POLUMBO: Here’s What Conservatives Can Do to Stop School Shootings

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018


I never thought I’d say it, but Emma Gonzalez is right. After news broke of another devastating school shooting in Texas last week, the survivor-turned-gun-control activist tweeted out that the Sante Fe survivors “deserve more than thoughts and prayers.” This most recent attack left ten dead and added to the long list of schools scarred by tragedy — so while her usual rhetoric on gun control is misguided, Gonzalez has a point: Conservatives have to do something about school shootings.

If we want to keep the Second Amendment alive and protect gun rights, we can’t just argue against gun control — we have to offer an alternative plan to make schools safe again.

One place to start is with enhanced school security. If we can find ways to beef up security measures in schools, we can help stop or mitigate school shootings without infringing upon the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The left mercilessly mocked Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick when he recently suggested that schools have too many entrances, but he was right.

Limiting non-emergency traffic to one main entrance with metal detectors and armed guards would prevent students from bringing weapons inside schools or going on rampages. We’ve successfully discouraged terrorist attacks on airports post-9/11 using this security model —  so the left shouldn’t laugh this idea off.

Recent events show that an armed presence inside schools is needed to keep our students safe. In-house police prevent many incidents and fly under the media radar. Just last week Officer Mark Dallas stopped a school shooting in Illinois, and in March a Maryland school shooter was stopped in his tracks by an armed officer.

It’s true that the Sante Fe high school recently attacked did have two armed resource officers, but while they weren’t able to prevent the shooting, they did help mitigate the damage. It’s hard to see any real downside to increasing the police presence in our schools. After all, we already have armed security in banks and jewelry stores — surely conservatives can make the case that protecting our children is just as important.

If we want to stop school shootings without curtailing gun rights, we must understand what’s causing these attacks — and as it turns out, intense media coverage is playing a role. America’s always had a culture of gun ownership, but we never had nearly as many school shootings until Columbine, a 1999 attack on a high school in Colorado. The media covered the attack in detail and wrote the killers’ names and images into the historical record in the ink of infamy. The media may have had the best of intentions, but this blanket coverage led to copycat killers.

ABC News reported that 17 subsequent attacks and 36 foiled plots could be tied back to Columbine, and killers often idolize past shootings and use them as a model. The type of isolated, sick person who would carry out a school shooting is easily influenced by irresponsible media coverage that at times all-but fetishes the life of a school shooter.

Two psychologists from Western New Mexico University reported that many mass shooters desire fame, and suggested that the media stop reporting the killers’ names, pictures, or details about their lives. The experts estimated that a change in media coverage could lead to a one-third reduction in school shootings.

Ben Shapiro’s website, The Daily Wire, has already taken this step. After the Parkland tragedy, the Wire announced that they would no longer cover killers or report their names, and instead will focus on the victims and heroes involved with these terrible events. Conservative should argue that the best way to stop school shootings is to force media outlets to choose responsible coverage over profit. Of course, change must occur with market forces, not government coercion — we can’t protect the Second Amendment without respecting the First.  

We should also argue for a shift in cultural awareness and communication with law enforcement. If someone had spoken up, almost all of the recent school shootings could have been prevented. The Sante Fe shooter posted startling images of guns on social media, and even wore a t-shirt that read “born to kill.” The Parkland killer also had a disturbing online presence, even writing in a Youtube comment that he was “going to be a professional school shooter.” This tip, like many others, was reported to the FBI who failed on the follow-up.

The most natural and obvious way for conservatives to stop school shootings is to argue for increased awareness of the warning signs of an attack, and improvements in how our law enforcement agencies handle them. Another option for conservatives is that we do as David French suggested in National Review, and embrace gun violence restraining orders that would allow police to confiscate guns temporarily from a person believed to be dangerous, in a manner that would respect their due process rights. This policy would help prevent tragedies without limiting responsible gun ownership.

Some of these ideas might seem like controversial suggestions, but each school shooting turns the tide of public opinion further toward gun control. If we want to protect the Second Amendment for generations to come, doing nothing isn’t an option.


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About Bradley Polumbo

Brad Polumbo is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is an outspoken critic of PC culture and a free-speech advocate. His focus is on cultural issues and civil liberties.

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