Sunday, July 29, 2007

This Could Work

HEAVY emphasis on "could".

Simple safety solution: classroom locks

BLACKSBURG, Va. --After a student gunman killed four of his classmates and his German teacher and then left, Derek O'Dell had to wedge one of his sneakers under the classroom door to keep the attacker from returning to kill even more.

There was no lock on the door to protect Derek and his wounded classmates against Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 30 students and faculty members, plus himself, at Virginia Tech's Norris Hall. Two others were killed in a dormitory.

Safety experts say that while school officials across the nation re-evaluate campus safety in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy, many are overlooking a simple solution: putting locks on the inside of classroom doors.

No! Don't do that! That might save lives!

A law that arbitrarily defines what a "large-capacity" magazine is, and then bans civilian possession of the same, is a much better solution.

Well, at least, in the minds (and I use that term loosely) of the Stuck on Stupid Society (aka: the US Senators from Massachusetts, New York, and California) it is.

"Often it's the simple stuff that will prevent a tragedy like this, and often it's the simpler things that will make the bigger difference," said Michael Dorn, a campus safety consultant and author of 19 books on the topic. "It's not the complex systems that cost millions of dollars."

It'll never fly at the legislative level then.


Of course, like any plan, it might have some drawbacks.

[Virginia Tech spokesman Larry] Hincker said the university must consider any problems the locks could create. In October, a man took several students hostage at Colorado's Platte Canyon High School classroom and killed one girl.

There would be several ways to make this work. Electric locking devices that could be remotely controlled could be turned off in a hostage situation as the one mentioned above and activated in the event of a shooter loose in the building. Granted, it would suck being the guy coming back from the john when the lockdown happens.

Also, any locks set up to be disabled in the event of a fire could possibly be manipulated by pulling a fire alarm switch in a hallway, allowing the bad guy access to the classrooms.

Of course, any such system will have its pluses and minuses. Where there's a system, there's a bypass, and someone's gonna find it if they want it bad enough. As I said in my post title, locks on classroom doors COULD be a viable solution here.

But, I'm thinking more along these lines.

Still, some question whether changes are necessary.

"This is a fluke of an incident and school security shouldn't have to be changed because of it," said Clay Violand, whose French teacher and 11 classmates were killed at Virginia Tech.

To paraphrase:

"This is a fluke of an incident and national gun laws shouldn't have to be changed because of it."

And as to Mr. Hincker's claim that "there's nothing off the table", I have to assume he's not including legal, armed self-defense by students and faculty in any discussions with the university's powers-that-be. It would be nice if he were, but I'm not holding my breath on this end.