Jeff Hartline Commentary: Evaluating Risk In The Era Of School Shootings: Do Solving Other Problems Teach Us Anything?

By Jeff Hartline


When I was a little boy, I regularly rode in the car with my dad standing next to him. I can recall numerous times when he would have to quickly apply the brakes that his right hand would shoot across my body to keep me from hitting the metal dashboard.

With highway deaths in America approaching 50,000 annually then, it was a “no-brainer” for car manufacturers to start installing lap belts, then shoulder harnesses, then inflatable impact bags, then requiring children to be strapped in car safety seats.

We did all this to reduce risk to automobile passengers. We did not, even once, consider reducing the rights of citizens to move about all across the nation or eliminate automobiles from our culture.

Just a few decades ago, some evil person laced Tylenol capsules with poison and numerous innocent people died as a result. The Tylenol manufacturer was not required by the public or government to cease operations. What they did was create a safety seal for their product to allow a customer to be able to tell whether a bottle had been opened.

All of us parents have experienced the frustrations of getting a prescription bottle opened. That frustration is the result of changing the operation of a prescription bottle to prevent children from getting into medications not god for them. We did not cease manufacturing of medicines, we reduced the risks of unintended uses of those medicines.

I need not discuss the actions taken at airports to reduce the risk of unwanted items winding up on airplanes. We don’t outlaw airplanes or stop flying. We just take steps to reduce risk.

So what is our aversion to eliminating the risks to our children in our schools?

We all believe education to be important. We all believe that our children should be allowed to learn in a peaceful environment. So why is there such aversion to minimizing the risks to our children from crazy people with guns?

Unlike the above-mentioned examples, catcalls come from everywhere that there are too many guns, too many people own guns, “assault weapons” should be banned, and on and on it goes. These same people would never call for the elimination of automobiles, airplanes and medicines just because harm comes to people who use them in an unsafe manner.

What we hear are statements like this: “Didn’t people see this person needed to be watched?” or “How did this individual get access to a gun?” or “Why do people think that everyone should own guns?”

We never hear this statement: “What had the local school board actually done to reduce risk and protect it’s students?”

Oh, sure, we have made massive changes to equipment and rules to protect football players. We have upgraded safety and laws to protect children who ride buses. We regularly call off school when roads are icy. We institute rigorous rules against students bringing aspirin to school. We identify children caught in the middle of domestic disputes and establish clearly understood parameters about who can take a child out of school during the day.

The last twenty-four hours have been characterized by a plethora of hand-wringing about every solution but the most obvious. If evil people are going to concoct ways to hurt innocent people, and they will, and if these evil people continue to bring firearms into gun-free zones, and they will, then why do elected officials keep avoiding the most obvious way to reduce these risks to our children?

Oh, yes, schools institute rules about who can and cannot come into the building. They identify specific parents who might cause a problem if they appear on campus. They drill students about what to do in the event of an emergency of this type. Teachers are trained to shut and lock doors. And yes, some districts assign School Resource Officers (SRO) to schools (if they can afford it).

Let’s be real here. Individuals intent to do harm couldn’t care less about school rules, locked doors, or drills. They are not deterred by an SRO. A person with a firearm or multiple firearms sees an SRO as his first target, easily identified.

These evil animals just want to inflict as much carnage in the shortest period of time as they can. In the minutes that it takes for a distress call to go out, for law enforcement to arrive, to evaluate the situation and to enter the building, mass casualties result.

Note that our current answer is to send people with guns. Why do we perpetuate an answer that sends people with guns minutes too late? That is the worst form of risk management!

Instead of school board and elected official hand-wringing, teachers and staff need to be selected, armed, trained, and positioned in our schools to effect an immediate response! Rather than sacrifice our best and brightest to the unmet bullets of a madman, we need to be returning fire immediately!

The Israelis instituted this policy in their schools decades ago and they don’t have these shootings. Even a crazy madman understands that he may be entering an unfriendly environment in which his evil aims might be snuffed out before he takes a third or fourth shot. Just as eliminating cars because innocent people are killed in them, so is eliminating guns because innocent people are killed by them. Evil people are always going to be able to get their hands on firearms. As a parent and grandparent, I want people close to our children to be able to defend themselves and our children immediately!

And there’s this: There is no specific Constitutional protection for airplanes and automobiles.

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Jeff Hartline is the Executive Director of TN Spotlight



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5 Thoughts to “Jeff Hartline Commentary: Evaluating Risk In The Era Of School Shootings: Do Solving Other Problems Teach Us Anything?”

  1. Ruth Wilson

    Kevin, your comments are exactly correct. Your two pertinent points are exactly right.
    GUNS are not the Problem. Forgetting Almighty God is the Problem. The 1963 Supreme Court Opinion given to the atheist O’Hare to take Prayer, Bible Reading and the Ten Commandments from American public schools and Civic forums, Removing reverence and respect of God Almighty from America. Before this dastardly opinion, America was termed “God Fearing”. You don’t FORCE people to be a Christian but in “This is a Christian Nation”, 1892 Supreme Court Opinion, American children were instructed in their Godly History and Heritage.
    We’d better listen to Our Righteous, Godly First President General George Washington. He declared, “It is impossible to rightly govern a Nation without God and the Bible.”
    For God & Country

  2. 83ragtop50

    Excellent article.

  3. Sim

    At a time when the “Deep State” is attempting to do what the Second Amendment was designed to protect against,

    “WHY” is anyone amazed that the “Deep State” is trying to protect themselves from the Second Amendment????

    Today is a time the Second Amendment is need more than any other time with the exception of the Revolutionary war.

  4. Kevin

    Great perspective! In a sense, you are proposing the concept of putting dogs that look like sheep among the sheep, to protect the flock from the wolves. I believe it would work and significantly reduce if not end the threat, except for two issues.

    First, the true “left” really doesn’t want school violence to end. Their long term goal is complete Government control. The 2nd Amendment was added such that future generations would be able to throw off a tyrannical Government, just like our forefathers did in 1776. By allowing school violence to continue, the Left is incubating a generation of gun violence fearing citizens. Within the next 20 years all of theses “traumatized” kids will be voting, and the 2nd Amendment will be DOA! Then the real subjugation begins!

    Secondly, most (not all) teachers today don’t understand the above mentioned reason for the 2nd Amendment. Many started out getting Bachelor degrees and when no jobs were available in their fields, went into teaching. They now buy into the NEA/SEIU pro- government control rhetoric. So trying to get a few teachers in each school willing to be trained as “sheepdogs” is going to be next to impossible. The peer pressure against it will be huge!

    The silver lining in all of this, is that homeschooling and school choice is gaining more and more momentum. I just hope it’s not too late!

  5. Randall

    Exactly. When someone is killed in a DUI crash we don’t shut down the liquor industry. Only the drunk driver is prosecuted. The automobile industry nor the liquor industry takes any blame for DUI deaths. (10,000 die yearly from DUI)