There are occurrences of school shootings in the USA, with people getting very upset about every such incident. But it's very easy to bring a gun into a school: no metal detectors, no guards, no baggage scanning, etc.

Meanwhile you cannot even bring too much water into your carry-on luggage on board of an airplane, not even a baton, not a knife, just no weapons possible. And you may be stripped naked by TSA to ensure that, but also so that they can confiscate any drugs you may have.

Shouldn't compulsory public schools be at least as safe as airplanes are? Sure you cannot bring down a big building with a public school, but you can harm multiple kids and that's a loss. Isn't it neglectful that we're not scanned when we enter public buildings different than airports?


2 Answers 2


About 3 million people fly into and out of US airports per day. I'm not sure if takeoffs and landings are counted twice here. But it gives a ballpark. People have to bring extra time to allow for security when they fly.

About 50 million students are enrolled at school. Add others who are allowed to enter the school, subtract that there are no classes every day of the week. Most of the students would come to school within a brief part of the day. Most people who go through TSA security are adults, most of the rest are accompanied children.

So as a very rough estimate, the effort to secure schools would need several hundred times more staff than TSA, most of them employed on a part-time basis, and it would still force parents with small children to wait quite a long time before they can drop their children and go on to work.

  • And that's exactly my point. It sure would require lots of resources. But it would finally make schools safe. Therefore airlines are discriminated against in relation to schools. Oct 25, 2022 at 9:12
  • 2
    To make things even more complicated, there are about 5200 public airports and 98000 public schools in the US. To make things more complicated yet, TSA checkpoints run 16 hours per day. School arrivals are much more compact in time. @verybigcat, you are missing the main point of this answer, which is that the type of TSA screening used in public airports in the US is not feasible for public schools. Oct 25, 2022 at 10:33
  • 1
    @verybigcat, putting the same budget into mental health and realistic anti-bullying programs would save more lives than TSA-style screening. You could also ask why there is no screening in supermarkets, or post offices.
    – o.m.
    Oct 25, 2022 at 15:36
  • 2
    There's a whole series of articles by Bruce Schneier, an IT and general security expert, on TSA-type activities, tagged security theater. I don't really agree with TSA screening being useless, but they are far from perfect and the notion of generalization to schools seems wishful thinking rather than based on a thorough assessment of their likely cost benefit. Oct 25, 2022 at 16:57
  • 3
    Of course there's a much more feasible and cost-effective way of preventing guns from getting into schools, used by every civilized industrialized country, but we all know that a significant fraction of the US population think children being shot is a price you have to pay for not doing that. Oct 25, 2022 at 23:50

There were two main impetuses for airline security: the large number of hijackings in the 1970s, and the 9/11 hijacking. The hijackings of the 1970s often involved hijackings for hostages. Hostage-taking at schools is not very common, would be more difficult, and it would be more difficult, both practically and politically, to make entry to schools (especially more middle class schools) subject to airport level security. The 9/11 hijacking added the concern of not only the taking of hostages, but of planes being used as weapons, and of course you can't hijack schools and fly them into skyscrapers. And policies aren't generally completely logical, either. Making going through security a condition of traveling simply feels more reasonable to a lot of people than making going through security a condition of going to school does (at least, again with the caveat of middle class schools). There may also be the issue that hijacking are thought of as being done by foreigners (especially Muslims, and earlier Muslims and communists[1]), while school shootings are done by Americans, and so school shooting are thought of as being done by "bad apples", while hijackings are an attack by "them" in general, rather than just a few individuals.

[1] I'm not saying that hijacking are exclusively Islamic and communist, just that Islamic and communist hijacking are often what people think of when they think of hijackings.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .