EDITORIAL: Indiana House kills potentially fatal plan

2013-04-14T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Indiana House kills potentially fatal plan nwitimes.com
April 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Indiana General Assembly's shoot-from-the-hip idea of having secret armed personnel carry guns in schools, like air marshals, had a number of serious flaws, one of them potentially fatal.

When police go into a school, how would they know the secret official gunman — whether a custodian, the principal, a lunchroom aide or anyone else — isn't their target?

And with the plan for secret waivers, citizens wouldn't know whether their school had someone armed. Beyond the uncertainty about whether the school is safe, imagine the public's worry about whether that armed person they saw at school is a good guy or a bad guy.

Senate Bill 1, which attempts to protect Hoosier schools from massacres, wasn't thought through well and could have backfired with tragic consequences.

The House, fortunately, amended the bill Thursday to study the idea rather than rush it through. Congratulations to Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, for opposing the idea of requiring armed, minimally trained school personnel. Lawson is a retired police officer.

We disagree with Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz on a number of issues, but we're on the same page, or nearly so, when it comes to Senate Bill 1.

Ritz's press secretary, Daniel Altman, said late Thursday, "Superintendent Ritz has said all along that we need to ensure that Indiana schools have the resources they need so that all Hoosier children can learn in a safe environment. She believes that decisions about how to create that environment are best made at the local level, not mandated by the state."

That's where the decisions on how to provide school security should lie. 

Encourage schools and police to work together more carefully, whether through putting trained police officers — often referred to as resource officers — in schools or just including school parking lots and perhaps hallways as part of a patrol officer's normal routine.

A police presence, rather than armed civilians with minimal training, can serve as a deterrent.

And by all means, background checks must be part of the equation. Some people are not stable enough to be trusted with guns. They should be screened out as customers, whether at retail stores, gun shows or elsewhere.

It is a tragic commentary on society that we must discuss ways to keep our children safe from gunmen. It's something the Indiana General Assembly should discuss.

More guns in the hands of minimally trained people, though, isn't the answer.

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