School's in Session: Why Arming Teachers is the Most Logical Option - ITS Tactical
 

School’s in Session: Why Arming Teachers is the Most Logical Option

By Jeff Gonzales

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There are many hot button issues these days, but few compare to the subject of arming our teachers. I encourage honest dialogue about the threat our schools face.

If administrators and faculty truly have the best interest of their students in mind, why wouldn’t they address this subject?

Allow People to Choose

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I don’t think the solution should be forced and I believe a better approach is removing the current restrictions and replacing them with policy at the school level. Allow the individual administrators to discuss the issue and decide the best course of action. However, I also believe part of the discussion needs to be about protecting life and the best manner to do so with the smallest financial impact.

Administrators are quick to denounce this plan, but fail to replace it with a suitable substitute. We already have laws prohibiting carry of firearms, armed resources officers at many schools and responding officers patrolling in the area.

Murder is Already Against the Law

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Laws against homicide already exist, there are numerous laws regarding the negligent, accidental and intentional death of another human being. We stand tall as we look to the stars and admire how noble and civilized we are as a society because of these laws.

All too often, people are quick to pat themselves on the back without acknowledging the actual effects or realities. In this case, homicide is a serious crime. Most adults grew up in an era where they were taught right from wrong. How wrong it was to intentionally hurt, much less kill another human being. Yet, we still see incredibly high homicide rates for such a civilized nation. Why won’t administrators address this issue? The answer is simply that they can’t.

Evil Finds a Way

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It’s true, an individual who’s committed to harming another will find a way to do so. Whether it’s a firearm, knife, vehicle or even a bomb, evil always finds a way. The current belief that we can regulate evil is as realistic as man being able to fly.

Once we can move past this issue, the next issue to address is laws prohibiting carrying of a firearm on school property. I’d like to see a case where an individual who was committed to carrying out a heinous crime, approached a school campus and realized he couldn’t because of “no firearms” sign. Where has that deterred crime?

Armed resources officers have seen a positive impact and I for one am glad to see them in our schools. One article I read denouncing the arming of teachers claimed that due to the size of a school campus, an armed teacher would most likely not be able to get to the scene quickly enough to make a difference. I suppose there could be some truth to this statement and if so, it would reduce the effectiveness of a SRO as well. Unless they developed teleportations capabilities, they’re bound by the same laws of physics as everyone else.

Pizza or Police, Who’s the Fastest?

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Response time is another comment I hear thrown around as rebuttal to arming teachers. I agree that an armed response from a trained professional is preferred, but the time it takes to get that response could very well be too late.

Referring back to the SRO and having to cover the ground of a large campus, now add the time it takes for the call to be made, officer to be notified, time to travel and the size of the campus. Even the best response times will still be measured in minutes when a critical incident is happening in seconds. Eventually we circle back to arming teachers.

Free Market to the Rescue

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Why is this such a terrible idea? Better yet, why would an American citizen be denied their inalienable right to defend themselves just because they occupy a physical location?

True, these events are incredibly stressful, unpredictable and quick, but is that enough justification to throw our arms up and say we can’t do it? I believe there are challenges; concealing everyday isn’t as easy as one may believe and training to be ready takes time and resources.

However, if an individual is willing to take it upon themselves to undergo training and invest in concealment equipment, why should we restrict them from carrying on a school campus? The idea that all hell will break loose because someone carried onto school property, reminds me of the initial argument for the original concealment laws. How so many were crying that it would be bedlam and mayhem with blood running down the streets.

The only blood I see running, runs down the hands of those who willingly deny the most basic of freedoms. The freedom to protect oneself and others.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Jeff Gonzales was a decorated and respected US Navy SEAL, serving as an operator and trainer who participated in numerous combat operations throughout the world. He now uses his modern warfare expertise as President of Trident Concepts, LLC., a battle proven company specializing in weapons, tactics and techniques to meet the evolving threat. Bringing the same high-intensity mindset, operational success and lessons learned from NSW to their training programs, TRICON has been recognized as an industry leader by various federal, state and local units. Organizations interested in training with TRICON can call 928-925-7038 or visit tridentconcepts.com for more info.

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Discussion

  • Alex Garbuz

    Unless you train the teachers to the highest standards on pistol marksmanship and make them pass the regular qualification exams this will not fly.

  • Trident Concepts, LLC

    Thanks as always Bryan and ITS Tactical.

  • Guy Arancio

    In NJ where Gun Laws at one of the toughest, the State has passed a new
    position which is called a Special III Police officer which is a Retired
    Police Officer in good standing  http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/S3000/2983_I1.PDF . The officers are assigned to schools
    and only have powers limited to school property and are uniformed and armed. This position is not considered a school resource officer.  This position comes
    under the Police Departments jurisdiction and the Officers continued
    training and qualifications comes under that agency’s jurisdiction.
    Officers that are able to retire and still want to be in the game, and that have 25, to over 30 years of experience still have skills and knowledge to offer. 
    I am very pro gun and believe in and support the second amendment. The only question I have is the training. Officers that respond are trained heavily in tactics, active shooter, and qualifying. I would love to have a hundred guns next to me trowing lead at the bad guy however I think coordination of training is a must. In a critical active shooter situation I would hate to have to be looking over my shoulder at  teachers behind me instead of concentrating on the target in front of me.  I am not saying its a bad idea its one that needs alot of thought.
    Great Article

    I myself am a Retired Police Officer- over 30 years and am still in the game
    Guy Arancio

  • Michael Hedden

    So, the total lack of anything approaching middle ground is disheartening at best. No one puts forth a viable alternative? Ok, change out classroom doors with armored steel doors and bullet resistant locks and jams. Equip teachers and staff with vests, shields, spray, and tasers. Equip hallways with CS/Pepper spray foggers to drive active shooter out. A shooter who can’t breath or see isn’t a shooter. The cost of this versus the cost of the lawsuit when a teacher accidentally leaves a pistol out and a kid gets hold of it…. Yeah. You could arm, and it has worked on occasion, but is it the right call? Clearly there are alternatives that don’t include firearms, the author was just so busy furthering their political cause that they didn’t cover it.

    • KC Sands

      Yhe doors would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and tasers are not an option against someone armed with lethal force, vests do not protect the head, gas would affect everyone in the building and is easily mitigated by a gas mask. All your options call for wasting millions of dollars with very little hope of doing anything. Its gun free zones that are the problem.

    • Michael Hedden

      So lets look at this for real. 1) the people you want to arm? mostly social pacifists. No combat training. Will most likely freeze up. 2) vests don’t stop head shots? neither will a gun in your hand until you stop the bad guy. 3) Tasers are not an option in a lethal force situation? Only because you say so and in your fantasy you don’t see it as glamorous. 4) Gas will affect everyone? Great. Better coughing and alive than shot dead. 5) Gas masks. Yes you can use them. Easily, no.. Clearly you have never shot a weapon with a gas mask on. Cant cheek weld, sight alignment goes bad, peripheral vision is lost. 6) Cost – how much do you think it will cost to arm, train, and insure a bunch of civilians for this? In short, you object to the idea because of ideology, not facts. Thats alright. And it isn’t the gun free zones that are the problem, its the active shooters that are the problem.

    • Samuel Fisher

      There are practical reasons why Tasers arent an option in a lethal force scenario. 1) They are one shot devices. Theres a model that gives you 2 shots at most. vs a guy with 8 shots minimum for a .45 cal weapon. 2) The furthest a taser can reach is 21 ft. 3) Despite what the movies show Tasers are not 100% effective. Theyre actually more likely to fail that to work due to several factors. I believe the manufacturer says the prongs need a minimum of 5 inches of spread in order for the taser to be effective. Both prongs need to hit the target. Heavy clothing will prevent the prongs from penetrating into the body. so you cant stand too close or the prongs dont spread far enough. you cant be too far or the one of the prongs can completely miss the target. and you better pray the both prongs penetrate the clothing the shooter is wearing. way too much that can go wrong vs using a gun.
      Gas would make it difficult for responding officers. gas masks are expensive and require receritifcation once a year. most departments dont have the budget for that. also implementing it would cost too much.
      Armored doors would impede responding officers as well as being unnecessary. Someone actually invented a small device capable of barricading any kind of door. and it came out to something like $10 a piece.
      Arming teachers is the middle ground. Cause the alternative is stationing soldiers or armed security at each school. which id be completely fine with. but some people dont.

    • Michelle Ferguson

      Michael Hedden Be careful not to assume all teachers are untrained. I know many teachers who shoot more than officers.

    • Nathan Murray

      I’d like to chime in as a teacher. Not just a teacher, though- a gun-owning Texan who shoots a looooot. I hate these options, all of them. I miiiight say tear gas is useful maybe?
      Anyway, arming teachers is ludicrous, mainly because the vast majority are middle-aged women who like hangin out with kids and helping them learn, so it’s probably not something a lot of people will get behind. I’m a younger guy who likes hangin out with kids and teaching but I am no ‘social pacifist’ whatever that is. I’m familiar with weapons and safety and it makes me nervous.
      I also don’t like the environment it shows the kids they live in. Imagine coming into a school covered in bullet proof this or that, knowing teachers might be armed, tear gas, etc. Sounds like a prison, yes? I don’t want to work with my kids in a prison. To those who scoff, it’s a legitimate and definite ‘no’.
      My name is Nathan, I’m a 6th grade teacher, and I disapprove of both this article and the inane madness we find ourselves in. I’m sure the school shooters reading this blog will have a differing opinion.

    • bullitt4686

      With your perspective, what IS the solution?  What would you even consider going in the right direction?  We can talk all day long about super expensive prison-like environments and to arm or not arm, but what IS the solution to keep our kiddos and teachers safe?

    • Michael Hedden

      Nathan Murray, you are the guy on the ground so I will defer to you. Appreciate you chiming in.

    • Dan Beauchemin

      Why not allow any teachers who have a CHL carry in the school as they would outside of school. This option doesn’t force teachers who don’t want to carry to carry. While not a perfect option, it is a sort of middle ground.

  • andrelesouza

    vrsanches I’m against it. Completely against it!

  • Renae N Dustin

    I think it would be a great idea. They would have to have annual certifications, but it’s also governments way of trying to ban guns….let’s keep what keeps us safe out of places we see the most shootings occur. Gun free zones only harm law abiding citizens.

    • Glenn Sanmann

      That’s right, guns don’t kill people children kill people

  • Philip Harling

    The most logical way would be to ban firearms. Worked in the UK and Australia.

  • Dave H

    I think an important question to ask, which is often left out, is why are there so many more school shootings in the us vs other areas? I think solutions are somewhere in the middle. I think the presented solution is fraught with problems, as is pretending a gun free zone is going to solve the problem. Actual dialogue would be a refreshing change. Whatever is being done now, by all parties isn’t working.

  • Glenn Sanmann

    Went to school in the U.S (SAA) and in Germany, only difference, this discussion is so utterly out of reality over here in Germany it would resemble something out of a fiction movie. The very fact you are discussing arming anyone in a “School” of all places is so disturbing I wonder why nobody here realizes you have a broader social problem. You guys are all nuts

    • Galaad Gervais

      I though the same.
      Why not arming children too, just in case the armed teacher go crazy?
      And that how school became a Mexican standoff.

  • Keiner Bilder

    In Sydney Ohio the school board reviewed the idea and their teachers are aloud to arm themselves.

  • John

    So nobody is going to mention the obvious, and that is that a majority of school shootings have been carried out by students who go to the schools they attack?  Which means you aren’t training teachers to shoot some faceless terrorist or psycho, but someone they very likely interact with on a daily basis, maybe even outside of school, since most teachers live in the communities they teach in. I think at the very least that’s going to cause some hesitation in a worst case scenario, even if you don’t factor in that the teacher is most likely going to have to shoot a child in that situation.  Think of the psychological damage, and therapy that’s going to take to come to grips with that, which of course is also going to reasonably be expected to be paid by the school, meaning by the taxpayer.  I have two kids in grade school right now, and I’m totally opposed to this idea.  I’m all for the right to carry, concealed or open, and I agree that gun free zones are pretty much ridiculous, but I think that training and arming all teachers is definitely not “the only option.”

  • In Ohio, we give each school district the authority to choose. I have worked with some teachers here in their initial CCW training. They then move on to ALICE. I’m all for it. When seconds count, the police will be there in minutes.

  • KenJones1

    The discussion is really an exercise in futility.

    I went to school in an age where the only police officer I saw at school was the state trooper who brought the crash sled to school in an effort to get you to wear your seatbelt.  In high school, students drove the bus and no adults riding as chaperons or radios on the bus.  If a student rider acted up on the bus the driver would turn that bus around and take us all back to school.

    Today, only unionized adults drive a school bus.  If a rider acts up, even an elementary student, the driver radios in to a dispatcher who calls the police!  This is a true “What. The. Fuck.” moment when a bus driver has to get law enforcement involved with a school child.  Truly pathetic.

    Source: me.  Police officer who has responded to these events more than I can count.  

    Our department has an SRO in every single public school in our jurisdiction.  The SRO unit is by far the largest unit in the department other than patrol!  They’re being used by the schools for discipline.  A student acts up instead of sending that student to the principal the SRO is called.  While they were put in the schools in response to Sandy Hook, they are no longer there to keep the peace or prevent crime.  The last one I spoke with said they have to teach a class on safety, they speak with parents about Lil’ Johnny’s misbehaving, etc.

    Many of the SROs I’ve talked to, though, says the worse part of the job is dealing with the political aspect, especially the parents.  A lot come out because of the BS.  Some, though, thrive on being with the kids. That’s fine.  But it’s getting a little over the top.

    Someone asks why only the US has school shootings.  Study “Top Of The Mind Awareness.”  It’s the awareness of a course of action that someone will generally take.  In some cultures when a suitor is scorned they will throw acid in the other’s face causing lifelong disfigurement.  Here, they’ll just slash your tires.  Most of these folks who do things like this aren’t imaginative.  They fall back on what they know.  Oh, and the worse school massacre didn’t happen in the U.S.  Research “Beslan school siege.”  Scary.  Different circumstances, true. 

    Someone mentioned the emotional toll a teacher would face in shooting a student.  What about the emotional took on a police officer?  Or anyone.  Odds are that who is going to get shoot in stopping a school shooting is a student.  Few are otherwise.

    But, getting back to the discussion at hand.  Until the school administration takes back the responsibility of disciplining the students for even major infractions instead of calling the police at every turn, start standing up to “snowplow parents,” and taking back the role of raising kids for the 6 hours a day they have, then arming teachers is a non-starter.  So many parents will complain and the spineless administrators will back down.

  • KenJones1

    Oh, you also need to arm the school bus drivers.  No one talks about the most vulnerable time a student is away from home.  Everyone forgets about Jimmy Lee Dykes and his kidnapping of student off the bus or the Chowchilla school bus hostage crisis.

    A student wanting revenge isn’t restricted to the school itself.  Once you lock down the school with 10 police officers and every teacher strapped, you’ve done nothing about a student getting on a school bus and opening fire.  Hell, it’s a better scenario than in a school.  It’s a higher density of students.  They have nowhere to go.  The driver is sitting duck for when they stop the bus.

    Yet, no one says a word.

    Is the discussion of arming teachers and putting SROs in every school just more “security theater?”

  • FASTERSavesLives

    Starting in 2013, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation has been providing free training to any school who chose to have armed staff as part of their safety plan.  By the end of 2015, we had trained over 450 staff from 152 schools from 6 different states.  Just in Ohio, we have worked with school staff from 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties and there are still over 1200 people on the waiting list.  See http://www.FASTERSavesLives.org 

    The program works because each individual school board is in total control.  They select the staff who are willing, competent and capable.  These staff members attend 3 1/2 days of firearm, crisis management and emergency medical training with Mr. John Benner at Tactical Defense Institute or Mr. Chris Cerino at Cerino Training Group.  Our foundation pays the for the training and lodging.  The staff returns to the school district and follows whatever individual criteria the district has implemented.

    The training now has expanded to Level 2 and a Level 3 classes, all funded by our foundation.  The Level 3 training takes place in the school district and includes the armed staff, local law enforcement, local EMTs as well as other school staff and community resources who even though not armed, will be there on event day.  It is truly awesome to witness an entire community coming together to put the safety of their school children first.

    Joe Eaton
    Program Director – FASTERSavesLives.org

  • Strych9

    This topic has driven me nuts for a long time. People on both sides come at this with a number of assumptions. We’re talking about saving lives here so there isn’t much room for politics IMHO. Love guns or hate them, you opinion on the politics of the 2A don’t matter much when people are bleeding out on the floor. 

    First, this should be an option for a teacher. Not a requirement either way. Forcing a 45 year old lady who hates guns to train and carry one makes as much sense as preventing that retired Marine with four combat tours, who’s now a teacher or administrator, from carrying. 

    Second, as to training, clearly there would need to be some standard for proficiency because otherwise the politics of allowing a teacher/admin to carry a gun would go sideways really fast and we would be opening ourselves up to the possibility of terrible accidents. 

    On the other hand however, the standards do not need to be sky high. Not to offend anyone here but most police and SRO’s can’t shoot for crap. Your average cop is a terrible shot with both a pistol and a rifle. Now, that’s not a straight out knock on your average cop, but the truth is they don’t get paid enough to shoot regularly on their own and their department doesn’t issue them much practice ammo unless they’re SWAT. I’ve had cops tell me their department gives them 200 rounds <b>per year</b>. That’s insane. But equally crazy is to think that your campus police (in a university setting) or SRO can be relied upon to put rounds on target when the metal meets the meat. 

    Sorry, that badge doesn’t make you Jerry Miculek and your average civvie with a CCW can out-shoot your average cop solely because the CCW guy/gal practices on a regular basis. I’ve watched my wife put five officers to shame in the space of five minutes on the range. It’s simply not rational to assume that a CCW holding teacher to practices weekly is any more of a threat to students in an active shooter situation than the SRO or responding officers are. 

    If you can teach calculus you can handle operating a tool with four controls. 

    However, IF teachers/admins are going to carry then they should be trained and that training should be coordinated with the police to prevent blue-on-blue fire incidents. The military has used challenge words at night for a long time. There is no reason the teachers and administrators can’t have their own version of “Flash!” “Thunder!”. This training should include medical training that goes beyond CPR as well. Medical kits in schools should contain things like a CAT and Israeli bandages and all teachers should be taught to use them. 

    Third, we know that the number one factor in body count is time before armed opposition is given to the shooter. People with guns closer to the shooter = less dead kids period. Even if a teacher or SRO does accidentally shoot a kid, which would be awful, that’s far better than allowing the shooter to shoot 10+ more kids.  

    Forth, the idea that someone is going to just leave a gun out and kids are going to find it strains credulity. How many times have you seen a CCW permit holder just leave their gun on their desk and walk away? Further, this potential problem is easily remedied by having the gun locked up in a way kids can’t access it. Something as simple as a “Shot Lock” type of device locking an AR to the wall in a class room or locked closet would suffice. Or the school could lock the weapon to the wall above a drop ceiling and not tell anyone other than teachers about it while providing a step-ladder in a cabinet for the “height challenged” teachers that want to participate in such a program. The possibilities here are basically endless.

    Fifth, the idea that guns have no place in school ignores quite recent history. I graduated high school in 2002 and it wasn’t until after Columbine in 1999 that we were not allowed to have a gun on campus (if we were over 18). They actually had to remind people on the morning announcements that deer season was upon us but you could no longer bring your rifle to school with you because state law had changed. It also wasn’t that long ago that students physically carried rifles to school with them for rifle teams. No one ever suggested that this was stupendously dangerous. How has it become so dangerous today? In truth, it hasn’t. 

    Sixth, the concept that this muddies the waters for the responding police does have <i>some, limited merit</i>. Yes, when you’ve got a call about an active shooter and you’ve got a teacher with a rifle, that could cause a moment of confusion as to who is good and who is bad. However, the teacher is going to immediately respond to calls to drop the weapon and surrender, so unless the cops are trigger happy jerks who shouldn’t be cops in the first place, there isn’t really a problem. If cops are going to argue that armed teachers will result in blue-on-blue fire, then it’s the cops that need to be trained better because they’re arguing based on their own inadequacy. 

    It’s also true however that a shooter wishing to do so could cause confusion by buying a police uniform online. Remember that the cops responding to the Aurora Theater shooting thought Holmes was one of them due to what he was wearing. 

    So yes, guns in school are an option. They do come with certain risks, just like everything else in life, and it would be disingenuous to say otherwise. However those risks can usually be mitigated to the point that they are well past being acceptable.

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