Archives For sandy hook

Piers Morgan at CES 2011. Piers Morgan at CES 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

Due to their importance, I’m dedicating this second blog post to Sandy Hook related issues, with the hopes that readers act locally. After this, I’ll re-focus on technology.

Most nights this week I’ve been glued to my TV watching Piers Morgan on CNN. Tonight he said he was surprised people don’t publicly debate gun issues. He has expressed some passionate views on the gun control issue, and has gotten some passionate replies from the gun rights side of the issue. I believe that both sides are well-intentioned. In my opinion, this has been a classic example of two parties with conflicting views talking past each other, intensified by emotions that are understandable given recent events.  The key to understanding both sides comes from analyzing their arguments. This blog post is meant to help readers consider the differences between Means and Motivation, and how the focus on Prevention is crowding out a seriously needed discussion of Protection. Essentially, I think both sides are right about what they disagree on, and both sides are wrong about what they agree on.

If an argument goes on for weeks, months and years, like the gun control argument, it is probably an unwinnable argument. In my opinion, both sides have been talking past each other on CNN’s Piers Morgan show exactly because they are engaging in an unwinnable argument.  Let me explain what I mean when I say both sides are right about what they disagree upon, and both sides are wrong about what they appear to agree on.

Piers Morgan argues about Means. His argument is that having 300 Million firearms in circulation in the US has led to all of these killings.  Piers argues that without all of these guns and rifles, we would have far fewer killings because madmen would not have the means. He is right.

The pro-gun side argues about Motivation. Their argument is that an individual who commits such heinous acts is one of countless mentally unstable people watching violent movies, playing violent video games, and if the maniacs who are capable of these atrocities were identified, treated, and/or nullified ahead of time, we would eliminate the motivation and have far fewer killings.  So, the last thing they want is to not be able to protect them selves when faced with such a madman.  They are also right.

So, night after night, I watch both sides continue to argue past each other that two different things are the most important, Means vs. Motivation. And, they are both right about what they disagree on. The marriage of both Means and Motivation is what results in these tragedies; both elements are involved. However, I fear they are probably wrong about the underlying premise that they agree on, and that is that following either of their recommended courses of action will ‘PREVENT’ another tragedy.

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Classroom layout Classroom layout (Photo credit: Penny Coutas)[/caption]
This has been the season of Sandy sadness.  First a hurricane levels the Jersey Shore and devastates surrounding areas, and now the tragedy that occurred in Sandy Hook, CT devastates us all.

This is a sensitive time that brings up a number of sensitive issues including mental illness, the desensitization of youth through ever more realistic violent films and digital games that reward the player for more violence, our mainstream news practices, the propensity for copycat criminals, the right to free expression and of course the right to bear arms and how the arming of America has led to so many more gun injuries and killings in the US versus other advanced nations. If I stated a position and an opinion on any of the above, they would be largely uninformed.  However, I’ll weigh in with a possible solution.

We all know it will take months and years to take a step back to analyze root causes and recommend productive action and pass new legislation.  In the meantime, with so many millions of firearms in circulation, the notion that your children are safe in schools is a fallacy. All of this adds up to an impossible situation, where we can sadly expect to see more incidents while the powers that be work through all of these and more issues.  One thing that should be extremely clear to a lot of us is that we cannot wait to better protect kids in school and provide them with new ways to evacuate what can unexpectedly turn a great learning environment into a war zone nightmare.  Recall what happened when IED’s were rampantly wounding our soldiers.  Soldiers took it upon themselves to begin welding donated armor to the bottom of vehicles deployed in the Middle East. They did not wait for congressional approvals and new budgets to catch up because lives were at risk. In my opinion, the entrepreneurial ecosystem can do this as well and help define and solve the school safety problem.

The U.S. is a country of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are uniquely qualified to solve problems quickly. They turn negatives into positives and see opportunity where others see problems. Entrepreneurs are action-oriented doers. While all of these issues are being discussed in Washington, I’d like to call on any entrepreneurs that read this to tweet or re-post an entrepreneur challenge to protect kids in our schools. We have the power of crowdsourcing, the power of networks and fully vested interests in coming up with ideas to protect kids in schools.  We have experience creating business models, getting them funded and implemented. There’s nothing wrong if someone makes a business out of this, as profit-generating efforts are self-sustaining.  The startup ecosystem can drive change, and here are some ideas to get started.

  • Crowdsource solutions
    • It would be great to have a web developer create a “Grand Central Station” for ideas from diverse experts, for donor commitments, state by state feedback, and progress updates to channel the solutions.
  • Commit capital
    • It would be great to see the capital folks, angels, venture capital and private equity, offer no strings grants to start companies throughout the states that focus on this problem.
  • Involve industry
    • It would be great for some security manufacturers and consultants to donate time and materials to solving the problem.
  • Think locally
    •  It would be great if local tradespeople who donated their weekend work installing systems could later write off the donated time on their taxes.
  • Consult Security Experts
    • There must be thousands of veterans throughout the US who can add value to the security problem after creating green zones and operating in dangerous environments
  • Consult Psychiatric Experts
    • There must be hundreds of psychologists that can add value as to how solutions can be implemented in a way that is interpreted as a positive by schoolchildren and teachers
  • Involve Teachers
    • Self-explanatory

In the end, all that matters is that the problem of kids’ safety in schools is solved rapidly, and without having to wait for all sides to debate and negotiate the issues.  The goal might be to arrive at a handful of standard solutions that can be authorized and implemented locally.

Let’s get the brainstorm going.

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