Opinion: A case for arming DMACC security

One day during my junior year of high school, I was in Mr. Hammerand’s chemistry class when there was a lockdown drill. “We are in lockdown. We are in lockdown,” the secretary announced over the intercom.

For the drill we sat behind lab tables for about 10 minutes. However, before we returned to business as usual one of my former classmates asked the chilling question that shifted everyone’s mood.

What would we do if the lockdown was real?

Mr. Hammerand wasn’t exactly prepared to answer it, especially with the curious faces of more than 20 teenagers staring him down. Nonetheless, he said the plan would be to evacuate as soon as possible and if the assailant did enter the room we would do whatever was necessary to defend ourselves.

In that moment, I believe each student was meditating on the same thought: “It could be us.”

Statistically, school shootings are rare but they are on the rise. Between the 2011-12 and 2015-16 school years there were 101 school shootings on or near college campuses in America, compared to the 49 incidents that took place in the previous five school years, according to Campus Safety Magazine.

The DMACC board is currently assessing options whether or not to arm security or even hire off-duty officers.

I believe it is in the best interest of student safety to approve the presence of armed officers on campus.

However, we should not presume that the presence of weapons guarantees student safety. There is potential for guns to prevent a situation from worsening, but they shouldn’t be the only resource. No one knows what may happen in this situation, so DMACC’s plan should offer a variety of options to its officers.

Still, not everyone agrees we should fight fire with fire. Involving more guns in an active shooter situation seems counterintuitive, and like it would make these incidents more dangerous instead of less.

I don’t think this decision needs to be approached with fear in mind rationally with the school’s safety in mind, not with a fearful mind into an argument over gun control, that mindset that is counterintuitive. It can be a straightforward, rational discussion that considers what is best for our school’s safety and adapts to new ideas.

DMACC is not approaching this decision hastily. Current security officers would complete 12-18 months of mandatory training before any weapons are brought on campus according to Tiefenthaler. Weapons should only be placed in the hands of willing, trained individuals whose sole intent is student safety.

Tiefenthaler said he is working with DMACC’s Diversity Commission and mental health counselors so the board can make an informed decision. The board will also hold forums so students can voice their thoughts and ideas.

Even with armed officers on campus, mass shooting incidents are uncertain and weapons could have little to no effect. Tiefenthaler said weapons shorten the response time to shootings, but the amount is undetermined. Although a small sense, I think it is best to have someone, somewhere with a way to fight back.

This precarious nature of school shootings indicates that weapons should not be our school’s only safety measure. Just like security officers, students need to know how to protect themselves and navigate their way out of the situation.

And the truth is, only so much planning can be done. If a plan is carefully devised, implemented and further evaluated, we have done everything we can to minimize risk.

By arming security in addition to developing other safety procedures, DMACC would be providing an invaluable insurance to its students and their safety. Nothing is guaranteed in these situations, but if there is something that improves our chances, we need to invest.

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