General Lee had surrendered, and the Civil War had ended. The President should have been able to enjoy a light moment at the theater. That wasn’t to be. President Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865, changing forever the mindset regarding the protecting of U.S. Presidents and other important officials. Originally started to combat widespread counterfeiting, the United States Secret Service assumed responsibility for presidential protection in 1902 after William McKinley was assassinated. Today, billions of dollars are spent each year investing in the protection of our leaders, including special transportation, communications, and armed personnel. In other words, our government responded to a new reality in terms of the danger to our leaders.
Similarly, school shootings have claimed the lives of hundreds of innocents since the first recorded shooting in 1764. The pattern goes something like this. First, a school shooting takes place. Second, multitudes call for thoughts, prayers, and vigils for those affected. Third, politicians call out again for gun control. Then, as always, the shootings fade to the background until another incident takes place. How many more lives must be lost until we admit we are also in a similar new reality that must be confronted with new strategies?
What is missing from this repeating cycle is the integration of any meaningful security strategy to protect our schools in the face of this new reality that no one wanted. From banks to Brinks trucks to museums to Fort Knox to sporting events, our society typically protects what it values the most. The most precious asset we have is our children and yet, despite the continued carnage, there is little comprehensive action taken in most school districts around the country save for the locked doors, some metal detectors, and perhaps a single resource officer tasked with the impossible responsibility to be everywhere on the campus at the same time.
A typical school system is supported by an army of volunteer booster organizations. The marching band has boosters. The cheerleaders have boosters. The football team has boosters. These support booster organizations provide thousands of volunteer man hours each year to facilitate successful extra-curricular activities for students. There is no reason every school in the country could not have security boosters to provide protection for what we all hold as precious. Every community is filled with retired military and peace officers who have the firearms expertise and know how to protect our children. Many of these hometown heroes would have no problem being vetted, screened, trained and then assigned a few days a month to protect a certain designated area of a school together with other security boosters.
Sure, lock the doors and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally disturbed and the demonized, but it’s time for a widespread strategy to protect our children – a strategy such as the integration of trained and experienced security boosters in our schools. Why? Because evil doesn’t make sense, doesn’t ask for permission, and doesn’t obey gun laws. It only took one presidential assassination to move us to action. There have been 229 U.S. school shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999 with 304 deaths and 485 more injured from shootings. In 2018 alone there were 35 mass school shootings. May 24, 2022 we all learned of 21 more deaths in a Texas elementary school shooting. How many more will it take before we take real action and address the new reality by integrating armed and trained volunteer security boosters who can deter the threat of shootings and when necessary, eliminate them?