Residents of Campbell County, Tn., are trying to make sene of the fatal shooting Tuesday of an assistant high school principal by a freshman, 15. The student seriously wounded two other administrators. USA Today says that since 1996, at least 60 people have died in shootings at U.S. schools. Tennessee law enforcement officials said they know why the student drew a .22-caliber revolver and shot three people, but they refused to identify the motive. District Attorney General William Paul Phillips said he would seek to try the youth as an adult.
The California-based National School Safety Center says a drop in school gun incidents is attributable to a federal “gun-free schools” law. The numbers “are beginning to creep back up,” director Ronald Stephens said. “We have gotten a little complacent. I’ve had situations where some principals are being offered a bulletproof vest along with their contract.” He cites a preoccupation with emergency plans, metal detectors, and other restrictions that address outside threats and not student behavior. “You can talk about all kinds of high-tech strategies, but when it comes to keeping schools safe, it’s more about the ‘software’ – meaning the students and a positive campus climate – than the hardware,” he said. William Lassiter of the Center for the Prevention of School Violence said schools “have done a really good job at the ‘place’ issues, but the ‘people’ issues could still use more work.”