How School Shootings Could Be Stopped

What makes schools soft targets for evil and demented people who go there to instigate their planned harm? Well, one reason is limited security coupled with potential victims who are unable to protect themselves.

But … why is security so limited? Could the answer actually lie in the way the tort system has developed in this country? A strong case could be made that it does.

Schools are agencies of the government, and the government in most states largely makes itself immune from liability, or at the very least severely limits damages recoverable when lawsuits are brought against governments for security failures.

The government does not have to pay the millions of dollars that would be owed by a private company that knew of major security risks, say to a concert venue or ballpark. Consequently, there is little real pressure on governmental actors to make the necessary security decisions that could easily make schools safer places.

Incidentally, there is also little financial downside for officials who ignore signs that a potential murderer is mentally unbalanced, or if the official decides to not take seriously warnings of instability reported by others. There is a financial penalty if an official wrongfully detains someone, yet again damages are limited in most jurisdictions. But if you are an official who is found to have made an error in asking for a judicial psych evaluation on someone, there is a price. Where if you don’t act, there is no price. So, if an official is weighing the odds of adverse job repercussions, the odds always say (from a lawsuit danger perspective) to ignore the warning signs.

So, we see time and time again where governmental agencies, drop the ball on security, because there are few employment or financial repercussions for dropping the ball. Maybe it’s a failure to inspect a scaffolding for code violations at a state fair, like happened in Indiana a few years ago. Or a failure to require proper reconstruction of flood levies mistakenly torn down, like happened in a case attorney Holub litigated dozens of years ago, governmental financial accountability, or lack thereof, leads to poor decisions by government officials. It is just human nature for an official to worry about his or her job more than public safety.

So, when you hear politicians run to a microphone and talk about making laws that deal with whatever instrument bad people might want to use to create mayhem, whether it be IEDs, cars mowing down pedestrians, or fire arms, is it all just talk? Is it all to give the impression of solving a problem without really solving it? To really stop school shootings, a careful systematic assessment needs to be done to make sure all decision points for governmental officials charged with making security decisions make the interests of the children paramount. Maybe that means having off duty police officers at every school. Maybe it means something different.  But, things can and should be done to make children safe. We just have to have the collective will to fix the problem.