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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Fortify schools

by Mike Masterson | June 19, 2022 at 1:49 a.m.


Seems everyone has an opinion on how best to prevent school shootings. I do know these often-suicidal killers are never concerned with laws, including the missives posted at virtually every school.

Have the strictest gun laws in the nation slowed the carnage even slightly in Chicago or other violent cities with similar restrictions against ownership?

Raising the age to acquire specialized, semiautomatic weapons usually reserved for military combat certainly seems reasonable. Yet, what about shotguns and their ability to slay almost as rapidly when victims are left to the mercy of a madman?

And how about illegal markets and 3-D-printed guns that are relatively easy to construct at home? Seems to me any determined person in a crazed state of mind will always find a way to secure a weapon without giving the law a second thought.

Each time we face these tragedies, the focus immediately falls on the inanimate weapon they used. Although that's one relevant factor of many, it also is remarkably simplistic.

I have different thoughts aimed at preventing these tragedies from occurring.

In my ideal world, one admittedly expensive way to keep children safe from the deranged among us is to do whatever becomes necessary on the spot. Given a generous budget, I'd have bullet-proof enclosures created at the back of each classroom.

It would be just large enough to contain every student and teacher and provide immediate and effective shelter for sufficient time to allow police to end the horror.

My concept also would allow for one small, bullet-safe slitted window for the teacher or teachers to observe what the killer was doing and report via a means of communication kept within the space. Each safe room would be equipped with sufficient internal ventilation and a camera.

Allowing only one filmed point of entry and departure from every school, along with an alarm, would only strengthen such safety.

Is this perfect? No. Would it provide a quick and effective way to save young lives in a moment's notice as gunshots ring out and the aroma of burned gunpowder powder fills the air? Yes.

For me, that would be better than having no other effective options for saving children's lives than to arm resource officers, teachers and administrators and hope they aren't also killed.

I'm betting an entire classroom could file inside one of these safe spaces within 20 seconds, which means, with training, classrooms throughout a school could be safely locked away in well under a minute. There would be no way for the killer to get to anyone.

This approach also would allow police to take whatever steps necessary to eliminate the threat.

As I say above, this would be expensive to create. Yet we are back to the question of (knowing what we know now) what it's worth to prevent these horrors in the future.

Against bad clergy

I see that the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution encouraging every state to pass laws making it a crime for clergy and church volunteers to sexually abuse their parishioners The Baptists also passed a resolution publicly apologizing to the many victims over the years.

One Southern Baptist Convention goal reportedly is to create a nationwide database listing the names of Christian ministers and volunteers who stand credibly accused of such crimes.

It was reassuring to see our state in 2020 passed just such a law, putting us out front alongside several others in trying to stem this chronic scourge.

Life with Benji

I feel the need to pause every so often to review life with our 12-pound taco terrier Benji, who's become an indispensable part of our lives since we rescued him at the Boone County Animal Shelter two years ago.

The way I see it, more than half of those reading have pets and I suspect most of them have dogs, which means they can easily relate to our experiences with this expressive and affectionate little man.

I'll even go so far as to say many of those who've bonded with their canines feel closer to them than to members of their own families.

That's often what happens when you live with a furry and affectionate creature filled with unconditional love.

Friends Hank and Nickie Thompson of Harrison became so attached to their little dog Pepper that they mourned for more than a year after his passing, vowing not to acquire another. It simply hurt too bad to lose him.

With Benji, we understand those feelings more than ever. It's unfair that we have them in our lives for only 12 to 15 years to be left with so many fulfilling memories.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.


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