Even as metal detectors have multiplied in courthouses, museums, and other public buildings in the Washington, D.C., area, suburban school district have rejecte them as costly, impractical, and fallible, reports the Washington Post. To suburban parents, they conjure up images of armed camps. Even one Maryland school where three loaded guns were found in a locker last week, consensus is building against them. Metal detectors are notably absent from the binge of security enhancements at public schools across the nation since 1999, the year of the Columbine High School massacre.
Security cameras, school-based police officers, and locked entryways all are far more common now than a decade ago, according to Justice Department findings last year. Schools now routinely conduct emergency drills, sometimes enlisting a teacher to stalk the campus and rattle doorknobs in the manner of an intruder. Washington, D.C., school officials say metal detectors are a proved deterrent. They note that no firearm has been discovered inside a school this academic year. The trend toward metal detectors never spread much beyond a core group of urban schools, however. Nationwide, the share of secondary school students who walk through metal detectors at school has increased only slightly, from 9 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2005, says the Justice Department.