Arming school employees for safety in schools


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Mainsail
May 2, 2008, 10:58 AM
by Stephen E. Wright (http://www.helium.com/items/1017512-responsible-parent-unthinkable-matter)

A A A A responsible parent has to plan for the unthinkable, no matter how offensive the unthinkable is. Because too many children have already died, and will continue to die, because parents refuse to face the issues and honestly debate ALL of the solutions.

As parents we have to face difficult issues and make difficult choices. It might be telling a friend you won't leave your child with them until their firearms are properly secured or disposed of, or a rule that your child can't go to a house where the parents allow unsupervised trampoline play. We'd rather avoid these issues, but we can't. Because facing up to the realities of our children's lives and making decisions to keep them safe came with the territory when we brought them kicking and screaming into the world.

Which makes it unthinkable that some parents are willing to let their options be limited by the political agendas of others. They allow intelligent debate over how to protect the lives of children to be suppressed by political dogma. It may be easier to avoid difficult decisions by simply yielding to politically correct rhetoric, but can we afford this luxury when it comes to the lives of our sons and daughters?

Three days a week I leave my precious little girl at Pre School in a room gaudily decorated with crayon drawings on construction paper and smelling of paste and Playdoh. I revel for a moment in watching so many bright and happy children. But how can I know that a monster such as appeared at Virginia Tech, Columbine, or the school in Breslan, Russia, won't walk in five minutes after I leave? As I walk away my only comfort is the fact that school mass murders are extremely rare.

So I leave the most precious part of my life unguarded, hoping the unthinkable doesn't happen to my child, but knowing it will happen eventually somewhere. If my bank announced that my money would be left in an unguarded place because the thought of fighting off an armed criminal is distasteful I would change banks. But unguarded schools are the norm, not the exception.

And the memorials for Columbine, Virginia Tech, NIU, and so many others, are the result.

Since we can't change human nature or eliminate all psychopaths, what can we do to reduce the number of memorials built?

1. More police officers in schools: This is unarguably the best choice. But at $100k yearly per officer to put 5 police officers at each of the 84,000 U.S. public schools would not be possible. And given the financial needs of schools for academics, doesn't make sense. One officer per school is helpful, but there was a police officer at Columbine in 1999, a police officer at the Bailey High School in 2006, and neither saved a single life. At Columbine the onsite officer exchanged fire with the murderers as they entered the building, then waited outside with his vest and weapons until SWAT teams arrived by which time the killing was long over and the killers dead.

2. Metal detectors and security guards: A good way to keep general violence down, but when Jeff Weise began his shooting spree in Minnesota in 2005 he simply shot the guards at the metal detector first. Unarmed guards cannot stop a suicidal murderer.

3. More Gun laws: Most of the most recent publicized killings were done with legally purchased weapons, some in restrictive states. The problem is that mass murderers such as those at Bailey High School, the Amish school in Pennsylvania, or NIU, rarely telegraph their rage. A nationwide gun ban might have some effect, but it will not happen in our lifetimes whether it should or not. And only a total ban would help, because whether a murderer has a sporting shotgun or bolt action hunting rifle unarmed victims will not be able to protect themselves.

4. Gun Free School Zones: We already have that. The memorials continue to multiply.

So if we can't afford sufficient people in uniforms at each school, what is a viable alternative? As responsible parents, let's start to consider the non-politically correct options. For the sake of our children.

A police officer is an individual of good character (hopefully) who has had a background check and spent 2 6 months of specialized training, of which a few 1 3 weeks is firearms training.

A teacher, or any school administrator, is an individual of good character (hopefully) who has had a background check and an advanced education.

So the only difference between a Police Officer and a staff member at a school is a few weeks of training. And in a school staff of 50 or more people, it seems likely that a handful would be willing to take the necessary training to carry a discreetly concealed firearm and be prepared to defend children. If commissioned as reserve police officers they would have a badge and police radio as well. And it wouldn't be their job to take the place of the police, but to stop a murderer if possible or at least contain him. And with their radios communicate with the police officers arriving so they know the situation and can do something besides mill about outside uncertain of what is happening.

And these armed staff members would be more effective than police officers from the street, because they know the school, they know the children, they care about the children as individuals, and have some insight as to who the killers are and how they might react.

I often think back to Columbine teacher and true hero Dave Sanders. Knowing there was murder happening and too protective and courageous to hide, Sanders raced down the halls shouting warnings until he confronted the murderers. With no means to resist he was gunned down. He bled to death while the Police maintained their line around the outside of the building waiting for SWAT to arrive so it would be safe for them to enter (no police officers entered the building until long after the shooting was over and the killers had committed suicide).

I have no idea of what Dave Sanders feelings were on guns, because selfless courage and believing in firearms for self defense are two very different things. But what if he, or another teacher with courage, had been armed? What if instead of being helpless and summarily executed, he had confronted the killers and maybe stopped one or both of them? What if other teachers had been equipped to help? What if he had a radio inside the building and was able to communicate to arriving officers, as a trusted resource, exactly where the shooters were and what was happening? So they could have taken firm action instead of standing in the parking lot next to their cruisers while unarmed children were shotgunned at point blank range.

Most of the library murders happened AFTER Sanders was killed. If he, or any teacher/administrator, had been able to protect children instead of just yell warnings, how many less memorial plaques might be on the Columbine memorial wall? How many more of those children would now be young adults in their twenties instead of a sad statistic?

I love my children so much I would like someone to fight for them if their life is in danger. In fact, I don't care if that person is a police officer, teacher, custodian, the school office receptionist, or even a fellow parent. I just want to know that when my children are out of my care others have been empowered for their safety. And I am prepared to make the difficult, even offensive decisions, to help empower those adults.

From the refusal to give such a concept a fair hearing, I have come to believe that there is a sad but simple fact: anti gun groups hate guns more than they love children. And these groups that claim they are striving to protect society from itself have blood on their hands.

I don't care if you're pro gun, anti gun, or somewhere in between (like most Americans): The lives of our children are too sacred to ignore any option that might keep them safer. So open your mind, cast aside the political motivated mantras, and let's really consider the implications of how we can best protect our children at schools.

Because no matter how distasteful, there is only one option makes sense. And I'd rather be offended by having to arrange for armed teachers at schools than be even more offended by another mass school shooting where students and staff were left helpless like sheep for the slaughter.

Appendix: The anti-gun straw men

There are far too many dogmatic arguments that anti-gun people throw out to make sure that students remain unprotected, but just to counter a few:

1. Teachers don't want to carry guns. This program would be for specially trained volunteers only. Nobody wants every teacher with a six gun on their hip.

2. Some teachers are too unstable to be trusted with guns. If there is a teacher so unstable that if they had a gun they would start shooting children, that person needs to discovered and institutionalized. And if a teacher has decided to become a mass murderer, then a rule against bringing guns to school will not stop them. Which is all the more reason to have someone else, even fellow school staff, prepared to stop them.

3. But what are we teaching our children if our teachers are armed? That their lives are precious and worth fighting for.

4. But how traumatic would it be for a student to see a teacher shooting a crazed student: Pretty traumatic. But as a parent, I'd rather pay for 18 years of counseling than a funeral. Is there a parent who wouldn't?

5. A student may take the gun and start shooting with it. The same can be said of a police officer and his gun. A baseball bat to the head will knock down either a teacher or cop, and if the cop is the only armed person in the building, the murderer now has the only gun and has disabled the only armed defender. Once again, more reason for multiple adults to protect children.

6. There's too much danger of accidental discharge. If this were a serious problem, then every police station would be a house of carnage. Dealing with this is a matter of weapons handling and training, and putting strict rules into place on gun handling.

7. Guns and children don't mix! This is true. But an armed mass murderer who doesn't care about the rules and helpless students cowering beneath desks waiting to be shot is an even worse mix.

8. An armed teacher may not have an opportunity to fight back: Also very true. Even a police officer, as we have seen, may not have a chance to intervene. But the more people you train and put into place, the more potential there is to stop the slaughter. An armed defender has a chance to save lives; an unarmed adult has none.

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Mainsail
May 2, 2008, 11:06 AM
I admit this is a long read, but mostly pretty level-headed. It makes me wonder if there might be some sort of compromise for both teachers and adult students that would allow them to carry a firearm on campus.

Would it be acceptable if the state allowed concealed carry on school campus for teachers, parents, and students that already have a concealed weapons permit and a “school endorsement”? In other words, your regular permit would have a small box with an S in it to certify that you have taken extra courses and training above and beyond what the state’s laws (if any) require for the permit. Would we accept this as a reasonable compromise? Since most of the states currently will not allow any carry by anyone other than police officers, would this be better than the current status quo?

Henry Bowman
May 2, 2008, 11:06 AM
I am not in favor of "arming school employees." I am in favor of "not disarming" any elegible, law-abiding citizens who would choose to carry a tool for defensive purposes. We don't want or need to create some special status of school employees who have to jump through arbitrary hoops and create added liability for the school system.

BruceRDucer
May 2, 2008, 11:14 AM
1. Teachers don't want to carry guns. This program would be for specially trained volunteers only. Nobody wants every teacher with a six gun on their hip.


Exactly. Demanding unwilling teachers and staff, who do not have the "willing" mentality to be trained and armed, is unwise in my opinion. A volunteer can be expected to have the proper mindset and responsible attitude. (I think poster Henry Bowman is saying the same.)

Most of the academically-trained school staff come out of modern Schools of Education which further the Anti-Gun mindset, and futher the doctrinaire attitude that "Magic Thought Bubbles" will protect the innocent [re: do the Army Crawl to get away], or further the proposition that legislation will protect the innocent.
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4. But how traumatic would it be for a student to see a teacher shooting a crazed student: Pretty traumatic. But as a parent, I'd rather pay for 18 years of counseling than a funeral. Is there a parent who wouldn't?


This involves IMPACT PARTITIONING. The impact of an event is divided without justification, and thereafter implies that PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA is a more significant impact than PHYSICAL TRAUMA or physical death. It is a subtle form of the old "Divide-and-Conquer" strategy. Anti-Gun forces use this kind of argument a lot.

It is a mistake to permit Anti-Gun forces to operate with alternating value systems: one which recognizes physical reality, and one which alternatively implies, that only the "psychological" being is the reality. Delusional forces implement such alternating "value systems" quite often.

Once the Anti-Gun forces have rational people on the defensive, by compelling them to defend their willingness to permit PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA on children, their work is just about accomplished. I believe we must compel "educated" people, to recognize PHYSICAL REALITY first, and deal with non-physical events secondarily.



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dmazur
May 2, 2008, 11:20 AM
Agreed. By simply doing away with the "gun-free zone" concept, schools are no longer killing fields. Shooters intent on their agenda have the same odds as anywhere else (well, except federal buildings) of encountering an armed citizen.

If someone can show how schools are specially attractive after this, with a much higher rate of shootings attributed to the presence of children, then perhaps we need to pay for trained, armed security. But this isn't likely, IMO.

I believe the problem has developed because of a "regenerative feedback" effect caused by

- creation of "gun-free zones", guaranteeing a time window for shooting
- mainstream media coverage of the event, creating fame for the shooter

Break this chain and the problem should eventually go away.

Picard
May 2, 2008, 11:37 AM
I love the example of a bank that he gave. We expect banks to have armed guards to protect our money but do not expect anyone to guard our most precious gifts. That's a good point that is hard to refute.

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