To the Editor:

Building fortresses … or not


For many politicians and some constituents, the answer for school safety is more armed police and reducing access to schools. If you believe that is the answer then don’t go halfway. There is so much more that can be done.

As a two-tour combat veteran, I know that to properly protect your base-camp (school) you need much more than trained armed forces. It starts outside the perimeter (school property). Defensive placement of material to stop intrusion, perimeter fencing, and roving guards would be good (think Supreme Court building). Additionally, “hardened” walls around buildings are critical so if engagement is necessary, inhabitants (children and teachers) can be kept safe while the enemy (an 18-year-old with an assault rifle) is engaged.

Transportation to and from the camp (school) needs protection as well. As the camp becomes better protected, intruders (you know who I mean) will look for other easier opportunities to wreak destruction. You can see where this is going. Do we really want to build fortresses?

Some might say: “Don’t be ridiculous!” I say, “The current approach is not working because most of the schools where mass murders took place already had police officers on site!” The military illustration is meant to highlight a logical trajectory of a one-sided solution and to expose our failures. There are many choices and combinations of solutions we could select, but all of them are currently framed by two extremes: guns or no guns.

We need to identify and address the source of the problems. Surely, we can provide for people who want to hunt, sport shoot, or collect guns while recognizing the right to be safe from pursuits outside those desires. Relatively unfettered access to guns or its opposite, no guns, is not the answer. There is a whole lot of space between those two points.

Every problem-solving study has recognized that though problems and solutions seem obvious, they are not. What is obvious is that we are failing. We do not have to accept the unacceptable. We should demand our politicians develop comprehensive plans that are broad enough to support a range of views after the real problems are identified … or build fortresses.


Jim Vanderbeck