THE GOSHEN NEWS
Imagine an armed individual enters a school intent on havoc and mass death. Before that plan can be carried out, however, someone else within the school who’s equipped with a firearm shoots the intruder. Children are saved and a gunshot victim, for once, is deserving of the injuries sustained.
Mere months after the carnage at a school in Newtown, Conn., this is wish fulfillment of the highest order. It’s also plausible, so long as circumstances are near perfect.
Nonetheless, this newspaper thinks people with a stake in the well-being of our children — educators, school administrators, parents and lawmakers — need to think carefully about a proposal that gained ground this week in the Indiana Statehouse.
A bill endorsed in a 9-3 vote by the House Education Committee would make Indiana the first state in the nation to require armed employees at public and charter schools.
The Associated Press reports the proposal would require someone designated as a school protection officer, be it a police officer or staffer such as a principal or teacher, to carry a loaded gun at all times during regular school hours.
Reception to the House committee vote has been lukewarm, at best. It’s also prompted a sort of bipartisanship. Republican Gov. Mike Pence feels local school officials should make the choices about school security rather than be forced to have armed employees. Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state schools superintendent, has also voiced support for local control on the school security issue. We concur with them both.
The House committee-endorsed proposal has been tacked onto a Senate-approved bill that would launch a state grant program. That program would aid school districts in hiring police officers, and also purchase safety equipment.
In the end, though, local school officials would be tasked with implementing the mandate for armed personnel. They don’t lack for cause for concern, or food for thought.
• The liability to local school corporations if students were caught in a crossfire.
• There is no such thing as perfect security. Protection officers would be acting in-the-moment against one or more attackers who’ve planned the assault at leisure. Perhaps they would be able to repel an attack. Equally likely is that they would not.
• Statistics and the likelihood of a school shooting. Events such as the Newtown shooting are horrific. But do numbers bear out that Americans are more likely to die by gun violence than they were a year ago, five years ago, a decade ago? The Goshen News prefers carefully considered legislation to laws passed in haste while emotions are running high.
This newspaper has no problem with highly trained personnel protecting that most beloved and vital investment in our future — our children. Still, we have misgivings about the House committee plan. Who will be trained and what kind of training will they receive? In a broad sense, what will it all cost?
Let’s think about this.