Hear Me Out

A Moment of Action
By Sgt. Anthony Espino

Here we go again, another mass school shooting. Within the past five years, these mass shootings have become more violent than ever. Recall the Newtown school shooting, where a person with mental issues and a firearm slaughtered 20 innocent children between the ages of six and seven years old. Recently, the Parkland High School shooting claimed the lives of 17 children at the hands of a crazed teen who had a fascination with guns. Now we have the latest mass shooting at a Santa Fe, Texas, high school where a lunatic who was reportedly bullied and upset over a girl who was not interested in having a dating relationship killed 10 more children. What is going on?

In the aftermath of these shootings, politicians are quick to flood the airwaves claiming we must do something—that action must be immediate to stem the tide, but yet nothing is being done. It’s like we’re stuck in a wheel of the same old message with the same old result. For all these politicians who are good at pointing fingers and blaming, they’re even better at getting nothing done. We have students rallying across this great nation begging, pleading for help, and again nothing is being done. See the pattern here? While nothing is being done to stop school shootings, the politicians and media talking heads are praising these young men and women for speaking out on this critical issue. Stop the praising and do something already.

At sporting events, concerts, Hollywood award shows and rallies speakers are asking for a moment of silence for these children who were senselessly murdered. Although a moment of silence is a demonstration of respect for the souls we lost, I insist that with this moment of silence, we move toward a moment of action.

Many Americans are tired of these senseless murders. They’re tired of the talk about potentially arming schools with retired police officers or school personnel. Or the talk about putting metal detectors in schools. There’s even been more talk of introducing more anti-bullying programs. I emphasize the word “talk” because for the most part that’s all these objectives ever amount to. Talk is cheap.

To be fair, many schools have implemented some proactive safety measures, but there are far too many that have their heads buried in the sand. It is critical that all schools in this country put proactive safety measures into place. If money is the issue, as it seems always to be, then our local politicians need to find a way to make these funds available to put these plans into action. Politicians are supposedly here for us, right? At least that’s what they tell us when they’re campaigning and asking for our votes.

I’d also like to propose an additional safety measure. Perhaps we screen and perform evaluations on every student? As crazy as it sounds, this may be the reality of the future to limit the dangers of these horrific mass shootings from happening. Of course, we would have to decide at what age we perform these evaluations. As you can tell, my frustration with the endless school shooting after school shooting has me thinking outside the box. Most of these shooters are current students; therefore there should be proactive measures in place to identify potential school shooters long before they begin planning an attack.

As a society where violence is accepted and portrayed as being cool, we must unite to solve school shootings. Movies involving shooting people, blowing up buildings and committing acts of assault should be regulated further. Every time you turn on the television, the news media outlets are showing clippings of murders or assaults. This is an indication as a society we are failing. Our kids today aren’t outside playing sports or riding bikes like you and I did growing up, rather they’re home playing violent video games that promote violence and the slaughtering of human beings. Culturally, we need an adjustment.

Social media sites have become places for unfettered bullying where kids who are cowards and don’t dare to say things to another kid’s face harass other children through these outlets. It’s time to start holding these social media sites accountable for what they allow on their sites. More screening would be appropriate, and canceling accounts that violate rules for any bullying that occurs. I get the free speech argument, but not at the cost of the life of an innocent child.

In closing, I know many schools take bullying seriously and provide assemblies and speakers to talk about the dangers of bullying and ways to stop it. Many schools are proactive, but many are not, and we need to fix that. Again, these are all positive actions that are talked about but are rarely acted on. Congress needs to get involved and pass laws requiring that all schools are adequately retrofitted with the equipment and resources needed to protect our children while they learn and prepare for their futures. Metal detectors and fortification measures should not be frowned upon, rather openly welcomed. This is the world we live in. Nobody’s child deserves to die from a preventable murder. It’s time for less talk and more action.

Sgt. Anthony Espino is a 18-year veteran police officer, assigned to the Patrol and Crime Prevention Unit. His passion is to lecture to community members, teachers, and students to promote awareness and offer tips to prevent crime and victimization.