The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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December 29, 2012

HERALD'S OPINION: We must find a way

CLINTON — Tragedy is overtaking America.

For years, we have collectively stood wringing our hands, wondering how we can ever stop the shootings — the ones in our workplaces, malls and schools.

It is the latest highly publicized shootings and resulting Dec. 14 deaths of 20 6- and 7-year-olds and six adults in their Newtown, Conn., classrooms and hallways that finally seem to have Americans and lawmakers ready to do something significant to halt what can only be described as madness.

No doubt there needs to be a multi-faceted approach.

Stop the ease with which people can get a gun and make sure gun owners are responsible when storing them.

Address mental health issues. Again, there is no doubt the killings we are seeing are linked to mental health issues that have led someone to grab a gun, point it at innocent people and pull the trigger.

But what we want to focus on in today’s editorial is how this issue relates to our Clinton schools.

We know that for years, the district has practiced intruder drills; in fact, we’ve covered them.

And also for years — since the mid-1990s — we have had school resource officers in district school buildings.

Back when that idea was proposed, there was some opposition to it as people didn’t want what they considered to be armed guards roaming school halls.

But, the officers’ presence has been immeasurable in its benefit as they work alongside students and are able to develop relationships with them that aid in investigations and create trust with law enforcement.

And we know the district through the years has continued to increase security among its buildings to ensure safety.

With that being said, we know that if someone wants to get into a school, he or she will plan and build up the arsenal needed to make it happen. One needs only to look to the Connecticut shooting and the killer’s ability to blow his way through the glass to get past the security system’s locked doors.

So, that leads us back to the top of this editorial — getting to the heart of the matter and making sure those who are bent on destruction don’t get that way in the first place. He or she needs to get mental health treatment, something that can be aided by family and friends who make sure the afflicted is being monitored professionally while being treated.

It also means making sure laws in place allow fully vetting those seeking to purchase a gun and get a license. And it means being a responsible gun owner so that they are used for their intended purpose, not hunting people.

More discussions will undoubtedly take place: Should there be a ban on assault rifles or do we do away with the secondary gun market as has been tossed around? One thing we don’t want to see is what the NRA is suggesting: Having armed guards in each school under the line of thought that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun.

We say there is much that can be done before it gets to that point.

It is up to all of us to be part of a national discussion that ultimately frees us from a wayward soul who is aiming to destroy.

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