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OP-ED: Sandy Hook, Parkland and Our Community

Since the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut six years ago, there have been a number of other school shooting incidents in the United States in which people have been killed and injured. The latest came last week in Parkland, Florida.

Both as a candidate and, hopefully, in the future, as a Member of Congress, I can support common sense restrictions and increased background checks and enforcement, as long as such measures are properly defined and do not restrict the constitutional 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. I also support addressing the legal issues that currently prevent the public sector or even family members from taking measures to restrain persons who clearly pose a threat to public safety. Finally, there are technology advances in development that can help speed the arrival of and situational awareness of police departments in the event of a shooter. All these improvements, however, will take time to implement.

There are several options that could immediately improve the security of any school and should be instituted now.

#1 – Lock the doors. At both Sandy Hook and Parkland the gunman simply walked into the school. We need to lock the doors. Yes, someone in the office or on the custodial staff will have to get up and go see who rings for admission. But that seems a minor inconvenience when weighed against the potential benefit.

#2 – Coordinate directly with local police to have a cruiser in the general neighborhood during school hours. Have an emergency code (or button such as often installed at bank teller stations) that, when it sounds, alerts an officer to head for the school without delay.

#3 – Plan a defense with teachers who then practice it with students. Schools routinely practice fire drills. Emergency response forces routinely train for encountering shooters. It is time for the schools to practice what to do in case of a shooter.

Will any of this stop a determined shooter? No. What it will do is buy a precious minute or two for police to arrive.

Down the road, but not very far, schools should also look to bolstering their physical defenses…a fence, a gate, an emergency alert system, different signals for a fire and for a shooter. This might cost a few thousand dollars, but this is barely a rounding error in overall school budgets.

Congress can mandate that these and other non-controversial steps be taken immediately, perhaps as the price of continued federal school aid. Some will no doubt argue that more should be done, and they may be right, but as one weeping Parkland mother asked “Why can’t we do anything to keep our children safe in school?” Answer: We can. I will.

Amie Hoeber is a resident of Potomac, who is Republican candidate running to represent the 6th District in Maryland in the United States Congress. Hoeber is a national security expert, business leader and women’s advocate.

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