Even if the odds of it happening are miniscule, it is a chilling fact that because of our insane gun laws no school in America is safe from a Newtown–like massacre. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not anytime at all until such laws are at last changed. A school can have the most fearless teachers and security officers in the world. A school can have the most comprehensive safety plans on earth. A school can place airport-quality metal detectors in all of its entrances and have surveillance video cameras covering every square inch of its campus. A school can create Building Response Teams to handle just about any crisis that comes up as NYC schools have done in the wake of 9/11. A school can run lockdown drills till all are blue in the face. A school can have highly trained and sophisticated SWAT teams mere minutes away and, as has been proven in Columbine and Newtown and elsewhere, none of this will matter much at all in the face of a person or persons with guns intending to use them. The SWAT teams arrive too late. The metal detectors can be shot out and the security officers manning them shot down in the same manner as the fearless teachers. And the video cameras can only record the slaughter, not stop it.
In the face of guns all of these things can prevent nothing. Nothing at all.
These thoughts ran through my head this morning as, in a process that was surely enacted the nation over, my fellow teachers and Safety Committee members and I went through our protocols – the school safety plan, the Building response team, the lockdown procedure. All this was in an effort, suddenly given great urgency, to be as prepared as possible for an attack of the nature of Newtown or Columbine or any other of the major school shootings that have occurred in the past few years: Chardon, Ohio, February 27, 2012, Port Orchard, Washington, February 23, 2012, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, February 21, 2012 Brownsville, Texas, January 4, 2012, Berkeley, CA, November 15, 2011, Fayetteville, NC, October, 25 2011, Harper Woods, Michigan, August 26, 2011, Mandeville, Louisiana, August 8, 2011 and on and on.
In the midst of all this a strange and terrible thought occurred to me: the only school in the entirety of New York City that was invulnerable to a Newtown–like attack is the fortress like school in the prison on Riker’s Island.
And how sick is that ?
Yes, the odds that your child’s school or my child’s school will be attacked by a gunman are miniscule but that is brutally icy comfort to the people of Newtown.
The odds need to be zero. They must be zero. And they can be zero. And there is only one way that that can occur.
There is only one question: How many more children must die before we make this happen ?