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Wildcat Post

The Student News Site of Hazelwood West High School

Wildcat Post

Do Metal Detectors Keep Students Safe?


School shootings have occurred in America for over 150 years. School safety is a huge issue in America that concerns students nationwide. “Land of the free, home of the brave” is America’s motto, but if students can’t feel safe in their schools, are we free? 

The history of school shootings was relatively the same until April 20, 1999, when two people committed the first modern school shooting in America’s history. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, at 11:19 a.m., walked into the school with homemade bombs and firearms. The bombs were supposed to be the central part of the attack, but after the bombs failed to detonate, they started opening fire in the library, where the majority of the students were killed. 15 people passed away, including Harris and Klebold. 


13 years later, in 2012, a twenty-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary at 9:35 a.m. and fired over 167 rounds in five minutes, which claimed the lives of 20 children from ages six to seven and six staff members. Lanza was a mentally unstable person with the following diagnoses: Asperger, OCD, GAD and SDD. 

In May 2022, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary at 11:28 a.m. The massacre lasted 88 minutes while police sat in a hallway, doing nothing. This resulted in the death of 19 students and two teachers. Before the shooting, Ramos killed his grandmother before entering the school. Ramos had a history of abusing small animals on the live-streaming platform Yubo, where he live-streamed these violent acts. Ramos regularly posted guns on his Instagram and other things that are seen as red flags of shootings. After murdering his grandmother, Ramos texted his 15-year-old German friend, “I just killed my grandmother.” to which she replied, “Cool,” most likely believing he wasn’t serious. Since the first two shootings mentioned, metal detectors have been added to try to combat these massacres, but do they prevent anything?

One way Hazelwood School District “deters” school shootings is through the application of metal detectors in schools that can afford them. Hazelwood has applied metal detectors in all three high schools. West has five metal detectors that cost about $20,000 each or $100,000 total.

While some believe metal detectors alone answer our plea for safety, the contrary might be true. What will stop a person with severe mental illness from pulling out a gun and opening fire on a group of children and adults? Open communication from students and staff is the most effective way to prevent shootings and other safety-related issues in schools (3ETKR).

School shootings do not discriminate; both men and women have committed mass murders on school campuses. Generally, though, there is a connection between mass shootings and people with anti-social-personality disorder, autism, introverts and other psychological disorders are the main offenders. Rarely do people commit school shootings without having any underlying mental health disorders (AAPL).

One of West’s many security guards, who will remain anonymous at my discretion, felt that the addition of metal detectors obstructed people from performing gun swaps at school or directly bringing them in.

“Metal detectors are set where they can pick up guns and knives; but not sensitive enough to have earbuds, jewelry, batteries or other small metal things,” Anonymous said.

While this is true, this does not stop someone from walking in and immediately opening fire. While it is true that perpetrators are unable to walk through detectors with a gun, it is still possible to open side doors to let them into the school. Security breaches are a huge concern at Hazelwood West High School. The implication of mandatory school IDs has been enforced in an attempt to combat people who don’t belong in this school. However, due to the rule’s novelty, results have yet to conclude if the solution provides real results. 

Realistically, no, metal detectors do not prevent a shooting. After talking to other students and faculty, I’ve learned that there have been times when steak knives have been brought through lunch boxes, people walking through with vape and metal pencil cases and other things that should, in theory, set off a metal detector. The fact that a steak knife was brought through, in a complete accident, by the person who brought it in invalidates the statement above that metal detectors can pick up knives, which it sounds like they cannot. While they might at times, there have been times where it hasn’t. Even though we have these metal detectors, weapons can still be passed through; no matter what anyone says, we simply are not as safe as we think in our schools. A person who wants to come to school and open on students and staff will not care about a metal detector; they will walk in and open fire. I don’t feel safe, and neither should you.

If you hear anything about school violence, please report it to proper officials.


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About the Contributor
Logan James
Logan James, Staff Writer
What's up! My name is Logan. I'm an 18-year-old senior born in O’Fallon. I used to attend Marquette High School in Clarkson Valley. I moved out to Hazelwood in January of 2022 and started my senior year of high school at Hazelwood West. I am a sponsored-skateboarder and I ride for the shop “Earthsurf” located in Chesterfield. I play electric guitar and drums and am a huge music geek. You can find me at every record store in the vinyl section looking for Punk or Nu Metal usually. Writing for me is a way to express the candor I have but can’t use daily. I hope to do concert/album reviews, interviews, opinionated-pieces or, something of that nature. I also love clothes and old skate shoes. I always have a studded belt on and a studded bracelet. If you see me, say what’s up! I'd love to meet people and make more friends.  
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    Laura NeeterFeb 27, 2024 at 8:13 am

    Very well-written piece!