BY SAM CAPUANO
Gun control stories, while never too far from the news cycle, have been seemingly everywhere since the tragedy in Connecticut a couple months ago. I have jotted down a few words on the topic myself in this space; it has become the trendy thing to do.
Over the past few weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Barack Obama have seized the moment to push for more gun control. They are both smart politicians, riding high in popularity polls, and they are making their core constituency happy with such pushes.
And, meanwhile, last Saturday a huge gathering in our nation’s capital marched for gun control.
Closer to home, and in direct response to the fact the Newtown shootings were at a school, there was a forum at Ballston Spa High School last week to discuss the subject of guns and how we can keep our schools safer. Now, this is something we can sink our teeth into.
First and foremost, kudos to the BSCSD for having such a discussion, which is largely free of the politics exhibited by the governor and the president. The school safety issue is one in which any parent with school aged kids, such as your columnist, is particularly interested. There are several things we are concerned with during the day; whether or not our kids will be part of a tragedy at school should not be one of them. But the reality is, given the events of the past few years, the concern has to be there.
Can every school be safer? Absolutely. We can make any situation safer. The fact is, our schools are much safer now than when I was a student. But what is the correct and/or proper amount to spend for this safety?
The National Rifle Association has suggested guns in the hands of school officials would help solve the problem. At the risk of offending my friends on the right, let me say: no thanks. I do not want my kids to pass security checkpoints every day on their way to classes. And, if such guns would be in place, it would be a matter of when, not if, one of them wounds someone in the school.
In my day job, as an auditor, I have to assess internal controls at a financial institution and then make recommendations for improvement. Every one of those recommendations comes with some sort of a cost. This is not to say one should put a price tag on human safety. My co-workers daily realize they could be subject to an armed robbery. But most branches, especially in these parts, do not have armed guards. What we do is preach awareness and safety. And presentations from local police as to what we all can do to be safe are part of the picture, too.
At the high school forum, Shenendehowa’s respected superintendent Oliver Robinson said he was not in favor of school officials packing heat, and he suggested it might create too much of a sense of isolation. He said teaching our kids greater awareness would help. Indeed it would.
I don’t want to see our schools become fortresses. When I have to visit my kids’ schools during the day, there is a process involved. This includes being buzzed in, signing in, wearing a visitor’s badge, etc. It is a pain, which is exactly how it should be.
Last month, when I went to give my son some money as he was sitting in the student section in the bleachers at a high school basketball game, I was told by the faculty dude that adults were not allowed in that section. This is a nice rule, and not just because I didn’t have to give the boy any money.
Are these precautions going to stop some whack job, armed to the teeth, from coming into the school guns a-blazin’? No, it will not. Friends, I can’t think of anything that will. But, these are smart, prudent steps. And our kids are better off for it.
Unless our schools start to resemble the TSA line at airports, we will never have 100 percent safety. Do we want to subject our kids to this kind of regimen every day? I think not. And I am a firm believer that when and if we resort to this style of quasi-martial law, the bad guys win. We lose. And I hate losing. Especially to the bad guys.