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Era of school massacres

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, staff and

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, staff and teachers exit the building following their return to school in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 28. Credit: AFP/Getty Images / RHONA WISE

I remember drills as a student at Patchogue-Medford High School, from 2007 through 2011. The principal would announce that there was an intruder and everyone should take shelter.

Teachers would glance into hallways, ushering in any students wandering the halls. They’d lock the doors, draw the shades and shut off the lights. We’d all huddle in a closet or corner of the room, away from windows and doors, hoping we’d never have to live out what we were practicing for.

My heart aches for anyone who has lost a loved one in a shooting. But I’m not sending them my thoughts and prayers. I’m taking action.

After each mass shooting, I call my congressman, Rep. Lee Zeldin, and urge him to take action on gun reform [“Clash over guns,” News, March 1]. Zeldin has received an A rating from the National Rifle Association. What would he do if this happened on Long Island? What would it take for him to support gun reform?

I hope Congress acts before we see another city trending on social media and in news headlines as the site of a mass shooting.

Joseph Loria, Medford

The day after the Parkland massacre in Florida, I searched for places where I could hide my students just in case a shooter came into our school.

My students were born after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, and have never known a time when we didn’t have lock-down drills. Now the president wants to arm “adept” teachers to harden our targets. Giving me a gun is not a good or reasonable answer to the redundant slaughter of students and educators.

Soon, my students will be old enough to vote. I hope that their unique perspective will force policy change, protect future generations and soften the hearts of those who continue to protect gun rights over children’s lives.

Jeanne Knudsen, Ridge

Gun control is only a short-term solution. Mental health is the long-term solution.

A reader suggested that schools identify and counsel the troubled kids [“Readers react to Florida shooting,” Letters, Feb. 16]. In addition, there are social-emotional learning programs geared to children as early as first grade. Children are taught to recognize that something is amiss and seek aid.

By identifying problems early, these programs could prevent children from becoming huge problems at an older age. Parents also could be involved, and courses could be made available to expectant parents.

A successful mental health program could also have a positive impact on other problems. People want to feel good, so they overindulge in alcohol and food, take harmful drugs and smoke. If we are in touch with our emotions, we can generate our own good feelings without resorting to harmful practices.

Are we willing to take this giant step for mental health?

Stanley Gittleman, Baldwin

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired teacher.

The main factor in school shootings is not guns or mental health. Instead, schools are the main factor when teenagers are doing the shooting. Other places don’t judge you, test you, grade you, suspend you or kick you out. Schools need to change to become more democratic and student-centered.

Jerry Mintz, Roslyn Heights

Editor’s note: The writer is director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization, a resource for alternative education.

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