Guns in schools. It is a topic that makes many people uneasy, but unfortunately, it is an issue that cannot be ignored.
As a result, the Lake Pend Oreille School District is having a very serious discussion about student safety. Right now, the school board is considering every possible option, which includes giving guns to select staff members.
"When events like Sandy Hook come up, you ask yourself, geez what if that happened here? Then you read about some of the heroic efforts of some of the adults that died trying to protect kids, you go, there has got to be a better way," said Lake Pend Oreille School Board Chairman Steve Youngdahl.
Youngdahl says it is events like Sandy Hook that have caused the Pend Oreille School District to realize it might be vulnerable if something like that were to happen their area.
"We're a rural district, I mean the response time to some of my campuses is up to twenty minutes for law enforcement," Youngdahl said.
In twenty minutes, a lot can go wrong.
"If we wait for law enforcement, the average body count is 14. If there is an immediate response on campus, the body count is two," Youngdahl said.
Right now, the district has one officer that rotates between its eleven schools. Therefore, to fix the problem, the school board is working on a policy that would arm carefully selected staff members on each campus with a gun.
"I will do whatever it takes to keep kids safe, wherever that leads me," Youngdahl said.
Each person would go through a rigorous training program run by law enforcement. However, the biggest concern: what happens if someone else gets a hold of the gun in the classroom?
"Whoever is authorized to shoot that gun, is the only person that can shoot that gun," Youngdahl said. "For everybody else, it is a big expensive paper weight."
It may sound unrealistic, but new technology coming out this fall will make that possible.
"There is a fingerprint pad on it [the gun], and you have to grip it with your finger on there, to unlock the gun, in order to operate it," Youngdahl said. "If that is not your finger you are not going to be able to operate the gun."
Another big concern was about bullets in the classroom. Well, they have found a solution to that as well.
"My proposal is to require frangible ammunition, which means it is ricochet proof, so you're looking for ammunition that won't ricochet around, it disintegrates on impact," Youngdahl said.
The district still has a lot to discuss, so this new policy is still a long ways off. However, no matter the decision, student safety is the top priority.
"At the end of the day, really what it is all about is ensuring the safety of students and staff," Youngdahl said.
Again, this is not a quick decision the board is making. They are weighing all options and considering multiple safety scenarios. For example, they are even looking at what it would cost to put a security officer at every school instead of arming staff members.
If you want to weigh in on the issue, the school district is having its first meeting on October 8th. The meeting will be open for the community to voice their opinions.