« TV-trained burglar sentenced | Main | Hit-and-run victim hauled 1.5 blocks on car hood before tumbling »

Editing now~~~~~~~~~~

N.Y Times reported that two students were shot and wounded on the Delaware State university Campus in Dover around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Delaware State University’s main campus in Dover has been in lockdown mode since early this morning, as police hunt for whoever shot and wounded two students shortly before 1 a.m. Entrance gates are closed, classes canceled, staff and commuter students warned to stay away, and students who live on campus directed to stay in their dorm rooms until further notice.

By midafternoon, the police said they had identified two “people of interest? in the case — both students, it seems — and were talking to one of them. But there is still no one they are prepared to call a suspect, let alone any arrests — and the university remains locked down.

Curious expression, “lockdown.? As far as The Lede can tell, it started out as a bit of penitentiary jargon, referring to what the guards would do with a cell block when trouble was brewing: lock it down, with the inmates in their cells and the exits sealed. It was meant to prevent escape.

In recent years, though, it has taken on a very different meaning, especially in the context of schools and colleges: hunkering down inside when danger is outside.

Especially after the Columbine shootings in Colorado, “lockdown drills? have become familiar rituals at elementary and secondary schools across the country, with students and teachers practicing how to bar the door, stay away from the windows and keep quiet until the all-clear is sounded. It can feel a lot like the duck-and-cover air raid drills of the Cold War — except that the threat is less abstract and a whole lot closer to home.

The demand for such security procedures is so great that an industry has sprung up to help schools implement them.

And schools are not hesitating to lock down whenever anything remotely threatening seems to be happening nearby: Just this morning, two high schools in Santa Paula, Calif., were locked down while police pursued a man through the neighborhood who they thought might have been armed. According to the Associated Press’s account, the man evidently had run a few red lights in a banged-up vehicle and then, when a police officer tried to pull him over, had fled on foot. The lockdown was called off after about an hour, though it wasn’t clear whether the man had been apprehended.

After the mass murder on the Virginia Tech campus in April, colleges and universities have been looking at ways they can lock down, too. It’s a much more complex proposition for a sprawling urban campus than for a single building in the suburbs, of course, and one of the highest hurdles is getting the word out about what is going on.

And as Carlos Holmes, the spokesman for Delaware State, pointed out in a news conference today, different institutions mean different things when they say “lockdown.? In Dover, the university has been arranging for students to be able to get from the dorms to the dining halls, or to leave campus if they want to, with a police escort. They just shouldn’t be wandering around outside on their own.

Everywhere these lockdown plans have been used, the M.O. seems to be to err on the side of caution — to lock down first and ask questions later. It’s easy to understand why Delaware State officials went that route this morning: no one wanted a repeat of Virginia Tech, where the authorities were excoriated for assuming too quickly and for too long that the first of Seung-Hui Cho’s shootings were an isolated incident, and failed to head off the killing spree that it became. No indications have surfaced that the Delaware State shootings are anything like that, but today no one was taking chances.

The question becomes, when does the prudent reaction become overreaction? With the weekend impending anyway, Delaware State has 48 hours yet before the question of how long to keep the campus locked down will start to become a pressing one — if the shooting had happened on a Tuesday, say, the timeline would be much more compressed. But if the police don’t have a suspect in custody by Monday morning, what then?

On a larger scale, if the threshold for lockdowns is set too low, and too many of them turn out to be unnecessary or ludicrous, the danger exists that people will stop taking them seriously. It happened with “duck and cover,? and later with school bomb scares in the early 1970’s, which seemed to be called in every time some mischievous eighth-grader wanted to ditch a math test. Eventually, the same societal immune reaction that sometimes goes overboard now could be dulled into under-reaction, with potentially tragic consequences.

It’s time for congress to read the 2nd amendment in its entirety and enact some real gun-control legislation.