Get PJ Media on your Apple

The Most Effective, Logical Solution: Arming School Staff

No other proposal is economically feasible ... or provides better safety.

by
Mike McDaniel

Bio

April 27, 2013 - 12:00 am
Page 1 of 3  Next ->   View as Single Page

Only one question matters in the school violence debate: when a shooter is attempting to enter a school, what will be done to protect the lives of students and staff?

Asking what can be done to prevent mass school shootings is a secondary matter. Honest commentators — with the background and experience to know what they’re talking about — should be aware that in a constitutional republic, school shootings cannot be altogether prevented, and that gun control can have no effect. The worst school attack in history — in Beslan, Chechnya, leaving 300 dead and 700 injured — took place in a liberty-restricted state with democratic pretensions. Deterrence is possible, but not with past or current policies; the actual defense of the school during an incident is the heart of the debate.

At enormous expense, schools can be hardened, which may help to deter some potential killers, and which may slow down, to some degree, less intelligent and prepared killers. Unfortunately, “slow down” implies seconds, not minutes. Equally unfortunate: the money necessary to harden schools to the point of truly credible deterrence that could slow or stop killers to any meaningful degree is not available during the Obama economy.

Just recently, it was revealed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School killer needed only five minutes to shoot his way into the school and murder 20 children and six adults before killing himself. This fact is fodder for those wishing to ban “assault weapons” and standard capacity magazines so that future killers with five minutes will require a few seconds longer, or might only be able to kill 20 rather than 26. They miss the point, and many intentionally ignore more sensible proposals.

Former Navy SEAL and current educator John A. Czajkowski proposes a solution that embraces the recommendation of the NRA: place armed security in every one of the 100,000-plus American schools. However, he generally opposes the arming of school staff:

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.

Only one policy can credibly deter school shooters, will cost little or nothing, and will provide the maximum chance to limit — or even to eliminate — the loss of life when an attack on a school occurs: arming school staff.

When school design, security cameras, hardened doors and glass, magnetic door locks, and every other security measure have failed — as they did at Sandy Hook — and when a killer is seconds from firing, what is that school prepared to do at that moment to prevent any loss of life? Unless they are taking affirmative steps to arm staff so multiple people will always be present and prepared to immediately engage an armed attacker, the schools tacitly admit they are willing to accept a death toll of some size. This, in exchange for “feeling safe” rather than being safe.

NRA chief Wayne LaPierre and Czajkowski’s approach — using trained, armed personnel focused on school security — is not unreasonable, but it is impractical and embraces several faulty assumptions.

La Pierre would even demand federal funds for the purpose. Even so, some schools — usually larger high schools and some middle schools — do have school “resource” or “liaison” officers, who are usually certified law enforcement officers provided by local agencies.  Some schools share an officer from time to time, but most schools have none. This is so for practical and insurmountable reasons. Moreover, those few officers do not function as most of those supporting this concept believe.

These officers are essentially small-town police, responsible for all law enforcement functions in and around their assigned schools. They are generally present only during normal school hours, but must be absent for a wide variety of reasons: court, job-related errands, transporting arrestees, mandatory training, medical appointments, and vacation. At those times, they are virtually never replaced, and they are seldom present for extracurricular activities.

Further, it is not their job to principally focus on building security. And because there is only one of them per school — if that — the chance they will be present at the time and place an attack occurs is small. If no one else is armed, they are better than nothing, but are not the answer.

Most schools don’t have these liaison officers and never will; it’s too expensive. Their salaries, whether paid by their agency, their school, or some combination, come from the taxpayers, an increasingly scarce funding source. Affordably putting more of them in schools is wishful thinking.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (72)
All Comments   (72)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Liberal parents will not want teachers armed, also liberal teachers would fight against this. Other than that, lets do it. Great idea.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I completely agree with your position. If anything, you overstate the effectiveness of school resource officers. If I wanted to shoot up a school that had a resource officer, I would either wait until he was out for the day or just shoot him first when his back is turned. In the Norway shooting that left 70 children dead, the police officer was the first target.

I think a lot of commenters misunderstand the argument. We don't need to arm EVERY teacher. Just those few who are competent with firearms and are willing to shoulder the responsibility. One or two armed teachers in the school are much better than a dozen armed police officers miles away, especially if the shooter doesn't know which teachers are armed or how many.

The mere possibility that armed teachers are present can be enough to deter many shooters. Research has shown that these people look for unarmed victims and will usually give up and take their own life once confronted by a credible threat. The sooner such a threat is able to respond, the more lives will be saved.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
@geoffleach below; my "reply" won't work except on the first page:

"Permit me counter example. A Lanza wannabe busts open the door to the school and your employees have been denied any opportunity to defend themselves and the children. They are all killed in the five minutes that law enforcement needed to arrive. You, being the only member of management that was not killed, are sued for every nickel you have. You are reduced to penury. We all applaud."

Now that you gave yourself a nice warm feeling by "speaking truth to power" or some such inanity; it doesn't work that way, but you can feel free to take over the government in your state and do some serious tort and public officer and employee indemnity reform.

If a public manager was acting in the scope of his duty, and most public managers with any real power are very careful to act only in the scope of their duties, the manager is indemnified for his actions in the course of those duties. The employer, in this case the school district, would insert itself as the defendant in your fantasy lawsuit and if the SD loses, a lot of the taxpayers' money has just been pi**ed away. And the SD would likely lose because it is easy to find 12 morons with drivers' licenses who think governments are rich and the money is free, so they like to give it away.

At a practical level, individuals are rarely worth a lawsuit unless you just want to mess with them; they don't usually have enough money to make it worthwhile to sue them. The plaintiffs bar looks for the deep pockets and the entities twelve morons with drivers' licenses are unlikely to sympathise with, e.g., governments and large corporations.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hmmm ... well, serves me right for giving a lawyer an opening. I'll remember that in the future.

Now, how's about addressing yourself to the more important point. Forget about the legalities, and answer my point on the practicality of permitting the volontary arming of school personnel.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The most logical thing to do is NOTHING.
Our schools are safe, our country is safer now than when Ozzie and Harriet were on TV.
The sensationalism of the American press is what is scaring our country into a police state. It is as safe to hitch-hike today than ever! Per 100,000 (per capita) child molesters are down. Most crime is down.
Do you want your kids going into a school with armed officers? Did you ever think of the psychological impact of teaching 5-6-7-8-9-10 year olds how to avoid a madman coming into school to slaughter them? Or that that possibility is even realistic?

Get an effing grip people!! And yes....I will tell this to one of the Newtown parents - because it is facts that matter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While not about arming school staff, I think a little story about Orlando Florida is in order. At the time, there was a high rate of rape happening in the area. The response to demands by the Police to "do something" was answered by the police announcing they would be holding gun classes to anyone interested. They expected a few people would turn up but were overwhelmed by the number of women that showed up with anything from pistols to rifles to shotguns to take advantage of the class. The local papers and TV stations did a big promotion of the classes and the great turn out. From that time on, not only the number of rapes but also the numbers of all other crimes dropped rapidly. Armed citizenry does work.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One teacher pulls a gun on a would be assaulter. It becomes national news for days or weeks. Nationally the number of assaults on teachers and administrators mysteriously drops. Liberals are perplexed and confused. Problem solved.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mass public shooters are typically cowards, and will not even attempt to attack a facility where they might face armed opposition.
One can fervently wish that the beautiful and courageous young woman who placed her body between her students and the Newtown shooter had been armed and able to defend them with deadly force.
It's clear from the Utah experience that a significant subgroup of teachers accepts the responsibility for defending their students from harm, in loco parentis. Armed teachers should have specific training in combat skills, and particularly the combat mindset, for their own safety and success.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1. How many of the people advocating armed teachers are teachers themselves? People who go into teaching do so because they want to work with children or because they are intellectuals, not so they can wrestle steers, drive bulldozers or get into gunfights with madmen. Well maybe the football coach, but he is way out on the practice field. If you want someone ready and willing to pull a gun on somebody and use it, why do you think your third grade teacher is the man for the job?
2. A teacher's responsibility in an emergency is to the children in her classroom. The last thing she should do at the sound of gunfire is abandon her flock of seven year olds to themselves and run down the hall looking for action, at the very moment they need her most. The courageous teacher at Newtown who hid her children in the closet and coolly told the gunman they were in the gym, did what a teacher is supposed to do, God rest her soul. If we are not willing to pay for a security agent to protect that teacher and her children, our children, we are not worthy to be parents.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Like a security guard making 15 bucks an hour is going to do the trick. Yeah right. Do not do anything!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1) Why do you suppose wanting to work with children and being willing and able to defend them are contradictory? Because you're a worthless idiot. Why is the third grade teacher the person for the job? Because they're the one that is there.

2) A teacher's responsibility is to the children. That's why it's imperative that they have the tools necessary to defend those children. If Victoria Soto had been armed she, and several others, might still be alive. As it is, her students were lucky the madman didn't decide to look in the closet.

We owe it to our children to make the best use of our resources. A security guard isn't that. Not only is it far more expensive, since the district must cover the costs of an additional employee, but as others have pointed out, the security guard simply becomes the #1 priority on the shooter's victim list.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I tried to post this response twice last night and couldn't; I don't know why.
A security guard at Newtown would have seen the guy before he even got to the door, because his job would have been to watch - a watchman, get it. Teachers have other things to do than watch the monitors. And they would ALL be alive today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oops, shop owners not shot owners.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are armed teachers, in NYC. They're counting on one thing: that if they use their firearms to defend the school, no jury will convict them of weapons possession. I don't think any jury will. Better tried by 12 then carried by 6.
This is quite widespread in the NYC metro area. There are many armed citizens who have simply decided, better him than me. If they're carrying in NYC, they've decided to do the urban equivalent of shoot and shovel. Shoot and scoot.
My experience in the Bronx has been that numerous shot owners "wrestle the gun out of the robbers hands" and then "shoot him with his own gun" These cases are just left alone by the cops.
It would be nice if logical, sensible things that comport with liberty were done in the Northeast. That won't happen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All