On the Subject of School Safety.

Dear Senator Murray,

In an era when cell phones can be used to do everything from recognizing a fingerprint to detecting a location and providing the weather for that location, I believe it must be possible to come up with a device that can detect gunpowder and then set in motion the lock down of any door within a certain radius of that detected gunpowder.

I am thinking specifically of schools when I imagine this scenario. That anybody approaching a school armed with loaded guns would be identified by the device and have access into the building denied by the lock down of all doors.

I would like to further suggest that the people tasked with coming up with such a device be the gun manufacturers; a social responsibility on their part, if you will, to compensate for the horrific misuse of their products similar to Alfred Nobel’s atonement for the misuse of the dynamite he invented. In the short term the gun manufacturers might pay to make sure every door to every school has a dog, trained to sniff gunpowder, sitting beside it. The trained dog’s response to the detection would trigger an alarm to lock down every door to the school. We can clap our hands to turn lights on and off; surely a trained service dog’s growl can be used to protect our children at school.

This is not the ultimate solution to our increased number of school shootings but it does strike me as something that could be implemented swiftly, while the debate as to whether certain guns should be outlawed or sales be curtailed to certain individuals drones on. What is more I believe this is a solution that everyone can get behind; the pro and the anti gun.

If you think this idea has validity, please let me know how I can be of further assistance in promoting it. Like so many Americans, I just want to find a way to keep our children safe at school.

Yours sincerely,


6 thoughts on “On the Subject of School Safety.

  1. It sounds like a great idea to me! But actually I think what the girls school in Vancouver has would work as well….the outside doors to the building are all locked during the day. People have to go in through on single door which puts you at the office counter. You are then stuck in that area unless you have authorization to go in farther…and then you can get in ONLY if the office person uses an electronic lock where she pushes a button to let you in. Even I…as grandma…can not get past the office. On the few occasions when I have had to pick up one of the girls, they look at my ID and check to see that I am an authorized person (this is noted in the girls records). Then they call the classroom and the ‘child’ is dismissed to come to the office to meet me. Even at night activities all other outside doors (except the main ones) are locked so no one can enter from the outside. I remember one concert we went to last year. One guy went out the back way to have a cigarette (no smoking on the grounds…but I guess that doesn’t apply to adults)…..then he wanted back in and one of the teachers was standing there and said no..that he had to walk around the building and come in the front door. Would you believe that another guy in their group opened the door to let the man in? Sure…people knew him…but it broke the rules…and there were students there who witnessed it. And a LOT of adults who were not happy with the 2 guys. The one kept making snide remarks at the teacher. The only thing that made me feel good about it all is that not one of the students laughed, snickered, or anything. I thought to myself that it was the perfect example to them of how an adult can be a jackass. Oops…but you know what I mean.

    The only addition I would make to your Musing is to make sure it is sent to every single Congressperson…not just Patty Murray. Sending to just one could mean no one else hears your ideas. Just a thought….Oh…and I am totally against changing the age to buy….like so many have said, at 18 you can learn to kill and go to war. But you can’t have a gun at home. Lots of young people uses rifles/shotguns or whatever to hunt and they learn to do it at a young age. Those are not the young people that misuse the weapon. I also don’t think there is any good way to determine who has a mental condition that would make them a threat to anyone. Even if they enacted some sort of system, I cannot see how they could ever figure out who already has guns, etc. I AM all for background checks.

    • Good idea to send it to all Congresspeople. Thanks for that. And for the description of the security measures in place in the girls’ school in Vancouver. That sounds very effective. Even with the fact that those two men were able to get around, at least everybody NOTICED their getting around it – and disapproved with their noticing.

  2. This idea should be implemented immediately. That’s my opinion, Nicola.

    I often thought about the horrors of school shootings as a teacher and how awful it must be for those who have experienced it knowing that experience will never be erased from the minds of those students, parents, educators, employees, and communities.

    The first time we had formal lockdown drills I remember crying ( not with my students ) and so saddened that we had to do these. During several of the drills it felt too real knowing that these attacks on schools that are supposed to be safe havens do happen.

    Thank-you for being such a thoughtful and caring person who I happily call my Friend.

    Love and Sunshine to you today, Nicola



    • Thanks, Mary, for those lovely words and the support. I was listening to NPR yesterday morning and a young student in Bellingham mentioned wanting people to think about ways to keep their school safe and I thought about sending this letter to her. Or to her school at least. To let her know there ARE people working the problem. Which I’m sure is true of many. But I will say, the students seem to be doing an incredible job of showing their support for change.

  3. I like your idea! On a technical level, you are not wrong. A festidious person may not allow detection until their first shot, but there’s limitations with everything and the best we can hope for is some prevention. Thank you for writing out senator.

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