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The Sandy Hook Initiative-UPDATED

UPDATED Here's a workable plan to secure our schools and employ veterans. It's not my idea, but hundreds of thousands have already sounded off. An equal number are ready to sign up for the job.

Michigan  Law to Expand CCW into Schools was a headline I recently found. Tennessee Marine Father Stands Guard at School is the topic of a Facebook post that has gone viral, with nearly 17,000 hits in a matter of hours. Employ Veterans as Security at Schools is an idea being discussed on numerous websites and Facebook pages, with a combined total of several hundred thousand likes and comments in the less than a day since the idea was touted.

I’ve been reading, and thinking and doing my best to look at the issues of gun control and school shootings with an open mind in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting rampage. Mostly, I’ve been trying to separate the hysteria and facts, on both sides of the argument.

I simply can’t get on board with the idea of taking after Israel and arming every teacher. We can’t get enough qualified teachers in our schools as it is. Now we are going to add marksmanship to the requirements for a teaching certificate?

Passing stricter gun control laws with an eye toward preventing those with mental illness from legally obtaining weapons is an equally unworkable plan. That’s not because I disagree with the concept that those who are mentally unstable should not have access to firearms, but simply because of the privacy laws that would have to be bent to the breaking point in order to put those measures into effect.

I don’t think the answer is to ban all guns either, simply because then the only ones with guns, other than the police, will be the bad guys. This may be a surprise to some, but criminals aren’t overly concerned with breaking the existing laws so expecting more laws to have an impact is a bit naïve. Chicago is the proof that restricting legal gun ownership has the inverse of the intended effect. We are leading the nation in gun violence.

Most of what I have found in the media has been clearly in the camp of banning guns completely, an understandable knee-jerk reaction when we see the faces of twenty innocent children being mourned. But, this issue is not being covered fairly. I hate that I have to sound like a conspiracy-theorist, but the simple fact is the number of times an armed citizen stops the bad guys simply doesn’t get reported. For each instance I’ve highlighted below, there are dozens more stories where ordinary citizens prove responsible gun owners save lives. The fact that I had to search for these stories, that most of them never made the national news at all, and the ones that did left out the part where the average joe exercising his 2nd Amendment right was the hero tells me just how liberal and biased the national media has become.

Take the Pearl, Mississippi shooting in 1997 for example. In that case, a student upset over breaking up with his girlfriend boldly walked into a school armed with a shotgun. He killed his girlfriend and one other student then fled, intending to go to a Middle School and start shooting there, knowing the police would be busy at the High School he just left. The Vice-Principal, hearing the shots ran to his vehicle, where he had a duly registered, legally owned gun in his glove compartment. This educator loaded his weapon on the run and confronted the killer in the parking lot, holding a handgun to his head until police arrived.

In Garden City, California this past summer, a 65 year old woman opened fire on five masked gunmen who were attempting to rob her jewelry store. They fled the scene so fast they were literally tripping over each other to get away. The entire incident was caught on video. It is believed this is the same group that tried to rob another store one day later. In that second incident, one of the would-be armed robbers was shot in the face by that store owner. Let’s call this group slow learners, but they have seemed to learn their lesson finally as no other crimes or attempted robberies have been reported in the area with suspects matching their descriptions.

A few days before the Connecticut shooting, there was another attempt at mass murder in a busy shopping mall in Oregon. This incident did make the news, but the most interesting part of the story was omitted in the  national coverage I found. To get the full story, I had to go back and find the local reports filed that day and the day after. A gunman walked into the mall and opened fire, killing two people. It seems his gun jammed, a weapon he stole from an acquaintance, and while he was trying to clear it a shopper with a Concealed Carry Permit drew down on the killer. This citizen did not fire, as he did not feel he could safely do so as there were too many other people around. At that point, the gunman saw he had a gun pointed at him according to witnesses and fled into a hallway and then a stairwell where he shot and killed himself.

Earlier this fall, Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek approached the school District 202 board to discuss placing gun safes in schools. The intention was to have the already present on-campus school resource officer have faster access to their AR-15 rifle in the case of a shooter in the building. For many reasons, including the simple logistics of coordinating with Joliet police, which has jurisdiction over one of the four District 202 high schools which was, incidentally, not covered in the initial plan, the proposal was rescinded by Chief Konopek. Board members had said that they couldn’t entertain an idea that covered some schools in the District, but omitted others before they received a written request to withdraw the proposal in part because “with the amount of media attention this topic has received I feel that some of the proposed security measures that would have been implemented have been compromised”.

Those who participated in an online petition to fight the idea claimed a victory, saying it was their efforts which caused the police chief to reconsider. They claim to have had just over 400 signatures. However, the community voiced widespread support of exploring the idea, evidenced by the comments attached to the numerous articles on various news organizations websites. Not surprisingly, calls for revisiting the topic have been floated in the wake of last week’s tragedy.

Then, this morning I found the story of a Tennessee Marine dad who has chosen to stand guard outside his kids’ school. He said he will be there for the remainder of this week, not in response to any reported threats, but simply to create a presence of reassurance and safety for the students, teachers and parents. I found this story after reading the fourth posting of the following idea.

I’ve been unable to track down the original poster, and it may be one of those things that has multiple near simultaneous sources. Judging from the speed with which it has exploded across numerous sites, it is something that has resonated with a lot of people. The fact that it addresses several national, pressing issues has a lot to do with how much traction the idea has. Sometimes, the answers really are this simple.

Instead of trying to arm teachers and administrators or amending or violating the Constitution, both of which are ideas it would take years of arguing and untold billions of dollars to bring to fruition, why not just hire veterans as armed security at all schools across the country? The comments on this idea are well salted with offers to take on the job for free, a sentiment that is all the more remarkable when weighed against a 30% unemployment rate for new veterans, according to  June 2012 Forbes article. But, it should not be surprising as it would be nothing more than a continuation of the oaths to protect Americans these men and women already took.

Several people have even collected hard data and numbers, translating the idea into a workable plan. One person claimed it would cost less than $1.00 per day per student to employ two full time security guards at each and every school in the nation. I did my own research and found that number was accurate, given the following parameters taken from The Center For Education Reform:

Number of school children – 55,235,000

Number of K-12 schools – 132,656

Using the average school security officer salary of $41,000, per SimplyHired.com and a 180 day school year, that comes to $1.09 per child, while generating 265,312 new jobs. Other sites quoted the average national starting salary for school security guards between $29,000 and $31,000 per year, lowering the startup cost of this plan to $0.77 to $0.82 per student.

I can’t see a downside to this plan. It is not possible to guarantee the safety of all children in all schools all the time. But, for about $1.00 per day, we can go a long way towards securing that safety and employ over a quarter of a million veterans at the same time. Maybe then, when fears for our children are not driving the conversation, we can have a sane dialogue on gun violence in this country.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Roberts December 21, 2012 at 01:52 AM
A freak lol..yeah that's the solution call the national guard out.lol...wrap some barb wire around the school too?..a couple of road blocks?security checks?..armed trained security that is also trained for child,teenage mentality...would be more the answer..is all I am saying..I brought up a lot of good points on soldiers that no one seems to want to discuss.and I am a freak...look I love my country I would not want to live any where else in the world..not even if it became a military country...got it?..the people,the citizens need to be more responsible for ther own lives..we scream out " we the people" then beg the government to deal with stuff that should of been taken care of by common sense...taking certain precautions is all I was saying then that got brought into question and I explaind why I think the precautions need to be taken. I am not calling out a group. I am saying all personnel that are armed and guarding the children need to be evaluated,teens attitudes can get them shot,some are smart asses and might just not be having a good day..and what happens..look hitting an armed forces personnel is way way worse than getting into it with a security guard..like terrorist charges buddy...are you people not thinking....think out side the box..look at the whole picture...military control..not same as security control..way different..and some that will patrol just came back from war...military control is military control
John Roberts December 21, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Look ignore it all you want..I have close family that was in wars,I have young family getting ready to join the military.shipping out Feb 23.I have friend that were in wars..but you have to be realistic.ya know there is more to the military than "Go America" and you know it..I am making a point about the PTSD and all the stuff these soldiers have been through..yeah I might be outright with my words but I am speaking the truth..what kid of a name does it give the soldiers if we have some snapping put at a school? Don't people think that would cause more chaos? An evaluation is all I have been saying and it got put to me like I am against the military and I am not.All the facts I said are true,have been proven,and are realistic points from PTSD,to suicide,to shoot outs,to being disgruntled because of health care and benefits,to police suicide,to weapons being taken by government because of suicides,it is my responsibility to ask these questions.these soldiers just ain't going to be in Newtown they will be everywhere,I am making the point of security,that is different than military,you will get a terrorist charge if a teen gets into it with a military guard, these are realistic points.people need to wake the hell up.the more we ask government the more they give and the more they ask,the more they take,.it all sounds great to let vets take care of it,sounds patriotic protecting the children of America but there are 2 sides to everything weather people wanna talk about it or not
John Roberts December 21, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Know what call me what ever ya want delusional,freak what ever you want but still yet not a one of you have told me what is wrong with my questions,not a one of you have said anything,you try to discredit me by calling them ramblings but have not proved me wrong on any of it,nor had any real knowledge to go against it,everything I mentioned is true and all of you know it,I am a realist,I do not ignore the things I do not like,some of you are what the hell is the matter with this country,just ignore it,be sheltered,just think it is going to be ok and it will,..it will all work out mentality...it's time people start asking the questions and talk about the thing they do not like...and what happens in war is definatley one of them,especially some of the soldiers are going to be around kids at a school..Now we have had soldiers do things in retaliation to what has happened in war have we not?..but everyone wants to ignore it..why? Because it ain't happening here?..I can not believe the one sided thinking..why? Just because their soldiers? really?..I have brought up some very logical questions that none of you want to realize are legitimate questions...Spoon fed government Sheeple,keep on asking government for everything see how it keeps ending up...you ask them to patrol the boarder they built a wall,still can not stop it,tax you to death for it,and now keeps you in if you Owe the IRS.lmao....but just ignore that too..
my conscience December 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM
The National Guard was responsible for one of the worst school shootings on record, at Kent St. University. As for John Roberts, try to understand what he is saying not how he is saying it. Regarding this idea of using the returning vets to secure the schools, I understand the frustration Denise feels but the overall concept is wrong in so many ways it appears ridiculous.
Shawn Dyer January 06, 2013 at 10:22 PM
I agree with veterans as School security. It helps them re-integrate into society barring any signs of PSTD or TBI that would possibly preclude them from owning a weapon. And as far as charging the students an extra 77 cnets to over a dollar, why don't we lower the wages of the administrators in the school districts, especially our own here in Plainfield to pay for the piece of mind for the parents. Most of the veterans coming back have tactical experience depending on their MOS or job description and could actually train with and be part of a Police rapid response team in the event of an active shooter situation. Just my two cents. P.S. Thank you for being a responsible journalist and searching for all of the facts when writing an article such as this. You have my profound respect fordoing so.

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