Teachers, You Are the First Responders Against School Shooters

Students are evacuated by police from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016. In light of recent attacks, we thought it might be a good time to revisit this excellent advice. 


The people in charge of protecting us from bad people with guns failed us at every step of the way at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The FBI failed miserably. They admitted that they had credible threats, one of which was just last month, and they failed to follow protocol. The Broward County Sheriff’s Department failed. They visited the shooter’s home 39 times and failed to do anything to detain him, confiscate his guns, or arrest him.

We now know that FOUR of the sheriff’s deputies were on the scene during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, and did nothing to stop it.

On a side note, just last month in Ohio, Perry Township police arrested a teenager who threatened to “go Columbine” at Perry High School. And in Pennsylvania last month, police arrested a 14-year-old with a small arsenal who threatened to shoot up his school. So, apparently, police can head off threats before they materialize.

However, one deputy at the Parkland shooting, Scot Peterson, SAW the perp! He took up a position outside the building and called it in. You can’t just “dial it in” folks. Seventeen people are dead now because of this incompetence. But it’s the NRA’s fault, you know. Sure.

I do want to mention, however, the heroism of the Coral Springs Police Department (which was the first on the scene to actually enter the building where the victims were bleeding out). Here is the true story of one off-duty police officer, Sgt. Heinrich, of the Coral Springs Department who rushed to the scene in shorts and t-shirt, to confront the attacker.


Let’s not forget also that the school was following Broward County’s PROMISE program that coddles violent “students” in high schools and tries “counseling” them. Sheriff Scott Israel signed off on this program. You can read his endorsement here (sixth paragraph down).

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did eventually expel the perp and told him that he could never come back on campus with a backpack. That really worked, didn’t it? He came on campus with a backpack and a rifle and plenty of ammo.

What conclusions can I draw from this? Plenty, but the first thing I realize is that YOU are responsible for your own security. I love the police, but when seconds count, they arrive in minutes. They will be the first to tell you that they cannot be everywhere at once. Their response time is anywhere from six to eight minutes. A whole lot of dead bodies can be stacked up in that amount of time. Trusting government to “get there in time” can prove fatal to you. If you are a schoolteacher, YOU are the first one on the scene. You are the first responder. What is your plan to stop an active shooter?

I support the ALICE training program to deal with active shooters. However, in this situation, it probably would not have worked. The perp pulled the fire alarm and everyone streamed out, providing a perfect mass of targets for the killer.

So, if you are unarmed, how will you deal with the shooter? One poor teacher, Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach, used his body to shield the students. That was a very courageous, noble, and sacrificial act. But it did not stop the shooter, did it? How will you stop the shooter?


I have repeatedly heard the platitude, “guns are not the answer!” Yes, they sure are when you’re on the battlefield facing someone trying to kill you with a gun! (And that high school was a battlefield on February 14.)

Is it right to be on a battlefield unarmed? Can you stop the shooter with platitudes, slogans, and clichés? You can catch bullets with your body, or you can fight back effectively with something that will definitely stop him … a gun.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has recently submitted a plan to address this horror of school shootings. Although I am hesitant to endorse all of it (his “Violent Threat Restraining Order” makes me nervous — I need to see it in detail), I think it’s a pretty good plan overall.

What I think is just plain common sense in the governor’s plan is this: in addition to mandating law enforcement have a presence in all schools (they need to be IN the school and not just standing around outside it), sheriff’s departments will have the authority to train additional school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers if the school board requests it.

And of course, President Trump has been making this case the past week as well. If teachers are already the first on the scene, and police cannot get there in time, doesn’t it make sense to have some teachers trained in conceal and carry and combat shooting so they can protect the kids and kill the attacker? Are there NO teachers who would volunteer to do this and put in the time to train?


Many of the suggestions (tightening up background checks, raising the age to 21 to buy a rifle, etc.) sound reasonable, and they may work to some degree. But what will stop the next shooter tomorrow? The next shooter already has his gun right NOW. (Yes, I have heard Rush Limbaugh make this point several times over the past week.)

Want proof? When the Las Vegas shooting happened, the Texas church shooter already had his gun, right? And when the perp shot up Stoneman Douglas High, the 13-year-old in Jackson Township, Ohio, already had his gun and plan, didn’t he?

No, banning the eeeeeeeevil AR-15 — which is not an assault rifle; it is a semi-automatic rifle as defined by our federal government — will not prevent the next shooter. There are plenty of other guns to choose from.

No, limiting the size of magazines to five rounds or ten rounds will not stop massacres at all. How fast can you change out a magazine? It takes me one second. And I’m slow. So, I can just imagine a killer with a few dozen five-round or ten-rounds mags, changing them out very quickly.

Charles Whitman, the man who murdered 32 people in Texas in 1966 from the top of a water tower, used a bolt action rifle, not a dreaded semi-auto like the AR-15!

And if an underaged person really wants a gun — if he wants it badly enough — he will do anything to get it. Just ask Adam Lanza, 20 years old, who murdered his mother, took her legally owned AR-15 and slaughtered 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary.


I ask it again, what will stop a killer in those seconds and minutes before the police arrive?

We need police IN the schools (and metal detectors) as well as police outside the schools. They are the best trained to handle the situation. But that is also expensive. (Will we see the day when booster clubs will be formed to pay for faculty guns and training? Maybe.)

The police cannot be everywhere, so arm the teachers who want to be armed. And please, don’t give me the stupid platitudes of “arm me with books” or “arm me with empathy” or “arm me with smaller class sizes” (yes, I have seen the silly signs on Facebook). Hey, let’s see how effective those phrases are when you’re looking at a crazed killer. I’m sure that sign will stop him in his tracks … just like the “gun-free zone” does.

I think schools should also accept volunteers who pass muster. There are plenty of former military who are very adept with firearms and combat skills. They have their CCW licenses; if you want them to pass through other hoops (like a psychological evaluation), then do it.

In fact, I volunteer right now. I am a CCW instructor in Ohio, and I volunteer to teach any public or private school teacher for free. I also volunteer to walk the halls of any local school a few hours a week for free. If you want me to undergo more training, I’ll happily do it. Psychological testing? I’ll do it. And I would bet that I’m not the only American out there willing to do this to keep kids safe from armed lunatics.


We are in a war. You don’t win wars with silly, stupid slogans. If a bad guy has a gun in this war zone, and your government or school administration forbids you from having one in the fight … you and a whole lot of people are going to die.

Until our culture changes for the better (and I think that will take a long time), this is the reality we must put into effect NOW. Give adults who are first on the scene the tools and the training they need.


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