The latest outrage — the murder of 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Miami — area forces us to re-examine why adequate measures to protect our students and teachers are not more forthcoming. What will it take for there to be a national policy of putting metal detectors and police to man them in every school in America?
While liberals attack lax gun controls and conservatives attack leniency toward terrorist groups, neither faction addresses the key question — how to stop the killings.
The Florida shooting is, of course, hardly unique. Since 2013, there have been 290 school shootings in America — about one per week — accounting for 59 deaths (not including this week's carnage). This must stop.
Philadelphia installed metal detectors in all of its public high schools in 1999, which has minimized the problem of school shootings. The success of the Transportation Security Administration in reducing the use of firearms on passenger airplanes attests to the effectiveness of metal detectors.
There are about 100,000 school buildings in the United States (public and private combined). The Department of Justice estimates that a portal walk-through metal detector appropriate for school use costs about $5,000. So the capital cost of equipping every school building with a metal detector would run about $500 million. Assuming a police officer would be needed to administer the search and to protect its effectiveness another $5 billion would be needed in operating expenses (100,000 police @ $50,000 each). Since police activity peaks at night when schools are closed, it may be possible to defray part of this cost by assigning regular police in each community to the schools to operate the screening.
But this cost is minor compared to the horrors of school shootings. The trauma of school shootings effect a far larger population than those actually killed or wounded. The fear and worry these incidents engender post a serious threat to education and to the mental health of our student population.
While therapy, crisis intervention, anger management, and gun controls might be effective in reducing the number and severity of school shootings, metal detectors are an absolute answer — cheap, effective and immediate.
Image courtesy of Commons:RIA_Novosti