The First Step in Solving the School Shooting Epidemic

Matt DiPesa, Editor in Chief

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The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has prompted students, teachers, family members, and–to a lesser extent–politicians to debate potential solutions to the mass shooting crisis.


Arming school teachers, banning certain weapons or gun modifications, and increasing background checks are among the options that have been widely discussed. The main problem with these, however, is that they are all controversial and polarizing. Congress members largely refrain from supporting any of them because they risk losing the support of their constituents, who will vote to replace them with representatives who will reverse any proposed gun restrictions. These factors make the topic untouchable for government officials, who don’t want to risk unemployment for the safety of American students and teachers.


Without a doubt, the system is broken.


With that in mind, we as a nation must come together to begin the process of making our schools safer. It is paramount that the first steps of this process are relatively uncontroversial to create a starting point for some of the larger, more divisive topics, including assault rifle bans or background checks.


Scituate High School STEM teacher Brad Mingels has proposed the idea of a card-swipe system for students. This system could be applied to the exterior and interior of the school building. Students could swipe or scan their ID cards upon entering the school, and swipe again if they intend to leave a classroom (for restroom visits, etc.). Additionally, the doors on the outside of the school would remain locked “all the time,” according to Mingels, to prevent unknown intruders in the school. Perhaps the success of such a program in our school could inspire legislation on a larger scale.


Mingels acknowledged that some in the community may bristle at the idea of the school tracking students’ locations so frequently. The purpose of such a system, he said, “is not to try to control kids” but rather “a question of safety.”


In addition, this system also has a number of benefits in terms of efficiency. Mingels explained that SHS secretary Kathleen Ward makes roughly 50-100 corrections to the attendance record per day. This happens because the current attendance system is based on teachers marking students absent–rather than checking them in when they arrive. When teachers mark students absent in error, the student must report to Ward to correct the mistake. The system Mingels proposed would be combined with attendance software, eliminating the “burdened labor,” he explained.


In Parkland, accused shooter Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at 2:19 PM. According to a timeline in the Sun Sentinel, the exterior school doors were unlocked because the school day was almost over, so Cruz was easily able to get into a building with classrooms and students.


Legislation that requires all school doors to be locked until the end of the school day combined with mandated swipe systems could help to prevent future shootings.


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The First Step in Solving the School Shooting Epidemic