The epidemic

TISD makes dramatic decision in buying military grade weapons this summer


Story by Amanda Hackleman, managing editor

There is a problem in America. American school children have to hide in their own classrooms, cowering in fear as armed gunman prowl the halls. Innocent blood paints the walls, small bodies are littered with bullets. It’s an epidemic plaguing the country that some still have the audacity to call the land of the free.

There have been over 70 school shootings since the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Massacre. With the prevalence of these shootings increasing so perilously, school districts are looking for more dramatic ways to protect the students in their care. As revealed by a reporter from the KHOU station in Houston, Texas, TISD has approached the issue in a curiously exaggerated way.

According to Tina Veal-Gooch, executive director of public relations for TISD, the district received a grant that awarded 12 M-16 rifles, a surplus sale from the military, in the case of an armed assailant walking onto a campus within the district. The rifles have been converted to semi-automatic, called AR -15s, and are kept locked in police headquarters. The hope is, these weapons can be used in the instance of an armed assailant on any TISD campus.

This issue of whether or not the school should have these weapons cannot be argued in shades of black and white, as the problem is much more complex than that. One question must be tackled before any true discussion can commence. Why is something so drastic necessary to insure the safety of students? If this is truly the world we live in, isn’t it safe to assume that society is so far gone that there is no going back? 

If students cannot be considered safe without armed guards watching over them, in a place made for learning, how can any place be considered safe?

The district is reacting to an issue out of fear, fear for the thousands of students that are entrusted to them for eight hours a day. While the fear is definitely founded in reality, with the rate of shootings rising as it is, putting these rifles in the district is seen as a bad choice for many people.

The issue is more in depth than just whether guns are good or bad, it’s one of safety and if the district is over reacting. There is the ever lingering question of whether or not it is safe to even have such weapons. Accidents do happen, but even so, leaving students unprotected would be just as bad. One must also take into account, the weapons are not on campus and will not be brought onto any campus unless a shooter is present.

It is hard to make a definite decision on such an issue. These rifles, like any weapon, are dangerous, however if they’re not on campus, there is no threat to students. Even so, it begs the question of whether or not these weapons are necessary. It seems they jumped on the opportunity to receive these weapons, instead of thinking through the consequences.

The district could have invested in other safety measures, such as updated crisis plans and a better security system. They could even hire more guards to be placed at strategic points around the school to ward off any threats. Some would say that these precautions should have been considered before these weapons were added to the equation. Making the campus itself safer seems like a logical first step to ensure safety. However, in reality, Sandy Hook, one of the worst school shootings in years, had all of these measures covered and yet a tragedy could not be prevented there.

Arming the TISD police with the converted M-16s, now AR-15s, will possibly help in the event of a mass shooting incident. This will not be a discussion solved easily, however, it is one that is important to the safety of students on all TISD campuses. One thing is simple, handguns are not enough to deal with a mass shooting. The thought of living in a world which requires the use of these weapons is scary, but it is a comforting to know the district will take the precautions necessary to ensure its students’ safety.