Last week, Cohen Children’s Medical Center and Chaminade High School held a mock shooter drill.
Buses and ambulances carrying 15 students in various levels of fake physical and psychological distress arrived at the Pediatric Emergency Room.
The drill followed the typical, necessary steps that would follow a disaster situation, according to the release. Which in this case was a mass school shooting.
Evaluations included triage, family reunification and admitting procedures.
The decision to hold this drill sounds crazy – having high school students confront what amounts to the horrors of warfare in a place of learning.
But it actually made perfect sense.
Schools in America have turned into dangerous places.
There have been 22 school shootings so far this year, killing 26 students. That is twice the number of service members killed serving in combats zones through May 18 including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Think about that. It was more dangerous to be a student in public school in 2018 than a member of the armed forces. In a combat zone.
“The importance of this day is to ensure that we’re doing everything possible to keep our students as safe as possible while they’re in our building,” Thomas Dillon, director of student activity at Chaminade, said in a Northwell release about the drill. “We can’t go a week without a tragedy of this type happening, so this is an important step in the overall safety of our students.”
And, as we all know, the shootings are not just limited to schools.
Firearms are now the third-leading cause of death among U.S. children ages 1 to 17.
As Northwell president and CEO Michael Dowling pointed out in an op-ed piece in Newsday on Sunday, “On average from 2012 to 2014, nearly 1,300 children in the United States died each year from firearm-related in injuries.”
And as we all know the carnage caused by guns is not limited to children.
Each year, guns kill more than 38,000 Americans and cause an additional 85,000 injuries.
No country in the western world even comes close to this mayhem.
Dowling, a former state director of Health, Education and Human Services, in the Newsday op-ed and in a second publication, called this a “public health crisis.”
In doing so, he offered an approach that offers hope in breaking through the politics and mindless posturing that has surrounded the gun safety debate.
Dowling said we should start with obtaining good information.
Until recently, he pointed out, information pertaining to gun violence was largely unavailable to public health experts due to a 1996 congressional amendment to a spending bill that forbade U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using public funds to study gun violence. But that has now changed.
Dowling said the data developed by studying gun violence could be used to develop solutions the way it was done with cigarettes.
Like cigarettes, there is no single answer to gun violence short of banning all guns – something that would never happen in this country other than in the minds of extremists and something we do not advocate.
Instead, the answer lies in many steps that lead in the same direction – a safer country.
“We don’t ban cars,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff wrote, “but we do work hard to take a dangerous product and regulate it to limit the damage.”
He pointed out that this included the use of seatbelts and airbags, speed limits and heavy barriers, drivers licenses and insurance requirements, crackdowns on drunken driving and texting.
His also suggested a variety of measures that should not be controversial and, in some cases, have the overwhelming support of the American people.
These include universal background checks to see if a purchasers is a felon or a threat to other, red flag laws that allow a judge to order the temporary removal of a gun from people who are a threat to themselves or others, getting guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, “smart guns that require a PIN, fingerprint or nearby bracelet to fire and measures to safely store guns.
Harry, Siegel, A New York Daily News contributor suggested reviving a proposal by U.S. Sen. Patrick Moynihan to taxing bullets.
The state of New York currently among the toughest gun laws in the country. But they could be tougher.
Democratic legislators recently proposed four gun control bills to strengthen the state’s background check system, set aside state funding to study firearm violence, ban bump stocks and create a new court order of protection to bar people considered a danger to themselves or others from possessing or buying guns.
But they were blocked by state Senate Republicans who did later agree to a ban on domestic abusers from owning guns.
Still more needs to be done, beginning with voters insisting that their elected officials do what is needed to make active shooter drills in schools unnecessary.