The following is by TTAG reader G.:

Dear America,

It’s been about a week since the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Like the rest of you, my heart aches thinking about the terrible losses endured by Newtown, the senseless murders of 26 innocent children and adults in what should have been a safe space. We’re a nation in mourning, and a nation engaged in serious reflection, as we wonder, “Could this have been prevented?  How could we have stopped this?” . . .

Some people say we need new laws restricting guns and a ban of AR-style rifles. Other people say we need to arm every teacher and have armed police officers in every school. And still others say more needs to be done about treating people with mental illness.

I take a special interest in this discussion because not only am I a husband and father with young children, I am also an elementary school teacher AND a gun owner. I grew up in a gun-owning family, and I have nearly a decade of experience working in both private and public schools here and abroad as a tutor, camp counselor, and teacher. I know I’m not an expert or a politician, but I feel I am in a unique position to offer a perspective that can move our country’s conversation forward to help prevent another incident like Sandy Hook, CT.

Hey Teacher… how about more gun restrictions?

I highly doubt any more laws restricting guns in school will be effective. Since 1990, there has been a federal law prohibiting any individual from knowingly possessing a firearm on public school grounds (officially known as the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990).

As any teacher can tell you, simply creating a rule against the possession of something doesn’t  automatically prevent it from being brought to school. As a teacher, I’ve confiscated everything from bottles of alcohol, electronic toys, knives. etc from my students. The schools I’ve worked at and the classrooms I’ve taught have all had established rules asking students to refrain from bringing those items to class, and yet, there’s always at least one student willing to test whether or not they can get away with having the forbidden item. If a simple rule can’t restrain every single child from bringing contraband, how does it make any sense that a disturbed criminal, bent on murdering innocent life, will be stopped by a sign that says “GUN FREE ZONE”? Definitely not.

Connecticut already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, and none of them were effective in this case at protecting the students and staff or Sandy Hook. Instead, even if one of one of the teachers or staff at Sandy Hook had been armed and able to confront the attacker, it would been in violation of both state and federal law.  Passing more laws controlling guns may SEEM to be effective, but let’s face the fact that gun control laws only work on people who follow the law: if a person is already bent on murdering children, it’s not really going to matter to him/her that they’re breaking the law by using a gun to do it.

Hey teacher… we’re going to arm all of ya and give ya more cops! 

Anyone with common sense can agree that people have the universal right to defend themselves against an attack, and a responsibility to protect those under their care. However, the power to protect oneself and those under one’s protection is severely diminished when you are unarmed and your attacker has a firearm. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, there have been widespread calls for arming every single teacher. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine that it would be very practical or acceptable for EVERY  teacher to be armed with a firearm. I do think that a FEW teachers armed could be useful.

Many schools are already struggling to meet their students’ basic needs, such as providing educational materials (books, paper, technology, etc.), a safe and modern facility, or even a healthy, nutritious lunch. It’s unlikely that school districts or the government would be willing to pay to equip teachers with a firearm, even a handgun. Teacher pay in the US ranks 22nd out of 27 developed countries, and even for myself, a teacher with both a degree from a 4 year state college and a master’s degree from a distinguished Jesuit university, it can be a struggle to pay bills and provide for my own family. No teacher who loves teaching does this job for the money.

Mandating that all teachers purchase their own weapon would be unpopular. And then there’s the costs in time and money for training. I consider myself a competent gun owner with basic gun skills to defend myself or my family, but considering the possibilities of an active shooter or hostage scenario within a school, I’m no James Bond or Jason Bourne. Even if teachers like me were allowed to train with the likes of Rob Pincus / Chris Costa / Travis Haley / other awesome gun dude, the costs in money and time would be prohibitive. Many teachers already have to spend their own money for CPR/first aid certification, additional training in the latest research-based strategies in literacy or mathematics, or other classes to maintain their teaching credential. Security training for every teacher would never become a high priority.

Many schools already have some police officers present on their campus, but at the elementary school level, it’s rare to have an officer assigned to work exclusively at a school. Often, several schools will share a single officer or team of officers. Again, adding additional police officers to protect schools would be expensive.

More importantly, because of the infrequency of their presence, police officers have difficulty getting to know the students, families, and staff of each individual school very well. A teacher would be much faster at recognizing a threatening stranger (or estranged parent) than a police officer who only visits once a week. And while I applaud the NRA’s statement that schools deserve the same level of protection as banks or sports stadiums, I’m just not sure an increased police presence will have the desired effect.

However, 1-2 teachers (well trained and conceal carrying a pistol) might serve as both a deterrent (since a potential attacker would have no idea who the armed teacher is) and as a last-ditch defense against a mass shooting. Yes, one teacher would not be a perfect defense against an assailant bent on slaughter, but in the event of an active shooter situation, an armed teacher could buy precious minutes for either the students to escape to safety, or for police to arrive.

I also acknowledge that this puts the armed teacher in the line of fire. He or she could potentially be killed while defending the students so they can escape. However, as a teacher who cares for his students as much as he cares for his own kids, that would be a sacrifice I would be willing to make. And many teachers feel the same – families have entrusted their precious children to us, and we take that responsibility seriously.

For those that object to “civilians” like teachers being armed while they’re doing their job, consider that since 9/11, many pilots have been trained and allowed to carry a firearm while on the job, and there have been zero major incidents in them doing so.

Hey teacher… what about mental illness?

Many people have posted theories about the Sandy Hook shooter’s mental health and have questioned what steps his mother was taking to properly deal with it. I’m not a mental health expert, but as a teacher, I’ve seen more than my fair share of students dealing with mental health issues – everything from mild ADHD to extreme EBD, OCD, and yes, autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. The common theme I’ve noticed is that some families care deeply for their children and do whatever it takes to get their child help – whether it’s professional counseling, proper medication, classroom accommodation, socializing with a faith community such as a church or synagogue. Then, there’s other families, who for either financial reasons, or a state of denial, refuse to get their student the proper help they need to deal with their mental health issues. Instead of taking responsibility, the child’s actions are constantly excused, rationalized, and in the end, everyone else is blamed but the child.

Unfortunately, current laws are quite restrictive about such things, and until the child acts in a way that endangers other students, adults, or him/herself, not much can be done.  Even then, getting proper care sometimes requires a long, documented history of incidents and extensive paperwork. Any mistakes in Form ABC along the way could mean a child easily slips through the cracks. Public schools are mandated by law to teach every child enrolled in their care, but I think the public would be shocked to known that many schools lack the counselors or even special education teachers to work with these kids.  Why? Budget cuts, and an troublesome attitude from some parents that, “It’s not my kid, it’s not my problem.” We as a society need to change that, because it’s become obvious that troubled kids often grow up to be troubled adults that we hear about on the evening news.

Hey teacher… so how do you want us to make our schools safer?

As a teacher, I tell my students that it’s important to tell the truth.  I try to model that behavior in my class everyday. However, this past week has been especially difficult because I’ve had to answer students’ questions about the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

When possible, I directed the students to have a conversation with their parents about their concerns, but when students asked me directly, “Mr. G… are we safe here at school?” My guts twisted up and my heart began to pound because I couldn’t tell them the full truth.

Yes, your teacher and the staff care about you.

Yes, I WANT you to be safe.

Yes, I WISH you were safe.

But the truth I can’t say — the truth that I know in my heart — is that Sandy Hook, like Columbine before it, is a reminder that in modern society NOWHERE is safe. I can’t tell my students that if a deranged individual with a gun shows up at our school hellbent on killing everyone, the best we can do is barricade our classroom, call the police, and WAIT. And if, God forbid, that person finds a way into our classroom…my odds of stopping him or her aren’t good.

I can throw chairs or books. I can hope to talk him or her down, or pray for a miracle that allows me to dodge bullets, tackle the maniac and beat him with my fists or elbows (thanks, childhood martial arts). But besides the semi-sharp kitchen knife I keep in my desk to cut the cakes students bring in on their birthdays, I’m completely unarmed, and out-gunned. The truth is ugly, and it is this:

America, in the event of a Sandy Hook style attack, I am completely powerless to protect the students you have placed in my care. And you expect me to be able to sleep well at night knowing this?

So don’t tell me passing more gun control laws will defend me or my kids from those who already refuse to obey the law. Don’t hold your fancy press conferences blaming me or other dedicated teachers for creating the self-centered culture of violence that’s become endemic in our society.

As a teacher, I’m not ashamed to ask you for help. Maybe you’re a soccer mom, or maybe you’re an off-duty cop, or maybe you’re a veteran who’s just returned home from honorable service abroad. Would you be willing to come into your local school and volunteer to help? Whether it’s patrolling the halls, playing with the kids at recess or just reading a book with a kid whose single mom works 18 hour shifts, you can make a big difference in making our schools safer.

Are you willing to tell our politicians that effort needs to be spent on enforcing existing laws rather than making new ones? Or that by constantly slashing school budgets, our government endangers the lives of the children we cherish? Let’s start protecting the future of our country NOW.

Signed,
G.

(a public elementary school teacher, identity withheld so I can keep doing what I love)

P.S.

As a teacher and parent, I highly recommend reading Greg Ellifritz’s Parent’s Guide to School Shootings.

48 Responses to An Open Letter to America On School Safety From a Teacher

  1. Brilliant. Thanks for posting.

    One quibble: the deranged individual doesn’t need to show up at a school with a gun. A big knife, a couple of Molotov cocktails or some home-made explosives will do. In any case, the teachers and students are defenseless.

    • Ralph,

      I’ll make an open promise to you. If you post your Cornbread Stuffing with Sage Recipe I will join and support the NRA. You need to ask yourself one question; “how much do I love my gun rights’? Well, do you really love them Ralph? Posting the recipe will be perfect with this being the holiday season.

  2. If you seriously expect someone to volunteer their time and potentially risk their life for a school, I have just one question for you:
    Where do I sign up?

    • I run my business out of my home and can work anytime, as long as the work gets done. I know there are many people out there who have different schedules, like me, who would be more than willing to go into the local school and volunteer for protection detail at least one day a week. BUT, what the hell is the use if I can’t go in armed? This Gun Free School Zones law needs to be repealed before we as parents can willingly go in and volunteer for such work.

      • Since this happened I have said that I would step up and volunteer to be an armed deterrence at the local schools. I can pass any background check required and would be willing to provide my own firearms and ammo.

        Unfortunately I live in California. An honest man with a clean record who owns a gun is seen as the same as a Lanza in this state.

    • Thank you for this heartfelt and intelligent post from someone who knows what they are talking about. My hometown was about to cut the schools resource officers out of the police budget, when a school shooting occured that thanks to a couple of civilians who tackled the nut, was not the massacre it could have been. This was provided by federal funding, that was cut by the Obama administration, I believe, according to an article I read somewhere.

      I am sure my hometown LEOs could train carefully vetted teachers, administrators, and school volunteers, the safety monitors, etc, who would volunteer cheerfully for the simple benefit of that training.

      I think the hometown city council can find a way- after all, they voted to spend $6M on a fancy new safety center with a lazer tag range in the basement for the cops, and another $250,000 in DHS grant money for an armored car. Keep in mind, this is a middle class affluent bedroom community of about 100,000 citizens.

      I am sure there are many more towns and school districts out there that can do the same, if the parents care enough to commit time or their own taxpayer money.

    • I am right beside you Prof.
      I hope and pray our local schools are going to allow us to do this for the kids.
      I may not “Have” the time but I will damn sure make the time to volunteer as much as possible.!!!
      And to G…God Bless You and Thank You!!!!!

  3. The problem with this is NOBODY IS LISTENING.

    People, TAKE A STAND, but REALIZE you are ON YOUR OWN. You know, like historical people were.

    I do realize that our forebears didn’t have crazy, twisted people attacking them.. but WE HAVE TO PLAY THE HAND THEY DEALT US!

    • I am not so sure they didn’t have them. As has been posted many times the worse attach on a school used explosives in 1923. There likely were attacks in the past the difference is there would likely have been someone in the school with an gun to stopped them.

      Thanks
      Robert

      • Robert M…correction: it happened in 1927. The guy exploded dynamite in the school basement, killing 38 adults and children. He then drove his “ford car” with dynamite in it up to the building and fired a shot to set off the dynamite in his car, killing himself and 4 others.

  4. In the US of Litigation armed volunteers roaming the schools will never happen, the lawyers will pounce all over the liability issue.

  5. I beleve that if i were a principal i would be having a meeting with my teachers next school day. Subject would be the formation of a teacher baseball league (know where i am going with this? ) . Then i would be handing out metal baseball bats to the participants. Better than an empty hand. Less than a gun but that wont happen overnite. P.s. in the dysfunctional schools i went to this was rather common practice to have a bat by their desk.

    • I’d be more afraid of a problem child being able to get his mitts on that bat than his odds of getting to the ” School Marshals” 6 shooter. And really, no offense, a baseball bat against even a .22? Only if the bat has a trigger.

      • I keep seeing that poor woman principle with NOTHING in her hands. Tomorrow what is the realistic change from that? Look I too want guns for the good guys. But you and I know that isnt happening for months if not years. Just a thought.

  6. G, You need to submit this to the mass media. Get it into at least one newspaper. As a resident of the decidedly anti-gun Commonwealth of Massachusetts, if I share this with my friends and family, many will shrug it off because it’s published on a “gun site”. If this were published in a “non-partisan”, “objective” newspaper, it will have a much better chance of sinking in.

    It’s good that we’re having the conversation here, but this is where it needs to begin. It cannot end here.

    • G and Brent,
      I also live in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, and couldn’t agree more with Brent. There are so many of us out here who believe in, and support the thoughts represented in your post. However, the anti-gun lobby has such a massive voice with its support from the mainstream media, that we’re getting completely drowned out in this fight. Coming from someone such as yourself, who works in our schools and who has devoted so much to the well being of the kids – your opinions carry alot of weight.
      People really need to hear what you’ve got to say.

      Thank you.

  7. Brent,

    Good luck getting the Left Stream Media to broadcast that in an unbiased manner.

    On another point, I might be too old for the in school part, but I would donate time for PR, paperwork, scheduling or whatever help I could be. Sign me up.

  8. Great article! What really makes me upset is when I constantly have to hear about budget problems. The same old “where will the money come from, we can’t even meet the children’s needs now”. The reason why this upsets me is because money should not be an issue in this country. We aren’t Mexico, or any other 3rd world country. I see all the money we give other countries like Egypt and Mexico. It’s in the billions of dollars every year! How about we stop giving out money to other countries that can care less about us and we use that money on our children instead?

    • It is not that we aren’t spending money on education it is we aren’t spending it wisely. We are spending around 13K a child right now. I know many private school who give a good education for 5K a year. Granted there are some differences but I heard once that there are more school administrators in New York City then all of Europe that is just sad and a waist of resources.

      Thanks
      Robert

    • This may be a touchy subject with some teachers, but most teachers, even first year teachers, make more money than Me. My sister was a home ec teacher until she retired, and even when she started, she made more money than me, and I was a truck driver for 30 odd years. Oh yeah, there are a few trucking companies that pay 50-60 thousand per year but darn few. I made 29,000 one year and I had to drive over 150,000 miles that year to get that much, so teachers, stop your bellyaching! If I can live and support a family, pay my bills and have some left over for whatever on 29,000 a year, then you most certainly can do it on your meager 35 or 40 or 50,000. I have no sympathy.

  9. Firstly, G, thank you for your wise essay. As a teacher , coach and counselor for over thirty years the question of student safety is always first and foremost on the minds of all school personnel. From the head of the school to the folks that serve the meals , we are constantly vigililant about the well being of our charges. I assure you this is the case in every academic institution in this great nation. However, hopefully, this terrible crime will now make this topic not just our first priority, but the priority of everyone. Perhaps we can all come together and figure out how to do this. I do not have the answers and there is no single solution. Every school is unique. But a dialogue must begin and it should have nothing to do with political rhetoric . Yes, I am biased. I am a proud gun owner and a member of SAF, and yes…..nra. But I would come to the discussion as simply an American, as should everyone.
    As Magic Johnson once said……it is time to drop our egoes at the door and get to work!
    God Bless us all.

  10. Nice post G…
    I agree with you.
    I think there is going to be a multi step process to fix what is wrong in America. You guys are on the front lines with our kids.
    I commute four hours each day to and from work. I rarely make it in time for my kids plays or concerts. I do this because I like the job I am at.
    Education is key, not just to our kids, but to the people who are crying out over this, but have not taken the time to think about what they are asking.

  11. Can teachers not carry pepper spray and have a few baseball bats around the class room? You may not want to carry a gun, but I would sure think everyone would want at least some way to defend themselves, even if both are not the most effective.

    I see it like this. Fortify school entry points, employ ex-military (this would be a huge stimulus for our former military members) and police, allow concealed carry on school grounds, arm everyone else with pepper spray and less than lethal methods. Does this sound so bad?

  12. In 2009 a kid with this supposed non violent “Aspergers” tried to stab a School Resource Officer (fulltime school cop) in a school with metal detectors. He thwarted the metal detectors and allegedly stabbed or stabbed at the cop several times before being shot 5 times with a 40SW. His parents sued the school and received an undisclosed sum in settlement. It was the first time a cop shot a student in SC school system.

    I bring this up because here is a similar case, where metal detectors didnt work at all but armed police ended it. That said I don’t think every school district in the country can afford armed fulltime police, nor is it the best solution. A link below:

    http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/15697454/wrongful-death-suit-moves-to-us-court

  13. If there’s one element of recent school-defense proposals that causes the typical teacher to freak the hell out, it’s the idea of armed volunteers in schools who don’t have significant civilian law enforcement training AND experience in use-of-force situations. Teachers know that parents range from the super-engaged, helpful and constructive types, to emotionally distant petty tyrants just as likely to smack their kid as they are to hug them. This does not fill them with confidence that the likely pool of parental volunteers will be made up of level-headed good folk.

    Basis for my assertion: my wife and a number of close relatives are teachers, and I’ve heard the same thing independently from pretty much all of them. The most plausible argument I’ve heard, and I think it’s a reasonable point is:

    “So, what happens when you have an armed parent volunteer in the school, and an older kid brings a realistic-looking airsoft gun to the playground and threatens another kid with it? What happens when just one volunteer gets a little too jumpy in that situation and shoots the kid?”

    This is why the NRA’s emphasis on trained LEOs was the right thing to do, and any mention of volunteers (no matter how highly trained) was a terrible tactical decision because it immediately invoked fears of an mistaken shooting. Yes, it leaves non-LEOs out of the conversation at first, but I’m convinced that people would eventually reach the conclusion that we need non-LEOs based on economics alone.

    In these debates, we need to remember one key point in arguing on emotional issues like school safety: a life lost is a tangible thing, while the probable outcome of a crime prevented is theoretical and easily dismissed. You HAVE to go along with the pretext that the means of prevention must not result in even a single accidental death, or you have lost the argument.

    For what it’s worth I have gotten agreement that having police on campus, including at elementary schools, is a good thing. That’s a start.

  14. “I can’t tell my students that if a deranged individual with a gun shows up at our school hellbent on killing everyone, the best we can do is barricade our classroom, call the police, and WAIT. And if, God forbid, that person finds a way into our classroom…my odds of stopping him or her aren’t good.”

    I am a NYC public school teacher trying to teach critical thinking.
    Can anyone tell me the odds of, ”a deranged individual showing up at a school hellbent on killing everyone,“ happening? It seems that this would be a good starting point for ANY discussion on what to do in these circumstances.

    • Ask Newtown folks about the odds. Or the Petit family. Odds and stats are just dry meaningless numbers on a page that will bore your students to tears.

      • Then why talk about the risk or chance of ANYTHING happening!!!

        Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt depend on that type of thinking from everyone.

        Excuse me while I go to buy my megamillions ticket with my grocery money. I just know I will win this time.

    • It is no different than fire or automobile insurance. My parents have lived in the same house for 40yrs and my father has never been in a car accident.

      That said, they have fire alarms and first aid kits. The chances are very low, but, should something happen, you are protected.

      I am sure you practice fire drills, what are the chances of the school burning down?

      The fact is shootings like Newtown are very low to the point of being insignificant from a probability point of view. However, when they happen, they are emotionally charged with people trying to answer why? And that something must be done.

      Logic says, sometime bad things happen to good people. We all eventually die. There is a higher probability that one of the victims could have been killed by a drunk driver. But, emotions trump logic. The reality, we should mourn and move on, but emotions will not allow it to happen.

      We do have a mental health crises. CT system has been described as a system where we wait for people to fail before they get help.

      But, to answer your question, its no different than preparations for a fire. Fires happen, although rarely. These shootings happen, although rarely. We make reasonable preparations for fires, we should make reasonable preparations for the next school shooting as well. What is reasonable will be dependent on each community. The only mistake you can make is to believe it cannot happen to your school.

      So, I ask, what would you do as you look around your school and classroom? It took 20min for the Police to arrive whose station is only 7min away – what would you do to protect your students for 20min until help arrived? What would be your plan for an active shooter?

      All the other gun control talks are nonsense.

  15. G,

    Well said, sir. I volunteer my services every now and then. The best, most effective solution to school violence is to allow teachers and administrators to concealed carry.

  16. Rather than have teachers armed, why not have some armed parents? TTAG ran an article about a Jewish school that is doing this. Get a bunch of parents to take one day a month to be the armed and well trained person at the school. Oh wait, that’s right. No one wants to use up their vacation days. Except Jewish parents in the Bronx.

    • The rub is there has to be a uniform code or law that regulates it, or armed teachers in schools will be a liability nightmare for districts.

      Just maintaining insurability would require having some code of laws or standards to allow armed presence in the school. Some accredidation of personnel would be required. Of course guess who gets to pay for all the new security, one way or another?

      Sadly this is the reality of our litigious society, common sense has been lost.

      • You can imagine teachers having to qualify once or twice a year. I’d volunteer even unarmed – not my preference though.

  17. Why would it be so hard to send select school administrators to LEO training during the summer vacation and upon training them to respond to this type of situation we simply deputize them. Cant afford to pay cops? Cant let civilian teachers carry? Why not turn the teachers into cops? It would take a minimum amount of training to police a school and having arrest powers and the ability to act as a sworn officer is valuable in more than just a shooting. We have teachers trained to be EMTs, why not LEOs….

  18. @G This is a very good piece of logic and experience based reasoning and it SHOULD be brought to National attention. There has to be a way. Since it is your work, it’s up to you. I understand your reluctance to be identified, however, especially since I have no idea what “politics” are in play at your School District.

    @G and all other commenters
    Personally, I do think that School Security should be trained, licensed professionals, particularly in light of the comments about insurance, liability and litigation, which we all know is sadly true. Maybe it could be augmented with Trained Volunteers, but the core should be Trained Security Professionals.

    To those who say “it would be too expensive”, I just would like an honest answer to a straightforward question. “What is the price/value of a child’s Life?” Please tell me because no matter how hard I try I cannot put a dollar value on it (and I am not a parent). I am fairly sure , however, that some of the millions and billions of dollars we give to Foreign Countries could be used to fund the protection of American school children. The United States is on the verge of becoming the greatest oil producing country in the World and the current POTUS knows this perfectly well. There is a way to do this. We just need to have the will.

  19. G – you are not alone. I am a fellow teacher and agree with what you have to say above. Every child’s life is worth protecting and deserves the best. Too bad we are in the clear minority. Thanks for taking the time to write this piece.

  20. There must not be a federal law against carrying on school grounds since the school district in Harrold, Texas already relies on armed volunteers for protection. For more information, do an internet search for “Texas teachers guns”.

    • You might want to do a little more research. Federal law prohibits firearms possession except when permitted by local school boards, subject to some specific constraints. That school district you mention is exploiting a gray area to enable their teachers to carry, something that a larger school system absolutely could not get away with.

      • It is actually subject to state LAW. The default is no one carriers but the states / districts MAY allow you to carrier. Utah CCW permit allows you to carrier in Schools. VA state CCW also but that is up to the state to make that call. The state can also make a special permit for carrying in schools.

  21. To everybody – thanks for the positive comments, feedback, and kind words. Like the rest of you, I’m currently enjoying the holiday, eating lots of food with family, watching football, and sneaking a cookie with my son when the wifey isn’t looking. Got to enjoy seeing my Seahawks beat the 49ers, ha!

    I was also encouraged to hear how many of you are involved in your local schools. Contributing to your community is just one of many ways we can educate young people about the history of our country, and that yes, guns aren’t scary, reality-warping vessels of evil.

    A couple of quick responses to comments:

    Having only administrators trained versus teachers: From my experience, principals at schools are pretty similar to bosses in the private sector. Some are good, some are bad, but they often are just as busy as the teachers in dealing with everything from families at the school to disciplining students. They also aren’t in direct supervision of kids, so they may be a plus (or minus) depending on if the criminal chooses to attack the school head-on (via the front office) or through a classroom. However, since the principal is generally one of the most well-known staff members at the school, and it became public knowledge only they were armed, you can bet a criminal would avoid the office and directly attack a classroom first. Many school buildings are notoriously difficult to secure, and because of worry about fire safety, many classrooms have their own windows/doors to the outside that an attacker could use to gain entry.

    On money/school budgets: Things are really, really bad… depends on your state, but there are some school districts that have been forced to slash everything from the days kids are in school, to eliminating librarians, music teachers, nurses, etc. Funny enough, administrator salaries have remained the same… your average principal can make about 6 figures. District administrators make even more…

    As for speaking out more / my identity: I’m working on this. In fact, reading the comments on this article have encouraged me that there are other teachers / families with kids who feel the same. Maybe we should form an advocacy group on Facebook asking for better security for our kids? As per some people’s suggestions, I’ll try my luck submitting the column to some local news media. If they’re interested in publishing it, I guess I wouldn’t mind my full name being revealed, probably with the caveat that my opinion isn’t my own and doesn’t represent the official opinion of the public school district I work in. I’d hope the union and the ACLU would go to bat for me for exercising my 1st amendment rights and speaking my mind, but teachers get fired all the time for things as silly as teaching “banned books” like A Brave New World.

    On the flipside, maybe getting fired would give me more time to work on my pet project: a public elementary-age academy where a curriculum in natural science, martial arts, urban farming, and yes, shooting/hunting/fishing are taught to all students… 😉

    Police vs volunteers vs armed teachers: This really ought to be a decision made on a local level, because really, every school and district are different. Urban school districts with high population densities have the tax base to probably provide the resources to pay for more police. Smaller, more rural schools would have to rely more heavily on volunteers. The key is getting state and federal governments to realize that WE, THE PEOPLE of each town and city should be able to decide if we can arm our teachers (I believe some states such as Texas and Utah already have some schools that permit this?).

    Another idea that I had that I couldn’t explain well in the column was that maybe one police officer per a school isn’t enough, but perhaps the police officer could be the “lead” of a team of at least 2 trained teachers or staff at the school. This would offer the advantage of a trained, uniformed officer (something non-gun owners are able to readily accept) along with the advantage of a “hidden” guardians, teachers with concealed carry would not be easily unidentifiable by an attacker. Many schools, including my own, already use a team approach to planning for disasters… for example, in case of a major earthquake / fire disaster, my school’s staff has been divided into multiple teams that are each tasked with a different role – student supervision, triage/medical care, morgue, search & rescue, etc. It wouldn’t be too much a stretch for schools to implement a combination “intruder response team” that would be activated either through phone call (each classroom has a private phone line) / silent electronic communication (e-mail / instant message) / intercom code word (one of my old schools used the phrase “MR. LINCOLN IS IN THE BUILDING” / “MR. LINCOLN IS OUT ON THE PLAYGROUND” to indicate an intruder was present on campus and where his/her location was).

  22. One thing I disagree with I haven’t seen anyone talking about mandatory gun training for ALL teachers. When we are talking about arming teachers most of have been talking about are one of 2 options. 1) Teachers volunteers for a program they get special training possibly free from the NRA then they get a special permit that allows them to carry. 2) Make sure the states allow CCW inside schools with a CCW permit and make sure the district dosn’t ban teachers from carrying.

    I think both plans make since. I think option 1 will be more palatable as a whole to the American public.

    Thanks
    Robert

  23. G, you killed it. Thank you for writing this well articulated and emotional piece. Please get this to a neutral media outlet.
    And I’ve got four days off a week. Sign me up as a volunteer.

  24. Can someone, anyone please PLEASE show where anyone EVER has suggested we arm EVERY teacher? Except for the hoplophobe advocacy -they say we want to give machine guns and RPGs to all school children.

  25. About the costs of arming some willing teachers/school staff:

    Front Sight, after Newtown, renewed their offer to take any school staff from a district that’ll allow them to carry, to their Nevada faciltity and train them up to & exceeding competency of LEO, free.
    Widely ignored.
    Since some of their offers for training classes have inccluded in the cost a Utah CWP (good in 30+ states) and a free handgun, the cost isn’t an issue.
    on 9/12/01, Front Sight made the same offer for any air crew. Ignored. On 9/15/01, the FAA passed a rule that aircrew couldn’t carry their own pocketknives…

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