School Shooter Sensors: Like Smoke Alarms, But For Bullets

Readers rsbynnykaa
— Schools shootings are rare and random. They are also horrifying. When we hear about one, joy  drains out of life for a while. It is into that vacuum that “solutions” rush in.

The latest is a system of censors that supposedly can identify where a shot is coming from, should a madman enter a building. Made by Shooter Detection Systems in Massachusetts, the system can cost $20,000 to $100,000 per school. A grammar school in Methuen, Mass., was used on Veteran’s Day to demonstrate the product. As the Associated Press’ Philip Marcelo writes:

In the live demonstration, the “gunman” entered the school armed with an assault rifle, opening fire with dummy rounds first in the school library then rampaging through hallways and classrooms. But he had only a few minutes to wreak havoc.

Smoke alarm-sized sensors installed in classrooms, hallways and other points throughout the building were activated by the sounds of gunfire, and police officers were immediately able to track his movements and quickly subdue him.

Nearly 100 people, including U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas and regional law enforcement officers, gathered in the school auditorium to observe the demonstration of what the school district bills as the first such system operating in a public school in the U.S.

Police Chief Joseph Solomon said he believes such systems should be required in many public buildings, just as fire suppression systems and smoke detectors are.

Should they?

I do love smoke detectors. And I do want kids to be safe. And the thing about detectors versus background checking every human who enters the school is that the detectors are passive and don’t discourage community.

But considering the rarity of school shootings, does it make sense to equip all schools, at considerable cost, with this technology? It’s sort of the same question I have about the TSA: Given the rarity of terrorists on planes, does it make sense to spend billions of dollars and man-hours on throwing out travelers’ water bottles? At what point do we say that there’s only so much preparing for the worst-of-the-worst that makes sense?

The bureaucrats and insurance companies will say that even the tiniest chance of danger is one we cannot take. Cost, in dollars or trust or convenience (keeping voters out of the schools, for instance),  is considered an indecent question.  So when can we say, “The world is not completely risk-free, but that’s okay”?  Is it never? – L

An active shooter drill. (Not the one at the school, for photo rights issues.)

An active shooter drill. (Not the one at the school, for photo rights issues.)


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98 Responses to School Shooter Sensors: Like Smoke Alarms, But For Bullets

  1. Sarah in Boston November 12, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    I think you meant “sensors” not “censors”. It makes for a very strange mental image otherwise.

  2. Michelle November 12, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    What Sarah said. I wouldn’t bother pointing it out, but I was very confused for a minute.

  3. billy November 12, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Jesus, we’re going to protect ourselves into bankruptcy if this madness continues…

  4. Joanie November 12, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Since 1980, there have been 137 fatal shootings in American public schools (according to a study done by Jessie Klein, author of the 2012 book The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools). During this period, assuming an average school year of 180 days and 98,817 public schools (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009-2010 school year, but let’s assume the number has stayed roughly constant) there were over 6 billion days of school. So on any given day, the odds of a shooter entering a school is 137/6,000,000,000, or .000000000028% ( I think that’s how you make a percentage out of 2.8333333e-8, but feel free to correct me).
    That is a staggeringly small number. So why are we spending a much, much larger percentage of our already limited school resources on preventing it? If my kid is ever in the incredibly unlikely situation of having a shooter enter his school, I highly doubt having had a drill for it will in any way help him react “properly”. On the other hand, having teachers and staff talk about possible attacks and participating in shooter drills is, in my experience, 100% likely to cause nightmares and an unwillingness to go to school because it isn’t “safe”.

  5. MichaelF November 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    “Welcome to the CYA/security theatre society!!

    We protect you from everything, whether you need it or not.”

    That’s just pretty much how I see it.

  6. Steve S November 12, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I agree with Lenore’s contention that at least this isn’t something that keeps out the public or interferes with the functioning of the school, but it does seem very expensive. I also wonder if this would even make a difference. Post-Columbine tactics have changed from setting up a perimeter and waiting, to going in immediately.

  7. Michelle November 12, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Joanie, is it 137 separate incidents, or 137 deaths? Because some of the shooting incidents resulted in multiple fatalities, which would mean an even lower chance of a shooter entering a school on any given day. Not to mention all of the schools that *didn’t* have a shooting on those days.

  8. Jill November 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Schools could hold bake sales to raise the money to purchase these sensors. Of course, the baked goods couldn’t include anything made with nuts, or gluten or anything else children might be allergic to, and everybody entering the school to buy things from the bake sale would have to submit to a background check.
    Sounds like fun!

  9. Buffy November 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    “police officers were immediately able to track his movements”

    But first, you have to get police officers there. And depending on the size of the department, how many officers are working at a given time, and the size of the area they cover, a lot of havoc could be wreaked before the cops even arrive.

  10. Dave November 12, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Totally ridiculous idea. We cannot protect ourselves from everything and these are so rare that this would be a waste of money that should go to other things in the school.

  11. Amy November 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    What a stupid waste. It prolly wouldn’t even work. Bring back home ec class with those funds so kids can learn life skills. Add votech classes. Beef up the art department. Etc.

  12. Donna November 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    I wasn’t aware the inability to know precisely where the shooter is within the school was a major factor in any of these school shooting cases.

  13. Marni November 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I also think she means “sensor” but personally, I’d like to censor all of this school shooting hysteria.

  14. EricS November 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    This is all about profits, and control. Safety for the school and kids are low on the totem pole. If they were top priority, I seriously doubt the manufacturer would charge them $20K – 100K to retrofit a school. Because I also seriously doubt it costs that much to make the sensors.

  15. Emily Morris November 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    I admit, the techy side of me finds the technology pretty cool. And frankly, if these were more cost-effective and the drama surrounding them was kept to about the same level as the smoke alarms, I wouldn’t bat an eye if my school installed them.

    But for that kind of money, plus the giddiness of school shooter folklore, makes them, in the end, ridiculous. And, as was mentioned, what about the time frame for the cops arriving?

  16. lollipoplover November 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Our school doesn’t even have air conditioning.
    Or bus transportation.

    But 20-100,000 when there’s already a gunman in the school? I think the noise of the gun would make it obvious where he is.

    And on Veteran’s Day? Yes, because the brave men of this country want to see us force feed this persistent, Code Red fear in our youth and keep them locked up in these prison/lockdown/can’t-be-too-veterans proper medical care that they earned with their service delivered.
    But anything to protect the children (not).

    Has anyone ever considered training the students to protect their school? We treat them like sitting ducks and want to spend ridiculous budgets on technology but not educate or train the actual students Self-protection and other life skills (CPR, Red Cross training)can save lives.

  17. Warren November 12, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    These alarms do absolutely nothing to protect anyone.

    Look at it in real time.

    Active shooter enters a building and starts killing.

    Alarm sounds, or 911 is called. Doesn’t matter.

    Police go into active shooter mode, and assemble their Tactical Team, because the beat cops do not handle these incidents.

    Tactical team arrives.

    Historically this is when the shooter stops, holds up, and is shot to death by cops.

    Where in any of this will these sensors be of benefit?

    Oh wait, now the shooters will have to spend some extra money, and get themselves a silencer. Nevermind.

  18. E November 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    Having just flown a few days ago, I did think about the TSA angle (expense, hassle, odds). But given that planes were used as a weapon against the masses (not “just” a plane of people) I don’t see any way that air travel could not be changed.

    Anyway — all these products prey on fear. Just like diet products use unrealistic imagery. Just like ED meds use lovely healthy looking couples doing fun things to hawk their wares. People want to make money and find a market for it.

    This one does seem a bit far fetched.

  19. Bob Davis November 12, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Yes, the apparatus in question is a “sensor” (we Trekkers would think of Capt. Kirk asking, “Sensor readings, Mr. Spock?”) And my older daughter is an active member of the local Episcopal Church, and sometimes tends the “censer” which is the incense burner.

  20. Peter November 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Unfortunately, you’d still have the background checks and crap because (a) this only gives an idea of where the shooter (who has already fired at least once) is and (b) it still won’t protect against some deviated prevert coming into the school.

    And at $20,000? I think we can find better ways to spend our tax dollars.

  21. EricS November 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    @lollipoplover: That would go against the powers that be’s agenda. They don’t want kids to grow up to be able to think for themselves, they want them dependent on the system. This is already apparent with media, and social media. People are fed information, that they swallow without ever thinking if it’s true or accurate. Then they spread the same misinformation. And within a matter of hours, you have half the nation believing Bigfoot was seen in a the local shopping mall. That’s not true, but I’m sure you follow. 😉 This is what the education system was set up to do back in the 40’s. The purpose was to create more drones/cogs in the mechanism we call consumerism. You peel away all the outer layers, and what you are left with is money. Almost everything, if not everything in this world is about money.

  22. Steve November 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    I wonder how many kids and adults are killed in car-related accidents going to or from school and school-sponsored events? (Sporting events, music and drama stuff) … compared to the total killed by shooters?

  23. Mark November 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    “Doesn’t interfere with the functioning of the school”? Looking at this from a school-prankster point of view, it’s a gift from heaven: all the disruptive potential of pulling a fire alarm, without the problem of leaving your fingerprints behind. Just toss a string of firecrackers in the bathroom or something, and watch everyone run around like headless chickens!

  24. SOA November 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    I would think just from sound you could tell where the gunfire is coming from???? I think cameras in the hallways would be more useful than these censors.

  25. SOA November 12, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    and of course these are not neccessary. School shootings are unlikely to happen and if they do I doubt how much difference this would really make as someone else pointed out by the time the cops are usually there they are already done shooting at that point and hold up and shoot themselves.

  26. Virginia November 12, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    Do you know how many children have died in fires in U.S. schools during this century? Zero. But no one is suggesting we discontinue fire drills. With over 50 people killed in school shootings in just the past two years,* I don’t think it makes sense any longer to call these events “rare” or argue that they’re not a significant threat. Since our government has shown itself both unwilling and unable to do anything about the plague of guns in our communities, I absolutely think it’s necessary for schools to look at other ways to protect themselves. While the system described in this article is extremely expensive, it seems like something that might actually work — so I certainly think it’s worth a look.

    *Wondering where I got that number? It’s from this Feb. 20, 2014 article. 28 killed since Newtown plus 26 at Newtown = 53, and that doesn’t include events that have taken place since January.

  27. Virginia November 12, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    Oops, sorry, forgot to paste in the link!

  28. Mandy November 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    I’m pretty sure most schools are fully equipped with sensors to determine the location of shots fired: ears.

  29. Mandy November 12, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    @Virginia, using the numbers of 50 killed in 2 years, multiplied by the number of school days and schools posted by Joanie above, that still means there’s only a one in a million chance of *someone* (as in, not even you, personally) being killed by a school shooter on any given day. Divide by all the kids and teachers in all the schools in the country, the risk to any individual really is infinitesimal.

  30. no rest for the weary November 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    We just had a case in my region where a high school kid texted his friends to come meet him at the lunch table and gunned them all down.

    Guessing this contraption wouldn’t have helped anyone too much.

    More effort to try to control things that are out of our control.

    I suggest meditation instead, and a spiritual practice of acceptance of what is not ours to manage.

  31. BL November 12, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    “a high school kid texted his friends to come meet him at the lunch table and gunned them all down.”

    If those were his friends, I’d hate to see how he treats his enemies.

  32. J.T. Wenting November 13, 2014 at 12:23 am #

    it’s not as if just listening can’t give people the same information much cheaper…

    Only thing it does is give school administrators something to hold up to a jury when they get sued for damages by parents after a school shooting. “We did everything to protect the children, we even installed that expensive bullet sensor system”.

  33. Jodie November 13, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    First of all, who can afford it? Second, gunfire actually has to happen, if I understand correctly, so if someone starts shooting, they could still possibly kill someone before the sensors activate. No, I don’t think it makes sense at all.

  34. Donna November 13, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    “But no one is suggesting we discontinue fire drills.”

    Okay then I’ll say it. I suggest we discontinue fire drills. I thought they were stupid and a waste of time when I was a child. I continue to think so today. I would have absolutely no qualms with my child’s school not holding fire drills.

  35. SOA November 13, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    Yes school shootings happen. If you asked me the best way to prevent them is offering good mental health services at the school like counselors who actually counsel and don’t just do class schedules like ours did. Also have a schoolwide policy on bullying and really work and enforce kindness and no bullying. Don’t allow it to go on.

    Finally every school should have an armed trained resource officer on duty at all times. I think that could potentially prevent and stop a school shooting because that officer is there before the police could be there and might be able to take the shooter down pretty quickly and it might stop shootings before they even start because they know the officer will be there and will thwart their plan.

  36. Gary November 13, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    “Since our government has shown itself both unwilling and unable to do anything about the plague of guns in our communities”

    Yes, because the over 300,000,000 guns in the country secretly plot at night using subliminal messaging to make their owners go out and commit these crimes…

    Oh wait…

    You’re one of those “Everytown” clowns aren’t you.

  37. Steve S November 13, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    @Steve, IIRC a kid is more likely to die playing a school sport then they are to be killed by a school shooter. I am certainly not suggesting a ban on sports, but people need to put this into perspective.

    @lollipoplover, I would love to see steps taken to provide kids with first aid training or some other community-based/citizen program to promote safety and crisis response, but I think that EricS touched on on of the barriers. I think that the powers that be prefer that people are dependent on gov’t solutions.

  38. Joanie November 13, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    @Virginia – While it’s great that zero kids have died in school fires this century, do you have any statistics for how many non-fatal school fires have occurred? Just wondering. My shooting stats were also for fatalities only, but I wonder how the percentages stack up when you include those without fatalities.
    I have nothing to base this on, but I suspect there have been any number of non-fatal fires requiring calm evacuation (heck, I personally accidentally started a fire in my high school once, by stupidly microwaving a metal mug, and at least twice there were fires in the chemistry lab), but far fewer non-fatal shootings.

  39. Suzanne November 13, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Here is something we need to ask about bullet sensors. Gunshots are loud. Is it really that difficult to identify where in a building a bullet was fired which would necessitate this type of a sensor? I would think not. But what if they are using a silencer you ask. Well, according to this article it is the sound of a bullet which triggers the sensor, a silencer would (presumably) make it too quiet to set off the sensor. So what we are left with is a device which is totally unnecessary as it will do a job equal to what one can do with their ears but will cost each school 20-100K. There are 35 elementary schools in our school district, how about yours? That company stands to make a lot of money the schools don’t have for something they don’t need.

  40. marie November 13, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    E said:
    I don’t see any way that air travel could not be changed.

    Sure. The 9/11 attacks may have made changes to air travel even without the creation of an enormous agency. Do you really believe that airports and airlines would have done nothing in response? If we had left security up to airlines/airports, travelers could decide the level of risk they were willing to take and fly cheaper with the airline that doesn’t confiscate snow globes or fly expensive and know that all liquids are safely stowed in ziplok bags.

  41. Mark Roulo November 13, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    “Finally every school should have an armed trained resource officer on duty at all times. I think that COULD POTENTIALLY prevent and stop a school shooting because that officer is there before the police could be there and MIGHT be able to take the shooter down pretty quickly and it MIGHT stop shootings before they even start because they know the officer will be there and will thwart their plan.” (emphasis added by me).

    Columbine had a Sheriff’s Deputy on campus the day of the shooting.

    Before we decide to add or re-assign ~100,000 police/folks-with-guns, I think we should have some reason other than MIGHT and COULD POTENTIALLY that it will do enough good to justify the cost.

  42. JaneW November 13, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Don’t we already have shooting detectors? Called “ears”?

    If you fire a gun, people can hear it all over the building. On the other hand, if a fire starts down in the boiler room, without smoke detectors it could spread dangerously before anyone notices.

    Also, fires are orders of magnitude more common than school shootings.

  43. Kathy November 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    You are assuming that if these sensors were installed, the background checks would stop. I don’t think they would.

  44. hineata November 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Why not install this nonsense and charge it back to the NRA, which appears to be the go-to group for gun-toting nutsos? User-pays and all that.

    Or you could just melt down all small guns and any type whose sole use is for killing human beings, and use the resultant byproducts for something useful, like a combine harvester. You can still kill people with a combine harvester, thus satisfying the good folk at the NRA, but it serves other uses too. A win-win for all, I would have thought…

  45. J.T. Wenting November 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    better charge it to the gun control nutters, they’re the ones turning schools into “gun free zones”, which just means that wannabe shooters know there won’t be anyone to stop them.

    The NRA doesn’t promote violence or crime, quite unlike those trying to prevent people defending themselves, people like you…

  46. SOA November 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    SROs have more than just “maybe prevent a school shooting” function. They also kinda act like a mentor to the students. We all loved our SRO. She was the mother of a girl at the high school. She was friendly. A lot of the kids felt they could talk to her about anything.

    She handled any school fights by breaking them up. She helped direct traffic and stuff during drop off and pick up. She was at most of the school functions helping to chaperone. She was involved with keeping drugs out of the school. She even came and gave lectures to the class sometimes when it was relevant to what we were learning (example we were learning about eye witness accounts in psychology and she came in and talked about and set up an example of how in crisis situations you don’t register enough about the person’s appearance to get an accurate eye witness account.).

    I mean she did a lot. Her sole job was not “prevent school shootings”. And yes, just because ONE SRO did not stop a school shooting does not mean none of them every would not be successful.

  47. Donna November 13, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    SROs are just police officers assigned to schools. Schools should not be police officer posts.

  48. no rest for the weary November 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Almost all gun violence is perpetrated by someone known to the victim, not a random stranger. This is true of violent acts / crimes in general.

    Very relieved that guns are not much of a factor in my country of residence. I personally found it exhausting to live in a fearful culture where guns were prevalent and easily obtained (a big reason I left the US).

  49. hineata November 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    @JT…I wasn’t aware the Dutch had free gun policies, or much of a problem with gun violence. We both come from countries that benefit from gun control policies….why wouldn’t we want others to benefit too?

  50. Virginia November 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    @Gary, thanks for the compliment. Evidently you’re one of those “your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights” clowns.

  51. lollipoplover November 13, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    @Eric S and Steve S-

    I just refuse to see my kids as helpless in a random act of violence. Having recently seen some amazing Rube Goldberg-type inventions at their school, I have no doubt these kids could equip their school (quite inexpensively) like the game Mouse Trap if an intruder entered. I envision a Home Alonesque style of protection- throwing boards with sharp nails sticking out in main hallways,sticky tar strips, anvils, the possibilities are endless! But instead, we get sensors to tell us someone is shooting our kids.

  52. Virginia November 13, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    … What disturbs me about the tone of this conversation is the attitude that, because school shootings are “rare” compared to, say, car accidents or the common cold, we should just throw up our hands and accept that some number of our children will be murdered in their classrooms. How is that acceptable on any level?

  53. marie November 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    She was involved with keeping drugs out of the school.

    How many kids did she “help” into the criminal justice system, I wonder?

    As a matter of fact, your dead kids, as completely awful, terrifyingly lonely, and heart-wrenchingly sad as that must be for you and yours, do NOT trump my Constitutional rights.

  54. Virginia November 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    @Marie, I wonder how you’d feel about that if it were your kids getting killed in their classroom.

  55. marie November 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Virginia, grief is a terrible thing. If it were my kids, I might lose my mind in that terrible grief. I might drink too much, cry too much, and look for someone to blame for my loss. I might lose my faith in God and my faith in man. All of that seems normal, sad to say.

    I might even campaign for a “Marie’s Kids” law that would stomp on your Constitutional rights so that I would feel something good came of those deaths, a law that wouldn’t accomplish much more than provide a platform for craven politicians to use when they want votes from the “if it saves one child” constituency…but I hope not.

  56. no rest for the weary November 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    “… we should just throw up our hands and accept that some number of our children will be murdered in their classrooms. How is that acceptable on any level?”

    Kids will be killed by tornadoes sometimes, too. Depends on where you live, and the environment. Do you live in a place where moist, warm, low pressure air masses regularly collide with dry, high pressure air masses? Then there will probably be more tornadoes, and kids will probably get killed by them.

    Where you live, automatic firearms are part of the environment, as is a culture of “every man for himself,” so the colliding of these two influences means that sometimes, there is random violence involving people getting shot. Kids getting shot.

    Unlike tornadoes, however, the conditions that make school shootings possible can be altered by human beings. I’m not seeing a lot of positive movement in that direction, and the installation of bullet detectors is, to me, a sad, sad commentary on how many in the US try to bring about “safety.”

    Safety, to me, would mean stronger ties among community members. And less automatic weapons. The second part seems pretty simple, and yet the US cannot bring it about. The first part is FAR more complex and involves everything from outsourcing labour to draconian drug laws to the building of the interstate highway system and capping of the minimum wage. And don’t forget universal access to health care.

    I must say, the prevailing conditions in the US lead me to predict a lot more tornadoes… I mean… random acts of desperation / violence. It’s just part of the environment. But my goodness, there aren’t that many kids getting killed at school. And if you want less kids killed at school, look at root causes, not band-aids.

  57. pentamom November 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    “Where you live, automatic firearms are part of the environment, ”

    Where do you think this person lives? Automatic firearms are part of the environment only in war zone as far as I know. They’re certainly not easily available or broadly legal anywhere in the U.S.

  58. Mark November 13, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    @Virginia, School shootings are rare compared to car accidents or the common cold. They are also rare compared to lightning strikes and fatal sports injuries. Heck, I suspect more children die each year from falling down their schools’ staircases than die in school shootings.

    Even if this device could magically prevent every school shooting, it would cost too much: equipping every school in the United States with this would cost at least $2.6 billion, saving an estimated 11 lives per year. There are any number of better uses for the money, such as re-working school pickup areas to reduce the number of kids getting run over.

  59. lollipoplover November 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    @Virginia- I live in Pennsylvania, not far from where the *active shooter* Eric Frein was on the loose for 6 weeks. Because of this cop-killing madman, schools were closed, activities were cancelled, and life essentially stopped out of genuine fear because a gunman was on the loose and could realistically kill many people.

    But he was caught. And life returns to normal. We cannot live in a perpetual fear state, it is completely unhealthy. I do not send my kids to school each day thinking they may be shot and that we need more sensors, security theater, and prison like conditions just to keep them safe. I cannot predict random acts of violence. I don’t live my life with a crystal ball and think that paranoid thinking will make my children any safer. THAT would be crazy.

  60. no rest for the weary November 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    From Wikipedia:

    “Semi-automatic pistols are by far the most popular for concealed carry by civilians, primary handguns for police and military use, backup guns for police use, and where the usual 5 or 6 shots of a revolver are deemed inadequate.”

    In the majority of states in the US, citizens can apply for a permit to carry a concealed semi-automatic weapon.

    This is absolutely unheard of where I live. The rigamarole required to possess one of these guns is immense. The requirements for storage are strict and regular inspections by law enforcement occur. You can’t just go to a store and buy one. “Background check” takes on new meaning here.

    I know exactly one person who owns a handgun here. He’s a collector, not a self-protection nut. Even so, I’m glad I’m not living in his house.

  61. SOA November 13, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    Marie: so are you saying you don’t have a problem with drugs in the schools? Just wanted to get some clarification on your stance on that?

    Mostly it is just a deterrent because kids are less likely to risk bringing drugs to school when they know there is a cop there because they don’t want to get caught.

  62. pentamom November 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    Semi-automatic and automatic are not the same thing, that’s the point.

    I was only pointing out that “automatic” doesn’t apply. Automatic weapons are severely restricted and almost unheard of in private hands in the U.S. Semi-automatic weapons are different. And I don’t really understand why anyone should be afraid to live in a house with a person who owns one, if they otherwise trust that person. No kind of weapon jumps out and shoots you.

  63. Puzzled November 13, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    How can one take the NRA’s idiotic idea of arming teachers and make it worse? I know – increase not only guns in schools, but cops in schools. That way, not only can we worry about accidents and students taking guns, but also we can more effectively promote the school to prison pipeline. Because SROs are nice, friendly people, just like your neighborhood cop, right? The one who will happily shoot you for growing the wrong sorts of plants or not obeying his orders immediately. That friendly neighborhood cop. Make sure you put them into the schools more than they already are.

    The thing is, both ideas are solutions in search of problems. The money spent even talking about school shootings would save more lives if spent discussing seat belts.

    Tonight, we spent time at the firehouse discussing our plan for suspected ebola cases. I pointed out that we could have used that time a lot more effectively by spending the same length of time saying “wear your seatbelt in the trucks” over and over again, since emergency workers die in accidents far more than from ebola.

  64. lollipoplover November 14, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    “Marie: so are you saying you don’t have a problem with drugs in the schools?”

    I can’t speak for Marie, but if you think police guards with guns are needed the front of all schools to be *safe*, we will need a lot MORE drugs in schools. Anti-anxiety, antidepressants, and other psychiatric drugs to medicate the minds of students and teachers alike to deal with this hysteria. Most kids today doing drugs start by stealing from their parents prescribed medications. The current heroin crisis that is so prevalent in the ‘burbs can be traced back to legally prescribed oxycontin. Yes, there IS a drug crisis. An officer at the door won’t stop it.

    We never has a police presence in our school. Back in high school in the 80’s, we did have a male narc who was undercover (though everyone knew who he was). He slept with quite a few of the seniors, which would probably get him on the sex offender registry now. Didn’t bust any of the pot heads though. (At reunions, I discovered that most of the druggies from high school are now doctors. Oh, the irony!)

  65. Donna November 14, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    “Mostly it is just a deterrent because kids are less likely to risk bringing drugs to school when they know there is a cop there because they don’t want to get caught.”

    On what planet? There are plenty of drugs in schools. One SRO doesn’t change that at all.

  66. Gary November 14, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    “thanks for the compliment. Evidently you’re one of those “your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights” clowns.”

    You’re welcome, I always find it pleasing when I can accurately describe someone and they acknowledge it.

    Evidently you think you are smarter than you actually are, common for people of your mindset, that’s ok though, there is help out there if you know where to look.

  67. Gary November 14, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    ” I personally found it exhausting to live in a fearful culture where guns were prevalent and easily obtained (a big reason I left the US).”

    That is sad and pathetic.

  68. Gary November 14, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    “Where you live, automatic firearms are part of the environment, ”

    Except no, no they are not. If you are going to whine about an issue at least have the common courtesy to be educated about it, there is a HUGE difference between SEMI-automatic firearms, which are the most popular type of sporting firearm and AUTOMATIC which are difficult to get both in the forms and fees as well as expenses.

    Interesting that with the amount of legal firearm owners in this country that millions more are not killed. I mean after aren’t all gun owners maniacs to you people?

  69. SOA November 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Guess I am not fragile like some of you because the SRO being in the school never bothered me the least little bit. Did not cause anxiety, depression or paranoia.

  70. no rest for the weary November 14, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    The state of California has approximately the same population as the country I live in.

    While it’s true we can say that death from assault with or accidental discharge of a gun (of any sort) is rarer than death by car accident in California, I’d like to point out that there is still a portion of the population of California that, each year, comes to harm from a gun in the hands of a spouse, a child, a drug-related offender, a crazed lunatic, or themselves (suicide).

    There is a much, much, MUCH smaller portion of the population in my country that comes to harm this way. Sure, there are knives. We have assault with knives. People do get killed that way. But I think we all know that it’s the rare situation where someone with a knife can do quite the same damage that someone with a gun (of any sort) can.

    My ex wanted to live with a loaded gun in the house, when we lived in the US. I didn’t go for that plan, because it seemed clear to me that he’d already had some close calls where he’d heard “strange noises” and nearly shot his loved ones in the night. I also have a healthy respect for depression and don’t think depression and guns mix very well… and depression can be fairly silent and hard to get a read on at first. You don’t want to find out someone has depression AFTER they discharge a weapon.

    And never mind kids. Small kids… gah. Teenagers… yikes. The school shooting I referenced in Washington was a 15-year-old who went from star student athlete to depressed loner in the space of two weeks and took a loaded handgun from his dad’s stash at home to do his handiwork in the lunchroom. Five dead.

    This simply doesn’t happen here. And it isn’t because we have bullet detectors, or a police officer in the schools, It isn’t because the teachers are armed with guns, and it isn’t because we lock the doors or have buzzers to get into the front entrance.

    It’s because we basically don’t have private ownership of handguns here. If you want to own a handgun, there’s about 30 hoops you have to jump through. It’s like obtaining a master’s degree.

    Funny thing is, though, without guns everywhere, I’ve never felt more safe in my life. I don’t ever wonder if my kids will accidentally find a gun somewhere, or that someone I may have inadvertently pissed off in traffic will have a gun in their glove box, or that my spouse will decide he’s “had enough” and either kill himself or me or the kids with a gun in our home.

    When nobody has a handgun, it’s a lot less tense. Believe me. I’ve lived both ways, and I vote for less guns. School shootings are one sad side effect of having guns readily available to nearly anyone. But the underlying fear of the “other” is one that most people don’t seem to acknowledge. There is a lot less neighbourly trust in the US. It’s a palpable fear: of being judged, of having your stuff stolen, of getting attacked… there’s a lot less fear in the country where I live, much more trust, a lot less “every man for himself” competitiveness. I like it.

    I am delighted to be “pathetic” this way. It suits me. I got tired of wasting my energy on wishing the US would curtail the amount of handguns available to the citizens there, so when concealed carry became legal in the state where I lived, I left.

    Freedom means free to leave. Best decision I ever made.

  71. no rest for the weary November 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    And yes, I think it is a Free Range Kids issue, because paranoia in general is what is leading the US, and then North America, toward legislated “safety” measures that curtail kids’ learning and mobility. And a lot of paranoia stems from “guns for self-protection.”

    “Guns do not make a nation safer, say US doctors who have compared the rate of firearms-related deaths in countries where many people own guns with the death rate in countries where gun ownership is rare.”

    “Although correlation is not the same as causation, it seems conceivable that abundant gun availability facilitates firearm-related deaths. Conversely, high crime rates may instigate widespread anxiety and fear, thereby motivating people to arm themselves and give rise to increased gun ownership, which, in turn, increases availability. The resulting vicious cycle could, bit by bit, lead to the polarized status that is now the case with the US,” the doctors write.

    “Regardless of exact cause and effect, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that countries with higher gun ownership are safer than those with low gun ownership.”

  72. Gary November 14, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    “I am delighted to be “pathetic” this way. It suits me. I got tired of wasting my energy on wishing the US would curtail the amount of handguns available to the citizens there, so when concealed carry became legal in the state where I lived, I left.

    Freedom means free to leave. Best decision I ever made.”

    You are absolutely correct, and I wholeheartedly agree…

  73. Warren November 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Hate to tell all you that are supportive of an armed officer in every school, but you are just setting the cop up to be the first killed.

    Unless the cop is standing at the ready, gun in hand, safety off………he or she is the first one killed. Because they will be caught off guard/by surprise, just like everyone else.

    Or do you support them drawing their gun on every student that just seems wonky or out of place?

    By your logic, each school should have a full time firefighter crew, full time ER Nurse and ER Doctor.

  74. Steve S November 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    “Although correlation is not the same as causation, it seems conceivable that abundant gun availability facilitates firearm-related deaths.

    If you are going to tout studies, then you might want to look at crime rates in countries that passed strict gun control measures. You will find that these laws didn’t have the desired effect and that violent crime, in most cases, went up. The reality is that strict gun control, like security theater, doesn’t do what people think it does, other than make people think they live in a safer society.

    Another thing to consider is that, despite what the media portrays, the vast majority of the US is very safe and doesn’t have much violent crime.

  75. SOA November 14, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    Not true at all Warren. The SROs could be at any place at the school at any time and they are always moving around. An armed gunman would have a hard time knowing exactly where the SRO is to go hunt them down and find them especially in a large school with many hallways and buildings like my high school was. They could easily spend an hour searching for them and by then someone would probably already have noticed the gunman and called the cops all before they found their first intended target the SRO.

  76. no rest for the weary November 14, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    Well, violent crime rates have not been going up in my country… and people continue to be killed by guns at a small fraction of the rate, per capita, that people in the US are killed by guns (over 10 per 100K in the US, only 2.22 per 100K where I live).

    To assert that there is any reason for this discrepancy other than the proliferation of and relatively easy access to handguns in the US is not meshing with my view of reality.

  77. Warren November 14, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    SOA, this is the real world, not one of your TV shows.

    The armed officer in school will be the first kill of any shooter.

    And in your little fantasy world where it would take over an hour to find the officer……….what the hell good is the cop then anyway. If they are that far away, dozens are dead before he/she can respond.

    Dolly you argue against yourself all the time. Give it up.

  78. ChrisG November 14, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    @SOA: count me among the group who think that the police…I mean the SRO…don’t belong in schools. Problems that used to be solved by the administration with useful punishment such as in-school suspensions and the like turn into something else when the Police are on premise. They become criminal events and kids are routed into the juvenile “justice” system which in my local school system was a huge money maker for the county. It’s much too ripe for corruption which is why we worked to get the Police Liason Officer (as they called it here) removed from the schools here. We also worked to get a specific officer fired after several questionable incidents, including telling students (in front of the principal and us) that if they joined the sports team that he was the assistant coach of that he would “take care” of any tickets the athletes received. SROs are just a bad idea.

    As far as sensors to detect gunshots…much like the naked scanners for airports that we taxpayers spent millions upon millions on… Follow the money.

  79. Gary November 15, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    “To assert that there is any reason for this discrepancy other than the proliferation of and relatively easy access to handguns in the US is not meshing with my view of reality.”

    The fact you left not only your state of residence but eventually your country due to your paralyzing and irrational fear of an inanimate object is, as mentioned earlier, pathetic.

    The fact that you are ignorant on the laws surrounding what it not only takes to purchase a firearm, but that the CRIME is committed by CRIMINALS only takes the cake.

    I would love to know more about this “relatively easy access to guns” is all about because I clearly have been doing it wrong.

  80. Gary November 15, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    “Well, violent crime rates have not been going up in my country… and people continue to be killed by guns at a small fraction of the rate, per capita, that people in the US are killed by guns (over 10 per 100K in the US, only 2.22 per 100K where I live).”

    And as you were already told, if you are going to tout statistics it would probably be in your best interest to actually understand them, after all 75% of all people using statistics to reinforce their argument are wrong nearly 112% of the time.

    And instead of leaving the country you could always have moved to a city with strict gun control policies and low crime like Chicago, DC or LA.

  81. Gary November 15, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    “…not meshing with my view of reality.”

    Your reality is anything but, that’s actually the problem, well one of them anyways.

  82. JKH November 15, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Who doesn’t want to keep kids safe?
    But given the cost, the unlikelihood of the alarms ever being needed, and the HUGE cuts most schools face this comes down to the MOST ABSURD THING EVER.
    My children’s elementary doesn’t have a full time nurse. They have art for half a year and music for the other half. The library is run by volunteers. The copier blew a fuse and it took 3 weeks to replace because of costs. Now they are threatening to limit the amount of copies allowed.

    Statistically speaking, its much more likely a child will be hurt on the premises and need the nurse, or someone to administer and epi pen shot. In fact, during our book fair a first grader with a possible broken arm had to lay on the floor in the library with a bag of ice for about 45 minutes because no one could reach her parents and it wasn’t the nurse’s day. But hey, at least we have a computerized check in machine, bullet proof doors and state-of-the-art alarm systems. And the kids all have Nooks. Right? right?……. right?

  83. SOA November 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    The SRO is reachable by radio in a second but the shooter does not have a way to radio her. And as you said the first victim would be the SRO. So that pretty much means wandering around till you find her. Now sure they could take someone with a radio hostage and tell the SRO to come down there but that is not the same thing as you saying they would come in and first thing shoot the SRO. I said that is not necessarily true or possible.

    Maybe some people have bad SROS in their schools. We had one that was kinda a prick before the woman SRO replaced him. But I am sick and tired of people lumping all law enforcement together just because a few are bad apples. She was so nice and good at her job and its insulting and wrong to criticize her as she does not deserve that.

    We don’t have an SRO at my kids school but we have multiple fathers who are police officers who come in during their beat or their off hours and hang out at the school helping out with whatever and being a positive influence in the school. They are there to dissuade any kind of criminal activity because you never know when they might show up or where they might be in the building.

    I have zero problem with them being there. I think its nice for them to volunteer just the same as it is for me to show up and volunteer. I don’t get people who are so negative to cops. Not all cops are corrupt or assholes or bad at their jobs. Remember how many rushed into the Twin Towers as they were falling down to rescue people? Yeah stop insulting them.

    Our SRO did not go around arresting kids right and left. She broke up minor fights but just making them stop and then the kids got suspended like they would if it had been a teacher breaking it up. If drugs were found, she arrested them but that would happen whether or not she was there. They just have to call the cops and wait for them to show up would be the only difference on that. They can’t not report actual drugs to the police. She never arrested anyone for having tylenol or something like that. That just got them suspended and she had nothing to do with any of that. I cannot honestly remember even one time that she actually arrested anyone except one time she dragged off a drunk friend of mine at at football game. He just got suspended and his father had to pay for a drug free after Prom event as part of his plea to not get expelled. There was no arresting or criminal record.

    Our cops do a good service and follow the school buses around and will ticket assholes speeding through the bus stop sign when kids are trying to cross the street. That is something useful and free range because the kids are trying to walk home independently but cars are trying to run them down.

  84. Flurry November 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    A cop on patrol who hangs out at the school during his work hours is not volunteering his time. And as far as I’m concerned, a cop on the beat should be protecting the community, not hanging out at the school to “protect” the kids from….nothing. If your community is so crime-free that cops can hang out at school during their work hours, what crime do you think is going to occur at school?

  85. Flurry November 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    And yet, in this very same community cars “try” to run children down? Talking in your language, bullshit.

  86. Donna November 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    “Another thing to consider is that, despite what the media portrays, the vast majority of the US is very safe and doesn’t have much violent crime.”

    This is true.

    I am not a gun proponent by any stretch of the imagination and would be perfectly content if they were all illegal. However, that is based on a total lack of interest in guns and the complete ridiculousness of the country’s obsession with them, not a fear of them. In reality, it is a very small portion of the population that is ever going to be at risk of gun violence.

    Like all crime, the vast majority of gun violence takes place in the ‘hoods, trailer parks and other low income areas of our country. This includes both intentional and accidental gun deaths. Even in the those areas it is largely confined to people known to each other, not random acts of violence.

    If you live/work/hang out in the ‘hood, gun violence is an issue.
    If you engage in a criminal enterprise, gun violence is an issue.
    If you work in a convenience store or package store, particularly those in low income areas, gun violence is an issue.
    If you hang out with unstable people who own guns, you may have a problem.
    If you hang out with sloppy drunks who own guns, you may have a problem.
    If you are prone to starting fights with others, getting in people’s face and just being generally unpleasant, you may tangle with the wrong person one day.

    Otherwise, you are largely safe from guns, even in the US. Yes, there is a small risk that you will be the victim of one of the very few random acts of violence that occurs every year, but those are akin to stranger kidnapping in their likelihood.

  87. no rest for the weary November 15, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    Gary, it’s okay. Just let me have my delusions, and I’ll let you have yours.

    To each their own.

  88. SOA November 16, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    I have no way of knowing if they are on duty or not. They are sometimes in plain clothes and sometimes in uniform but that does not mean they are on the clock. Regular officers go into businesses and stores on the clock and that is still considered “patrolling” because you never know when they might walk in to a robbery or some other issue.

    No one tries to run children down that I know of, but we have jerks that text and drive and talk on their cell phones and speed so they don’t pay attention to the stop signs on buses and run right through them. I doubt that is shocking to anyone. We all know how distracted drivers are nowadays and the STATS back that up.

  89. Beth November 16, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    “we have multiple fathers who are police officers who come in during their beat and hang out at the school”

    “kids are trying to walk home independently but cars are trying to run them down”

    Dolly, you really need to keep track of what you’ve said when you try to deny saying it.

  90. Gary November 16, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    “Gary, it’s okay. Just let me have my delusions, and I’ll let you have yours.

    To each their own.”

    ‘cept I do not let mine influence,run or ruin my life.

  91. lollipoplover November 16, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    “I don’t get people who are so negative to cops. Not all cops are corrupt or assholes or bad at their jobs. Remember how many rushed into the Twin Towers as they were falling down to rescue people? Yeah stop insulting them.”

    Not seeing any need for an armed guard in front of a school isn’t cop bashing.
    And the brave officers who went into the Twin Towers did so because it was under attack.
    Schools are not under attack.
    They are places we educate our children.

    I don’t suffer delusions to think that I am any safer shopping at a mall with Paul Blart Security guard protecting me. A random act of violence like a shooting can happen at a workplace, a movie theater, a mall, or even a school. Most of these places already have guards and security in place.

  92. Buffy November 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    And lollipoplover, I would sadly add that schools are places at which we educate our children that are now run like prisons, using terminology and actions that never used to exist outside the prison environment.

  93. SimpleRyan November 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one.
    Obviously, we “feel” like school shootings are on the rise and happen more often because it seems like we hear about them all the time now.
    But when you run the numbers, and do the math over all the years – as the stats show – the percentage is very low.
    But I wonder what the percentage would look like if we looked over the past 2-5 years. I’m sure the percentage would be higher since the time frame is shorter.

    Part of me agrees with Lenore – that the world isn’t completely risk free – and that’s OK. But part of me also feels like – if there is new technology that can detect where the shots are coming from – and this will help law enforcement track down and stop the shooter quicker – then this is a good thing.

    As we evolve – so does technology and it’s way to keep us safer. For instance, they now have sensors and systems in vehicles that will apply the brakes for you if the vehicle detects that there is a stopped car infront of you and you haven’t yet applied the brakes.
    I’ve tested this out – and it works great!

    The fact is – people nowadays text and drive and don’t pay attention. So would I want this in my car to help keep me safe and others around me – yes.

    So I guess along the same lines – I wouldn’t be opposed to the school shooting system being installed in schools if it could help save lives.

  94. E November 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    @marie — I’m just now returning to the post.

    I don’t have all the answers about what kind of commercial air travel safety needs to exist. I’m not sure leaving security up to airlines would work since the airports aren’t designed to provide different security measures per airline, but that wasn’t my point.

    My point was that I don’t believe the government was going to NOT get involved because 1000s of people who weren’t even flying that day were killed as a result of what took place on an airplane.

    It doesn’t matter if you choose a less secure airline because you are comfortable with the cost/risk, if the plan is flown into a school or a public building or whatever.

  95. Warren November 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    I have tried to think of a nice way to put it, but cannot. You are a moron, pure and simple.

    Anyone hell bent on shooting up a school is going to take out the armed SRO first. Does not matter where in the school they are. I am pretty sure that the shooter who made it all the way from home with their weapon, can conceal it a little longer to take out the SRO.

    You really need to stop taking tv crime dramas as factual. They are works of fiction, not real. Kinda like Scooby Doo.

  96. Warren November 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    We need someone like George Carin, running things. He understood that limiting freedoms, spending millions and regulating us to death was not worth the few lives it may save.

  97. Chuck99 November 17, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    Do you want to know the real reason we all live in constant fear for ourselves and our children? Because there is money to be made from us being scared. The companies want the sales, the legislators want the donations, and the news media wants the ad media.

    And all the rest of us want is a little peace and sanity. Guess who wins?

  98. no rest for the weary November 17, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    What good is it to have delusions if you don’t let them influence you? That’s what they’re for!

    Speaking of delusions: