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Keeping US schools safe from guns requires more than stricter laws

Keeping US schools safe from guns requires more than stricter laws
While stricter gun control laws are being considered and debated, schools themselves should invest in security technologies to help prevent further tragedies.
From time to time, we hear about school shooting incidents in the United States. While stricter gun control laws are being considered and debated, schools themselves should also invest in security technologies to help prevent further tragedies.
Ever since Columbine, school shootings have emerged as a major societal problem in the United States. According to Sandy Hook Promise (a non-profit named after another infamous school shooting incident), the U.S. has had 2,032 school shootings since 1970. The recent event in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman fatally shot 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school, further triggered debates on whether stricter gun control laws should be legislated – a question that, somehow for Americans, is not so simple to answer due to the country’s unique history, culture and heritage.
“A unique mix of tradition, politics and business interests makes tougher regulations unlikely, even where there is popular support for such measures,” said Jason Goodrich, Customer Success Director of CriticalArc. “The level of support varies widely depending on which state you are in, and concerns about the reliability of police response mean than even some citizens who were previously averse to gun-ownership now feel motivated to arm themselves.”
“In the aftermath of this (Uvalde) tragic school shooting, school leaders, teachers, parents, and administrators are debating, yet again, how the next incident might be prevented. At the same time, there is a national debate around policy decisions: Should gun sales be restricted? Should teachers be armed? Those questions will not be answered overnight,” said Alan Stoddard, President of Cognyte North America.
While new legislation is currently being considered in the US Senate, it’s indeed not feasible at the moment to expect the passage of any far-reaching gun control laws given the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (even though there’s a prerequisite: A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state). A conservative supermajority in the US Supreme Court certainly won’t help much either.
For the time being, then, schools need to invest in technologies to effectively protect students, teachers and staff. “The assumption should be that any current laws around gun ownership will be circumvented by a determined assailant. This means that schools and colleges should focus on preparing for, deterring, and stopping active threats,” Goodrich said. “Given this reality, they have no choice but to invest in technologies and to look for the best available options to strengthen their defenses.”

Technologies available 

Luckily, we now have technology advances to make campuses safe. “We have a new generation of tech that is now helping with this mission – deter and response – in many education settings. New technologies also include highly accurate 3D indoor positioning capabilities and heat mapping tools that can be used to improve incident rehearsals, revealing areas for improvement by individual responders and entire teams, and allowing better training and performance review,” Goodrich said.
Video surveillance and access control solutions can also play a part. “Access control guards the perimeter of the school's property, including each route and entry. Robust access control processes will ensure that students, teachers, and visitors know where to enter the campus, what to do once they get inside, and how to exit the property. Exhaustive access control can keep potential criminals out of your establishment and often sets the tone for the rest of your safety efforts,” said Scot Sturges, Director of Business Development for North America at ACRE.
It’s also important to note that deploying better security measures in schools is a collaborative effort between all stakeholders, from government/law enforcement to manufacturers to educators.
“To say the recent tragedy in Uvalde could not have been prevented is of no service to the issue at hand. What I can say is we as an industry need to do better. As the providers of the technology that helps mitigate such issues, it is imperative we take a stand. Together, we can help protect our schools but we have to do it collaboratively and in conjunction with local authorities and government,” said John Rezzonico, CEO of Edge360.
“School leaders and their communities have a long list of considerations today when it comes to safety – ranging from mental health to ADA compliance to COVID-19 and from legislation and policies to training, procedures and assessments as well as products and technologies, among other things. Just like there’s no one-size-fits-all safety plan for individual schools, there’s no single solution for making schools safer. Ultimately, this means a holistic and collaborative approach to school safety is necessary – and experts of all kinds must work together,” said Ken Cook, Director of National School Safety at Allegion US.
“The recent shooting in Uvalde is heartbreaking and tragic. As a parent, the fact that schools have become a battleground is disheartening. Over the following months, we’ll see a debate over gun control and whether or not teachers should be armed. These questions are not simple to answer, but we can work collaboratively within our communities and the industry to find a solution,” said Tom Reilly, President of Commend. “Overall, we need to get down to basics. Schools and educational leaders must communicate about the risks, the technology infrastructure, and standard operating procedures. Even the relationships students develop with teachers, counselors, and other personnel are critical to identifying risks or irregular behavior.”

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