Imagine walking into the front doors of Brien McMahon and seeing two armed guards covering the doors. They’re serious and focused. Would you feel safe or intimidated? Ask yourself, would coming to school everyday and seeing armed forces throughout the school actually benefit your safety and the Brien McMahon community, or make you feel unsafe?
Twenty years ago, two students from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado opened fire, injuring and killing twelve of their fellow classmates and teachers before turning the guns on themselves. During the time of the Columbine shooting, police were not trained to go directly into the gunfire, but to wait for the SWAT team to arrive, unfortunately, giving the shooter more time to continue firing at students. Since the violent shooting, schools have upgraded their plan for active shooters.
Today, we practice the “Run, Hide, Fight” method. Run-- if you’re able to run away from the violence, do it. If you’re unable to run from the shooter, hide. If the shooter approaches your classroom, fight. We’re told to do things that will distract the shooter and slow them down like throwing books. Since the events of Columbine, law enforcement has been trained to go directly to the noise of gunfire. Classrooms doors are now able to be locked from the inside and students have been taught how to barricade them.
Since the Columbine shooting, ABC News has reported eleven mass school shootings. In Newtown, Connecticut, twenty children and six teachers were shot and killed by twenty-year-old Adam Lanza. Considered to be the deadliest school shooting in the U.S., the Virginia Tech shooting took thirty-two lives (CNN). Victims involved in each of the massacres followed the “Run, Hide, and Fight” plan. Do you think it was enough? If there were armed guards, would the deaths of multiple children, teenagers, and teachers have been prevented?
I interviewed Jessica Jean-Pierre, a senior at Brien McMahon about her opinions and thoughts on armed security in school communities. Pierre (‘20) says she thinks armed security is a good idea. “I would feel a lot safer since they are there to help if there are any threats that might come among us,” she shared.
Stationing armed guards at schools has both pros and cons. For instance, armed guards patrolling the school would decrease the chances of violent incidents and massacres, lessen bullying, and increase observation on students. However, armed guards at school do offer the risk of potential violence; if a guard does not receive a thorough background check, it could result in violent incidents. Additionally, students may fear the armed guards instead of feeling protected.
While stationing armed guards at school communities offers many safety precautions, it also offers safety concerns. Regardless, no one should be afraid of coming to school, nor uncomfortable. School should not feel like a prison, but a place of learning and making life-lasting memories.