School Shootings: 4 things that should be obvious by now

18 school shootings so far in 2018, and it is only Valentine’s Day. Where will we be by July 4th, Veterans”s Day, Christmas? One thing we can all agree on, children should not be giving up their lives for our inaction on problems we continue to avoid. Here’s what looks obvious to me:

  1. To identify likely shooters, we don’t need fancy new diagnostic protocols; we don’t need a psychologist in every school. Kids already know who is disturbed, menacing, and scary. They know because they see them in action, they hear the threats, they see the gun photos on social media. They know because they have radar for danger. Kids know and they don’t tell. Unless they tell and the authorities look into it and then cannot act. Children can learn what we choose to teach them. Short of scaring them unreasonably, can we teach them better to help us protect them?
  2. Teachers know too, which of their students fill their English papers with violence, slam other kids into lockers, play sports with a vengeance. But is there enough of a clear path to lead that student to help, and enough power to insure that they follow?
  3. Assault rifles are for assaults. No one needs one except the military and law enforcement. Period. How is that not obvious?
  4. We are witnessing a collision of mental health and privacy laws, individual rights, and public policy, politics, and safety. We are all stakeholders with rights and responsibilities. We need to face that the world has changed as we now have unfortunate new dangers. We need to invent a new way to contend with them, even if we have to question where the traditional boundaries are drawn.

If we approach this from all sides, seeking a balance between rights and protections, we can keep it from descending into a partisan special-interest battle about guns and politics. Instead, how about if we change our priorities to first securing our children’s future, followed by revamping our approach to mental health problems accompanied by violence. We’ve got to do something. Will this one be our tipping point?


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