Mike Berry: Threat of school shooting addressed in Kewanee

·2 min read

Starting Monday, an armed police officer will be patrolling Kewanee schools.

Not long ago, such a thing would have been unthinkable. But Police Chief Nicholas Welgat said at this week’s City Council meeting that police department leaders agree that “something needs to be done.”

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The problem, of course, is the threat that someone with a high-powered semiautomatic rifle could get into one of the schools and open fire.

Such a thing once was unthinkable. When I was in high school in Neponset, no one brought guns to school, although some of the students owned them; they lived on farms, and every farmer had at least a shotgun to shoot at coyotes and other varmints (and protect the gasoline barrel from would-be thieves).

In fact, there were virtually no disciplinary problems at Neponset. I remember making friends with some Kewanee High School students, who sometimes complained that they had to serve a detention for some infraction of school rules.

Detention? What’s that? We didn’t even have them at Neponset, and I don’t recall any student doing anything that would have warranted one.

But society has moved far beyond those innocent days. Now, school shootings have been reported all over the country.

If you think such a thing couldn’t happen in Kewanee. . .well, the people in Uvalde, Texas probably also thought that — until it happened.

A couple of developments have been contributing factors to the rise in school shootings:

  • Years back, young people who were upset and hateful about their lives couldn’t easily share those feelings with other kids who felt the same way. Today, the Internet allows free communication among these people. They can encourage and support each other.

  • The weaponry used in these attacks is freely available to anyone who’s at least 18.

Ideas for solving the school-shooting have been proposed: Monitor the Internet chat rooms where disturbed people communicate with each other; raise the age for legally purchasing semiautomatic weapons to 21; require background checks for anyone buying these guns.

Those ideas may or may not be enacted, and if they are, they may or may not solve the school-shooting problem.

But in the meantime, city of Kewanee and Kewanee School District leaders faced reality and put a police officer in the school buildings.

For now, at least, that’s the best tactic to protect the kids.

This article originally appeared on Star Courier: Threat of school shooting addressed in Kewanee