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Solutions for safe American schools
Frank Aquila

How do we keep our kids safe in school? There have been a number of good suggestions; but no solution guarantees complete security, especially when security measures already in place have failed our students.

In the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, a deputy assigned to the school failed to act. He could have engaged in a battle with the gunman long enough to prevent other students from being murdered until back up arrived. His duty was to protect those who could not protect themselves.

The FBI failed after they were informed twice of the gunman's intentions. The police had multiple contacts with the gunman as well as Social Services, who knew of his mental condition. Yet, the gunman was able to legally purchase an assault weapon. This is not the fault of the N.R.A. as so many want to blame.

So what are the safe school solutions?

1. Citizens must continue to report suspicious people who pose a threat to our society.

2. Our government must follow up on suspicious people to recognize, document, or remove the threat from society through treatment or incarceration.

3. Officers must protect and serve the people, even in the face of death.

4. While I am a supporter of our Constitution and the NRA, assault weapons that act as a machine gun must be limited to law enforcement and gun range masters. The Second Amendment provides the right to bear arms but there must be logical limitations. For example, people are not allowed to own a bazooka or a tank for obvious reasons. Likewise, an assault weapon falls into this category. An assault weapon is not a sport weapon like a rifle or shotgun for hunting. Semi-automatic weapons are relevant and appropriate for safety. However, I do believe those assault weapons should be allowed for an appropriate person (gun master) at an appropriate location such as a gun range. As a peace officer, it must also be available for officers to protect his life and the lives of others in those rare circumstances. Simple limitation will not eliminate evil people from getting an assault weapon; but these limitations should make it more difficult. With such limitation, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter would not have been able to legally purchase this weapon.

5. I find it unnecessary to increase the age to own a gun at 21. Of the 20 worst mass shootings in America, there have been two shooters under 21. There are many responsible 18 year olds who should not be denied the right to have a firearm, including young men and women in our military. My 16-year-old son has been trained in firearms and has passed a hunter safety course. He looks forward to purchasing his own firearm. If there are to be limitations, require those under 21 to complete a gun safety course prior to owning a firearm.

6. Don't blame the NRA. Our government needs to recognize those who are unfit to carry a fire arm. However, I am cautiously concerned our government could abuse such authority and deny anyone for anything including someone taking an anxiety pill or with a mild form of depression. Common sense guidelines must be in place to determine who is mentally ill and protect the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens. In the case of the school gunman, several agencies failed to document his mental condition to prevent him from obtaining a firearm.

7. Gun Free Zones are foolish. There is no better place for a gunman to shoot than a Gun Free Zone knowing those in the zone are unable to protect themselves. Do people advertise on their property that there is no protection in their home? Of course not! They have "Beware of Dog" or "Protected by Smith & Wesson" signs. A "Gun Free Zone" sign will not prevent a mass murderer.

8. Allow those teachers who want to be trained to carry a firearm to be able to do so. If a teacher does not feel the need or desire to carry a firearm, that should be his choice. If a feels a threat is real and desire to carry a firearm to school for his protection or the protection of students, he should not be denied that option.

While we desire safety and security for our children, nothing is guaranteed. Evil people with a desire to kill will do so no matter how many safety measure we place on ourselves in society. However, we must enforce the laws we already have and set security measure to make it as difficult as possible for the next mass murderer to succeed.

Frank Aquila is president of the South San Joaquin Republicans and author of the book, "Sarah Palin Out of Nowhere." He may be emailed at