School shootings have become a tragic reality for students, teachers, and communities across the United States. As the public rallies in favor of stronger gun control measures, there have been a number of questionable rules put in place by schools to curb violence. While these rules are certainly well-intentioned, it's not exactly clear how effective such measures would be against an armed gunman, whether he had a basic handgun or an assault rifle. But one thing is certain: some of the efforts to stop school shootings are controversial, to say the least.
The controversial rules and methods schools use to try to prevent shootings illustrate both the stranglehold guns have on the country and the tragic vulnerability of American classrooms. As the citizenry urges the government to act in a meaningful way on the gun issue, schools are left scrambling to find potential solutions that might work in the meantime. Some solutions, as you will see, make more sense than others.
Schools are reaching a point of desperation and because of this are attempting to do whatever possible to give students and teachers some defense against guns. To this end, one school district in Pennsylvania has decided to arm classrooms — with rocks. "Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone," Dr. David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District, told a local news station. "If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full of students armed with rocks and they will be stoned." Most experts agree that such an approach should only be used as a last resort in an active shooter situation. But Helsel thinks rocks are at least worth a shot against semiautomatic weapons. "They're the right size for hands, you can throw them very hard, and they will create or cause pain, which can distract," he said.
Mass shooting drills are becoming as common as fire drills in American classrooms. These drills are a response to the Department of Homeland Security's advice for school shootings: "Run, hide fight." The DHS urges those in active shooter situations to find a path out of the building, but, if that is not an option, they suggest hiding "where the active shooter is less likely to find you." But this might not be the most effective approach. "Hiding under your desk is hands-down the wrong thing to do," said former FBI agent Greg Shaffer. "There needs to be a new shift to stress the importance of getting out of the school building."
Since the Parkland shooting in February of 2018, there has been a major effort to try to arm teachers with guns. Florida is making the first statewide push to have this be a norm in American classrooms, a move supported by the current presidential administration. Teachers would be trained in how to use firearms, and they would receive a miniscule financial bonus as a result of arming their classrooms to the teeth. Trump is, not surprisingly, sold on the idea:
This would only obviously be for people who are very adept at handling a gun. It’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone. Gun-free zone to a maniac, because they’re all cowards, a gun-free zone is: "Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us."
Some schools are choosing to use technology to try to handle the threat of shootings. They install cameras in classrooms that send data in real time to local police departments. This option, however, is only effective at addressing shootings when they happen. It's not necessarily a deterrent or a method of prevention.
Still, there are benefits to cameras in classrooms. "It's an incredible advantage to the officers responding to help provide intel and information to get kids out of harm's way, faculty out of harm's way and, as well, identify the location of the active shooter," said Mark Heckel of Macomb County, Michigan, where realtime camera systems are being implemented.