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Over the course of the last 8 months, I have been involved in helping schools to develop a school safety program of their choice. Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened shortly before our legislative session started in early January and a school shooting happened, right here in Iowa.

When I think of school safety, I think of fires, tornados, ice, and anything else that would cause our kids, the employees of the school, or visitors of the school to come into harms way. As such the school safety plan must be very inclusive of any harmful thing that might be encountered in a school or on school property. They are detailed documents, and our schools are very good at thinking of all the inevitable safety issues that may arise.

School safety plans are, by their nature, very boring to the average person and they should be.  Most of school safety plans are relatively uncontroversial. The area of school violence and mass shootings for some reason is controversial. What we need to understand is that there is no plan to keep guns from any one location that will work. To think otherwise is and is kind of like burying your head in the sand in opposition to the truth.

The cold hard truth is this. The places with the strictest gun regulation laws, such as Illinois and Chicago in particular, have the highest gun violence in the nation. The strict laws in those areas have done nothing to stop gun violence. In fact, I wonder if it has helped to increase gun violence.

If we are serious in the prevention of gun violence in any way, we must deal with mental health, we must harden our structures, we must provide training to people, and in the end, we must have a good guy with a gun, if the bad guy with a gun gets through.

Here is the harsh reality in the first minute of an active shooter rampage a new victim can be shot every three to five seconds.  In the second minute a new victim can be shot every six to eight seconds.  In the third minute of an active shooters rampage a new victim can be shot every 10 – 12 seconds and the rate will decline unless the attacker finds a new group of victims to shoot.

The idea of calling 9-11 or relying on an SRO to be present at the right place and time is a pipe dream. That must be a very important part of addressing the danger, but it can’t be the only part of responding to an active shooter. But these people are cowards and when confronted, it has been proven over and over the killing stops. They either give up or shoot themselves, like any coward would do.

If, as a last line of defense, a shooter is only allowed a few seconds to act the potential number of victims will drastically decrease. If it takes even 5 minutes for a response, you can do the math as to the number of potential victims that will be harmed in any shooting. No amount of gun regulation can change the availability of guns has been experienced in Chicago, Santa Fe, Stockton, and other places with stringent gun control measures.

The House proposes two primary bills, one of them being HSB692 that focuses on infrastructure such as cameras, blast resistant windows, radios in each school building that can communicate with police, and firearm detection software.  The other bill is HSB675 which focuses on providing grants of up to 50,000 dollars to schools to hire an SRO and allows for arming school employees by providing specific training (more than Law Enforcement Officers currently receive) and providing qualified immunity if they are operating within their duties as a school guardian.

We are currently working on things that will help with school safety.  We have been working on mental health for several years and we will continue to do so.  All in all, we have made great progress on school safety and will do more but in the short time we have worked on this issue, much progress has been made.

Author: John Wills


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