The time is now to deal with threat of mass shootings

A teacher would have shot the hell outta (the shooter) before he knew it,”

— President Donald Trump

The president was responding to the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 students when he spoke Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Could it be that simple? Not really. Even a trained police officer or officers carrying standard handguns would face a deadly challenge in a standoff with a gunman firing an assault rifle.

While the president’s statement may be a little unrealistic, he is at least participating in a conversation that has been lacking among our politicians on both sides of the aisles and the NRA. Trump also held a listening session at the White House last week with students from Parkland and he offered the proposal to raise the minimum age to 21 for assault rifle. That ‘s proposal that defies his loyal supporters in the NRA.

While the proposals of arming teachers and minimum age face lots of opposition, the president is at least leading the charge in debating what can be done to stop mass shootings, especially in our schools. It’s a conversation that is desperately needed.

The simple fact is that gun control alone will not stop these killings. Other factors need to be addressed:

• Mental illness can’t be ignored. There’s evidence some shootings are connected to mental illness. Unfortunately, getting mental health treatment in the U.S. is difficult because there simply aren’t enough psychiatrists. Also, insurance coverage for psychiatry varies widely. Some psychiatrists do not accept health insurance at all. Also, should an individual under psychiatric treatment be allowed to legally possess a firearm?

• School security needs to be addressed by education officials and law enforcement. It has become apparent that Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were not properly prepared or trained to respond to a school shooting. Also, how did a non-student walk on a high school campus without permission? More has to be done to protect students while on campus.

• Throw in the discussion on semi-automatic weapons and bump stocks as well.

All of these factors need to be part of the discussion. Not just in Washington, D.C., but in local communities such as Marshall as well. It’s time to stop sweeping the threat of mass shootings under the rug.