School shootings need viable solutions

Columnist and Columnist

I sat down at my computer Monday morning fully intending to write about presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s upcoming trip to our campus this Saturday, but then a story came across the television that caused me to stop.

The story of a high school student shooting and wounding classmates — sometimes fatally — is a story that is all too familiar these days.

Still, when another one occurs it is no less sad, confusing, scary or frustrating than it was back in 1999 when the shootings at Columbine High School became the first school shooting to gain the national spotlight.

On Monday, the story happened a little too close to home. Chardon, Ohio, is less than three hours away; just on the other side of Cleveland.

This shooting spree claimed the lives of three students and left two others wounded.

The shooter was apprehended a half hour later at his home, after a teacher chased him off the school grounds during the attack. (That teacher is a true hero and should be honored as such.)

As I sat watching the news unfold, I wondered what makes anyone think that this kind of violent act is an option. What could build up such animosity and desperation inside of a person?

The bigger question: How do we effectively prevent this from happening yet again?

What could we, as a society, do to protect our children from being massacred by an unstable classmate?

In this case, the shooter tweeted Monday morning that he was going to bring a gun to school.

Could we make all students register their social networking accounts and have someone who monitors students’ tweets and Facebook status updates?

While this may have some effect, it is invasive and would result in a lot of innocent people being scrutinized and possibly punished for something that they didn’t do.

New gun laws are always an expedient answer. The lack of gun control laws and the unwillingness of elected officials to advocate for more gun control laws makes this an easy thing to blame.

What about a law that requires parents to show a receipt for a locking gun cabinet before they are legally allowed to own a gun?

While this sounds reasonable to me, the Second Amendment would not permit such a law without a constitutional amendment.

In cases where the teen shooter has stolen the gun from a parent, we could prosecute the parent for negligent homicide — the hope being that this would cause parents to make sure they own a locking gun cabinet to prevent such thefts.

In Ohio, negligent homicide is a first-degree misdemeanor, meaning it would only carry a sentence of no more than six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

And is it really fair to imprison parents for the choices of their children?

What about making schools conduct home visits to their students’ homes to look for, and even ask about, guns and gun safety in the home?

Again, while I can see the argument for such a thing, it places the brunt of the burden on people who have done nothing wrong and do not deserve to have their privacy invaded.

And how could you enforce such a law?

It would require law enforcement to intrude into the homes of innocent people looking for evidence of a plan to do wrong, which is no easy task.

And therein lays the problem. There’s just not a good way to prevent this from happening again and again.

While I do not have any suitable answers to this problem, I believe that there is an answer somewhere, and we must find it.

I think the president should convene a congressional taskforce assigned to study the problem of school shootings and suggest some possible solutions.

Our congressmen and congresswomen are supposed to be our surrogates, which I think means looking for solutions, even when they are not obvious ones.

Until then, all we can do is send our most heartfelt sympathy, love and prayers to all of the families who have been and will continue to be effected by these senseless acts of murder.


Respond to Matthew at

[email protected]