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[ot-caption title=”Pine Crest security guard patrolling the campus. (via Jason Kelman/Junior)”]

In the past three years, there have been 143 school shootings across the country. In 2012, Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened firing on innocent children, teachers and administrators; his actions resulted in twenty six casualties at the school. Fast forward three years and over a hundred school shootings later, and we end up at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on October 1st, 2015. Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer entered this college campus and shot nine people. With the horrors of these events occurring more frequently, the question of gun control has become a major topic of contention in the United States today.

Mr. Markham, head of Pine Crest security, and his team work each day to ensure the safety of the Pine Crest community.  Pine Crest faculty members are required to take training sessions, led by Mr. Markham, designed to teach them the proper course of action in the event of an intruder or an active shooter. While speaking with Mr. Markham, I learned that he also travels to schools across the nation in order to train their faculty. When asked about these sessions, he said, “I always start off by asking the teachers whether they think that an active school shooter could surface at their school. The first thing you must be able to determine is that it can indeed happen anywhere. Being proactive is the key to minimizing casualties.” He then brought up the shooting in South Dakota which took place the day before the Oregon tragedy; a student shot his principal, and Mr. Markham said that what happened next, in essence, saved many lives, “the assistant principal and a nearby coach immediately sprung into action, tackled the shooter and removed his weapon. It is all about proper training.”

Mr. Markham, along with his security team, monitors the Pine Crest campus in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the students and faculty.

Mr. Markham, along with his security team, monitors the Pine Crest campus in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the students and faculty (via Jason Kelman, junior).

Can homicidal events such as these be prevented? Well, one thing is for sure: nothing is going to improve unless we all begin making changes, a conversation that begins at local elementary schools and eventually reaches Washington DC. There are dozens of suggested solutions to the problem of gun violence, but our country cannot band together to agree upon one. Some Americans support in depth, more accurate background checks for potential clients purchasing firearms. Others believe there is a correlation between mental illness and mass shootings, so they desire a stronger treatment plan for the mentally ill. Some say the physical guns themselves are not the issue. Mr. Markham sees a gun as a tool; he believes that a person performs the action and the said tool simply aids them. He admits, however, that a gun does make terrible deeds a lot easier to commit.

In light of Sandy Hook, Mr. Markham deemed it necessary to have an armed and uniformed police officer on campus daily. Mr. Markham supports this decision by saying, “most active school shootings are six minutes or less, yet the response time of your police department might be at least ten minutes. Having that police officer on campus provides an extra safety net as well as a direct line of communication.”

The issue of gun control also affects the student body. Junior Dani Swords admits that she is often fearful, especially after hearing about all of the tragedies on the news. However, she says, “I am more concerned about the safety of my friends who attend schools other than Pine Crest and do not have access to the same resources we do.” We are fortunate enough to have the funding necessary to take extra precautions including guard gates and video cameras, but not every school has such luxuries. Some of these other schools would benefit immensely from stricter gun control laws. If the government backs our school system both financially and morally, it will be a lot harder for a perpetrator to break the system.

Those who believe that limitations on the right to bear arms is against our constitution may have a substantial argument.  The essential question still remains, however: how many more people will die before there are restrictions placed on this constitutional right?

CNN, everytownresearch, wikipedia, FBI.gov, preventioninstitute

The Student News Site of Pine Crest School
Campus Safety