Two elementary schools and a middle school were placed on secured status Tuesday after a report of a juvenile pointing what turned out to be a pellet gun at another person. Rapid City Stevens High School officials were put on notice Thursday after a vague online threat of “a shooting at SHS.” On Feb. 15, six schools in the Douglas district had their outside doors locked for an hour after a suspicious social media post. On Feb. 1, Rapid City Central locked its outside doors, or was put on secured status, after school officials learned of a potential threat.
At the same time, Rapid City school district teachers and students are receiving ALICE training, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evaluate — also known as active shooter training.
Much like in the 1950s and '60s when schools held “duck and cover” drills as America feared an atomic bombing from the Soviet Union, students today are preparing for attacks that could take their lives. The difference is these attacks are real and the body count is climbing. Today’s students — starting in elementary school — and their parents are living with it every day.
In the meantime — to quote the advice Sen. John Thune gave to future potential shooting victims after the Las Vegas concert massacre — too many politicians have decided to “get small” to protect themselves from political fallout that comes with standing up to the gun lobby.
Sens. Thune and Rounds and Rep. Noem have laid low during the current gun-safety debate. They won’t even say if they support raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy assault weapons, which the National Rifle Association opposes.
But the fact that the political class engages in the modern-day version of “duck and cover” comes as no surprise. The NRA has donated millions of dollars to politicians, and it’s common knowledge that money talks in Washington, D.C.
Instead, politicians are allowing kids who are not old enough to legally buy liquor to purchase a gun and use it with no training or with a background check if the weapon is bought at a gun show or through a private-party sale.
In the military, recruits are trained before they can carry an assault weapon. A high school dropout, meanwhile, can buy a weapon, high-capacity magazines and countless rounds of ammunition as easy as a cellphone.
While most politicians sit out the gun debate, others are taking the lead. Dick's Sporting Goods — one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the nation — said Wednesday it no longer will sell assault weapons while imploring lawmakers to address the nation's gun violence epidemic. Other corporations have severed ties with the NRA. They, unlike lawmakers, are willing to sacrifice financial gains to jump start a debate about gun policy. Even high-profile NRA members like Chipper Jones, a member of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame and the host of the TV show "Major League Bowhunter," have called for a ban on assault rifles.
It is unconscionable that while America's students live daily with the threat of gun violence in schools, lawmakers avoid debating and voting on gun-safety legislation and an assault rifle ban. If nothing is more important than our children, then this issue should become the top priority for Congress.