There is a way to stop school shootings
One of the first criminals named on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List was Willie Sutton, a man who quipped that he robbed banks because "that's where the money is." Sutton's comment could easily apply to the epidemic of school shootings that has overtaken America. Banks, airports, jewelry stores, and other locations that have been attractive targets to criminals are protected with multiple layers of security, including armed guards. Children, our most precious resource, are protected with signs proclaiming slogans like "this school is a gun-free zone," as if a maniac with a gun is going to see the sign and walk away, unable to proceed against a stern warning.
There is much public debate in the wake of a school shooting such as the one that occurred in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children and two adults were killed, and, as usual, there is conflict between the supporters of the Second Amendment and those who wish to do away with guns altogether. The Justice Department is investigating the police response to the attack on Robb Elementary School. Activists and celebrities are weighing in. World leaders are publicizing their reactions, which include smug declarations that such violence is not allowed in their countries. Such comments, aside from being grossly inaccurate, are especially galling coming from China, a country with appalling human rights abuses, but I digress.
The right to bear arms is a fundamental right enshrined in the United States Constitution. There is a culture of gun ownership in America, and there are millions of guns in America. Many of those guns are in the hands of criminals. Those are plain facts.
It would also appear to be a plain fact that shock, pain, and anger, while valid responses to a school shooting, are ineffective responses to prevent further shootings. Willie Sutton robbed banks because that's where the money was. Shooters target schools because that's where the easy targets are. If we truly want to stop school shootings, it's past time we hardened our schools so that our children are no longer easy targets.
We could learn a lot from Israel, a country that takes the protection of children so seriously that there have been only six attacks on schools since 1974. While Israeli law focuses more on repelling terrorist attacks than school shooters, their security measures work well on both threats.
There are armed guards in Israeli schools. There are limited points of entry to schools. There are shelters and fences at schools and reinforced school buses. Armed guards might even accompany students on field trips.
Nor do the Israelis rely on security at the school site. They also engage in behavior profiling, including monitoring the social media of potential shooters. Such measures are controversial and would no doubt encounter resistance in the United States. However, there have been 2,052 school shootings in America since 1970 (although only the smallest percentage are mass shootings of the type pioneered at Columbine; most are extensions of or the same type of violence seen in urban neighborhoods). Six hundred sixty-one people have died in those shootings.
I believe we need to accept the reality that we live in a world where we must take measures to protect the lives of our children before there is an attack, rather than pontificating after each new tragedy.
Pandra Selivanov is the author of The Pardon, a story about forgiveness based on the thief on the cross in the Bible.