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'Panic Exits' For Delaware Schools Proposed By State Sen. Dave Lawson

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DAVE LAWSON PANIC ROOMS
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A Delaware state senator wants to install "panic exits" in schools that would allow for a rapid escape in the case of an emergency.

Republican state Sen. Dave Lawson says escape doors in ground-floor classrooms would be a better safety solution than school lockdowns.

"A lockdown places the children in much more danger," Lawson said in a statement to WDDE-FM. "They're locked in a room where they're at the mercy of an assailant. This is the problem, they're trapped. With an escape door they would be out of the danger zone in seconds."

Lawson, a retired state police officer and gun-rights advocate, is introducing a resolution to "expedite research" into funding for installing such doors, which would only open from the inside, WDEL-AM reports. A decision on the resolution "needs to be done quickly, to safeguard our kids," Lawson told The News Journal.

In response, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's office issued the following statement to The News Journal:

Any suggestion to improve school safety merits consideration and the Governor has said that access to mental health services, improved school safety planning, and stricter gun laws should all be addressed in the coming months.  We hope Senator Lawson is similarly open minded about limiting the availability of assault weapons and other reasonable gun safety measures that protect our children.

Lawson's first made his panic-exit proposal one week after the school shooting that killed 26 people at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children, spurring renewed national interest in gun control. As lawmakers on the left express staunch support for stricter gun laws, some on the right are starting considering such restrictions, while others are calling for more arms.

Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett took to "Meet the Press" earlier this month to express his support for arming school staff. Republicans in a number of states have announced plans to introduce legislation that would allow or even require school staff to carry guns. Minnesota Republican state Rep. Tony Cornish, for one, plans to sponsor a bill that would allow teachers to carry loaded weapons in classrooms.

But experts say bringing weapons onto school grounds would do more harm than good, and teachers have called such proposals "absurd."

"Singular horrible events like this past week make us all upset, but if we look at the data, it doesn't make sense that that's where we need to beef up security in a very expensive way -- not only financially but also at the cost of our children's feeling of security," Kenneth Dodge, director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University told The Huffington Post last week. "Isn't it more straightforward to just get rid of the guns?"

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