KINNETT: Republicans Must Unite On School Safety


Tony Kinnett Tony Kinnett is an investigative columnist with The Daily Signal. He is a former STEM coordinator and science teacher in Indianapolis, with bylines in The Federalist, Fox News, The Daily Wire, and the Washington Examiner. Twitter: @TheTonus.
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After school shootings in the United States, a storm of media and advocacy always follows, claiming political measures would have prevented the tragedy. Gun bans, stricter purchasing control measures for both firearms and ammunition, security staffing, metal detectors, single-point entry, and dozens of other policy changes and implementations are propped up as the missing link in school children’s safety.

While Democrats have suggested strict gun control measures and “assault weapon” bans at national and state levels, going so far as to call for buyback and confiscation in their answer to school safety, Republicans have been more disjointed.

Few Republicans from local, state or federal levels have called for a series of specific measures that would make children safer as an over-encompassing policy prescription as Democrats have. Curiously, a new poll by PDK International reveals that Republicans can throw their support behind a series of common-sense policies that a bipartisan supermajority of adults in the United States support.

Republican candidates should endorse increasing the amount of armed police at public schools in addition to physical security upgrades and practices (metal detectors, single-point entry, and mental health screenings).

The poll shows that 82% of public school parents support armed police in schools as a proposed security measure for their children (80% of adults in general). 77% of parents supported metal detectors, while 79% of parents supported mental health screening practices.

Democrat candidates in races around the country claim they’ll drive voters to the polls based on their political prescriptions of disarmament and defunding police — strikingly out of touch with not just Republicans and independents, but Democrat voters too. Democrat pundits and candidates have claimed arming police and providing metal detectors would make schoolyards feel like “prisons”, suggesting Americans don’t support such barbaric measures — but Democrat voters don’t share that sentiment.

70% of Democrat responders in the PDK poll supported armed police on school property, and 75% supported metal detector implementation. This isn’t a new trend. PDK reports that these numbers are consistent with prior surveys in 2018.

Given the radical nature of Democrat offerings, the GOP should not be so discordant with the midterms just 56 days away. Democrat pundits and candidates have spent the last three years calling for police departments to be defunded and accusing American systems of generational racism. Republicans could easily counter with the broad support and desperate need for simple security measures that neither trample Americans’ constitutional rights nor ignore the acts of violence perpetrated on K-12 campuses.

Radical education policy has also cost Democrats considerable ground with voters on education in the last few years. Internal union polling showed parents trust Republicans more than Democrats on education issues for the first time in history. The consistent failure of progressives in the classroom, from social issues to academic performance, has left parents feeling abandoned by a party that claimed education as one of its foundational planks.

Education has shown itself a huge policy win for Republicans in recent elections. Youngkin’s election in Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial race proved parents are listening to the ongoing debates and plan to vote accordingly. Recent school board elections in Florida have shown the same.

After the progressive policy of shutting schools down proved remarkably unpopular, conservatives and libertarians seized the opportunity to champion academic opportunity via school choice.

After the progressive policies of Critical Race Theory and hyper-sexualization proved remarkably unpopular, conservatives and libertarians seized the opportunity to support parental rights nationwide.

Now parents are weighing the risks of sending their children to schools with poor security and outdated measures. On one hand, progressives suggest gun bans and confiscation. One the other hand is an opportunity to provide the additional security which vast numbers of voters already stand behind.

Some might suggest that the poor police response in Uvalde stands against the claim that additional armed officers could prevent such tragedies. I would respond that this only illustrates the need for well-trained officers who know what they’re signing up for. We need officers who are willing to place themselves in harm’s way to protect our students.

There are, of course, many cases already that show officers preventing or reducing horrific shootings by their timely presence. In addition, we may never know how many shootings were prevented in the planning stages by the knowledge that an armed officer stood ready to meet them.

In an era of radical policy prescriptions presented to persuade a concerned populace—the Republican party must provide simple, proven methods already supported by voters and parents. A unified call for armed officers at every school gives parents peace of mind—and a much needed alternative to lunacy.

Anthony Kinnett is a curriculum developer and coordinator in Indianapolis. He is the co-founder and owner of The Chalkboard Review and has written for National Review, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, and the Washington Examiner. @TheTonus

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.