Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What is the worst way to combat school shootings?


Please read carefully because there might be a test.

A school district in Pennsylvania placed a 5 gallon bucket of rocks in each classroom two years ago. If locking and barricading the classroom door does not work, the students have been instructed to throw rocks at the would-be shooter instead of hiding under their desks.

According to a Buzzfeed story, the school superintendent for Schuylkill County believes the rocks serve as a powerful deterrent. He said, “If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance to any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full of students armed with rocks. And they will be stoned.”

Maybe it’s working. Since the arrival of the rocks, there have been no shooter incidents in any Schuylkill County school.

However on Twitter, @jaydackblack observed that the strategy might fail if the shooter has paper.


Another Pennsylvania school district has given its teachers miniature baseball bats to use as a last resort. The New York Times said the district purchased 600 18-inch long wooden bats at $3 each but pointed out the obvious, “They are no match, of course, for a gunman toting a semi-automatic weapon.”

But the superintendent of the district countered by saying, “I think a bat could disarm a pistol with a nice swing.” Maybe if the shooter wasn’t looking. The head of the teachers union said it was “better than doing nothing.”

The Times piece did not say if the teachers had been trained in the use of bats.

The president of a company that makes bulletproof backpacks said his entire line was sold out by three days after the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The backpacks, made with Kevlar panels or inserts, sell for $189.

An ABC news article about the backpacks featured an interview with the president of a school safety consulting firm who brought up the problem of a backpack not protecting the entire body. In addition, the backpacks cannot stop bullets fired from an assault-style weapon. Another issue that occurred to me is a child would have to be wearing or holding one to have any chance of avoiding injury.

The Florida shooting once again brought up the issue of arming teachers. Ironically only a few days ago, a teacher from that very same Florida school left his Glock 9 pistol in a public restroom at a Florida beach. An intoxicated homeless man found the gun and fired it “to see whether it was loaded.” According to the local ABC TV station, the teacher was arrested on charges of failure to safely store a firearm.

Several similar episodes have occurred over the last few years. To read about them, please check out links on the Twitter feed of David Waldman.

I blogged about some other bad ideas five years ago. Schools considered arming maintenance or custodial personnel. The idea did not catch on after a Texas school worker accidentally shot himself after taking a gun safety class. Equally nutty proposals involved trying to overpower shooters with scissors and giving teachers bulletproof whiteboards to hold.

Your reward for reading to the end is no test, but tell me which idea you think is the worst and whether you have heard of any other crazy ones.

21 comments:

Debra Gottsleben said...

Think each of the ideas is equally ludicrous. Great post. Just sad that this is what we have to be discussing. As a school librarian not a day goes by that my colleague and I don't think about this issue. We'd much rather be focusing on what books to order.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a double-blind study conducted with laser pointers is in order.

Anonymous said...

I guess, given the state of things, I'd take a bucket of rocks if given the option.

Rugger said...

Just need better mental health care for starts

Charlotte said...

The school superintendent for Schuylkill County is as dumb as a bucket of rocks.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Thanks for all the comments. I'm leaning toward arming teachers as the worst idea, because unlike the others, giving teachers guns could result in accidental harm.

frankbill said...

So far it looks like there is no good way to combat school shootings. Having a police office on site doesn't seem to work.
did any of the schools where shootings have taken place have metal detectors in place if so they don't seem to work?

What need to be done is have the same deterrent we have at courts houses and air ports. But this costs money so who pays.

Things you listed in this blog would be a backup plan once the shooter gets past any other thing in place. After thinking about it the 5 gallon bucket of rocks seem like the best idea. it is not intened stop any one from being shot but to hopefuly save some from being shot. The 18 in bastball bat is unlikly to do much good.

Question is what has changed so now shootings are so common be it road rage work place or school shootings?

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Frank, maybe the teachers could throw the bats at the shooter. I wish I knew why such shootings have become so common. Easy access to guns + no ability to deal with frustration = kill some people.

frankbill said...

In the mid 1960's we had easy access to guns. It wasn't uncommon for students that had cars to bring guns to school during hunting season.

We were taught to respect what a gun could do.

Anonymous said...

Lack of hope... guns have been accessible since long before "Tacticool" ones became popular. ***holes were ***holes for a long long time. Easy availability of firearms + sense of entitlement + lack of resilience = unstable situation. Add no hope to that mix... and you get people who do this sort of ****

William Reichert said...

Two ideas:
1. Build a wall.Around the school. If it is good enough for the southern border it is good enough for the rest of the country
Yes, build an impenetrable wall 12 feet high topped with electrically charged wires. The wall will have outposts for armed guards like prisons with enough ammo to blast a tank out of the way if tries to breach wall . The wall will have a single well guarded entrance. Kinda like the GREEN ZONE
in Iraq. That was a very popular place to hang out I am told. And SAFE. Inside the wall have a putting green and a pool. Kids will love it.
OR
2. End schools. We all know that everything you need to learn can be learned on the internet. Make home schooling
the go to model for learning. Schools as presently constructed are magnets for deviants who need to kill children to "make things right". Terrorists are attracted to concentrations of people ., like found at schools. Separate the kids. Make the insane shooters having to go to other places to kill like church, or movies, or sporting events to find enough victims to compensate for otherwise poor marksmanship. IN other words, kick the can( problem) down the road.
PS: in case you are wondering : this is sarcasm.

frankbill said...

William Reichert

It might be sarcasm but not that far from we might up doing.

frankbill said...

We have been lucky so far that there have been no bombs set off at schools. If this should happen it is very likely there will be hundreds killed.

Much easer to get bomb making supplies then to buy a gun.

Pandora said...

Having an armed police officer or similar trained individual (i.e. ex-military)) does and has in fact worked on several occasions of an active shooter situation. There were so many inexcusable failures in the Florida case, one of them being police officers who did not enter the building during the shooting. When the police at called to a person's home nearly thirty times (as in the case of the Florida shooter) perhaps we should re-visit the Baker Act and find some way to give mandatory mental health treatment before an incident occurs. This case was like watching a train in slow motion. Everybody clearly saw the potential for disaster, had time to address it--then did nothing. The follow-up media blitz using school children as political tools is shameful, along with the Sheriff's self-aggrandizing appearances. Mental health services are important, certainly. If we can't count on the people to whom our tax dollars are allocated to protect civilians, especially children, then I'm for arming people who will.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Thanks everyone for the interesting comments.

Holly said...

I'm with Pandora on this one.

Janet said...

Change the American psyche.... No apologies.
Swiss households have military rifles for every male of age. Firearms are specifically for National Defense, NOT "self" defense. Violent street crime has increased over time, but gun-related street crime has not.
Carrying rifles in public is illegal.

School shootings are VERY rare...

Skeptical Scalpel said...

I'm not sure where you got your information. A quick search turned up this from the Guardian [https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state]:

"And the murder figures themselves are astounding for Brits used to around 550 murders per year. In 2011 - the latest year for which detailed statistics are available - there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms."

School shootings aren't so rare. From CNN [https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/02/us/school-shootings-2018-list-trnd/index.html]:

"We're only 16 weeks into 2018, and there have already been 20 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to 1.25 shootings a week."

frankbill said...

I believe Janet post is what it is like in Switzerland

More about this https://www.loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control/switzerland.php

frankbill said...

I don't think we can rule out the affects of Video games on increasing shootings.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Good link about Swiss gun laws.

Re; Video games. They said that about movies and then TV. I don't buy it.

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