It was barely a month ago when we learned that Baltimore’s public schools had voted unanimously to ban armed security officers on their campuses. This was a clearly political move intended to make a statement about gun control in a city plagued with more shootings than your average war zone. But now, less than forty days later, they’ve done a complete about-face and decided that maybe having some good guys with guns hanging around was the right call after all. (Baltimore Sun)
Two weeks after a shooting in a Baltimore high school, the city’s school board reversed its position on whether school police should be allowed to carry weapons, voting 8-2 in support of legislation that would amend state law to authorize officers to patrol schools with guns.
The board’s decision comes a month after the 10 members voted unanimously against the idea of arming school police officers. The dramatic shift could provide a needed boost to state Del. Cheryl Glenn’s proposed legislation in Annapolis. Even if the board hadn’t thrown its support behind the bill, Glenn had said she would’ve continued to push for change after the recent shooting at Frederick Douglass High School.
The shooting at Frederick Douglass High School wasn’t even one of the more notable ones and didn’t draw much national media attention. An adult relative of one of the students showed up at the school and shot a special education assistant named Michael Marks. While his injuries were quite serious, Marks survived the attack and the shooter was arrested.
But that incident of violence was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back. Hundreds of people are killed in violent gun crimes in Baltimore each year, but that one non-fatal shooting that took place inside of a school seems to have gotten their attention. The real question is how it took them so long. As we discussed just a few weeks ago, Baltimore’s schools are growing increasingly dangerous, particularly for the staff. There have been multiple incidents of teachers being physically attacked (and even hospitalized) by their own students. The schools are also well known by the police to be recruiting grounds for Charm City’s criminal gangs.
Will having armed officers in the schools make a difference? One would hope that criminals would think twice before attempting something in a place where there will be somebody standing by to shoot back at them. The real test will come when the offender isn’t an armed intruder but one of the students again. If these officers have to break up a violent attack in that situation you can expect the usual list of suspects to be up in arms once more.