Children are a crucial link between current generations and posterity. For this reason, all societies across the world value them. Severe punitive measures against individuals who interfere with the well-being of children are part of almost every constitution across the world. As a result, institutions such as schools have, for a long time, been categorized among the safest places in society. However, due to a series of bizarre occurrences, which have taken place in school premises in recent years, the plausibility of this notion has become questionable. Studies have increasingly indicated that school children, some below ten years old, are among the perpetrators of the inexplicable crimes (Kleck, 2009). This state of affairs begs an important question about the safety of the school environment today.
The objective of the Paper
This report explores the problem of firearms in schools in a bid to understand why it persists despite the many combative measures that have been taken to curb it.
Description and Detail of Issue and Supporting Research
The problem of firearms in schools has been part of society for many years. Its severity has been compounded by the prevalence of small firearms in recent years. As a result, many people wrongly assume that it started recently. The attention elicited by this problem appears exaggerated, but it is appropriate because firearms have caused unprecedented damage in schools in the last decade. According to Chokshi (2014), in the last 18 months only, 74 incidents of school shootings were reported in the U.S. Most of these incidents were fatal. In some of the cases, as many as ten or more people died (Chokshi, 2014). The worst of these recent shooting incidents was the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which left 20 children and six adults dead (Chokshi, 2014). This incident gives a glimpse of the magnitude of the problem of firearms in American schools.
The Major Players Related to the Issue
This problem is exacerbated by the nature of the people involved. In most cases, students perpetuate the violence (Kleck, 2009). However, the buck does not stop with them. Several cases of violence in schools involve outsiders. They sometimes target specific people, but in most cases, they shoot indiscriminately (Chokshi, 2014). Hankin, Hertz, and Simon (2011) posit that one out of every five Americans gets into school premises every day. This trend places students and teachers at a high risk of violence from outsiders because statistics indicate that almost every American household possesses a firearm (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2013). Hence, the chances that every outsider who visits a school brings a firearm to the compound are quite high.
Unfortunately, students and teachers bear the brunt of this problem. The shootings always leave students and teachers as casualties. In addition to these two groups, parents and guardians are also part of this problem. In a significant number of cases, the weapons used by children to shoot their colleagues and teachers belonged to their parents or guardians. Only in a few cases do the weapons used belong to other people, but even in such cases, the parent or guardian still has a role to play because the children are their responsibility. Finally, the problem involves the authorities concerned with ensuring school welfare and public security. This last aspect brings in the government and all other agencies concerned with education and national security.
How Measures of Safety have Evolved and Changed over Time
Despite this problem being around for many years, the first attempt by the government to combat came in the year 1990 when the Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) was enacted as part of the Crime Control Act (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2013). This law prohibits people from bringing or using a firearm within 1000 feet of school premises. Another anti-firearm legislation, the Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA), was enacted in 1994 (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2013).
It requires schools to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on issues relating to firearms or forfeit federal funding. Additionally, it requires schools to expel students who bring a firearm to school for at least one year. Like the first Act, GFSA was repealed and reenacted as part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) of 2002, which requires states to ensure that no school tolerates any issue relating to firearms (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2013). If a school within a particular state fails to abide by this law, it loses federal funding for elementary education as stipulated in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2013). To fulfill the requirements of these legislations, schools install metal detectors at strategic points to control guns and other weapons.
There are measures against bringing a firearm to school. However, due to the persistence of the problem, there appears to be an underlying issue that is yet to be addressed. Kleck (2009) observes that the gun control measures used by the government have been irrelevant. In recognition of this lapse, the President proposed a comprehensive plan that aims at strengthening the war against firearms in schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012 (Now is the Time, 2012).
The new plan proposes a mandatory background check on anyone seeking to own a firearm so that people with records of violence are prevented from owning firearms. The plan also proposes the strengthening of the background check system to ensure that it covers every firearm sale. Further, the president’s plan proposes a ban on military-style assault rifles and a lift of the freeze on gun violence research. Finally, the plan proposes a comprehensive plan to make schools safer.
It advises stakeholders to develop measures that address the root causes of student-instigated violence. In his plan, the President urges all Americans to be vigilant in helping the government to combat the problem of gun violence in schools. The President’s plan came at an appropriate time because the American public has been looking forward to this kind of activity throughout the past decade (Kleck, 2009). Its success will, however, depend on the goodwill of the entire American public since statistics indicate that close to 40 percent of firearm sales in the country are done by non-authorized dealers who cannot run background checks on prospective buyers.
In conclusion, children remain an important component of every society. As such, measures aimed at protecting them should be stepped up. It is apparent that despite the government’s attempts to prevent firearms from reaching school premises, several lapses have continued to exist in its action plans. Therefore, the underlying causes of the violence have been evading the attention of the authorities all along. However, the new plan that was proposed by the President in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is somewhat promising. It should, therefore, be implemented diligently to keep schools safe.
Chokshi, N. (2014). Map: There have been at least 74 shootings at schools since Newtown. The Washington Post. Web.
Hankin, A., Hertz, M., & Simon, T. (2011). Impacts of metal detector use in schools: Insights from 15 years of research. Journal of School Health, 81(2), 100-106.
Kleck, G. (2009). Mass shootings in schools: The worst possible case for gun control. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(10), 1447-1464.
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. (2013). Guns in Schools Policy Summary. Web.
Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence. (2012). Web.