School Security Under Scrutiny after Nashville Covenant Shooting
The recent shooting in Nashville is still heavy on the hearts of Americans as statements from teachers, parents and law enforcement are released. The horrific events that took place at the Covenant School are unfortunately not a rarity in this country, with the number of mass shootings reaching 130 in this past year alone . Americans are speaking out against organizations such as the National Rifle Association that protest gun control legislation and safety laws in response to the increasing rate of gun-related deaths. Another conversation has emerged since the horrific events in Nashville now surrounding safety protocols in schools.
Schools in the United States undergo various lockdown drills that help teachers, students, and administrators practice their emergency response if a school shooter were to enter the school. The Covenant School was no different, having drilled their protocols into place in the previous year . However, even given their carefully practiced procedures, law enforcement in Nashville has begun to point out issues with the safety measures at Covenant, and their lack of effectiveness.
In an interview with Security Consultant Brink Fidler, he explained that the Covenant school followed the safety measures they were trained in. However, he also explained that Covenant did not have a School Resource Officer . School resource officers are in charge of locating threats and preventing harm to the students and staff of the school they serve. It has been argued that the presence of a School Resource Officer could have prevented the events of March 27th at Covenant.
Lawmakers are now considering pushing for bullet-resistant laminate on their doors and windows to further protect against threats of gun violence . Other members of Congress are looking at a more directive approach and want to arm teachers with guns to protect their students. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton explained how having more people within the school who are trained to respond to threats will help keep children safe . Teachers are against such proposals. Everytown, an organization that advocates for gun safety states, “School shootings are chaotic and in these moments of chaos, we cannot ask teachers to stop a shooter, potentially a former student” .
Teachers continue to speak out against these proposals, arguing that it will not achieve the goals lawmakers intend, but rather put both the students and teachers in more danger with a firearm in their classrooms. Deborah Gatrell, a member of the National Education Association and firearm owner stated the following, “I’m a teacher and you are my students and I can’t see you as a potential threat and then teach you” .
The outcome of the Nashville shooting emphasizes the concerns of administrators and teachers around the United States; even if they do everything by the book and have the proper safety precautions in place, they could still be at risk of gun violence. The lack of effectiveness some say lockdown procedures have on preventing gun violence proposes the question of what other measures can be implemented to protect students and staff. As mentioned earlier, many students are pushing for gun reform through stricter gun control laws, and even a ban on assault weapons .
The conversation surrounding gun violence and how to best protect our most vulnerable has led to many youth protests around the country. School should be a place where children go to learn and socialize, a place where they feel safe. As the number of school shootings and gun violence rates continue to rise, their sense of safety is directly threatened. It will be interesting to see how lawmakers react to this new wave of youth activism, as many of the children protesting are approaching voting age and will soon be able to express their frustrations with current gun laws through elections.