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Poll: Can We Prevent a Parkland Tragedy in New Jersey?

Is there anything that can be done to protect students and teachers from becoming targets of an active shooter?

In the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting, which left 17 students and teachers dead, New Jersey parents are asking if their own children are safe and what can be done to make sure a similar tragedy doesn't happen here.

But as our NJ Spotlight story noted yesterday, there are few statewide rules regarding gun violence and school safety, leaving most decisions up to individual districts. Schools are required to conduct at least one security drill each year with law enforcement, students, and teachers; Gov. Phil Murphy has called on law enforcement to increase visibility at schools.

But Murphy, officials, and parents, say more needs to be done.

What do you think can be done?

  • While New Jersey has strict gun laws, we could tighten them. The state needs to restrict ammunition, cut gun-magazine capacity, eliminate bump stocks, and confiscate weapons from anyone deemed to be dangerous. We should try to eliminate guns in any way we can. That's what's worked in other countries.

  • I know no one likes the visuals, but it's time we fortify our schools. That means putting metal detectors at all entrances to school buildings, bullet-resistant glass on windows and doors. We also need at least one armed guard per building. Let's stop fooling around and protect our children properly.

  • It all begins and ends with compassion and empathy, which both schools and parents need to teach. Kids are being desensitized to carnage due to first-person-shooter video games, and parents need to outlaw them in their homes. Schools need to reward kindness. And at the first sign of troubling behavior, both parents and schools must get outside help — even if it means bringing in law enforcement.

  • It's as true now as it ever was: Guns don't shoot, people do. We can't hope to eliminate all conceivable threats, so we need to arm and train staff with guns. That way, when a shooter begins firing, there will be more than enough people to take them out — and quickly.

  • I honestly don't know if the state can do anything. Whether or not you respect the Second Amendment, outlawing guns in New Jersey won't solve the problem — you can just buy them in Pennsylvania. The only way to make progress is to follow other countries' examples, and do so nationally. But unless these kids can successfully take on the National Rifle Association, I don't have much hope of anything changing. Seemingly, this seems to be a cost people are willing to live with.

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