Another year gone, and we still can’t get it right

Back in July of 2018, I wrote a two part article that discussed the problem we seem to have with school shootings. The piece offered not only an explanation of how we are failing to keep schools safe, but why as well. The overall lack of commitment by our government to invest in meaningful effective measures has resulted in tragedy and countless lost shattered lives. If you missed the original pieces, you can find them here The Price is Wrong, and The Price is Wrong Part two.

Here we are over a year later, and nothing’s really changed. Just today, in Santa Clarita County CA, Saugus High School was the scene of another school shooting. And, like so many times before, the usual faces spout the usual rhetoric. Calls for “common sense gun laws” and demonization of the NRA are juxtaposed against more milquetoast solumn calls for “thoughts and prayers”.
  The liberal left will, of course seize on this tragedy to make political hay and advocate yet again for tougher laws, mandatory buybacks, and outright bans on guns.  Sadly, we have all heard this record too many times before.
  There is, however some slight differences this time. You see, the timing of this tragedy oddly coincides with yesterday’s release by the US Secret Service of a report on a study they conducted of individuals who carry out these shootings, and the common traits they in large part share. full text available here

The findings of the Secret Service report poke some holes in the tired liberal narrative about these situations.

  • There is no profile type of school, or location that lends itself to shootings. They can happen anywhere.
  • Shooters often have multiple motives, with grievances toward classmates being most common.
  • Most attackers used guns, which we’re usually acquired in the home.  This fact strongly counters the notion that tougher regulation on sales, background checks, or registration would do anything to stop school shootings. These kids aren’t buying the guns at a shop or even a gun show. They get them from home.
  • Most attackers have experienced psychological, behavioral or developmental problems. Defenders of second amendment rights have said for years, most often to the ridicule of anti-gun activists, that addressing the growing mental health crisis is critical to stopping violence proactively.
  • The report goes on to illustrate social stressors, bullying, unhealthy home situations, and ongoing behavioral problems including encounters with law enforcement as largely common traits. In other words, many times, recognizing a brewing crisis is possible long before shots ring out. Early intervention is a key to stopping the cycle.
  •   As you can see, not one of these findings point to a situation where tougher gun controls would stop these tragedies. 
  • The other piece to this puzzle has always been, and remains, funding.
  •   We allocate almost nothing by way of funding to pay for effective school safety measures, and what we do allot is done so under title IV Every Child Succeeds Act, which unfortunately allows schools to use the funding for such programs as
“Safe spaces” or programs to improve the learning environment. That all sounds great but I for one would rather they improve the learning environment by installing metal detectors or hardened doors.
Congress appropriated  1.1 billion dollars to the program, and it seems as though still none of the suggestions in the 1998 Justice Department study of ways to improve school’s physical safety. 
T74, a nonpartisan public education watchdog organization, had this to say about the appropriation-
A report filed with the bill notes that the funds can have a “wide range of uses, including to expand access to or coordinate resources for school-based mental health services and supports, which may include trauma-informed practices and school counseling; bullying prevention; and professional development for personnel in crisis management and school-based violence prevention strategies
 
This is s complex problem it has many parts. It’s a problem we all share some measure of responsibility for.  As responsible parents, we need to recognize when our kids are in crisis. As gun owners, we need to be diligent in restricting access to our guns. And we need to spend the money smartly. Yes it’s expensive, but until we commit to real solutions, we are going to keep seeing these tragedies unfold.