The unfortunate problem about the terror threats Tuesday, which turned out to be hoaxes, against the New York and Los Angeles school districts is they can happen anywhere in the country.
Los Angeles school officials took the email threat seriously and shut down more than 900 public schools and 187 charter schools, serving a total of 640,000 students throughout the city.
New York school officials took the email threat it received as a hoax, and students went to class as normal ahead of the Christmas holiday. It was a calculated risk.
Los Angeles wasn’t ready to take that chance. Nineteen persons had been killed and 22 others wounded Dec. 2 during a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. The terrorist threat on Tuesday came too close to that to be blown off.
But from the standpoint of parents and the community, schools can’t be too cautious in trying to keep kids safe from outside dangers. The greater threat, however, has turned out to be domestic.
An example that worries people from coast to coast occurred on Dec. 14, 2012, when Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 20 children and six educators before taking his own life.
That set off a storm of controversy surrounding gun control with people on one side arguing for stricter laws, expanding background checks, limiting the firepower of weapons and the amount of ammunition people could buy.
On the other side of the firestorm, gun proponents pushed for more liberal gun laws, enabling more people to own and carry weapons with fewer restrictions. That included some states enabling educators to be armed on school and college campuses.
In the three years since the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shootings, people and groups like the National Rifle Association, pushing the more liberal gun laws have prevailed on local, state and federal levels. Their reasoning is that more “good guys with guns” will prevent armed bad guys from trying anything stupid with weapons.
The threat from terrorist groups are unlikely to change the either side’s attitude about guns. Schools like those in Los Angeles did the right thing in shutting down to prevent any attack on children.
Schools are supposed to be safety zones, where children go to learn. What everyone is picking up these days is that safety is such a precarious thing, and the fear and anxiety around potential attacks continues to grow.
Right now everyone’s safety depends on the trust we place in others in the community to help maintain that security. Let’s hope it holds.