Can Armed Teachers Save Students’ Lives?

classroom

by Derrick Krane

There have been numerous mass shootings, carried out by deranged individuals who enter a school, workplace, or church, and open fire, killing as many people as they can before law enforcement or an armed civilian puts them down, or they are cornered and they kill themselves. The measures that are in place now, such as locking down a school, are not effective as evidenced by the number of casualties that have occurred.  Effective measures need to be enacted to make schools a safer place. Assumptions need to be examined, challenged, and critically considered.

Keeping perspective

In the US, there are about:

  • 98,200 public schools
  • 34, 600 private schools
  • 50, 700,000 students and 3,200,000 million teachers are employed at public schools.
  • 400, 000 more teachers working at private schools, teaching 5,200,000 million students.

This does not include support and administrative staff at public and private schools, nor students faculty and staff of colleges, universities, and technical and trade schools.

One psychopath going into a school and killing a single kid is too many. But when you look at the number of schools in the US, compared with the number of school shootings, schools are still a safe place for teachers and students.  The availability heuristic is a concept which states that we tend to accept the information we are most frequently presented with as the norm. Media bombardment can lead to the impression that schools are unsafe places.  The public becomes not just scared, but terrified for their children and teens. People become outraged and demand immediate action. But when emotions are running so high, reason can have trouble catching up. It is senseless to put useless, emotionally driven measures into place.

  • For the millionth time, gun control will not stop violent criminals from using guns in the commission of violent crimes. By definition, criminals do not obey the law.
  • No member of the NRA has every committed a mass shooting. The NRA condemns criminal use of firearms. Blaming the NRA for gun crime is the epitome of an emotional and baseless argument.
  • At Blue mountain school district in Pennsylvania, buckets of rocks have been made available to throw at a gunman.  Yes, I read the whole article, and this is intended as a last resort, after all other measures have failed. I got that, but I think a better plan is in order.
  • The worst option: Psychopaths intent on a mass shooting are going to be stopped by a Gun Free Zone sign?

The Effectiveness of Gun Free Zones

I invite you to try the following experiments. [Sarcasm Alert].

  • When travelling down a road at 30 to 45 mph, when you come to an intersection, do not See if the Stop sign will stop your car.
  • Do not lock the doors to your home. Put up No Trespassing or Do Not Enter signs to keep criminals out.
  • Put up No Shoplifting signs in your store, and take down the cameras and fire Loss Prevention staff.

 [Warning: More Sarcasm ahead]:

Can No Guns Allowed signs protect you from a mass shooter? Possibly. Stack a lot metal signs together, or a lot more made of paper, and duct tape them together, and you could use it as a shield. That might work. Maybe the answer is to make the signs out of very thick  titanium, and put lots of them up all over the school, with handles of the back, so everyone would have a shield. That probably won’t work, going medieval with shields and rocks. An alternative is to just call the police and let them deal with it.

Wait a minute. There are a few difficulties here too. People are trusting the police to get there within minutes to stop the shooter with their guns. A lot of people can get shot in minutes. These are some of the same people who don’t trust the police.

In fact, many of them actually hate the police,  protest against the police, and won’t allow them in their stores. They don’t want people to have guns, except for the police, though some advocate disarming police officers.  However, they will call for the people they hate and protest against  and bar from their places of business to arrive with their guns and rescue them. I am very confused.

The Absurdity of a Uniform Lockdown policy

The only more useless idea than No Guns Allowed signs to lives in the event of an Active shooter is a Lockdown. Everyone turn off the lights pull the shades, and lock the door to the classroom. Huddle behind an inch or so of drywall, in one corner of the room where you will all make for easy targets, and that will keep you safe. Barricade the door with desks and tables.

Lockdown if you are in a heavily fortified room, with thick concrete walls, and a steel door.  If not, and you can get out, evacuate. Keep anyone else you can from entering the scene. If you can’t get out, then hiding in place is the second best plan. If your hiding place is discovered by the shooter, fight back, because you have nothing to lose.

I would suggest something more effective than going full on caveman and throwing rocks. There is a reason rock throwing is not used in modern combat. Guns are far more effective.  There will be a time to shelter, a time to run, and a time to fight:

Knowing the difference is critical. ALICE training offers options other than the traditional lockdown only policy.

The Trend toward Armed Teachers

As of 2018, 18 states allow teachers to carry weapons in school. Within these states, school districts have trained teachers to carry firearms.  President Trump has called for arming teachers to defend students.  There is opposition to this plan.

In an Atlantic article, A “marine turned teacher” makes a powerful argument against arming teachers.  Armed and trained teachers can be an important part of a comprehensive security system to keep schools safe. Armed teachers are a part of this plan. Designated teachers can carry firearms or have access to firearms in lockboxes to engage a shooter.

Some of the concerns in the Atlantic article could be addressed by teachers acting in a more defensive role; staying in place to protect kids who are hiding, rather than having them search the school for the shooter.

School Security

Think layers when considering security. An onion, not an eggshell is the frequently used metaphor. Armed teachers will be one layer. Other layers include:

  • Cameras in hallways, entrances/exits, and common areas. In the event of an active shooter in the building a PA system can be used with the cameras to track the shooters movements and warn people. If the shooter is on the opposite side of the building, evacuate while you can. If headed your way, this is where armed teachers will come in.
  • Solid, securely locked doors set into a solid frame need to be put in place and kept secured from the outside.
  • Safe rooms. There should be locations around the school designated as safe rooms, known to all students, faculty and staff. These are fortified places where you can take shelter and wait for the police.
  • Police patrols through school property regularly. A car should be driving through the school grounds several times a day, at random, and be on hand when students are coming in for the day, and leaving. This can be part of their regular patrol pattern and does not have to create an undue burden on local police. A school resource officer, armed, well trained, and willing to engage a shooter should always be on the premises.
  • Training in First Aid and Basic Life Support. You put on a seatbelt, but have no intention of crashing. You wear a life jacket and have no intention of your boat capsizing. Hope and pray a shooter does not choose your school. Be prepared for the aftermath of a school shooting with trauma kits, or what are sometimes referred to use “blowout kits” and have people trained to use the contents.
  • Screening of disturbed students. Thus far, everything I have discussed is damage control. Prevention is a far better option. Mental health screens could become a standard part of attending school. Detect kids that are disturbed and provide proper treatment or removal from the school if indicated.
  • Crackdown on bullying. The majority of school shooters have been kids who are bullied mercilessly. The schools do nothing then in an act of complete idiocy, they suspend of otherwise punish the victim when they strike back. Bullying is not a rite of passage, it is not kids fooling around, it is not horseplay and roughhousing, it is smaller weaker more sensitive kids being tormented, abused, hurt and humiliated. They become afraid to go to school feign illness to avoid school, their work suffers, and they develop long term problems such as PTSD, depression, and substance abuse. Some commit suicide. Others commit homicide.
  • Have school counselors who are knowledgeable about adolescent psychology, bullying, child abuse, substance abuse, suicide, sexuality, and other topics of importance to adolescents. A major problem today in the mental health field is that too many clinicians are no longer experts in mental health care. They are much too busy filling out paperwork or electronic forms, attending trainings on corporate compliance, inclusion, cultural sensitivity, multiculturalism, and everything but learning how to be a clinician. Schools need to hire real counselors, not social justice warriors or paper shuffling, keyboard tappers who focus on paperwork to the exclusion of patient care.
  • Minimize media coverage of these monsters, as it only encourages copycats by making them famous. This is not the first time I have written about school or workplace shooters. I refuse to even call them by name. They do not deserve any recognition.

Conclusion

If you are a parent, teacher, or student, educate yourself about school shooters and school security so you can make informed decisions and render informed, rather than emotional opinions. Then talk to your lawmakers, school boards, local police, and city council members about making effective changes in school security. And never forget to talk to your kids and hear them.

Where are the Dads and role models for young men, who teach them right from wrong and hold them accountable? If you have a child who is bullied, or your child is the bully, don’t wrap yourself in comfortable denial. Do something about it. Don’t wait for it to get better. If your child tells you they have concerns about another student’s behavior, pay attention. If you have concerns about your child get them professional help.

Disclaimer

This article is part satire. Use your best judgement when putting into practice any of the advice given in this article.


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