School Climate & Safety

Family of School Shooting Victim Pushes for Armed Guards, Police in Schools

By Evie Blad — October 26, 2016 1 min read
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The family of a 6-year-old kindergartner who died after he was shot on the playground of his South Carolina elementary school last month is pushing for state officials to require that a police officer or armed guard be placed in every school.

The family hasn’t yet found a state lawmaker to sponsor “Jacob’s Law,” named for Jacob Hall, who was shot alongside a classmate and a teacher before the gunman failed to gain access to the school building, reports Fox South Carolina. Their proposal joins a plan by State Rep. Joshua Putnam to introduce a bill that would “train select teachers and faculty to carry guns,” the station reports.

It’s common for lawmakers to propose increased security measures after school shootings, which remain statistically rare. Those proposals often include calls to arm staff or increase the presence of security in school buildings.

In the year after the 2012 school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers around the country proposed hundreds of bills that would boost school emergency planning, tighten gun restrictions, allow teachers to carry weapons in schools, and upgrade physical-security measures in school buildings. Most of those bills never passed.

But calls to increase police and armed personnel in schools trouble some civil rights organizations, who argue such measures lead to overly harsh and inequitable discipline that violates students’ civil rights.

According to the most recent federal data available, 43 percent of public schools had a full- or part-time security officer or police officer on site during the 2013-14 school year.

“School safety and design experts say the most important steps schools can take are controlling access to classrooms, increasing visibility, and ensuring that staff members are trained and prepared for possible intruders,” I wrote after the South Carolina shooting. “The district said such measures prevented Wednesday’s attack from being worse.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.