25.05.2018 Sean Flynn for Congress No Comments

Safety First for Students and Teachers

by Sean Flynn

Inland Empire residents know from painful experience that America faces an unacceptable level of gun violence. Whether at a workplace in San Bernardino a high school in Palmdale, or in Santa Fe, Texas, far more needs to be done to prevent these tragedies.

As we discuss our options, I would like to point out that there are at least five common-sense solutions that can be enacted immediately to help safeguard students and schools from a repeat of the tragedy in Palmdale.  You have probably never heard of them because the political parties have gone to polar extremes and are more interested in finger pointing than proven solutions.

Our fundamental problem is that students and schools have been left defenseless.  It wasn’t always like that. When I was growing up in the 1980s and attending junior high and high school in the gang-plagued Los Angeles Unified School District, we had metal detectors to stop students from bringing weapons (both knives and guns) onto campus.  It worked and metal detectors are something that we now as a society embrace at airports, concerts, and government buildings.

We need to place metal detectors in schools once again. Nobody should be able to walk casually onto campus with a firearm and shoot children.

Let’s also embrace more recent prevention technologies.  Consider the Salto electronic door locks that the Loma Linda Unified School District just installed at every one of its schools.

Each principal in the district now has a mobile app that allows them to lock down their entire campus in just eight seconds if there’s an emergency.  Some might object to the $1.4 million cost, but this proven technology comes out to just 8 cents per student per day. That’s a bargain by any measure, especially so when considering how infinitely precious our children are.

Another proven lifesaver is the ShotSpotter acoustical gunshot detection and location system, which uses ordinary microphones to detect and locate gunfire.  Within seconds, it can detect that firearms have been discharged, tell authorities the location to within 10 feet, and even tell them if there was more than one shooter.

ShotSpotter is used by more than 90 cities around the world and is credited by the San Francisco Chief of Police with helping to reduce both gun crime and homicides by fifty percent over the past 10 years. We need ShotSpotter at every school in America and in the neighborhoods that surround them.

Fences and metal detectors are the first line of defense.  ShotSpotter lets authorities know when something has gone wrong.  And Salto allows for instant lockdown.  But we must also have trained professionals on site at every school ready to engage and disable if a shooter manages to get past the fences and metal detectors.

So I once again recommend proven solutions. The schools I attended back in the 1980s had armed police officers patrolling the halls and walking the perimeter. They were some of the nicest adults I ever met, but their purpose was simple and meaningful: If anyone tried to harm me, they would stop them…dead if necessary.

Society, of course, also needs to seriously reconsider how it deals with the violently mentally ill and to have a serious talk about the best ways of restricting potential predators from gaining access to firearms.  Both of those debates will be heated, but both sides should consider a new type of restraining order that can deny firearms to potential shooters.

It’s called a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) and it allows family members and others who are close to a disturbed individual to present real evidence—such as screen shots of social media posts or copies of diary entries—to a local judge who can then issue a 21-day restraining order that allows the police to temporarily deny weapons to the disturbed individual.

California’s GVRO law went into effect in 2018, but California is one of just five states to allow for GVROs.  Other states should consider adopting GVROs and citizens should be made aware that GVROs are an important option for those living with potential predators.

The best fence is the one that’s never breached, the best metal detector is the one that’s never set off, and the best Salto system is the one that’s never activated.  But until we can 100% deny weapons to the violently mentally ill, we need all of them, as well as ShotSpotters, school police, and GVROs.  They are proven, practical, cost effective and would make another Palmdale much less likely.  I hope we implement each of them as soon as possible.  Our children must be protected.

I live in Redlands.  I am a recognized economist, business owner, educator,and Board member on the San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association.   I am also the author of the best-selling book  Economics for Dummiesand the coauthor of the world’s best-selling college textbook, Economics: Principles, Problems, and Policies.

For more information on my campaign, Sean Flynn for Congress, go to www.SeanFlynnForCongress.com

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