In response to the dramatic number of school shootings across the United States, districts around the country are taking drastic measures to keep students safe. Following the last significant school massacre in Parkland, Florida, teachers and administrators are enacting knee-jerk policies that do little more than pay lip service to frightened parents and pupils.
Most educators are being thrust into the arena of safety and security because America’s NRA-purchased political leaders consistently shirk their responsibilities to address competently the issue of gun violence. With 51 million children attending public schools in the United States, it is difficult to comprehend that a scarce minority — like the NRA with just 5 million members — controls the fate of our nation’s children. While parents worry each day about their students’ safety at school, NRA members’ $35 annual membership dues are funding the continued threat of another massacre.
In a time when politicians should be examining rational and legitimate answers to gun control, schools are applying Band-Aids to wounded survivors and safety policies.
Last week, Parkland students began arriving at school with mandatory clear vinyl backpacks — the districts’ latest attempt to prevent further violence and another on campus shooter. Entering school like visitors to a local prison, students’ at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mocked the district’s new policy that seems as ridiculous as changing the batteries in a smoke detector in a building that just burned to the ground. How easily NRA gun-nuts are to strip America’s youth of their fundamental First Amendment rights for want of their perceived Second Amendment right to carry military-grade assault rifles.
The clear backpack policy is one that not only appears to lack any merit — legally speaking — pursuant to a courtroom rational basis review, but also provides little comfort for concerned parents. At Parkland, and other school massacres like Newtown, the perpetrators were not even students. They did not arrive with students or carry books, lunchboxes, and homework. The Parkland shooter pulled up in an Uber late in the day and shortly before dismissal. No matter how many students in the school had clear backpacks that day, it would not have changed the outcome. Likewise, in Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the perpetrator was a 20-year-old man who neither attended, nor worked at the school.
Parkland’s backpack policy is a shining example of how America’s policies and statutes — from local to federal — begin with hasty and poorly thought-out conclusions. Administrators and legislators are more apt to slap a quick fix on a problem rather than address the underlying causes. Where NRA bribery and blood money is concerned, they are even less likely to investigate and take appropriate action.
In one Pennsylvania school district, the superintendent is promoting capital punishment of biblical proportions to prevent the possibility of a shooter in his schools. At Blue Mountain schools in Schuylkill County, classrooms are equipped with 5-gallon buckets of river rocks for stoning anyone who barges into a classroom with an AR-15 spraying bullets. Stoning shooters is the brainchild of school superintendent David Helsel, who has a Ph.D. in some education field, but seems to lack the basic physics knowledge that dispels the effectiveness of his “Rock v. Bullets” policy.
As 51 million children across the country return to school tomorrow morning, safety must be a priority for every student. However, effective safety must include protections of every child’s constitutional rights and be developed with a rational basis towards a legitimate government interest. The safety of those 51 million children must take priority over the NRA and its minority membership of only 5 million. In addition, safety can only be accomplished through cooperative discussion and policy development and not through buckets of rock and see-through backpacks.
Let us hope America’s youth survives their education years to emerge as smarter and more adept problem solvers than the people charged with educating them.
Featured image: @xo_karmin_ox/Tiwtter