As news of the shooting at Washington Navy Yard spread across Montgomery County, the remittent debate on school safety and firearms legislation resurfaced. According to the FBI, Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old Navy contractor, assembled a shotgun in a men’s room of the Navy Yard facility before fatally shooting 12 people. Although not directly connected to DC or Maryland school systems, the proximity of the shooting has awoken the fears of parents, students, and staff across the County.
“I have certainly been shaken, as have most of us I believe by recent events, especially those in Newtown,” Richard Montgomery High School junior Kaamiya Hargis said, recalling the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. For many parents and educators, the wound from the Newtown tragedy, in which 36 students and staff died, is still fresh.
MCPS counseling staff were available to students in the wakes of both tragedies. “If our students have questions or concerns about [the Navy Yard shooting] we have counselors who are ready to speak to them,” MCPS spokeswoman Dana Tofig told the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch.
In the DC area, at least six schools entered a lockdown state in response to the shooting. Like many students and teachers in MCPS, however, Hargis questioned the validity of such precautions. “Shelter in place and lockdown are good first steps, but I don’t think there’s any way to truly be prepared for something like a shooting,” Hargis said, adding that “There’s a certain point where all that matters is instinct and resourcefulness.”
Despite the increase in school-related shootings, few students want the unwieldiness and encumbrance of greater security measures. “[A shooting is] a scary thought but not scary enough for me to want baggage checks or metal detectors,” Hargis stated, expressing the general consensus among students. Even amongst great tragedy, few substantial changes are likely to be made regarding MCPS security policy.
Article by Matthew Zipf, Junior at Richard Montgomery High School, mocostudent Editor