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John A. Czajkowski

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March 28, 2013 - 12:00 am

Discussion of security in our nation’s schools has the potential to disintegrate into political theater, skirting confrontation of the factors that are most critical to public education.  While imposing a variety of academic accountability measures, the federal government has failed to fully support local decisions affecting the real and diverse contexts in which learning must occur.  States and schools are left to scramble for crumbs, squeezing local tax dollars to follow through on a variety of essential projects.

Top-down, big-government rhetoric is couched in language promoting equity.  What is equitable about communities struggling to address fundamental needs? Politicians engage in debates about how many rounds should fit into magazines in a series of firearms sideshows. But what kind of action is being directed to protect the most vulnerable targets of firearm violence?

The Art of War

As a young Navy SEAL officer, I was once told, “You will soon find yourself on both sides of Sun Tzu.” In The Art of War, the ancient Chinese master strategist presents the theory for what is now referred to as unconventional or asymmetric warfare, wherein a small force can defeat a larger and mightier opponent by turning the latter’s culture, procedures, laws, and inflexibility into vulnerabilities to be exploited. In today’s warfare, the modern violent non-state actor operates out of this ancient guerilla playbook in a contemporary battlefield that involves physical, moral, and cultural elements. The actor exploits laws of armed conflict, rules of engagement, media, the internet, information systems, treatises, bureaucracy, egalitarianism, democratic political values, indigenous cultural attitudes, and so forth. Thus, the savvy modern asymmetrical David attempts to defeat his Goliath not only in violent, symbolic, and costly attacks, but more insidiously, by causing a slow change of the mightier opponent’s cultural priorities.

As a former Navy SEAL leader, I understand how it feels to be on both sides of Sun Tzu. Ironically, instead of finding myself on the mightier side of Sun Tzu fighting shadowy non-state actors and terrorists, today I find myself situated in another asymmetric battlefield. I’m not chasing down sinister cyber warriors. I’m not on a battlefield of violent non-state actors and fourth-generation warfare. My new battlefield is unsuspecting in its innocence and naiveté; it is a public high school classroom.

Unfortunately, our nation’s teachers find themselves located on a potential battlefield today due to gun violence in the schoolyard. So, while guiding my students though a Socratic Seminar on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, or Leslie Marmon Silko and post-modernism, or Baroque counterpoint in AP Music Theory, I find it both eerie and ironic that a high school teacher is standing here on today’s new bull’s-eye, or “X.” As we all know, irony is a dead scene. However, I’m not sure which is worse: being on the wrong side of the X, or being on the wrong side of Sun Tzu.

The Changing Education Security Landscape

Most educators are ill-equipped to navigate the shifting terrain of safety in schools today. Schools’ physical architecture, porous culture, and loose security policies still reflect the threat of yesterday, leaving many educators feeling alone out on the X with a sense of disempowerment and resignation. Many educators know that they lack tools and techniques to handle this new brand of violent armed intruder. Even more dangerous, some education leaders feel a false sense of security from grossly inadequate crisis response plans accompanied by deadly complacency.

Whereas federal building codes include strict security parameters, most state building codes include few, if any, security guidelines. Strict state fire and earthquake fire codes can double, triple, and even quadruple building costs. This has helped prevent student deaths by fire since the late 1950s, however it has not helped extinguish gun violence in our schools. The annual national gun violence figures have been trending towards a quarter-million injured and creeping towards 100 students murdered, both individually and in massacres, every year.

There are multiple societal factors that can be attributed to school violence, but most defy easy solutions. In On Killing, Lt. Col. David Grossman explains that the film, music, and video game industries glorify the killing culture.  More disturbingly, violent video games have appropriated the very same techniques of Pavlovian and operant conditioning that the military has used to improve firing rates amongst soldiers in combat from 15% in WWII, to 50% in Korea, to 95% by Vietnam. For the moral 50% of the population who finds killing objectionable but can nevertheless still be trained to do it in self-defense, this isn’t such a problem. However, for the 2% sliver that actually enjoys killing, this has alarming potential consequences for the symbolic target of schools.

Even though the probability of a school shooting massacre is low, it is gradually increasing. Moreover, the combined physical and legal risk has never been higher; therefore, we must prepare thoroughly. There can be no gainsaying that today’s uptick in gun violence statistics clearly rings in a new era of change needed in school security. Today’s successful leadership will be that which can negotiate and manage a changing threat in a way that is active, preventative, creative, flexible, and visionary.

Educators may be on the disadvantageous side of Sun Tzu due to obvious physical vulnerabilities, but the less-apparent vulnerabilities are perhaps the most hazardous. The asymmetric warfare model helps remind that American education leaders can’t get twisted into knots by the threat of a lone rogue sociopath. We cannot allow the single homicidal-suicidal assailant to exploit our vast culture and our widespread vulnerabilities. We must instead know ourselves and know our enemy.

Study our school vulnerabilities meticulously and honestly; decide what we are willing to change and what we are not. We can’t allow our decision-making processes to become encumbered by the many controversial issues or paralyzed by uncertainty and risk. We can’t allow the rogue sociopath to turn American virtues and values upside down.

Gun vs. Mind

When planning to improve school security, educators need to separate gun fact from gun fiction. When it comes to guns, there is no shortage of the latter. Gun cultural mythology generally exaggerates the capabilities of weapons, and more critically, it exaggerates the capabilities of the people who wield them, and entertainment industries continue to glorify killing. The gun violence archetypes abound, and although sometimes exciting and entertaining, most aren’t factually based.  

Fallacy 1. Gun equals superhuman accuracy. The documented low accuracy of professional law enforcement marksmanship during extremely high-stress situations reveals many problems at once. It is very hard to hit a moving target. It is much harder under duress.

Fallacy 2. Gun equals total control of a situation. Although a gun provides enormous leverage, it does not grant supreme control. Yet there are numerous instances of active shooters scenarios where a large group of people waited frozen in terror and then complied, while the single armed assailant proceeded to engage his victims one-by-one.

Fallacy 3. Gunshot wound equals instant death. There are combat wounded veterans who have absorbed a magazine full of rounds and survived. Given the likelihood of surviving a gunshot wound with basic first aid treatment to control bleeding, it is tragic that school shooting victims have unnecessarily died of blood loss and shock due to delayed treatment of what was otherwise a non-lethal gunshot wound. The 1984 San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre is a tragic example where many of the 21 killed (19 wounded) would have survived had the wounded’s bleeding been controlled, or had SWAT snipers been cleared to fire hours sooner.

Fallacy 4. Gun equals solutions. Guns are tools designed for recreation, hunting, protection, and killing; they have a very practical purpose. Yet, when viewed through the lens of domestic asymmetrical warfare, the gun becomes a deadly psychological problem-solving tool for the rogue sociopath; what is more, if it becomes a problem-solving tool for the American public school, the gun becomes an instrument by which the sociopath is allowed to dictate social change.

Arm Guards, not Teachers

Although I grew up very comfortable with the responsible use of firearms as a boy and then later professionally, I still can’t support arming teachers first when there are still so many other more proactive opportunities for improving our security. Arming teachers is far down my list of recommendations for improving security, per balancing return on investment and risk assessment. Although I am entirely comfortable with the idea at a personal level, the difficulty of applying Kant’s universal imperative makes me hesitate to adopt an armed teacher paradigm.

Law enforcement and military — and particularly special operations forces — are highly trained in split-second decision-making when applying a spectrum of force, or rules of engagement. Putting neophyte-armed teachers in this potentially volatile situation takes far more professional training and legal considerations than one may first gather at first blush. The devil lurks in the details of the non-massacre yet high-stress situations that many teachers may encounter through a career of situations where lethal force may be tempting yet not warranted. Moreover, people have quite a different subconscious relationship with someone who is armed — open or concealed. Since so much of the relationships between teachers and students that foster inspiration and learning take place on a subconscious level, it is a gamble to throw a weapon into this interpersonal chemistry. The only situation in which the arming of educators might conceivably be justified is in remote areas where distance and weather significantly delay first responders’ arrival on scene.

Armed guards provide a nearly statistically unassailable deterrent to school shootings. Most campuses have one or more campus assistants who may even be called campus security. They perform a variety of security and ancillary tasks. At least one of them could be professionally trained to be armed. Campus security staff that is unarmed needs to be called something else. Schoolyard killers are not brave and heroic. They seek the path of least resistance to torment and then shoot children execution-style.

These killings have often been preceded by molestation and brutal rapes perpetrated by shooters. Those with access to actual police records know that the sexual element is often under- or unreported. Rape is such a taboo that the media still self-censors. School districts must take a very hard look at arming at least one of the campus assistants, as otherwise they will serve little purpose when needed most. However, arming security guards is political heresy in California, where parents will let their children watch a million TV and video game murders a year, but balk at having one armed guard protect their children’s school.

Although Machiavelli warns his prince about being seduced by idealism, on the present issue of gun violence in American schools, we must balance ideals and practical solutions. Providing strategic and tactical solutions to protect a school against the threat of an external or internal active shooter threat is quite a different problem than when security professionals protect officials, VIPs, convoys, fixed installations, energy systems, public events, supply chains, and so forth. The highly porous, dynamic, and open culture of a school is an extremely complex and uncertain situation to manage.

In On Killing, an expert in the psychology of death, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, reminds: “Death and debilitation by disease or accident are statistically far more likely to occur than death and debilitation by malicious action, but the statistics do not calm our basically irrational fears.” In On the Fear of Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross argues that the human subconscious mind cannot perceive its own natural death and presumes that it must be instigated by an external cause. All of these psychological factors collude and complicate rational reaction to thwarting gun violence in the schoolyard.

School Murderer Profiles

There is a degree of variance in the past profiles of shooting massacre killers; some have been pedophilic adults as in the Amish town of Nickel Mines, PA, whereas others have been pre- and young teens, as in Jonesborough, AK. However, according to Michal Dorn in his book Innocent Targets, all younger killers shared the following qualities:

  1. Perceived feeling of injustice and grievance (70% had been bullied)
  2. Obsession with violent video games and media violence
  3. Persistent themes of violence in schoolwork
  4. Access to guns

Then there are the things that none of them do:

  1. Varsity sports
  2. Student Bbdy leadership
  3. Community groups like church, 4H, etc.
  4. Boy Scouts
  5. JROTC
  6. School band (a handful were forced to join by parents, but soon dropped out)
  7. None willingly participate in structured activities where they must submit to discipline

There is existing research into the criminal pathology of active shooters. There are already school counseling, peer mediation, peer counseling, and anti-bullying programs. There are informants and anonymous tip programs. There are also law enforcement Psychological Emergency Response Team programs. There are healthy school climate programs. There are existing programs that confront the television and violent video game epidemic, such as the Stanford Medical School 10-day TV Turn-off challenge, which has boosted test scores and reduced bullying and obesity in double-blind studies. However, we still need more collective action to synergize these disparate efforts into a systematic program. I refer to this collective effort as psychological engagement, which is perhaps the most critical component of a sound deterrent strategy.

Educators need to be trained how to report students who express particularly violent themes in schoolwork or in discussion. The psychological phases for killers involve: fantasization and ideation; planning; preparation and execution of attack.

U.S. Secret Service argues that it’s hard to tell which phase a potential killer is in; nevertheless, returning work to a student with violent themes gives the student the sense that he has received permission to proceed to the next phase. Unfortunately, this has occurred more than once. A teacher read a student’s paper that was a fantasy about collecting chemicals from the science lab and then poisoning his family. The teacher returned the paper to the student. The fantasy then turned to reality. Educators need to feel empowered by the many uncelebrated success stories of teachers who have led law enforcement to obtain warrants to conduct home searches, but this must be handled very discreetly.

According to David Grossman’s analysis, more school massacres have been prevented than have been successfully carried out.

The lockdown concept is controversial amongst security professionals. The term alone is not a panacea. Regardless, planning to use entirely unsecure rooms for lockdown is grossly negligent. It has proved tragic when teachers and students lock down in a room with glass doors or low-lying windows, and wait there hoping police arrive first. The deadly Columbine library is a lesson never to forget.

Crisis Response Plans must consider designating on- and off-safe areas for evacuations. Evacuation to accessible parking lots is also unwise, since attackers could easily pre-stage a devastating car bomb. Evacuation is uncomfortable to contemplate; nevertheless it is a necessary consideration.

Strategic Recommendations

Following are strategic recommendations for improving school safety that merge case studies, lessons learned, theories, programs, and practical security industry experience. Every active shooter situation has a different calculus; however, a sound school security program should be founded on sound bedrock strategy with an emphasis on prevention. Throughout the daily phases of campus schedule, there needs to be a plan in place to:

  • Discourage targeting through physical security, counter-surveillance, and psychological engagement programs.
  • Provide early warning of planned targeting through physical security, counter-surveillance, and psychological engagement programs.
  • Immediately detect active targeting through physical security, counter-surveillance, and psychological engagement programs.
  • Accelerate lockdown, assessment/evacuation to designated on-site and off-site safe areas.
  • Safeguard and account for students and staff to maximum extent possible.
  • Professionally manage reunification.

Principals must ensure that school site emergency teams are not just committees that permit things to exist only on paper. We must “pray for peace, and prepare for war”: weakness emboldens the potential shooter. Schools must have rigorous plans and tactics in effect for emergencies across the entire spectrum of the daily school schedule.

Following are tactical recommendations organized by physical security and then emergency protocol.

Physical Security Tactical Recommendations:

  • Security Assessment: Conduct thorough physical security assessments to understand your own physical security vulnerabilities. There are plenty of resources for developing these checklists. Know your school.
  • Tiered Security Readiness System: Consider developing tiered security readiness systems as used by military, government, State Department, and other agencies. Security levels of routine; heightened; lock-out (or shelter in place); and lock-down provide leadership with clear triggers and ensuing protocol to help manage uncertainty. Develop a matrix that manages status of doors and windows, gates, vehicular and foot traffic, communication, triggers, and authority to raise and lower readiness states. Ideally, there should always be controlled single point of entry.
  • Mylar Security Window Film: Glass breaks and shatters easily. Security Mylar security adhesive film of 4 mil thickness and higher can make windows very slow to extremely difficult to penetrate without proper tools. Reflective Mylar also reduces targeting and reduces energy costs in warmer climates. The better answer is to replace glass doors, but they should be first on the list to cover.
  • Walkie-talkies: PE and band teachers on outside fields should be issued walkie-talkies to maintain robust communication with the main office.
  • Security Guards: Regularly armed security guards are one of the strongest, if not the strongest, deterrent.
  • Metal detectors: If used, move them around. Keeping them on the same location is a waste of time. Only employ them if there is an armed security guard or police present. An unarmed person should never attempt to disarm an armed or potentially armed individual. It has proven fatal to school staff.
  • Vehicle Access: Gates wide enough to permit vehicle access need close monitoring. Ideally, they should not be open.

Emergency Protocol and Tactical Recommendations:

  • Counter-surveillance: Train staff and campus assistants to vigilantly watch for the signs of active physical, electronic, and phone surveillance. School Resource Officers can provide materials.
  • Signal: Ideally, lock-down signals can be initiated from more than one location with a panic button alert in the event the office is attacked. Lock-down code word signals should not be used to avoid adding unnecessary confusion. It should be clear who has authority to initiate the signal to prevent hesitation.
  • Communication and Teamwork: Ensure teamwork all across the campus during an emergency — for example, ensuring lockdown alert single redundancy where neighboring teachers call or text each other to ensure their colleague heard the signal. No matter how advanced the signaling technology, security ultimately depends most on the human element.
  • Lockdown and Fire Alarm: Previous attackers have used fire alarms as a weapon to trick students and staff into leaving a safe position. If fire alarms go off during a lock-down, stop, assess and evacuate from designated safe area only when absolutely necessary.
  • Drills: Rigorously rehearse lockdown-specific drills in smaller leadership cells in order to refine emergency protocol outlined in the school Crisis Response Plan. A combined semi-annual fire, earthquake, lockdown, and on-site evacuation drill is inadequate and provides a false sense of comfort.
  • Tactical Movement: As per the Move2Safety model, it is advised that teachers and staff be trained in basic evasive tactical movement. They can be trained in low-crawling, moving in short bursts to cover and concealment: “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down.”
  • Mobile Phone Hazards: Teachers need to ensure students’ mobile devices are powered off to avoid compromise, avoid targeting from a “friend,” and inadvertently detonating a hidden radio firing device as used to detonate explosives. In an emergency, everyone must pay 100% attention to the changing situation and be prepared to react. It is recommended that parents use restraint and not call children, school, or 911 as it instantly cripples the networks.
  • Secure Room Defense: Teachers need to be trained how to fortify their classroom for a heightened defensive posture beyond the usual “lock the door and close the blinds” — for example, barricading doors with filing cabinets, bookshelves, and heavy furniture. Arrange furniture to confuse, channelize, and delay a determined shooter who breaches a secured door.
  • Last Resort Offense: Although it is controversial, expose teachers to a spectrum of offensive countermeasures for use against an attacker who breaches a locked door in a designated safe area. Their use is ultimately up to the teacher’s judgment, training, and instinct. The Department of Homeland Security reminds us that you always have “the right to fight for your life.”
  • Secure and Safeguard Weapon: It is imperative that if an active shooter is successfully brought down and separated from his weapon, that weapon needs to be secured. There could be a police officer running around the corner, and holding the shooter’s weapon is an invitation to be shot.
  • First Aid: Teachers and staff should be trained in basic first aid and bleeding control. Tourniquets are back after a brief hiatus. Direct pressure is always best.
  • Consultation: Avoid the IKEA syndrome wherein you fall in love with the works of your own hands. There may be parts left over, and your Crisis Response Plan may not be as good as you think. If budgets permit, consider seeking an objective outside security consultant.
  • Self-reliance: Take responsibility for your own security. In the words of former Navy SEAL and Secret Service officer Matt Maasdamm, before the police arrive on scene, “you are your own first responder.”

Program Design Considerations: Security program design considerations could include:

  • Maximize return on investment for facility upgrades, materials, and training based on risk assessments.
  • Coordinate with law enforcement where appropriate.
  • Practical and simplest solutions provided for leaders and school team.
  • Integrate emergency protocol into daily routines as much as possible.
  • Coordinate promulgation of policy, strategy, and tactics though appropriate correspondence channels from district to administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community.
  • Minimum impact on daily campus life.
  • Transparent to students, providing comfort through authentic security.

Why Fund School Security? In spite of the moral reasons for improving school security, the numerous other budget priorities school districts must juggle can cause the probability and risk calculation to become blurred.

Following every school shooting involving serious injury or death, school districts face a second round of attacks: a sense of grief, guilt, and survivor’s remorse often leaving many survivors with lasting PTSD; and an enfilade of costly litigation from families of both killed and emotionally scarred students. Although the probability of a school shooting is low, both data and theory show the chances are gradually increasing for the foreseeable future. Beyond the deadly physical and psychological risks, the potential legal damage is also increasing.

School districts can help manage both physical and legal risk by demonstrating:

  • Robust security policy
  • Comprehensive strategy
  • Effective protocol and tactics
  • Staff training
  • Rehearsal frequency
  • Raised priority as measured by dedicated budget
  • Steps taken to decrease facility vulnerabilities
  • Documentation of above
  • Sound decisions during actual emergency
  • Professional management of aftermath

Although there is no denying that there is always the threat of spurious litigation for even non-lethal scenarios, school-shooting suits will ultimately be weighed against professional testimony. Any upright security expert will make it understood in court that there are few school security tactics that are ultimately undefeatable. Schools can’t be defended in the same manner as military bases, weapons storage depots, and hardened installations. Therefore, schools can only be expected to demonstrate they did everything that could be reasonably asked to protect their students. School districts need to be able to demonstrate they supported their schools in this effort.

With increased national and media attention to school security, there are already efforts to study this social problem. School districts need to ask themselves in which case study they expect to be included: the district that addressed their vulnerabilities and did their best in an emergency; or the school district that failed to address its vulnerabilities and failed to react competently in an emergency. Although the media half-life of school massacres is short, the legal memory is permanent.

Conclusion: Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison in 1787: “Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.”

I deeply respect the composite American virtues: to question authority and doctrine; to be emboldened by a sense of self-reliance; to be empowered by our own critical thinking; and to be guarded by vigilance. However, these virtues are increasingly challenged in our society today by their correlative vices coupled with a degenerating irresponsibility. Our virtues become criss-crossed and uprooted when we allow ourselves to trust gun mythology and ideology; to be weakened by layers of dependency; to be disempowered by a litigious, intellectual zombie culture; and to be made vulnerable by laziness, complacency, and denial. Sun Tzu would warn us against allowing the rogue sociopath to let us become our own worst strategic accomplice.

Let previous school shootings serve as our lesson today. Let more schools stay on the active side of this menace. Under the best circumstances, more schools can negotiate this changing landscape of school security and avoid slipping down the wrong side of Sun Tzu.

Schools are a glass house. Stepping foot onto most school campuses is a nightmarish experience for a security professional; I know this from personal experience. Federal and state agencies can’t begin offering grants for facility security upgrades and security-oriented professional development fast enough. Floating above in a cloud of denial is irresponsible; partaking in political theater on the issue of security for our nation’s children is far worse, and risks shattering lives across America.

John Czajkowski has taught International Baccalaureate English, Physics, Music Theory and Guitar and currently helps lead the security work group of a California school district with 42,000 students. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1989, he served as a Navy SEAL until 1996. He is a partner with Nicholson Tactical and Consulting.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
This might be one of the most convoluted and meandering articles on the subject I've ever come across. Talk about the long and winding road! How about a bit of the old common sense, tempered by established facts ?

1. Take down that insane sign at the front of the school. You know, the one that touts "This is a gun free zone." Replace it one that reads "Armed Security on This Campus."

2. Allow WILLING Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit holders to receive special training in Active Shooter Response and have the school district pick up the tab for this and continuing training. This is a pittance in comparison to hiring armed security, which many school districts simply cannot afford. For those districts which can afford armed security that's fine, but total reliance on armed security is a big mistake. Look, we've already had a number of would-be mass murderers stopped cold by school principals and even students (Pearl, MS and Appalachian Law School). The media is loathe to report this, but it is easily researched fact. Those teachers, administrators, and school personnel who qualify for CCW style carry and are willing to be a part of their school's first line of defense should be welcomed with open arms.

3. Absent in this long diatribe is any mention of the medications which approximately 70% of the past school shooters were known to either be taking, or had recently stopped taking. My guess is that the power and influence of Big Pharmaceutical companies is the only reason this important variable has not received the attention it deserves. Simply put, our schools and school "psychiatrists" today have doped up a whole lot of kids without having a clue to what they are doing. This needs to be a major national discussion, much more salient to the discussion than gun control.

4. The public must insist on more responsible news coverage of mass shooting events when they occur in the future. They surely will, and if the media coverage is allowed to follow the pattern we saw with the Sandy Hook shooting, we are most certainly assured of the next sick little monster, determined to out-do his predecessor. We know that these little monsters seek (in death) the fame they would never know in life. We need to let them know that they will not become the next household word. Insisting that the media back the heck off from these events would go a long way towards denying the killers the infamy they crave.

That's it. A bit of common sense would go a long way here. Yet, our president seems determined to make the result of the Sandy Hook shootings about nothing more than gun control. It makes little sense to me and tens of millions of other law abiding people that, when an insane little monster kills innocent people, that tens of millions of innocents should be punished. Not one of the proposals coming out of our president, or Gov. Cuomo, or any of the others who are standing on the bodies of the murdered children of Sandy Hook ... not one of their proposals would have stopped the murderer there, and they will not stop future killers. The few items I've noted above would either stop these killings completely, or at the very least, greatly minimize the carnage. Just as importantly, it would give teachers and students the chance to be more than just passive victims and sheep for the slaughter. If we love our kids these proposals I've noted will actually make a difference. They don't bankrupt us, and they don't trample all over the rights of people who have done no wrong.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The writer brings forward a number of rational solutions, in sharp contrast to most of the shrill whining I've seen in the media and politics. However, I disagree when he says teachers should NOT be armed. No, I don't favour a programme, high profile, training and arming every teacher in every school. However, some number of teachers are already licensed, trained, and skilled, and do carry everywhere else they go. Let THEM also carry at school.... who better but they who are already laying down their lives daily for their charges? No one but them, and perhaps the chief of the school's security detail, might know. Thus, no new fears amongst the students because their teacher is packing. Some students, though, would instantly feel safer knowing their own teacher, who cares for them, is armed adn ready to protect their classes.. rather than whimper in the corner, wet themselves, and die like a rag doll when an Adam Lanza comes into the room to kill them all. Any rational student would feel safer knowing his teacher has the means, and the skill to use that means, against such an assault.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nobody is advocating just "giving teachers guns." But teachers have summer vacations and those who wish to do so should be given the option of attending a local police academy for the portions relevant to stopping a school shooter. They are certainly at least as receptive to training as your average armed private security guard.

As for the change in student / teacher dynamic when the teacher is armed, it didn't seem to be a problem when I was a Boy Scout working for my fingerprinting merit badge under the supervision of the local sheriff.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (78)
All Comments   (78)
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How about trained, volunteer defense staff. Weapons hidden throughout the building known only to staff, even non-volunteers. No weapons carried in at any time for any reason. Any time there is a Weapon access it sounds a special alarm that signals all weapons to be accessed immediately. Then if smeone in the system goes crazy they will know that everyone else knows. Some manufacturing plants have coded alarms so first responders can know exactly where the alarm was triggered.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This might be one of the most convoluted and meandering articles on the subject I've ever come across. Talk about the long and winding road! How about a bit of the old common sense, tempered by established facts ?

1. Take down that insane sign at the front of the school. You know, the one that touts "This is a gun free zone." Replace it one that reads "Armed Security on This Campus."

2. Allow WILLING Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit holders to receive special training in Active Shooter Response and have the school district pick up the tab for this and continuing training. This is a pittance in comparison to hiring armed security, which many school districts simply cannot afford. For those districts which can afford armed security that's fine, but total reliance on armed security is a big mistake. Look, we've already had a number of would-be mass murderers stopped cold by school principals and even students (Pearl, MS and Appalachian Law School). The media is loathe to report this, but it is easily researched fact. Those teachers, administrators, and school personnel who qualify for CCW style carry and are willing to be a part of their school's first line of defense should be welcomed with open arms.

3. Absent in this long diatribe is any mention of the medications which approximately 70% of the past school shooters were known to either be taking, or had recently stopped taking. My guess is that the power and influence of Big Pharmaceutical companies is the only reason this important variable has not received the attention it deserves. Simply put, our schools and school "psychiatrists" today have doped up a whole lot of kids without having a clue to what they are doing. This needs to be a major national discussion, much more salient to the discussion than gun control.

4. The public must insist on more responsible news coverage of mass shooting events when they occur in the future. They surely will, and if the media coverage is allowed to follow the pattern we saw with the Sandy Hook shooting, we are most certainly assured of the next sick little monster, determined to out-do his predecessor. We know that these little monsters seek (in death) the fame they would never know in life. We need to let them know that they will not become the next household word. Insisting that the media back the heck off from these events would go a long way towards denying the killers the infamy they crave.

That's it. A bit of common sense would go a long way here. Yet, our president seems determined to make the result of the Sandy Hook shootings about nothing more than gun control. It makes little sense to me and tens of millions of other law abiding people that, when an insane little monster kills innocent people, that tens of millions of innocents should be punished. Not one of the proposals coming out of our president, or Gov. Cuomo, or any of the others who are standing on the bodies of the murdered children of Sandy Hook ... not one of their proposals would have stopped the murderer there, and they will not stop future killers. The few items I've noted above would either stop these killings completely, or at the very least, greatly minimize the carnage. Just as importantly, it would give teachers and students the chance to be more than just passive victims and sheep for the slaughter. If we love our kids these proposals I've noted will actually make a difference. They don't bankrupt us, and they don't trample all over the rights of people who have done no wrong.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Probably one of the most coldly insane articles I've ever read. That's what American ed needs - a tactical security consultant.

"Okay class, standard two-by-two cover formation. Go! Show resolve! L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace my children."

Hahhahaha. School is hell.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A tactical security consultant working for the SCHOOL DISTRICT! The mind reels...

Still I could have used one in junior high. That was like being thrown into a cage full of rabid monkeys and told to fend for myself.

Children are animals. Allowing them - encouraging them - to be animals doesn't turn them into adults.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When you come right down to it, there is only ONE way to eliminate public school violence. [http://1389blog.com/2012/12/18/only-one-way-to-eliminate-public-school-violence/] And it requires no tactical security consultants.

Raising kids in maximum-security prisons just because they're kids is sick.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not all the time. Just between the ages of 12 and 17. I stand by my animal comment.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Czajkowski, first of all, thank you for your service, sir. A very well-written article, especially on Sun Tzu's Art of War. It's good to know someone who truly cares about our kids and their education.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of the big problems nobody's talking about is our centralized school structure. If we were to have much smaller schools, the return on investment for psychos would be much smaller. It's just a bad idea to begin with to put hundreds or a couple thousand students in one place. The body count is very high when disaster strikes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree that we're reaping what was sown in the 1960's. You can't have a common culture without commonly agreed upon principles, and the whole thrust of the 60's was tear those suckers down.

(Billy Ayers' followers thought maybe 25 million of that repellant "bourgeoisie" might have to be slaughtered to get them out of the way, shades of Mao and every one of history's mass assassins, slaughter the peons who don't agree with you.)

I don't think arming teacher is a good idea either. But we've reached the sad and pathetic point, obviously, where children in schools need to be protected.

Obama (I heard on the radio) is afraid people are losing interest in gun control and is out campaigning today to keep it alive. But that hypocrite (like others in govt.) said he wanted to be president so men with guns would be around his daughters (I imagine quite a few men with guns as those daughters vacation in the Bahamas)

And the private school they attend in DC has no fewer than 11 armed guards, plus the girls' own security.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We need to ask "why" these events are occurring "now" when they did not occur half a century ago? Semi-auto firearms have been in existence since before the start of the 20th Century. The M-1 Carbine (15 shot magazine, 30 shot also available) was able by mail order in the late 1950's. So "access" to such arms required only the necessary money to buy one from any number of suppliers. Therefore, since the "means" were available as much as sixty years ago, why are these "school shootings" (and other mass shootings) so common "now"? What has changed in our society in the last 50-60 years? Any ideas?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Before 1934, you could buy a tommy gun from the Sears catalog. Yet we don't read in the history books of disgruntled high school students using them to destroy their classmates.

In the 50s, there was a moral panic about "gangs." See "West Side Story,", "Chalkboard Jungle," Harlan Ellison's "Memos from Purgatory," etc. The gang bangers didn't use M-1 carbines - they used switchblades and motorcycle chains. If they had guns, they were usually zip-guns or Saturday night specials.

So - seemingly less gun control but seemingly less gun violence among kids. How do we explain that? Better culture? Better policing? Better kids?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The amount of media coverage of the rare mass shooting, lack of the average citizen's ability to carry a weapon in ever more locations, increasing number of state mandated and state prohibited private behaviors, a growing percentage of the population that lives via government theft of private economy, exploding costs due to lawsuits, I could go on if you'd like..

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The writer brings forward a number of rational solutions, in sharp contrast to most of the shrill whining I've seen in the media and politics. However, I disagree when he says teachers should NOT be armed. No, I don't favour a programme, high profile, training and arming every teacher in every school. However, some number of teachers are already licensed, trained, and skilled, and do carry everywhere else they go. Let THEM also carry at school.... who better but they who are already laying down their lives daily for their charges? No one but them, and perhaps the chief of the school's security detail, might know. Thus, no new fears amongst the students because their teacher is packing. Some students, though, would instantly feel safer knowing their own teacher, who cares for them, is armed adn ready to protect their classes.. rather than whimper in the corner, wet themselves, and die like a rag doll when an Adam Lanza comes into the room to kill them all. Any rational student would feel safer knowing his teacher has the means, and the skill to use that means, against such an assault.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nobody is advocating just "giving teachers guns." But teachers have summer vacations and those who wish to do so should be given the option of attending a local police academy for the portions relevant to stopping a school shooter. They are certainly at least as receptive to training as your average armed private security guard.

As for the change in student / teacher dynamic when the teacher is armed, it didn't seem to be a problem when I was a Boy Scout working for my fingerprinting merit badge under the supervision of the local sheriff.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have all lost our minds due to the media! You can still hitch-hike safely all over the country. Schools are safe. Do you really want your kids to go into a "secured" area for 13 years? What will that do to their psyche over the course of their school life?
Stop it Stop it Stop all the irrational thinking. We do not need government to protect our kids, or us in this manner. These scare tactics have seeped into the American culture because we have been slowly cowed into fear of living life for Christ's sake!!
The statistics show a safer world than even our folks grew up in - get a grip!
The results of anti-bullying campaigns have been that the bullies need to be punished. When a school is not responsive, the bullied kid takes care of it himself = gets a gun. Schools should just be aware of who is being pushed around, every student knows who gets picked on - it is almost always obvious.
"Educating" the kids on bullying does not work. If a bully gets snitched on, he goes after the perceived snitch after, and away from school. We all know the drill. The school system should develop a program covertly, and implement it with out fanfare to ID victims, and perpetrators, then take the necessary actions.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think your ideas about bullying relate to a previous comment about school size. Many schools are simply too big and have too many students. That means teachers and administrators can't keep up with everything that goes on in the halls and playgrounds. It may be more cost effective to create giant schools and cram thousands of kids into them, but this means less awareness, less accountability, and fewer opportunities to intervene when students treat each other badly.

I can speak from experience. My last two years of elementary school were at a small, private school. My entire grade was no more than thirty students. We all attended the same classes. Our teachers, the principal, and the administrators all know our names, knew what was going on with us, and knew which students had "discipline problems." And they disciplined us.

My first year of junior high, I was transferred to a brand new mega-school in a well-to-do suburb. There were over two thousand students there. As I have remarked elsewhere, it was like being thrown into a box full of animals and left to fend for myself. Classes were ok, but between classes and during lunch, the hallways were emotional and physical combat zones. Faculty and staff didn't know us, we didn't know them (with some exceptions - the athletic coaches, mostly). And they had no idea what we went through, how we treated each other, who was being bullied and who was bullying. With that many kids to keep track of, all they were interested in was ORDER.

That meant the usual catch-22 - clever bullies got away with it, those who defended themselves against the bullies got into trouble. The nail that stuck up got hammered. So the victims just took it in silence.

In the 90s, I started to see these mega-schools RUNNING OUT OF SPACE! That was when they started putting trailers and pre-fabs in the parking lots and playgrounds to hold the excess children. I simply cannot imagine being a student in one of those places.

So yeah, I think smaller schools in which the staff can get to know the kids, supervise them, and intervene when necessary would be preferable to warehousing kids in giant, impersonal mega-schools. Children need supervision, training, guidance - they need to be taught to be good, kind, or at least civilized adults. Throwing them into a big building and letting them do whatever they want is no way to give them that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're right. I went from being a young kid in a very rural part of the West (my sister went to a K-8 single-room schoolhouse for a couple of years) to being in a high school where the graduating class was over 500 students. THAT is madness. It was a good school at the time with virtually no bullying problems, but that was a reflection of the local, largely homogenous, very religious culture of parents that were very involved in their kids' lives.
Want to prevent school shootings? Try smaller school and class sizes. It's not fair to tell teachers that they need to pick up the slack for disinterested parents. But it's downright impossible to put kids into a diploma factory and expect them to find anything that will help them make up for a bad or nonexistent home life. At least when teachers know their students and see them on a regular basis, they can form relationships and know (to a degree) what's going on in their lives and if the kids are behaving differently than normal. Just having one or two relationships with people who simply care about a kid can change their life if they are having problems. And it makes the truly sick ones that need professional mental help stand out. We need to ask ourselves why we have this obsession with gigantic schools to begin with.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My mega-school was in what used to be a predominately white, upper-middle-class, not especially religious area, yet bullying was a problem. Teachers didn't know and didn't care.

You're right - a lucky kid will meet an adult at just the right time and it can change his life for the better. My track coach was a person like that. He was the exception. The other teachers put their hearts into teaching, but "building character" apparently wasn't considered a priority. There was an honor code, but it didn't say anything about students not treating each other like dirt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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