Today’s tragedy in an elementary school near Danbury, CT. is yet another horrifying reminder that the world is not a safe place. The lives of 20 children, likely an entire class of kindergartners, have been lost, as well as 5 faculty members. I will not waste time arguing what will inevitably turn into yet another debate about guns and the 2nd Amendment in the media, which will solve absolutely nothing. Guns are not the issue, but a society in which a person becomes so desperate and enraged that they would be willing to commit such a horrendous act is the real problem. As we’ve seen the frequency of these types of situations increase, we need to be focusing on why they are happening, and what pattern we may be able to find in the lives of the individuals who carry them out.
There can be little doubt that many factors in our society are contributing to the massacres like the one that played out today in Connecticut. These events are sadly becoming more and more familiar, and are likely to continue. Whatever the reasons, we need to look at two things. First, that no matter what the motives or the methods of carrying out these despicable crimes, there is no justification, no straw man, that should take blame away from those who commit these crimes. So quickly, especially in cases like this, where a person becomes the harbinger of such pain and death completes their awful act by taking their own life, leaving shattered families and communities in their wake, we seek to lay blame somewhere, to make someone the villain in the absence of the actual villain. It isn’t guns, or violent movies, or rap music, or any other societal factor that causes these crimes. It is the fault of a person who makes a conscious choice to commit a terrible crime. Why they do it, or what may have motivated them should be investigated, but in the end, there is no one else to blame but that person or people, even if that leaves us with no one to hold accountable. We want someone to pay, the families of those killed want justice for those they’ve lost, but the stomach-turning reality is that even in this case, where the lives of so many children were ripped away from their families, the person likely to be found solely responsible for this horror has stolen any sense of closure or justice by taking his own life.
The hearts, thoughts, and prayers of our nation go out to the families who’ve lost their children, and to a community that will never be the same.
Secondly, as the investigation into how this happened continues, we must learn from the horrible lesson that was taught so callously today. The most obvious lesson is that we must upgrade the security of our schools. Malls, banks, movie theaters, and even schools, are targets for mass violence. The response is that we must improve and install more security measures, namely human security, in places of large public gathering. People who are tasked with protecting these areas must be well-trained and able to respond to these acts of violence. Adding this new layer of protection will not be cheap, but fortunately, we have no shortage of well-trained people for this task.
As an Air Force veteran and former Security Forces member, I know that after a decade of war, thousands of men and women re-enter civilian life each day uniquely qualified to protect people against these kinds of attacks. While not every one of them may be suited to work each day at a school, many are, and are able and willing to continue protecting the citizens of the nation, though not all of them may be willing to join a law enforcement agency. We need to understand and respect the important role that non-government, non-intrusive security agencies can play going forward, and recognize that in a dangerous world, the many talented and dedicated men and women that have served in defense of this nation would be well suited to continue protecting citizens in a civilian security role.
Now, I am no one, and I have no influence whatsoever, but others out there do, and I hope that one of those people out there take action after today’s events. Our schools are vulnerable not just from attacks such as this, but from possible terrorist attacks as well. Now, the likelihood of one particular school being targeted as one was today are tiny, however, when college campuses, and virtually every other public place has at least one full-time security agent, I don’t think it’s farfetched to think that children in schools across the nation should have the same protection.