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It Should Disturb Us All That Schools Are Acquiring Military Tanks

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There have been, sadly, several school shootings since Columbine in 1999 but none have moved schools and parents to action quite like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. In the nearly two years since, much has been done to make schools safer and as protected as possible against the threat of an active shooter. The entryway at my children’s school underwent a complete renovation this year to relocate the office and make it so that no one can get through the heavy doors without being buzzed in. This measure does make me feel safer and I am grateful they funded it but finding out that in other areas, schools are acquiring military tanks to help protect the students just makes me feel sad.

I cannot imagine finding out that my child’s school has a military tank on retainer in the event that something goes down at their school. As this article from The Daily Beast notes, unless the tank is on school grounds, how will it even make it in time to help when the average school shooting only lasts around 12 minutes? The author had the following to say about how his child’s school acquired one:

The SDUSD Police picked up the MRAP through the Department of Defense’sExcess Property Program, known as “1033,” a hand-me-down scheme that allows the military to offload unneeded equipment onto local law enforcement agencies. The program was developed in 1997 as a way to equip police to fight the so-called War on Drugs; and now, thanks to our country’s new era of constant actual war, we taxpayers own a lot of military equipment. Since it would be unconscionable to let it go to waste when the real military doesn’t need it anymore, everything from printers to grenade launchers are available to police for the asking. Items like tactical vehicles were originally meant to go to High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs), but they are so abundant now that practically anyone with a badge can get one by filling out a one-page request form.

 

Practically anyone with a badge can get one? I find this very disturbing. I do not want my child’s school looking like a police state or a battle zone just because some local cops are able to obtain a big armored tank. I think reasonable precautions and safety measures should be required for all schools but a military-grade tank anywhere in the vicinity of my child’s school is just unnecessary and outlandish. As I mentioned before, unless it is nearby, there is not much point in having it since the amount of time it would take to deploy it and travel to the school is probably too long to be of much use during an actual school shooting. It will have to be close by to be of any use and that thought gives me chills.

Between the active shooter drills I wrote about last week and this, I am really scared for the direction our country’s schools are headed in. As terrifying and horrible as these school shootings are, the fact is, they are incredibly rare. I don’t want my kids growing up like this- seeing their school as a place where they need to be afraid or constantly on guard. When I think back to my own care-free school existence with our parents able to visit us anytime and the doors being propped open to get a nice breeze going through the hallway I cannot believe that this is where we are at now. If I think about it hard enough, it makes me sick to my stomach. Obviously, these threats are real but I don’t think they are urgent and probable enough that we want our kids to have memories of their schools having police officers and an armored vehicle at the ready. That is not school- that is war.

If school districts want to protect students from school shooters, then how about spending more money on mental health initiatives and making sure that any student who needs a little extra support from a school counselor gets it? Educate teachers about how to reach out to a student who may be heading toward a troubling place. Put an end to the bullying that causes so many of these shooters to end up doing what they do. Focusing on preventing the problem to begin with is a much better use of our tax dollars than armored tanks.

(Image: Random Moments Photo/Shutterstock)