From the editorial pages of the Goldsboro News-Argus

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wrong idea: Right answer. The conversation must continue toward solutions.

Rep. John Bell raised a great point the other day in a joint meeting with the school board and county commissioners after Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce addressed those assembled on the subject of school safety.

Part of the national conversation in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting has been the idea -- mostly raised by pundits and paid talking heads -- that teachers should be armed. And while that isn't a new argument, it seems to be possibly carrying a little more weight this time around.

Bell said the reason he brought it up was because, were that to happen and then a school shooting take place, the end result might be worse when law enforcement arrives on scene.

"I know what law enforcement is going to do when they run into a school and somebody comes out with a gun in their hand," he said. "They are going to shoot them."

And he is right.

An officer arriving on scene to an active shooter scenario is more likely to shoot on sight a subject running through the crowd than he or she is to stop and think, 'hey, maybe that's a teacher.'

That is not a position we want either our law enforcement officers or teachers to be in when both would be trying to protect the lives of students in a situation like that.

Plus, despite all of our inclinations toward bravado, it doesn't matter how great a sportsman any of us might be. In chaos, in a crowd, with a shooter actively killing people -- often with a high-capacity rifle spewing several hundred rounds at a time -- it is hard to chose your target, take aim and hit said target with the desired intention.

Police officers miss. Military personnel miss. And so might teachers.

We are glad these conversations are taking place. We do need to better secure our schools and our workplaces against what has, disgustingly, become a prevalent and dare we say common threat.

Driving past Goldsboro High School yesterday between 3 and 4 p.m., students where visible all over the campus, coming in and out of doors, crossing the street. There is no fence. There were no adults or officers visible in that moment. Had disaster struck at that exact moment, how many kids might have fallen before a teacher with a gun, a law enforcement officer, a good Samaritan with a well-aimed front of their vehicle and heavy foot on the gas pedal had been able to intercede?

Too many. There already have been too many. We encourage these conversations and applaud leaders like Pierce and Bell who seek well-thought-out, plausible solutions and are willing to show up and discuss them until at least some of them can be implemented.

Published in Editorials on February 21, 2018 11:23 PM