After the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX, a familiar question emerged: how to prevent such horror from happening again? A few companies have said they have tech solutions that could help, reports the Guardian. The companies are part of a thriving school security industry, but gun control advocates, teachers’ groups and tech watchdogs are skeptical that increased spending on high-tech security measures will help curb gun violence in schools, and in some cases may cause more harm to students. “We are all weeping for the children lost in Uvalde, but some tech execs are chomping at the bit to make money off this tragedy,” said Rewan Al-Haddad of the tech watchdog SumOfUs.
Drones are being discussed to help stop mass shooters. More common than drones on campus is surveillance technology. The number of public schools deploying video surveillance systems has risen from 20 percent in 1999 to 83 percent in 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Thousands of school districts have contracts with tech companies to track students’ activities on school-issued computers, including to monitor what students search for and what websites they visit. Despite the growing adoption of security tools in schools, the number of mass shootings at schools has remained relatively constant through 30 years and reached an unprecedented high at secondary schools in the past five years. A study at Washington University and Johns Hopkins found that surveillance responses to gun violence within K-12th school systems “have not stopped the increasing frequency of their occurrence, but have instead increased racial and ethnic disparities in multiple forms of discipline”. For many school safety and gun control advocates, the debate around high-tech security obscures the issue at the core of the school shooting scourge: access to guns is the primary risk factor.