USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Why are we so averse to spending $233 per student to put an immediate stop to school shootings? Are we so lazy that all we can manage is to have contentious debates on social media and call for politicians to make more laws?
Rewind and replay. Another mass murder in a school, and rather than pooling resources to fix the problem we've started to argue about gun laws.
Forget the fact that the proposed “solution” to ending mass shootings is functionally identical to our “solution” of the narcotics and opioid epidemics – and equally destined to fail. We’ve universally controlled and banned narcotics for decades. Everything about them is illegal. We’ve made it a challenge for anyone with a cold to buy Sudafed. Yet 175 Americans die from narcotics overdoses. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Worse, ten percent (and growing) of those deaths are from the pool of our children. Yes, you heard that right. Narcotics kill 17 of our kids daily. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. So, while writing lots and lots of drug laws, we still endure the exact equivalent of a Parkland, Florida mass shooting event seven days a week, 365 days a year. How's the “more narcotics laws” solution working out?
Forget the fact mass shootings aren't a uniquely American problem. 59 out of 66 of the largest mass shooting murders have occurred OUTSIDE of the United States. That doesn’t count wars, conflicts, or genocidal acts. Those figures represent mass shootings of the type in Parkland, Florida.
Forget the fact that we deliberately make schools the preferred target of fame-seeking killers by leaving them defenseless, simply because they “should” be a safe space. We've done a masterful job of broadcasting to the world of psychopaths, “Here's a building full of kids! We've done everything in our power to make sure that everyone inside is incapable of defending themselves against whatever you want to do!” Depending on the numbers you consider, somewhere over 90% of all mass murders occur in these so-called gun-free zones. It’s not hard to understand. Those who seek mass murder target places where they can act unopposed.
Forget the fact that humans have been killing each other since the beginning of time. For 99% of our collective history, we’ve been doing it in far greater numbers than today, even with the unspeakable tragedies that we see on a regular basis.
Forget the fact that we routinely desensitize our youth to the consequences of death, murder, and violence through the glorification of gore via video games, television, and movies. Ever wonder how militaries since the beginning of time train their recruits to commit the very unnatural act of killing other human beings? Deliberate desensitization, that’s how.
Forget the fact that we invest less in protection for our school children than many bank branches, movie theaters, and grocery stores.
Need I go on?
I am as much or more outraged as those screaming for more gun control and calling the NRA a terrorist organization, but for entirely different reasons.
While we can never end despicable behavior by a small percentage of the human race, there are plenty of things we can do – right now – to minimize their damage.
Here's the thing. Making more laws isn’t one of those actions.
How about protecting our children with the same level of commitment that we protect everything else in our society? I get it. We “shouldn’t have to” in our “enlightened” society. But that’s called denial. There are, and always will be, people who want to commit evil acts against the rest of us. To pretend otherwise is blissful ignorance.
Consider this. Across the United States, there is an average of 2.5 sworn law enforcement officers for every 1,000 residents. That doesn’t include administrative staff. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had somewhere around 3,100 students and staff on campus the day of the mass shooting. Guess how many law enforcement officers were on the property?
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the designated School Resource Officer (SRO) might not have been on campus in the moments that the attack began. “I have been told by a couple of sources that the SRO was either called off campus responding to something happening or it could have been his day off,” she said. “They are stretched very thin.” There are some conflicting reports about this, so let’s assume that one SRO was present.
In what amounts to a small town of 3,100, the rest of the country might expect to have between seven and eight law enforcement officers on duty. This particular “town” had one. Maybe.
Why do we prefer to make bold statements about supporting new gun laws yet fail to pull the lever for safety funding for our kids? Ranting on Facebook about one’s support for organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety is easy and costs nothing while signaling to your community of friends that you're outraged. Going to school district meetings to demand budget adjustments in favor of actual security requires getting off one’s butt and getting involved. That’s too hard I suppose.
We spend well over $10,000 per student per year on K-12 public education. Many states like New York take that per capita cost well above $20,000 per year per student. So, using round numbers, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and any other high schools of that size have an annual budget of over $30 million – at a minimum.
What’s the cost of “normal” security of seven or so officers for a population of that size? Heck, use a burdened expense of $100,000 per year per officer including salary, benefits, equipment, and training to be on the conservative budgeting side. Call it $700,000 per year for a school with 3,000 students. That works out to 2.3 percent of the annual budget. On an individual student level, the cost of the same level of security that the rest of us get is about $233 per year.
Why aren’t we willing to allocate two percent of the budget to keep our kids safe?
Is a child not worth $233?
Don’t even get me started on the “free” solution of ending the arbitrary gun-free zone policies. There are somewhere near 20 million fully-vetted armed citizens in this country with government-issued concealed carry permits. This type of murder spree simply doesn’t happen in environments where they roam because of simple deterrence. Yet we disarm these exceptionally law-abiding citizens anywhere near school grounds. Because “safety.”
But that’s another story.
About Tom McHale
Tom McHale is the author of the Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.