Six radical ways to tackle US school shootings

  • 20 February 2018

After 17 people were killed in Florida, could these measures stop US school shootings?

1. Don’t name the shooter

In January 2014, Dr Sherry Towers went to a meeting at Purdue University, Indiana. On the same day, elsewhere on campus, Cody Cousins shot dead Andrew Boldt, a fellow student.

After the killing, the meeting was cancelled. But Dr Towers – a statistician from Arizona State University – started thinking about shootings, and the relationship between them.

“It was the third school shooting I heard about in a 10-day period,” she says. “And that seemed – even for the US – an unusually large number.”

Dr Towers and her team got to work, and found that school shootings and mass killings had an average “contagious period” of 13 days.

That is – when one school shooting or mass killing happens, another becomes more likely.


2. Let teachers carry guns

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in December 2012, was reported to police at 9.35am. Officers arrived less than four minutes later; within a minute, they heard the gunman shoot himself.

He had already killed 20 children and six adults inside the school.

“If schools’ only solution is to rely on outside help, it will never get any better than we saw at Sandy Hook,” says Joe Eaton.

Eaton is from the Buckeye Firearms Association, a gun-owners’ group in Ohio. After Sandy Hook, they set up Faster – a programme that trains teachers to respond to mass shootings.

  read more …

3. Two doors in every classroom

When the gunman attacked Stoneman Douglas High School last week, David Hogg took shelter in a cooking classroom.

While hiding in the dark, the 17-year-old noticed the L-shaped room had two doors. “If he [the gunman] came in one,” he thought, “we could go out the other.”

His thinking – and his logic – is supported by experts.

read more …

4. Remove guns from people ‘in crisis’

In May 2014, Elliot Rodger – a London-born 22-year-old – killed six people in Isla Vista, California. The local sheriff called him “severely mentally disturbed“.

Four months later, Californian lawmakers approved Gun Violence Restraining Orders. They allow family members, housemates, or police, to ask a judge to remove guns from people “in crisis”.

read more …

5. Airport-style security in schools

Two days after the shooting in Florida, a lawyer in Corbin, Kentucky, posted a video on Facebook.

Shane Romines offered $20,000 (£14,000) to buy five metal detectors – one for each school in the area.

He also offered another $5,000 for tasers, firearms, and training, and called on other community leaders to contribute. Within three days, $75,000 had been pledged.

read more …


6. Repeal the Second Amendment

Gun-owners’ rights are protected by the US Constitution. The Second Amendment, adopted in 1791, gives Americans the right to “keep and bear arms”.

The Constitution, though, can be altered.

Amendments can be proposed by Congress – when two-thirds of both houses are in favour – or by two-thirds of the states. The amendment must then be approved by three-quarters of states.



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