As a longtime Waukesha resident, the shooting at Waukesha South High School is upsetting. For us, it’s the neighborhood public high school where my son attended for three years. Both of my children have friends that attend there and, of course, the Lovely Doreen and I also know people with children there.
What struck me first about the shooting was how fast and how varied the rumors spread. More than one shooter. A teacher was injured. The school resource officer (the campus police officer) was shot. More than one student was shot. The rumors flew across student phones fast as far away as Wales (Wisconsin).
Instead, according to the Waukesha police, one student allegedly reported another was armed. That student, when confronted by the police, allegedly refused to show his hands. When he allegedly reached for a gun in his waistband, the police shot him. The only person injured in the incident was the student who allegedly brought a gun to school.
I don’t envy Waukesha Schools Superintendent Todd Gray as he and his staff deal with the aftermath of this terrible incident. If there is some good news, it’s that Gray is a capable administrator that I hope is up to handling what he described as “every superintendent’s worst nightmare.”
Of course, the Democrats were ready with the talking points about gun control. “While there are no easy solutions to end gun violence, we cannot continue to sit back and do nothing,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Appleton). “We will continue to pursue common sense gun safety measures to lower these incidents of violence moving forward.”
Hintz is right that there are no easy solutions. In fact, none of the solutions proposed by Democrats likely would have prevented the shooting at Waukesha South. No 17-year-old can legally possess a gun at school. The alleged gun, if kept in a student’s waistband or belt, would not be one of those “military grade assault rifles” we hear the Democrats want banned.
On the other hand, Democrats in the Madison School District are actually proposing removing police officers from the schools. Having a police officer on the Waukesha South High School campus potentially saved lives, something Madison school board members should remember. While the school resource officer ultimately was not the one who ended the standoff with the allegedly armed student, it was his presence that allowed other officers to respond while he kept students out of harm’s way.
We’re not going to know right away why a student allegedly brought a gun to school. We don’t know if he actually intended to shoot anyone, or multiple people, or if he had some other motive. Until we do, we’re not going to be able to address the particulars of this incident to try to prevent the next one.
What may be most frustrating is that there might not be a simple public policy solution. Some people think that government can just waive a magic wand or one of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plans in the air and problems will disappear. This is likely to be another sad reminder that government cannot solve everything, and it’s up to the culture itself to change to prevent these types of incidents from happening again.
But until we find out all of the facts, let’s just be grateful that what could’ve been an awful situation wasn’t worse.