School districts here in the State of Washington -- just like districts all across the country -- continue to grapple with the fear of school shootings. Many parents and citizen groups are pushing the idea of allowing armed and trained volunteers to roam the halls as a strategy to provide greater protection for schoolchildren and staff. Is that such a good idea?
I ask this because some of these volunteers may be the kinds of people most likely to walk into a school and start shooting. Wouldn't this provide such individuals with easy access?
You may consider this a crazy assertion, but I ask you to hear me out.
We know, for example, that preschools and youth programs (like Church camps or the Boy Scouts of America) not infrequently attract pedophiles. By working up close and personal with their targets, they gain the trust of children and adults alike. Many are held in high esteem...until the reports start coming in. At first, no one believes it because the teacher/coach/counselor/priest has such a good reputation in the community. (Some adults refuse to believe regardless of the avalanche of evidence.) At some point, however, the ugly truth comes out and people browbeat themselves for being hoodwinked.
In this same vein, individuals who might be prone to violent outbursts with guns may be attracted to the role of the armed and trained gun-toting school volunteer. For months or years, people may look to them as protectors. School administrators, teachers, staff and students alike may look upon them as paragons of virtue. And then one day, while everyone is going about their daily routine, the "paragon of virtue" will start shooting up a school like shooting fish in a barrel.
That could never happen, I hear some people cry. We would make sure that no armed and trained loose cannons were allowed into our schools. But it should be remembered that a good majority of individuals who commit heinous acts like this have 1) obtained their weapons legally and 2) have not been deemed mentally ill UNTIL they start slaughtering folks left and right.
So, how can you be sure that not one of the individuals you are authorizing to carry guns at school isn't the kind of person most dangerous to the health and well-being of the people inside the building?