Instead of an armed presence in schools, how about tools to disarm?

It is getting increasingly difficult to tell whether the gun-control debate is being conducted by two hopelessly rigid, or hopelessly moronic, sides. But like the deadlocked politics infecting Washington, the results are likely to continue to be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Given that the right seems devoted to turning our schools into armed camps, and the left insists that guns, rather than people, kill, why not try on for size an idea that actually might provide protection from armed madmen without posing a risk of increased carnage, and that might also skirt the debate over the Second Amendment to the Constitution? Why not equip schools with devices, such as a Taser, tranquilizer dart gun, or mace, that would immobilize, but not kill, an armed intruder?


Such devices can be stored all around school buildings, locked in glass cases with small hammers hanging on the outside, marked with the instruction “Break glass in case of emergency,” and where an alarm rings when the glass is, in fact, broken. (Fire hoses kept in such secure but accessible wall cases have been common for decades and are required by building codes.)

We use tranquilizer devices, after all, to subdue wild animals that wander from zoos or woods into our cities and towns. Why not turn the same solution to the protection of schoolchildren? Could the reason that we’ve not seen such an idea seriously discussed, much less implemented, be that it plays no useful role in further inflaming the right-left political and culture wars that so dangerously distract our society from useful solutions to our ample problems? Is the excitement of endless political and cultural battle more important than actually protecting children?

Harvey Silverglate


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