Weatherford Democrat

February 28, 2013

Will they be schools or prisons?


Weatherford Democrat

— By WILLIAM J. KELLY

Do you parents really want your schools to be like prisons?

The Newtown, Conn., massacre – a terrible tragedy for everyone personally involved in it – has set off people, especially the political types, emoting (meaning showing emotion in an exaggerated way) about school safety.

Every one of us desires our schools to be as safe as possible. Every child is a jewel in our lives so they deserve to be safe in our schools and every where else they may be. The question to be answered is, “how do we do it?”

Is it ever possible to prevent some nut case from entering a school, factory or office with a Bushmaster AR-15 to create mayhem? In the Newtown event about 20 children, six adults and the mother of Adam Lanza were murdered by him. All of these victims lost their future lives and possibly the public lost the works of a genius among them or possibly a great musician, singer or inventor. I wonder what kind of change in American life will the Newtown massacre bring about in our country.

Parents of children – I had six but no matter the number – are truly blessed to be able to bring them to maturity with no significant problems. There are many children who suffer from abuse, hunger, neglect, abandonment and disease. Many die from these things but we do not hear about them. Pray for them!

We know, or should know, that most law is based on emotions. Emotional response to events, especially bad ones, result in calls for changes from many people – parents, organizations and politicians. Of course, the ruling politicians want to seize the moment and act quickly while the public’s emotions are very high.

The Oxford defines emotion as” instinctive feelings as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.” This is a big problem! In my life every time I made a decision based on emotion it was a big mistake. Thus, we have everyone from our president on down wanting to rush to put in place a quick fix.

Here are some quotes pertaining to this problem:

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said the Connecticut massacre had “changed America.” He pledged support for “commonsense” legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and to do “whatever I can do to protect children.”

Nicholas D. Kristof said, “Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars?” He also said in the New York Times that guns kill one person every 20 minutes in this country.

Peggy Noonan in WSJ.com said, “Obama also has an opening to address ‘the culture of death’ in Hollywood movies, TV shows, and video games. A sickened American public is ready for real leadership. Newtown changes everything.”

Nick Gillespie in Reason.com says, “This is America, where our Supreme Court has upheld an individual right to bear arms.”

The Wall Street Journal said, “but let’s not rush into a new round of gun restrictions which alone do little to prevent widespread acts of terror. Norway’s ‘tight gun-control and licensing regime’ did not deter Anders Breivik from shooting 69 people dead last year.”

Many statements are available from people on both sides of the gun-control issue but these quotes, obtained from the Dec. 28 issue of The Week, are representative of most of them.

The worst idea of all of them, in my opinion, is the one to arm teachers, lock all doors and use scanners at the main entrances monitored by guards. If we disregard the enormous cost of this type of fix, (school boards all over the country claim they are not getting sufficient funds to educate properly) what kind of atmosphere is this for our children?

The overwhelming number of teachers are good people, but we are constantly hearing examples of morally bad ones. Do we want the unstable ones to have guns? Arms in the school, locked in a secure place such as the principal’s office, would still be subject to theft, plus the time to retrieve the guns in an emergency would probably render them useless. What would be the worst-case scenario in the event of a fire if all the exit doors were locked or eliminate in new buildings? Would students pile up in front of locked doors and die?

I have read that guns used by criminals are usually stolen ones, so one could conclude that no amount of new gun control laws will prevent the criminal or mentally unstable from getting guns with which to commit crimes.

Death is part of life. We never know how, when or where it will strike any one of us, including our children. Being a father I do not want anyone to think I do not want to protect our children in the best way we can from these gun incidents. However, we all need to get over this mentality that we can protect everyone from everything that can happen to us in our daily life.

For example, in the last two years, locally, two children with their mothers have been hit by cars and killed while crossing the street in crosswalks. The city and school authorities had every thing in place for safely crossing the street but the sad event still occurred. Those two mothers, having witnessed the violent death of their children, are probably suffering more than any of us can imagine. Our best precautions are still imperfect.

It is my opinion that we should keep the schools pretty much as they are. Sure, we can improve safety, but improvements should be as invisible as is possible to the students, especially in the grade schools.

Give our children their childhood happy days at school. Do not have them go to school in fear every day. Pray for their safety!

William J. Kelly is a Weatherford resident and frequent contributor to Viewpoints.