Taking a stance on what should be done on our school campuses to ensure the safety of students and staff is difficult. If anyone knew the exact answer, we wouldn't be discussing it, because that safety measure could be taken, and the nightmare of school shootings would be forever in our past.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is entitled to that opinion. However, let's not argue among ourselves. Let's work together to solve this tragic problem.

Do we take guns away from American citizens? We don't think that is the answer. Why not, you ask?

Well, have you ever known a firearm to discharge by itself? No. Someone has to pull the trigger. Yes, there are very rare instances of accidental discharge, but that is not what is happening on our campuses.

Just as vehicles (with exception of one that was recalled due to a dangerous malfunction) cannot be blamed for wrecks ... guns should not be blamed for violence.

There are many people who own firearms who do not use them to commit horrific acts. The tough part is making sure enough restrictions are in place to prevent those who intend to do harm from obtaining a gun. The government can make as many laws as it wants, but nothing will change unless those laws are enforced.

So, we come to the type of person who can own a gun ... former felons and those with mental issues should never be allowed to touch a firearm. Period. No exceptions.

But it's not that easy, is it? If someone really wants a gun, they will find someone to sell one to them.

And, hence, lies the problem. Controlling this will be nearly impossible.

So, what can we do?

How about paying attention to your friends and family members who exhibit any type of depression or mental illness. STOP ignoring them! These people need to know that depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses are not shameful. They also need to know that even if you don't know how to help them that SOMEONE DOES. Find a medical professional, a member of the clergy or another friend or family member who understands the person and can talk to them.

Don't EVER ignore someone with one of these issues. Ignoring them causes them to search for a way to show everyone that they have a problem. In our world today, small ways of acting out, go unnoticed. Therefore, they believe they have to do something major in order for people to acknowledge them.

In many cases, this has been when a school shooting has occurred.

With all of that said, sometimes no matter what is done, tragedies occur.

How can we protect our classrooms?

We've heard a few suggestions about how to make sure our students and teachers are safe while on campus. Some say door latches/stoppers for each classroom door are the answer. Others say trained teachers should be allowed to carry a handgun.

Here's our stance on these two suggestions:

There are regulations that have to be met with a door latch or stopper to co-exist with the city's fire codes. There is also the possibility that a latch or stopper could inadvertently trap someone inside or be used by the suspect to deter law enforcement.

However, we believe with proper training to use the device, that having an emergency door latch or stopper in each classroom, could help prevent unwanted visitors. So, we say give it a try.

We do not believe qualified teachers should carry a weapon in class, though. This opens the door to other potentially harmful situations. What if the teacher or a student have a particularly bad day? We think there are other ways to protect the students and staff without bringing guns into the classroom.

With that said, there is one thing that may help long before the situation reaches a school campus: Teach children to be responsible and respectful. The rise of violence in our schools corresponds with the stripping of moral teaching. Let's start our children out on the right foot and teach them respect.

Let's teach them what it means to be a responsible adult, and what it means to love each other. Let's teach them values that they can use the rest of their lives to make good decisions.

The first step always begins at home.

Jacksonville Progress