What is Horry County Doing About School Violence?

It seems so scripted and predictable now.

Another gunman enters a school, kills students and teachers, tears a community apart. Survivors and their families are joined by activists in demanding new and improved gun-control laws, but gun-rights advocates claim it’s somehow disrespectful to the victims to discuss anything that could prevent more people from dying.

This is followed by claims that the whole thing was made up, that there was no shooting, and that the kids appearing on TV are actors and not traumatized children who witnessed their friends being slaughtered. The death threats start against the families of victims and survivors, lawmakers and policy shapers get distracted by a tweet storm or a presidential name-calling contest, and the problem is not addressed. Then it happens again. And again.

Some people say this shooting is different, this time people are really paying attention. We’ll see.

Solving the Problem of Guns with More Guns

So far, the responses have been typical. In South Carolina, one idea that is back in the spotlight after the Florida school shooting is to arm teachers. Solve the problem of guns in schools with more guns in schools.

Rep. Joshua Putnam, R-Piedmont, is pushing a bill that would create a concealed weapons permit specifically for school personnel. The bill would require school employees to participate in “live shooter” drills run by the SC Law Enforcement Division.

Putnam’s bill and a similar proposal came up last year after a deadly school shooting here in South Carolina. A 14-year-old boy shot three students and a teacher at Townville Elementary School near Greenville, and a -6-year-old boy died of his wounds. During debates sparked by that shooting, the school district’s chairman Tom Dobbins said any plans to arm teachers “is a cheap way out” and will likely lead to even more deaths.

Like many education leaders, Dobbins instead urges lawmakers to provide funding for more school resource officers – people who have firearms and law enforcement training and who can focus on providing security instead of juggling teaching responsibilities with policing.

Putnam counters that the cost of hiring more school security officers would be more than $80 million, and that politically it would be impossible.

Translation: Keeping our children safe at school costs too much money and political capital, so instead we’ll add fuel to the fire by giving their teachers’ guns! Somehow this seems less like a solution to school shootings than a windfall for gun manufacturers and NRA “training” programs.

Will Metal Detectors Help?

The Florida shooting has also focused attention on another bill proposed last year aimed at making schools safe. Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, wants to see walk-through metal detectors installed in every public school in the state.

Horry County School Board Chairman Joe Defeo compared the metal-detector approach to fire-safety standards that have drastically reduced fire dangers in schools and other public buildings over the past several decades.

“No child has been hurt in a fire in 50 years, yet we do all these things to prevent fires in the schools and that’s a good thing, but the fact of the matter is that in today’s world you are about 400 more times to be hurt by an active shooter than hurt by a fire, which doesn’t really exist anymore,” Defeo said.

All middle and high schools in Horry County have walk-through metal detectors. The county’s elementary schools have wands, or hand-held metal detectors. School administrators use the detectors randomly.

If the bill requiring walk-through detectors in schools passed, installing them in the county’s elementary schools would cost $121,000 or more, according to David Beaty, coordinator of school safety and security for the school system. On top of the money for the technology, the district would have to find funds to hire and train staff to work the metal detectors, Beaty said.

Again, the argument against improving safety seems to be that it just costs too much. Children are being slaughtered at school. We force them to go there, and then we tell them it’s too expensive to take measures to make sure they come home alive. Maybe installing metal detectors or hiring more armed guards will only create a prison-like atmosphere. Maybe neither of these ideas is the solution to the problem. But saying it costs too much … is there really a point at which we’re not willing to spend another penny to keep children alive?

SC Criminal Defense Lawyer in Myrtle Beach

Daniel A. Selwa, II is a criminal defense attorney in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Call our Myrtle Beach criminal defense firm at (843) 492-5449 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation.

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