WTVM Editorial 3/23/18: Armed guards work

(WTVM) - Once again, a school shooting. This time in Maryland, where the carnage was, thankfully, much less than in Parkland, Florida.

This time, an armed school resource officer did his job, jumped into action and engaged the shooter who died at the scene.

If there is a right way and a wrong way to handle a school shooting, this one is an example of at least a better way to do it.

As we all grapple with how to prevent shootings at schools in the first place, the least we can do is be ready and willing to take action when gun violence threatens the place where those most precious to us spend most of their waking hours.

The Maryland incident is only one of a few instances in which an armed school resource officer was able to intercede to end an active shooting.

Another one was in Arapahoe County, Colorado in 2013, when a school resource officer ended a deadly high school shooting by approaching the gunman's position in the library. The student shooter turned the gun on himself when he realized the officer was closing in.

By now everyone knows there was more than one armed school resource officer on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the time of that shooting.

They failed to stop that gunman. In fact, the first officer on the scene did not even attempt to engage the shooter in any way.

I think we can all agree that is disgraceful. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 29,000 public schools in the United States, only about 30 percent, report having at least one full or part-time school resource officer in 2013, the last year available for those statistics.

We would hope the number of armed school officers is now growing. We simply must transition our schools from gun-free soft targets to harder targets, not just with armed guards but with strict entry and exit policies and other smart security measures.

It's great that a brave officer made sure the Maryland shooting was not a massacre. That's a victory -  in that one battle. But we need to win the war.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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