Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- Disarming willing and qualified teachers and other school staff is stupid.
There has been a lot of talk about “arming teachers” recently, but that's really never been the issue. The real issue is about disarming teachers who would like to be carrying.
Like any other controversial subject, any discussion of school safety must begin with some agreement on basic facts and mutual understanding of terms and definitions.
We can't come to a consensus on solutions if we can't agree on what the words we are saying actually mean.
When gun owners and politicians talk about “arming teachers,” we are not talking about giving guns to people who would not be comfortable with them. Nor are we talking about teachers or other school staff racing to the sound of gunfire to stop an attack. What we're talking about is ending policies that disarm teachers who would prefer to be armed, and empowering them to take appropriate action if the need to do so were to arise. That means providing free – possibly paid – training, and some liability protections for school personnel who are qualified and volunteer for the program.
The Firearms Coalition opposes any proposal that would provide extra pay to school staff who choose to carry. We believe that it is a mistake to offer any incentive other than the desire to be able to protect innocent life if needed.
We believe that an armed staff member's first responsibility is to the children in their immediate care. If an armed teacher is in a classroom full of kids when an attack occurs in the building, the first responsibility would be to make sure the kids in that room are safe and secure. Once that is accomplished, the armed teacher can consider trying to move toward the threat, but that would be a personal decision based on the totality of the circumstances, and the confidence of the individual. Barricading the door, and being prepared to shoot if the attacker manages to break in, would be a normal expectation.
Racing to the sound of gunfire and engaging the attacker would be well beyond the expected response.
Teachers in particular, face numerous challenges to safe and responsible daily carry, because they are in extremely close physical proximity to students, sometimes including contact like hugs or pressing together in groups working on a project. Students should not know which teachers are armed, and they should not have the opportunity to inadvertently bump into or otherwise be made aware of the teacher's firearm. That seriously limits the practical methods of carry, especially for elementary school teachers and teachers in physical programs like gym and auto shop.
We would expect administrators and other staff who do not have groups of students under their immediate responsibility to be better prepared to move toward an attacker, clearing hallways, evacuating areas, and attempting to confront the attacker. The main objective is to prevent harm to students, so any distraction, including the distraction of shooting toward a staff member rather than executing unarmed students, is preferred.
Still, these school staff members would not be expected to perform like SWAT team members, but rather as defenders.
It must be remembered that rampage attacks against students, at any level of the education system, are extremely rare.
They generate significant amounts of media attention – unfortunately increasing the probability of future, copy-cat attacks – but with some 300,000 various school campuses around the country, all active with millions of students every day, a handful of serious attacks in a decade represent a very low probability that any particular school will be targeted in any given year.
Spending billions of dollars to fortify all of those schools, provide armed security, install fences, locks, gates, bullet-resistant glass, etc., is impractical and unreasonable. Utilizing the resources, skills, and abilities of existing staff members makes much more sense. No one who does not wish to carry a gun should ever be asked or required to do so, but those who wish to carry a gun should never be disarmed based on the irrational fears of others. If members of school staff wish to be armed, and are able to demonstrate competence through training, it is foolish to arbitrarily forbid them to do so.
Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response
Several years ago the Buckeye Firearms Foundation in Ohio, in consultation with some of the top firearms and crisis management trainers in the country, put together a training program specifically geared or school staff. The program combines advanced firearms training with advanced first aid, and communication and coordination with local law enforcement and emergency medical personnel. Known by the acronym FASTER, which stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response, the program covers a wide variety of important knowledge and skills that school staff can use to save lives in any crisis. To date, the FASTER program has trained some 1300 school staff members, representing over 200 schools in 12 states. with classes ongoing.
Having armed school personnel is not THE answer, but it is a rational response to the threat because it has the potential to get someone capable of stopping the attack closer to the start of the attack. Hardening the schools as much as is reasonably possible, makes sense. Improving identification of potential threats, mental health services, and law enforcement interdiction, are all important factors. But the bottom line is that crazy, evil people are always going to be among us, and they will occasionally do really crazy, evil things. We can't ever make any school completely safe, but we can stop disarming the good guys, and provide those who want to be able to respond effectively the tools and training they need to do so.
It's time to stop arguing over “solutions” that have been proven not to work, and have a serious conversation about steps that can be taken to deter attacks and end those that do happen more quickly.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.