Making local schools safer: are guns the answer?

Making local schools safer: are guns the answer?

This story begins not in Las Vegas, but in suburban Washington DC, where the National Rifle Association broke its eight-day silence after the shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. With 17 dead, the February 14th massacre was the worst shooting at a US high school.

“To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun,” said the head of the NRA Thursday, Wayne LaPierre.

RELATED | NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at CPAC after school shooting

He said that before - after the slaughter in Sandy Hook, where 20 elementary students and six adults were killed at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012. He said it again today, a week after the tragedy in Florida...with a new message.

“Schools must be the most hardened targets in this country,” said LaPierre. “Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide-open soft targets for anyone bent on mass murder.”

Easy to call for a hard target, but tough to do, says Eldorado High School principal David Wilson.

His school was built in the 70's. It's an "open campus."

“There are doors all around the exterior that any student could actually just prop open, put something in it and all of a sudden you have full access to the building,” Wilson told me. He says the Clark County School District did a study that determined to retrofit all high school doors in the system would cost about $22 million dollars.

Wilson tells me the school does practice for shooters on campus. “We’re very pro-active at Eldorado. We do ‘hard lockdown’ drills. We’ve had to go into a hard lockdown already this year,” he says.

If you can't stop evil from coming in, you can stop it once it's there, say gun supporters. Time to arm teachers, they say.

It only makes sense, says gun owner Robert Markum.

“When they declare these school areas gun free zones, they're just hanging a sign out front saying, hey, come and kill our kids,” Markum told me as he finished a visit to an East Las Vegas gun store. “If a teacher is trained, qualified to use and carry a weapon, why not,” he asked.

But Jennifer Manning has a different take.

“I am a gun owner. I am not saying to take guns away from anybody,” she says, "but I am saying that we do need to restrict the access to those guns and have stricter requirements for keeping those guns.”

Manning is not only a gun owner, she's a teacher, who says in class, she needs to pack books, not "heat."

And here's another wrinkle: she's a survivor of the October 1st shooting. She was there that night and lived to tell about it.

At her school, she tells me there's a new routine:

“When we ask them to not take the shortcut around the outside of the building anymore and to stay inside of the building, they don't argue,” Manning says.

It's to stay away from harm, whatever that might be.

Because in 2018, the most important lesson at school is survival.

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