Viewpoint: Gunning for safety

By Maura Levine, Editorial Board Member
Published February 14, 2013

Next to a daycare is one of the best places to live. Sure, being woken up in the morning by the sounds of shrieking children isn’t the best alarm clock, but it’s worth it for the 5:30 p.m. pick-up when I get to see parents reunite with their children. On the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting I watched more than one family grab their children a little tighter and carry them out of this Ann Arbor daycare. The whole parking lot seemed tense as parents surely thought about how lucky they were to hold their precious ones safe from harm.

After the horrors of Sandy Hook, we all must now look at the available options to protect children in school. The Michigan Protection Act, recently suggested by State Sen. Mike Green (R–Huron), would give schools the autonomy to choose whether teachers and administrators could carry concealed weapons on school property. All school grounds are currently deemed “gun-free zones,” making them highly susceptible to gun violence, such as the shootings we’ve seen at Columbine High School, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Sandy Hook Elementary School and others. If attackers know there’s no way for people to defend themselves on school grounds, it makes the attack seem more attractive.

While the act goes too far in allowing teachers to carry weapons, it brings up a valid idea about keeping schools safe. Instead of allowing every teacher or administrator to carry a concealed weapon, public schools should train administrators and individuals in public school offices how to use a handgun in self-defense. The weapons should be kept locked in a small gun safe under a desk in a central administration office so that in case of an emergency, trained officials can defend the school. On the day of the Sandy Hook massacre, Dawn Hochsprung, the heroic principal, went out into the hallway and “lunged toward the shooter in an attempt to overtake him before being fatally shot,” according to a Daily Beast article. If Hochsprung had a gun when she went out into the hallway to try and overtake the shooter, we might be mourning the loss of far fewer people today.

Some argue that administrators aren’t police officers and therefore shouldn’t have to be trained in shooting a weapon, but that’s a naïve attitude. Unfortunately, we live in a world where gun violence in schools exists. While it’s unfortunate that we have to prepare for the worst, isn’t it best that we be prepared? It’s expensive for all public schools to have an on-duty police officer on campus grounds every day, and it’s not an effective use of tax dollars in communities with low in-school violence, such as Newton, Conn. The Sandy Hook massacre goes to show that gun attacks can happen anywhere. It would be a good use of our tax dollars to train select administrators on how to use a weapon if necessary. Every school should have a hidden weapon, locked away and only used in — God forbid — emergency circumstances.

Sandy Hook Elementary had recently implemented new security measures before the attack. None of them proved to be useful. When an attacker wants to get into the building, he or she will do it. The question is: How will we protect our children once the shooter is inside? Will we continue to keep gun-free zones where self-defense is impossible? Or will we take a proactive stance and train administrators to strike if necessary? I know if anyone in my family had been a victim that day I would want the best self-defense strategy in place to prevent future families from having to experience the same.

Maura Levine is an LSA sophomore.