History of the Americas teacher, “but certainly restrictive gun control laws will make me feel safer.” Gun control generally refers to laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms. Compared to most other industrially democratic countries, the United States has relatively little restriction on gun control.

Many attribute the high rates of gun mortality in the U.S. to our lack of restrictive gun control. “What I find really confusing is that our country, instead of fixing the systems that we have, we just take on another piece to make things better, but it doesn’t work,” said Emily Costa ’17. “We just teach our kids to hide and be able to comply with lockdowns instead of keeping shooters away from our schools and keeping guns out of their hands.”

In order to prevent future school shootings, we should first try to acknowledge the very faults that exist in our school security system. Students shouldn’t be have to be taught to avoid danger in school by practicing lockdown drills; they should not have to be worried that such danger even exists.

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