Nearly two weeks after a former, disgruntled student gunned down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, our congressional delegation began weighing in with their school safety plans.
While students from the targeted Florida school demanded a ban on assault-style weapons, and President Trump called for expanding background checks on weapons and raising the age for gun sales, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Weatherford, suggested fixes that didn’t include guns.
We would like Granger, Williams and the rest of our congressional delegation to tell us where they stand on the hotly debated suggestions students and the president are backing. We understand elected officials will face criticism from someone when they do that, but we deserve to know.
Nevertheless, we give credit for their proposing something, though we aren’t sure Granger’s $500,000 worth of metal detectors would be very effective.
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Educators and school safety experts say they only act as a deterrent when used every day. Most schools districts, including Fort Worth and Arlington, use them randomly or only after there has been a threat or incident. Experts say metal detectors are not nearly as effective as identifying a threat early and preventing an incident before it happens.
Rep. Williams proposes having local school districts tell Education Secretary Betsy DeVos what they need to secure their schools. DeVos would review those requests and fund them with a portion of the department's $63 billion budget. He suggests considering “metal detectors, steel doors, bulletproof glass, safety training” as worthy of federal dollars.
We don’t know if “hardening” schools, making them more difficult to penetrate, will end school killings, but it might help.
We do know that early intervention did what a metal detector probably couldn’t have done at a Keller high school last year. A student mentioned a murder-suicide pact that involved killing classmates, his parents, then himself. That got the troubled teen a psychiatric referral and support services for the family. “Prevention must start long before there is a gunman in the parking lot,” Dewey Cornell, a forensic clinical psychologists and education at the University of Pennsylvania told Politifact.
We look forward to our lawmakers taking strong positions on the difficult questions surrounding this debate. We'd like to see some bold solutions that incorporate suggestions from education and law enforcement experts. Williams shout out for local school proposals is a start.