High-powered rifles not the answer to improving schools

By By Akshita Sathe, COLUMNIST
On January 29, 2013

In the aftermath of horrificincidents such as Virginia Tech Massacre, the Red Lake Massacre and the massshooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, everyone from school administrators to parents and students are alarmed.

However, one school district has taken it too far this time.

A week before the Sandy Hook shootings, a school district in Fontana, Calif., decided to supply school police officers with high-powered semiautomatic rifles.

Fourteen Colt LE6940 rifles were purchased, and over winter break, the districts school officers were given over 40 hours of training on them.

The school-districts reasoning? These weapons will better equip officers, who, wear side-arms, (but) wouldnt be able to stop a shooter like the one in Connecticut, Fontana School Police Chief Billy Green said.

But the bigger problem lies in where the district, and others, are spending their money. The district spent $14,000 on the new guns, while its guidance program was eliminated two years ago.

But while school budgets have been slashed over recent years, school district spending on guns for police officers have increased, despite the fact that, according to The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a decrease in violent crime has occurred.

School violence in the U.S. reached a peak in 1993, accordingto the National Center for Education Statistics. That year, there were 42 homicides by students in total, as well as 13 serious violent crimes rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault per 1,000 students at primary and secondary schools. By 2010, those numbers had decreased to two homicides and four violent crimes per 1,000 students.

Though the police department stated the guns will be kept safe at all times, in either their assigned school, patrol car or school police headquarters, the safety
issues of allowing gunsin schools persist and the money could clearly have been better spent elsewhere.

Though the recommendednumber of students per counselor is 250, the American School Counselor Association shows the national average is actually one counselor for every 457 students.

While safety is of utmost importance, this measure brings more costs than benefits to the wellbeing of the students and, in light of other elements that have been cut, the district would be wise in redirecting its funds.

Akshita Sathe is a freshman majoring in psychology and behavioral science.

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