The shootings in Connecticut have the potential to do to schools what 9-11 did to airports.
Armed guards and metal detectors. Will my kindergartner be sent through a child-sized backscatter next year in search of contraband under her clothes?
Will her juice box be limited to 3.4 ounces out of fear that lunchboxes could harbor liquid explosives?
Parents, this is what we're up against.
On Friday the National Rifle Association doubled down on its refusal to consider any sensible restrictions on military-style weapons or high-capacity ammunition clips. And not a word was said about closing loopholes that allow people to buy guns at shows without background checks.
Instead, NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre blamed the media, violent video games and gun-free schools for the massacre that left 20 first-graders, six women, the gunman and his mother dead Dec. 14.
The NRA wants to create what it calls a "National School Shield" program that, apparently, would turn our schools into fortresses where every parent and child is reminded each day that a gunman could be lurking just around the corner.
As a taxpayer, as a school volunteer and as a mother, I can't accept that strapping a bulletproof backpack to my child and sending her to a campus bristling with guns is the only way to keep her safe.
A lot of people have discussed ways to improve school safety in the week since the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs acted swiftly last week to station a deputy sheriff in 60 elementary schools in unincorporated Orange County.
It wasn't a radical idea, considering school resource officers are commonplace in middle schools and high schools.
By extension, the NRA's call for armed guards in all schools isn't so drastic either. But it will be expensive. Orange County's move will cost $3 million, and that only buys us the next five months.
The fallacy is believing that it solves the problem. One deputy can't be expected to cover an entire school at once. School campuses are vast and often have many ways to come and go, especially on foot.
A single armed guard at a school is more of an exercise in security theater, a specialty of the Transportation Security Administration at airports where all the checkpoints are designed to make people feel safe without offering much of a guarantee.
The TSA is often criticized for failing spot checks that allow dangerous objects past the checkpoint while busy making sure shampoo bottles don't exceed the allotted 3.4 ounces.
Some pro-gun politicians have gone farther, suggesting all faculty and principals be armed at our schools.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said he thought arming teachers is a swell idea, but I haven't heard a single teacher or administrator echo that.
In fact, I talked to one administrator this week, who also is an NRA member, who said such a policy could be so dangerous he would resign if it ever took effect.
In Michigan, the Legislature passed a law to allow guns in schools and day-care centers, but it was vetoed last week by the governor.
LaPierre of the NRA stopped just short of calling for teachers and principals to be armed but said lawmakers should no longer boast about making schools "gun-free zones."
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.
But that simply isn't true. Another way to stop deranged gunmen would be to make sure they can't get their hands on firearms and high-capacity magazines to begin with.
There is no single solution.
The NRA and, on the other side, the folks calling for extreme limitations on gun ownership must understand that gun violence needs to be approached with both offense and defense.
Conning ourselves into believing extreme defense, such as armed teachers and schools as fortresses, will not only make schools potentially more dangeorus, but also make our kids feel like they are going to the O.K. Corral every day. They may be too young to get the reference, but they know the feelings of threat and danger just the same.
As parents we have a choice:
We can send our children to schools, or we can send them to armed camps every day.
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