No simple solutions to school shootings

Published 9:50 am Thursday, June 2, 2022

Always raise an eyebrow and pause when someone offers a quick solution to a complex problem.


That was the advice given to me by my Dad, although perhaps not in those words. It was more like “only fools know everything.” I think he was trying to tell me to not be a know-it-all, so I’ll try to hold myself in check here.

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Most of us felt a tremendous sense of shock, grief and sorrow when we learned of the gravity of the senseless shootings at the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that left 19 children and 2 teachers dead.


Like we felt when 17 students and staff were shot to death at a Parkland, Florida, high school in 2018.


Or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Even though some people with national megaphones said it was faked by actors, it really happened. Adam Lanza, himself little more than a manchild, killed 20 children and 6 adults.


So as I read a letter to the editor this week in one of the local newspapers, I recalled the colorful words my Daddy used. If he were alive today and read the letter, he probably would just shake his head and give one of those clucking sounds in his cheek that he used with his mules, one of whom was pretty hard-headed and occasionally needed a slap of the reins to make him think.


The letter writer expressed outrage and indignation that when he went to pick up a grandchild at school he learned there was no armed guard present. He gunned it right over to the sheriff’s office to share his rebuke. And in his letter, he dressed down the sheriff’s office and said there should be a full-time armed guard at every school.


I don’t know whether he made the same suggestion after any of the many school shootings which have plagued us for years. Somehow I doubt it.


But one would hope that there are enough balanced minds here to understand that this is a hugely complex societal problem with more legs than a centipede. We could throw on the table the fact that armed guards have failed to prevent school shootings. We only need to read the details of Parkland and follow the upcoming trial of the police officer who failed to engage the shooter, or the police handling of the Texas school shooting.


This is not a criticism of the police. Cops I have known well, including two who were shot, would be the first to tell you that the dynamics of a shooting situation and how that affects even a trained and armed officer can vary significantly from one person to the next. You never really know until you’re under fire.


Given that fact, one can only imagine the risks we would be taking if we asked school teachers and administrators to be armed. Haven’t they been emotionally abused enough already?


We made a huge mistake when these shootings began years ago. We failed to coalesce, to come together on behalf of the teachers, administrators and children. It’s time to identify all of the issues in this complex mess and start addressing them.


Otherwise, we might as well put up 12-foot-high wire fences with anti-climb and anti-cut features around all the schools. You know, like those around our prisons.


Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at