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To the editor:
The tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., is another sad reminder of the vulnerability of our nation’s schools. We all want to see something done to deter others from committing similar atrocities. We can expect well-meaning politicians and others to push for legislation to prohibit certain types of firearms and accessories and curtail their availability. We can also expect debates regarding violent movies and video games, mental health treatment, and the lack of religion in our society. These discussions are healthy and necessary.
Regardless of your views on gun rights, the fact is that even if private ownership of firearms was banned today, there are simply too many guns already in circulation to keep them from every madman intent on harming the innocent.
Many mistakenly believe that calling 911 is the best approach to stopping shooters. Unfortunately, a rapid police response of just a few minutes rarely stops the shooter from taking lives.
So how can we protect students and school staff? The answer is that law enforcement, politicians, school boards and administrations have to wake up to the threat that our schools are under every day.
It is time to take a lesson from our friends in Israel and mandate that everypublic and private school in America have at least one well-trained and armed staff member on site. There are several ways to make this happen, all of which could be enacted quickly.
Officers could be hired to patrol our schools, or boards of education could establish their own armed police or security forces. Retired officers already have the ability to carry a firearm and could be hired. The most cost-effective manner would be to train and arm select staff members who are willing to carry a concealed firearm and use it if necessary. There are plenty of retired police and military personnel already working as teachers or other staff members who have the background and skills.
A process to allow for select school staff to be trained and permitted to carry a firearm needs to be implemented immediately in the same manner that airline pilots have been permitted to carry after 9/11.
We can debate for the next decade. But the clock is ticking, and our most valuable resource, our children, remain vulnerable to the next violent predator with no respect for life and no regard for the law.
Joseph J. Picardi