Armed Citizens In Schools: Policies and Procedures

It’s a mistake to designate anyplace a “gun free zone.” Mass murderers, somehow motivated to achieve the dubious “glory” they’ve read about in previous shootings, are drawn to places where the likelihood of meeting an armed response is minimal. As the country has now seen to tragic effect, one particularly horrifying place to create a gun free zone is a school. Arming the faculty and staff of the places that are in charge of our children for a good portion of the day would seem a common-sense response. And despite some of the predictable initial reactions to the NRA’s proposal to place armed individuals in schools, I have found that at least some people who are adamantly opposed to the idea can be turned once they learn about the training a responsible armed citizen goes through  to get a concealed carry license . . .

In my native Missouri, we spend eight hours being instructed on the legalities of carrying a concealed firearm. We’re drilled on what it means to be involved in a defensive gun use. We have to demonstrate basic marksmanship with both a revolver and a semi-automatic firearm. Any citizen in a school who can pass these basic requirements is well on their way to being a threat to a spree killer – which means they’re on their way to being a deterrent.

But it doesn’t take long to think of some special challenges an an armed faculty member or administrator could potentially face. Here are a few I’ve thought of:

Fights and Scuffles – Teachers are sometimes called on to break up fights. Should an armed staff or faculty member intervene in a scuffle, or wait until an unarmed person can? I would not try to break up a fight if I were armed, especially between high school students. The last thing you need is some young dumbass getting hold of your firearm.

Retention – Related to the fights and scuffles issue, people slip on ice and fall down.  Accidents happen. Should your holster be a retention-type holster? What holsters are there for ladies, whose clothing tends to be far less amenable to conceal carry than men.

Who is Armed? – It’s important that the public know that there are armed citizens on a campus, beginning with taking down those idiotic “gun free zone” signs. However, should students know who’s packing heat?

Better to leave the bad guys guessing. If I were a teacher I wouldn’t care if my colleagues knew I carried. And students would no doubt figure out a few teachers or staff who were packing and whisper among themselves. Were I a teacher, I might put my latest silhouette on the bulletin board, but then again, that may be why I’m not an educator.

Guns and Ammo – In Harrold Texas, teachers have to carry frangible ammunition in their weapon to prevent an errant shot from penetrating a wall. If I had to decide right now, I’d recommend a Smith & Wesson .38 airweight 642 with Crimson Trace as the heater of choice. A revolver is simple, accurate enough and did I mention it’s simple?
In an institutional building, how much gun is enough, and how much is too much?

Extra Training  – I would welcome training for staff and faculty beyond what’s required concealed carry training.  FaTS is a great system, and a good choice to simulate shooting scenarios without all the banginess. Simunition training is pretty close to live fire, with targets that can shoot back. And I can heartily recommend IDPA for training in marksmanship, movement, using cover and how to avoid hitting non-threats.

What tactics should a faculty member learn? In a home invasion, everyone in my house is to head for the furthest room in the back. It’s equipped with a barricade device, among other disincentives to uninvited entrants. Teachers aren’t SWAT, though. Should they run to the sound of gunfire? Is locking the door and flipping your desk over to take up a firing position enough? TTAG has taken the lead on this by running simulations of school shootings and will be coming up with some insights.

Who Pays For All This? – I pay the freight for maintaining my own 30’ bubble of self-defense, so I’m not inclined to pony up for a teacher’s heater of choice or their training.  My wife disagrees. She thinks since teachers may one day have to defend not only their own life but the lives of their charges, the school district ought to pay for the firearms and training.

That said, gun shops, CCW instructors and advanced tactics trainers might want to offer discounted or free training, at least for a while. This is already happening in some states. If I owned a range, I’d invite any employee of a local school district to come practice once a month for free, and maybe even throw in some ammo.

Setting aside the affront to freedom and the unmitigated gall of the left using shattered families as cover for their anti-gun agenda, we have a real safety issue in schools. There is a meme loose in our society that the sick or depraved are responding to with heartbreaking regularity. Signs and slogans aren’t protecting our children.

There are lots of smart folks among the Armed Intelligentsia and I’m sure I haven’t thought of every contingency. There are tens of thousands of LEOs, trainers, experienced and competitive shooters and people with, yes, common sense out there. What do you think?