How do we keep our children safe?

The shooting death Wednesday of a high school student in Birmingham, Ala., was one more reminder of the complexity of keeping our schools safe.

Courtlin Arrington, 17, was killed and another student was wounded in a classroom, apparently not in an intentional shooting but, instead, an accident that occurred while students were handling a gun one of them took to school.

How the gun got into the school, which has heavy security including metal detectors, was being investigated.

Locally, we have had students show up on school grounds with a gun as well and this incident could have been us.

In July, a 15-year-old brought both a pellet gun and an airsoft gun to summer school in Gloversville. That led to the school being locked down and a school bus detained. The school bus was searched by law enforcement officials, but no weapon was found.

Officers were also dispatched to the school, which was on lock out due to the anonymous tip. No weapons were found at the school either.

But in the vehicle reported to be following the school bus, one of the three teens did have the pellet gun and an airsoft gun. He told officers he planned on going target shooting after school.

That same month, another incident involving a gun occurred on Johnstown High School’s basketball courts.

During a pickup basketball game, one of the teens playing pulled out a gun and “brandished” it at the other players, which included other teenagers and adults. The teen who pulled the gun was a JHS student.

The incident happened on a Sunday and the teen was arrested. But the school also decided to stay on the safe side and took additional safety measures that included the presence of police officers during Monday morning arrival time.

Then in November, there were two separate issues involving students bringing guns to school in Gloversville — one at the middle school and one at the high school.

An 18-year-old student was charged after he brought a CO2-powered BB gun to school. That student was stopped by staff prior to him making it into the school.

In the second incident, a middle school student had an unloaded pellet gun in his bookbag. He showed it to other students, who took action and reported seeing the gun to staff members. The gun was eventually found in the student’s locker inside the bookbag and confiscated.

While no one was hurt in any of these incidents, it still shows how vulnerable our children are. If any of these four students had evil intentions, someone could have died.

As for the recent shooting in Alabama, in all likelihood, not a single one of the pieces of state and federal gun legislation being considered now would have prevented the death and it is another grim reminder that simplistic solutions will fall short of keeping our children safe in their schools.

While our local schools are working to make safety a number one priority, we still all must be vigilant, including our children. They must feel safe about being able to say something if they see or hear something. The recent advice from a local official to “consider the source” first before reporting a suspected school shooting needs to get onboard with today’s reality. We all do. We do not want what is happening nationwide to become our new reality.

By Kerry Minor

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