School attack shows safety not complete

Five young Amish girls are dead. Five more are in the hospital with serious injuries. The nation is in shock after yet another school attack.

The latest school shooting, seven years after Columbine and just days after another Colorado attack, proves once again that schools are an easy target for madmen intent on making a horrific statement.

In the wake of these terrible events, which no one seems to be able to explain, calls go out for solutions that are supposed to prevent future attacks.

First and foremost is always gun control. It’s no secret that America has a gun obsession. Compared to the rest of the industrialized world, the United States loves its guns more than anyone. And the National Rifle Association has been spectacularly successfully in lobbying to keep guns available with very limited restrictions.

We absolutely agree that gun laws should be tighter. No one needs a semiautomatic assault weapon, and loopholes that allow gun purchases without background checks should be closed.

But tighter gun laws wouldn’t have saved the young girls in this latest incident. The gunman reportedly planned the attack days in advance, so waiting-period laws would not have had any effect. And even though he used a semiautomatic pistol, he could have accomplished his gruesome mission with a normal gun.

Unless the majority of Americans suddenly decides citizens shouldn’t be allowed to have guns at all, those weapons are here to stay.

The other issue that becomes a hot topic in the aftermath of these shootings is school safety. Classroom buildings across the country are now equipped with metal detectors and additional security personnel. Administrators hold drills so that teachers and students know what to do in the event of an intruder.

None of these measures would have protected the technology-shunning Amish. But for other schools, they are becoming the minimum requirements, and that’s a good thing.

In the end, though, we must recognize that if we want to live in the open society that is the hallmark of America, we have to accept there will always be risks.

Here on the Kent State campus, the only choice for total safety is to build 14-foot-high double walls with X-ray machines and metal detectors at every entrance.

That scenario, though, is just not a possibility. We would be annoyed by the hassle – mostly because we recognize that the risk of someone committing a random, violent act on campus is slim.

But students – especially here at Kent State – know that risk is not zero.

Most days, we live our lives normally, even if we keep a watchful eye on our surroundings and hope the authorities are doing all they can to keep us safe. But as these violent acts continue to pile on, there’s one thing we know for certain.

When the next one comes – and it inevitably will – we will not be surprised.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.