How Ky. can stop gun violence and keep schools safe

Published 4:55 pm Monday, May 28, 2018

One of the nation’s first school shootings happened in Kentucky.

It happened on Dec. 1, 1997, when 14-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on students standing in a prayer circle at Heath High School in Paducah, killing three students.

Since then, there have been school shootings in cities across the nation, including one at Marshall County High School on Jan. 23 that took the life of two 15-year-olds and left 12 others with gunshot wounds. Less than a month later, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Email newsletter signup

The shootings have shocked the nation and sparked protests and demands for stricter gun laws. Students and adults in Louisville and across Kentucky have joined with those around the nation who are demanding change.

Here’s what some outspoken Kentucky teens and adults want to see happen to make schools safe and stop gun violence:

Anna Mowery, duPont Manual High School student

I want a ban on automatic weapons, devices that make guns automatic and high capacity magazines. I also want universal background checks and mental health checks on every gun purchased, and permits required for every gun in the U.S.

Lily Ades, Noe Middle School student

The most immediate need to prevent gun violence at our school is to improve the security at our doors. This could be accomplished with Lobby Guard, a state of the art security software system. In addition, for internal safety, trained dogs that sniff for guns should be at every school. Each morning the dogs should go down the halls sniffing the lockers for guns. These two measures taken would be a good start in making our school community safer.

Chris Harris, Kentucky state representative

We should increase funding for the KY School Safety Commission to develop and update active shooter plans and training programs, and, more importantly, work with school districts to develop and implement new plans to “reconnect” our kids with one another and their school’s teachers and staff so that school kids feel they are valued and are a part of the larger student body and school community. We need to appropriate funding for House Bill 604 which, though it passed this session, was not funded. As it relates specifically to gun safety measures, I believe we should fund at least one armed School Resource Officer for each school, require comprehensive background checks, including elimination of the “gun show loop hole” and establish a minimum three-day waiting period. Similar to an Emergency Protective Order or EPO, establish a Gun Violence Protective Order (GVPO) with due process that allows law enforcement to take someone’s guns in those rare cases where a person is proven to present an imminent risk to themselves or the public. We should ban the sale of bump stocks and raise the age to purchase military-style assault rifles like the AR-15 from 18 to 21, to conform with federal hand gun laws. Finally, we should destroy all guns confiscated in the commission of a crime so they do not find their way back onto the street and perpetuate more gun violence. These, I believe, are all commonsense measures that will improve school safety and reduce the number of lives that are lost to gun violence, while continuing to safeguard our Second Amendment rights.

Hannah Dysinger, Marshall County High School student

All school shootings are different due to what they’re fueled by, but no matter what school you are dealing with you can increase security by adding metal detectors, heavier police presence and reducing the number of entrances. Violence in the media is also a huge problem, whether it comes from video games, television or music. Parents should monitor what their children are watching as well as monitoring their mental health. From a student standpoint, I’m incredibly comfortable with armed staff in the school as well as increased counselors. Fully automatic weapons and high capacity magazines should not be in the hands of anyone other than law enforcement or military due to the risk of them getting into the hands of someone unlicensed, underage or mentally unfit. Also, I’d feel more comfortable in my school if teachers and students had training on identifying mental illness.

Satchel Walton, Noe Middle School student

Assault weapons need to be banned. This can only be achieved by persistently calling out those in power who take the illogical and morally indefensible positions advanced by the NRA.

Judith Danovitch, U of L professor

Following the lead of the student survivors, the Stoneman Douglas High School alumni have mobilized to address gun violence. We call on all Americans to join us in in taking action. Speak up and tell others that the era of mass shootings in this country has gone on too long and needs to end. Hold our lawmakers accountable and demand that they enact common-sense gun laws, and if our lawmakers will not act, then show them our power by voting them out.

Courier Journal