OUR VIEW: Nashville school shooting again reinforces importance of new TCSS security measures

Published 10:30 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

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It’s difficult to watch the bodycam footage from Nashville Police officers who responded to a school shooting Monday at The Covenant School.

The footage shows officers barging into the school, frantically checking classrooms before responding to gunshots upstairs and killing the shooter. If you have kids, it’s hard not to find yourself picturing this nightmare situation occurring at your child’s school. 

We wrote about the Uvalde, Texas shooting in this same space in May 2022, saying the following:

“Every time an incident like this happens, everyone is angry and frustrated. We yell at the TV ‘what’s wrong people? What’s wrong with this country? How does this happen?’ Everyone with any platform tweets about it — celebrities, athletes, politicians. Many write that they are praying for the victims. Others use it as a chance to advocate for stronger gun control.   Republicans and Democrats alike take to the television and yell about what needs to happen to ensure this never happens again.  The president — whether it was Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, etc. — gives a speech advocating for what they believe will make it harder for a gunman to ever enter a school again.  Then, in a few days, we’ll all lose focus on it. We’ll go back to work, get back to our everyday lives and the pressures that exist personally, and we’ll move on.  And then, inevitably, it’ll happen again. And then the cycle repeats.”

Well, the cycle has once again repeated itself. The Covenant School shooting is the deadliest since Uvalde. Six people lost their lives Monday, including three 9-year-olds.

In that May 2022 opinion piece, we wrote that one day Republicans and Democrats will stop tweeting, stop yelling into television cameras and will actually look each other in the eye and get something done to prevent this. But perhaps we’re just all destined to argue about whose fault it is for the rest of eternity.

We take some solace in the fact that the Troup County School System is taking steps to make our schools safer. Weapons protection systems will be installed soon to keep weapons out of schools. The new systems will also need to be manned, so TCSS is hiring security officers.

TCSS also just approved adding SROs at every school in the district, even at an increased cost compared to previous years. When a situation occurs like the one in Nashville, it hits home that having those officers stationed at the school is worth every penny.

We’ve also reported on the LaGrange Police Department’s active shooter training, and the scenario we’ve witnessed was very similar to what played out on the body cam footage from Nashville. Officers are thrown into the situation, have to decipher a lot of information to determine what’s relevant and have to quickly disarm the suspect. In a large school, they have to do that in minutes — preferably seconds. 

It’s clear the right steps are being taken locally to try to prevent an incident from occurring in our schools, and for police to respond if something does occur. 

Nationally is another story.

These shootings need to be a call to action for our current generation of leaders — adults of all ages. If you have a child in school currently, regardless of age, are you really OK with passing this problem on to our next generation? Do we want our children’s children having to worry about the safety of their kids when they drop them off at school? 

The average, everyday citizen can’t vote on legislation directly (though we elect those who do), but there are ways to get involved. First off, our last school board election included three candidates running unopposed. If you asked 100 people on the street what they thought of our public school system, we guarantee you that you’d get some strong opinions. 

Yet, when it came time to actually run for office, only three people did. All were elected unopposed. That speaks volumes. School board members vote directly on how the school system’s budget is spent, including how to spend it on safety measures. 

Though he has no bearing on the school system directly, it’s also noteworthy that LaGrange’s mayoral election last week included only 10% of registered voters actually participating. We need people more involved in our community, whether that means running for office or just participating in our local elections. 

When you do vote, make sure you actually know the candidate — meaning more than if they are a Republican, Democrat or Independent. For instance, know if they have a plan for preventing mass shootings. 

Police are investigating whether the Nashville shooter was suffering from a mental illness. If there’s someone in your life who might be suffering from a mental illness, be there for them. The Suicide Awareness Hotline is 988. 

If you hear something, say something. Call 911 if you hear of a possible threat. Police would rather investigate and find nothing than find out later that one call could’ve prevented a tragedy. 

If you own a gun, be responsible and keep it locked away in a safe location, away from anyone who might intend to use it for harm.

One day, we hope one day our country is able to find a way to prevent these mass shootings from happening in our schools, where students should be safe to learn.

Maybe one day.