Guest column: Diane Ricco ... Makes sense to me

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Guest commentary

I am a retired Chicago public schools teacher who agrees with the idea for full-time, armed deputies or police in all schools in response to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.

I taught for 37 years in both high and elementary schools in Chicago, beginning in 1964. Half of those years were in the Englewood neighborhood, one of the most dangerous in Chicago. Most of that area's shootings and deaths from guns in the last year have been in Englewood.

People of all ages have access to guns, and have guns in most homes, legally and illegally.

I once saw a sophomore shot to death in the hall down from my classroom on my way to first-period class. The shooter did not take out the witnesses, although he easily could have, before running from the building. We were placed on lockdown so the police could pursue the gunman outside the building without having any more violence from the victim's friends who would have pursued the shooter on their own.

The shooter was caught soon afterward and taken into custody.

What I am trying to say is that if a student or other individual wanted to massacre a classroom and staff members, he could not have entered the building with an assault weapon or shoot his way in through locked doors because he would have been stopped by the police at the door.

A handgun is easier to hide and it would have been harder for someone to do such extensive damage before being stopped by someone. After shooting someone with a handgun, the shooter at my school would never have been able to stand there and shoot others, so he ran.

Following the killing, the schools did install metal detectors as a deterrent.

I never felt afraid to teach in a school in Englewood, because I knew there were police in the building and outside when we left for the day, even though most of the high school students we were teaching had gang affiliations.

It is strange that the Newtown massacre happened in a safe, family-orientated community which has never experienced daily murders or other crime rather than a gun-infested neighborhood where shootings and deaths are common.

It made me think that these children were in a supposedly ideal, wonderful, safe, storybook, Norman Rockwell town, one you see on a Christmas card, and their lives were snuffed out.

Others' lives in our country were adversely affected, even though we did not personally know the victims.

Our idea of Christmas will always be associated with this event. Seeing a Christmas card with a beautiful little town church on the front will never be the same. We will be affected forever, and that was the gunman's intent for doing this act at this family time of year.

I do not like guns, even though my husband owns guns and used to go hunting during pheasant season. I have shot handguns, rifles and shotguns. But my husband never needed an assault rifle to kill a pheasant.

We are living in a society which is desensitized by violence in games, videos and movies. We can never have the ability to know what hatred and destruction is smoldering in a person's mind even though we want more health clinics.

Gun control is not the only answer but it is needed to eliminate the possession of a weapon which can take out many lives — spraying deadly ammunition like you would spray water at children with a garden hose. No one needs wartime artillery in their homes.

Until then we have to fight fire with fire to protect our most vulnerable people. Their lives have been entrusted to their parents to nurture and protect. But parents cannot be with them at all times.

Unfortunately our children's innocence has been compromised and affected and we have to address it as responsible adults. Children will feel more secure when entering their school and seeing "Officer Friendly" greeting them at the door. They were always taught that if they were lost or in trouble, seek out a police officer for help.

I thought about David and Goliath. God gave David the ability to overcome the monster because he knew that Goliath could not be won over by love and hugs. We need to arm the Davids who are watching our children. We guard airports, courthouses, sporting events and other public buildings, so why not our schools and the lives of our children and teachers?

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