There have been several posts, and much discussion, on a variety of related topics here lately. Responsibility, airline security, arming teachers, concealed carry, they all tie together. I don’t have any law enforcement background, no special legal knowledge, to apply here. What I have is 20 plus years in corporate America. That’s given me a glimpse into the mindset of the bureaucrat, administrator, and general low-level flunkie.

As part of my day job, I review process safety using a worst case scenario approach. You propose a scenario and then carry through all the possible outcomes. The real catch is identifying the correct scenario. Here’s my take on school security, as one example.

Most gun-owning parents view worst case as:

  • Nutjob invades school – no one can respond, kids dead, parents grieve.
  • Nutjob invades school – lawful armed response, nutjob dead, everyone ok.

So the worst case is “nutjob invades school”, and all the possible outcomes boil down to some variation of the above. Lawful armed response can mean security on staff (higher costs), parent volunteers (difficult to organize), or armed teachers. So the “armed teachers” idea comes into play. Here’s the administrator’s worst case:

  • Armed teachers – teacher shoots kid, parents upset, police involved, I lose my job.
  • Armed teachers – teacher loses gun, parents upset, police involved, I lose my job.
  • Armed teachers – kid gets gun, parents upset, police involved, I lose my job.
  • Armed teachers – nutjob invades school, teacher ineffective, lots of “I told you so” notes, I get transferred.
  • Armed teachers – nutjob invades school, teacher stops him – yeah, like that’ll happen.

So the new worst case is “armed teachers.” To be fair, it is much more inclusive in terms of what could happen than the parents’ worst case. To be more than fair, despite all the media attention, the chance that this one school will be next in line is statistically insignificant. Until it happens. The odds of a different negative outcome (first three above) are much, much higher. But obviously something must be done for safety. Obviously?

One could pretty much do away with all security and glide by with no negative outcome for years (in my section of suburbia, anyway). Therefore most of what’s done is for show. With that in mind, nothing is showier than the LOCK-DOWN. For all the intelligent discussion about how lock-down doesn’t add to safety, I respond that, to most people, it looks safe. It gives the very real appearance of doing something. And “doing something” while risking nothing is the way of the bureaucrat.

The same concept applies to airline security. Armed passengers? The odds are much higher that they’ll shoot each other rather than stop a terrorist. Much better to strip search everyone. It gives the appearance of doing something.

Bottom line, the bureaucrats and administrators who somehow feel themselves responsible for our well-being have a much different prioritization than we do. The statistical approach to crowd control argues effectively against concealed carry. This applies to schools, airplanes, or just general public. Too many random variables are difficult to control, and control is key to the administrators in question. Your views on this will most likely be based on your opinion of the role of the individual versus the role of the state. If you favor the individual, you’re effectively in the minority.

So where does that leave us? As gun owners, we must be realistic about things. Arming teachers is most likely never going to happen. Sure, maybe a few select examples, but not in general. It would take another two or three 911’s to occur before they allow us to carry guns on planes. We don’t really want to see that happen. We’ve come a long ways with the fight for concealed carry, and for that we should be thankful. The castle doctrine is a great piece of legislation that should have never been necessary had common sense been applied to the courtroom.

I think the next big change in public policy will be the crucifixion of political correctness. We’ll finally wake up to the fact that most terrorist are, in fact, not white grandmothers from Topeka. And we’ll screen fliers accordingly. Border protection might finally happen. Maybe. These things are possible. Teachers with guns, not so much.

12 Responses to Some Thoughts on Armed Teachers and Other Current Issues

    • Bob – I'm sure there are other examples that also prove that the idea of armed teachers will work. You miss the point. It's not about saving the children, it's about covering administrative liability. Implemented on a widespread basis and there will be problems.

      • Anything implemented on a wide enough basis will have problems. That is why there are actuarial tables.

        But the flip side of the issue is that there won't be problems with every implementation.

        I think that administrators need to start feeling hit from the parents, teachers and staff about making their campuses 'target rich environments'.

        We need to trumpet successes like Harrold and point out how rare the problems actually are.

  1. I think the true value of concealed carry isn't in the "carry" part. It's in the uncertainty (from the perp's prospective) that someone MAY be carrying, and that acts as a big deterrent.

    From a tactical point of view, Virginia Tech wasn't a "gun-free zone," it was a "target-rich environment," with little-to-no risk (on the part of the bad guy) to his person at getting shot before he did what he set out to do. Think about this inconvenient fact: In the last few years – Hell in the last FIFTY years, how many armed nutjob attacks have taken place in areas where everybody was allowed to carry concealed. Anybody? Somebody? Beuller?

    Not even Fort Hood counts. Ironically, military bases are largely gun-free zones, because only the MPs are really allowed to carry, and to my knowledge no one is allowed to carry concealed. Columbine, Virginia Tech, et cetera – all "gun free." I'm not recommending a policy whereby all teachers carry guns. But if you simply dropped the ban on conceal carry for those already licensed to do so, I think you'd see a dramatic shift in how bad guys decide on their targets-of-choice.

  2. If you look at existing school plans for an active shooter scenario, they are more about covering liability than saving children. The common answer is lock down. My son's elementary school does not even have locks on the door due to fire code. Not a single school death due to fire has happened in the last 30 year, yet hundreds have been lost to active shooters.

    When my son is old enough, I am going to teach him to do the opposite of what the school wants. Break a window and get out.

    The other issue is the police response. As a whole, our police are inadequately prepared nor properly trained to handle an active shooter situation. I offered free rifle training to a local PD and chief told me (in not so many words) that he is more scared of the public's reaction to his officers having rifles than he is of an active shooter. How sad.

    • As a side issue, I'd much rather see beat cops have access to a pistol caliber light carbine rather than the standard 12 ga. shotgun. I think it would give more options, better accuracy, and better control over both shotgun and service pistol. Of course I would then argue for a wooden stock version and complete absence of add-ons such as lasers, rails, etc. I'm concerned about the increasing militarization of law enforcement and think we should move away from special squads like SWAT. Too much military gung-ho for my taste.

  3. I don't see need for a shotgun past breaching. Rifles offer increased capacity, range and accuracy. What's not to love? Personally, all of my tactical rifles have rails, forward grips and lights. I have no problem with lasers, I just don't use one. "Keep it simple, stupid" only works when things are simple. Nothing is simple when taking on an active shooter. One of the downfall of this country is that we don't have cops anymore, just social workers with guns (some of them unloaded and many users are incompetent). Time to let cops be cops again. Where is Dirty Harry when you need him?

  4. Schoolteachers with guns? The mind boggles. I don't even want them to have sharp pencils.

    Lookit, some schoolteachers are really cool, but most of them have no greater than a rudimentary intelligence and cannot be entrusted to teach, much less shoot. Besides, I'm sure that their union would demand additional compensation and a lifelong pension.

  5. I think Ralph makes a great point – is there any reason to believe that any significant percentage of teachers wants to carry weapons? We have to be realistic – although there are exceptions to every rule, generally speaking those who go into teaching at the K-12 level tend to be of a more liberal and anti-gun mindset. In fact, I haven't checked the surveys, but I'd be willing to bet money that the biggest group opposed to the arming of teachers is the teachers themselves.

    • Let's not be guilty of typecasting or stereotyping an entire group of people folks.

      The antis do that with "gun owners'" all too often, don't they?

      If people see gun owners framing the issue as a liberal/conservative divide, what incentive is there for them to look deeper?

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