Dr. Amy Klinger Participates in Harvard University Public Health Forum on Gun Violence

THE GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC: Protecting the Public’s Health
Presented jointly with Reuters

Inspired by students across the country, the gun violence prevention movement has gained new momentum. But can it last or lead to substantive change on the Congressional level? This Forum brought together experts in mental health, violence, and gun policy to discuss a variety of proposed gun violence and school safety measures. What is the status of background check laws? What is an appropriate way to discuss mental health in the conversation — without creating stigma or a chilling effect on people seeking care? What skills and training should educators have to spot warning signs and respond in crises? And, in light of restrictions around federally funded gun-related research, do policymakers have the information that they need to study these questions effectively? In this time of turbulence, our panelists looked at the evidence for — and possible unintended consequences of — today’s hotly debated measures to stop gun violence.

Amanda Klinger quoted in WHYY NPR Philadelphia story

Part of the problem is circumstantial, said Amanda Klinger with the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network. An attack from a gun-wielding human is simply harder to prepare for than a fire.

But she also believes the response to Columbine and Sandy Hook has been less coordinated than the response to the Our Lady of Angels fire in Chicago. As an example, she points to all the different types of drills schools do — intruder drills, active-shooter drills — many with their own distinct variations.

“How can we come to some sort of consistency so that everybody is increasing their level of preparedness?” she said.

Amanda Klinger quoted in Blount Co. Daily times

“Most of our schools will not have a school shooting,” Klinger said. “Our schools now are safer than when I was in high school” 15 years ago.

However, she said, educators make thousands of decisions every day and must be trained to consider safety in every thing they do so they are prepared to handle any type of crisis.

She noted one school system that includes five minutes of safety discussion at every staff meeting.

“School safety is an education issue that happens to involve safety,” Klinger said, not a law enforcement issue that happens to occur in a school.

Dr. Amy Klinger quoted in the Washington Post

Dr. Amy Klinger in the LA Times

Amy Klinger, co-founder of the Ohio-based Educator's School Safety Network, said that rather than arming them, schools should train teams of educators to assess threats. The calls by Trump and others for guns in schools have "really taken the focus off things that are more effective," she said. "We need to do things that work, not that feel good."

Klinger said more guns on campus can lead to more accidental shootings, including two earlier this month in Minnesota and Florida, and it's unreasonable to expect even armed staff on large campuses to be able to stop a mass shooter.

"We need to train our teachers how to identify these people. People don't want to hear that — they want a quick fix," she said.