Op/Editorials 1/28/11

Shooting doesn’t raise safety concerns at LHS

By Angelina Folchi

A man opened fire with a semiautomatic gun on Jan. 8 outside a Safeway near Tucson, Arizona, with the intent of assassinating U.S. Representative Gabrielle Gifford, who is a Democrat. Gifford was critically wounded, six bystanders were killed, and at least a dozen more were injured. Twenty-two-year-old Jared Loughner was arrested at the crime scene. Police say he has refused to cooperate, remaining silent throughout questioning. His motive is still unknown. Five charges have been filed against Loughner, including the attempted assassination of a member of the U.S. Congress. This attack was the first in more than thirty years in which a U.S. legislator was the victim of an assassination attempt.

Gifford underwent brain surgery in a hospital in Tucson shortly after being shot in the forehead, and she remains in critical condition. Doctors are hopeful about her rapid recovery.

This shooting has caused controversy about whom to blame for Jared Loughner’s actions. Some blame Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, because Gifford was publicly targeted on Palin’s Facebook page for opposing political views. Posters and flowers were placed outside the congresswoman’s office, and one sign read “Blame Palin. Blame the Tea Party.” One man went as far to say, “Sarah Palin and the Tea Party might as well have put the gun in his hand. They are the ones who painted Gifford as some kind of traitor.”

On the other hand, many people say that Loughner was unassisted in the shooting, and no one is to be held responsible for his actions except himself. Some see him as a disturbed individual acting on his own. One woman, a Democrat who voted for Gifford, said that only one man was to blame for the tragedy. Another said, “[He] was a mentally unstable person. There’s a lot of people who are angry and I don’t think that’s going to do any of us any good.” Sarah Palin rebutted the statement, saying, “We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.”

When a tragedy happens such as the recent one in Arizona, no one can be blamed except the shooter and anyone else who specifically knew about it. Although Sarah Palin and the Tea Party didn’t agree with Gifford’s political views, they never meant for her to be physically hurt.

Some wonder if security should be increased in public places, including schools, to prevent people like Loughner from harming others. LHS already has a security procedure set in place in case should an armed intruder enter the school: Teachers lock their doors, cover all windows in the room and have students hide behind something, such as a desk or table.

Senior Colton Cunha said, “[A shooting] can happen anywhere, but people just need to be alert.”

According to the recent Flex survey taken by Joanne Nunes’ leadership class, 87.5 percent of students agreed with the statement, “I feel safe at LHS,” while only 12.5 percent marked that assertion as false. Also, 82 percent of the students said, “I have been adequately taught about health and safety.”

Many schools in large cities have metal detectors and other means of security for students as they enter the building, but these devices probably aren’t necessary in such a small, rural town such as Loyalton. Most large high schools also have full-time security personnel.

As Cunha said, anything can happen, but these statistics show that additional security measures aren’t necessarily needed at LHS. Most students already feel safe within the school walls.


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