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Suburban Chicago Case Dilemma: What To Do About Guns At Schools

Keyon Robinson was a month away from graduating from high school in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park when he took a loaded gun, placed it in his backpack and headed to campus. He’d fought with a relative and was angry, and scared someone would come after him. A Glock-style ghost gun with no serial number that he’d bought via social media was his security blanket.

He insists he never intended to hurt anyone at his school and he never fired it, reports the Associated Press. On May 3 — three weeks before a gunman massacred 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Tx., — police arrested Robinson near the school’s main entrance. He told the officers, acting on a tip, that he hadn’t taken the gun out of his backpack until they asked him to do so.

Most gun incidents in and around campuses are more like Oak Park than Uvalde. They’re not planned large-scale shootings, or active-shooter situations. They are smaller altercations that escalate when someone has a gun at or near a school, a game or other event, according the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s K-12 school shooting database, which tracks incidents over the last five decades.

Keeping students from bringing guns to school is difficult. Security staff and metal detectors miss things. Doors that are supposed to be locked get propped open. Items can be hidden even when schools require clear backpacks.

This fall, leaders in Oak Park and River Forest High, Robinson’s school, began training more staff, adding security to the day shift, and moving more experienced team members to hot spots such as cafeterias, where fights break out during lunch.

In 2020, the school board voted to end the school resource officer program amid national protests over police brutality.

Now, some officials are rethinking the decision to cut ties with police.

By his own account, and according to school records provided by his attorney, Robinson was a student who bonded with teachers and support staff. One staffer noted his “unbelievable social skills” and respectfulness. He owned his mistakes, staff said, but he also struggled with depression, drug use and occasional impulsivity. Schoolwork was a challenge. After his arrest, Robinson was expelled.

Because Robinson had no criminal record, other than a traffic violation, his defense attorney is seeking a sentence of probation.


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