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?

53 Responses to Armed Citizens In Schools: Policies and Procedures

  1. avatarAnonymous says:

    What about simply handing pepper spray out like candy to teachers? It’s obviously a poor substitute for a gun, but it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing and it’s far more politically palatable.

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      Pepper spray is a good idea – have the kind you use for riots on hand.

      • avatarBrian says:

        Even better…my wife is a teacher and I’d like to send her back with a can of wasp spray…in lieu of a gun, of course.

      • avatarAnonymous says:

        Use it for active shooters and other serious threats, not rowdy kids.

      • avatarAccur81 says:

        I’ll just state this due to personal experience – pepper spray is not terribly effective. I’ve been pepper sprayed quite a bit, and rubbed that stuff up my nose to clear a nasty sinus infection. I’m not saying on Jason Bourne, just that I’ve developed a tolerance to it (and maybe Scotch, also). Pepper spray is not without merits – I still carry it in uniform – but I don’t believe it would do much against an active shooter. That shooter could still fire indiscriminately even if he couldn’t see.

        A Taser X2 or X3 would be better, and have up to 35 feet in range, but neither of those has much barrier penetration ability other than light clothing.

        Frankly, I’d prefer an AR-15 loaded with MK 318 Mod O or a Mossberg 930 with 00 buck. Barring that, I’d at least be in the fight, albeit undergunned, with my Glock 27 and .40 Smith 180 grain PDX JHP’s.

        • avatarDonS says:

          “with my Glock 27 and .40 Smith 180 grain PDX JHP’s.”

          Yep. 12 (11+1) of them in my 27.

        • avatarPro-2A says:

          I agree, when I was pepper sprayed If wanted to I could still have been capable of doing almost anything I would normaly do. Granted, it was not directly in the eyes (I was just doing it for fun), but it wasn’t anything that would have dropped me to the ground. A tazer would be far more effective for a teacher.

    • avatarNate says:

      +1. This and an armed guard/LEO that doesn’t patrol the grounds but around the single entrance to any school. Cameras over all exits.

    • avatarMolon Labe says:

      Pepper spray. Really??? Have you ever been shot at. Give them training and a gun.
      We had conscientious objector’s during the draft, we trained them anyways. You’ll know what to do when the are trying to kill you. Never saw one who didn’t shoot back when it came down to it.

      Smith & Wesson .38 airweight 642 with Crimson Trace and frangible ammunition. And I would add the gun must be on the body at all times. No purse, back or briefcase, etc.. Excellent recommendation.

      • avatarRandy Drescher says:

        The laser & ammo choice is a great idea & the gun a good “start”. If this takes off it will take AR’s to stop an AR without this becoming a suicide mission, Randy

      • avatarwa_2a says:

        Minor nitpicking: the LCR’s trigger is much better, which would improve accuracy and make shooting much easier for beginners.

      • avatarTim McNabb says:

        As much as I appreciate the LCR, a .380 seems a bit weak to me ballistics-wise. You need a large permanent wound channel to shut down the threat. 9MM is the lightest I would go.

        The Airweight 642 is extremely popular among the ladies for its simplicity. Some ladies have trouble working a slide just to shoot, much less clearing a stoppage.

      • avatarAnonymous says:

        It’s better than nothing, and it’s something we could start doing today with little controversy.

  2. avatarAlphaGeek says:

    I think I need to finish writing that “modest proposal” article I promised you guys…

  3. avatarLance says:

    I think the NRA has it right almost all of this is free most retired cops would do it for free and most security companies would pull bottom price. Cost is not any fault of this.

  4. avatarSaul Feldstein says:

    We had an inside smoking area in my school. It was a private school, the “SMOKING POLICY” was even clearly printed in the school handbook I still have. We could only smoke in a glass lined hallway area when it rained, when it was clear we had to smoke outside.

    Seems like that was a long time ago now.

  5. avatargreat unknown says:

    The argument that civilians must train to obtain a CCP has to be qualified. In NH, a CCP is almost automatic, and in Vermont, not even necessary. Your argument is good, but be careful to delimit it with the proper disclaimers. The dark side is just waiting for the most trivial misstatement to go into a feeding frenzy.

    • avatarspeedracer5050 says:

      In Arkansas you must attend an 8 hour class in all the laws, both federal and state. It is constantly hammered into you that as a CHCL holder you are held to a higher standard than even the LEO’s. You must qualify on the range with a minimum of 48 out of 50 hits in a standard 8″ black circular target.
      You are always reminded that if at all possible retreat to a safe place and if not be accurate and shoot till the threat is neutralized.
      About 6(myself included) of the 15 people in our class had been involved in DGU’s and all three of the LEO’s instructing had been in multiple shootings(2 are Swat Team members).
      Any unsafe act or failure to qualify will get you removed from the class.
      Our law states that you can qualify with a revolver or semi auto pistol, but if you qualify with a revolver that is all you can carry, but with a semi you can carry any legal handgun within the limits of the law.
      That and my prior military training as a light infantry soldier of 15 yrs should help, and I am more than willing to take more training as designated by the NRA.
      I can volunteer 3-4 days a month right now!!

  6. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    Tim – as a resident of West Stl County, I am proud to say a bill has been introduced that would help the cause: http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HB70&year=2013&code=R

  7. avatarSanchanim says:

    I am all for it..
    I don’t think we should or need to pay for firearms, and there are plenty of groups willing to step up to provide training at no or low cost.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      Hell, the NRA could set up a safety program and qualification course. They’ve been doing gun safety training for a long time.

  8. avatarPeteRR says:

    I thought of this right after Newtown. Would it make sense for the school district to set up a volunteer program for parents or other CC holders to patrol the schools? You volunteer for one day a month or more if you’ve got the free time. The school pays for a free lunch at the cafeteria.

    • avatarsoccerdad says:

      I LIKE this idea, I’d be all for it

    • avatarDonS says:

      Why not just get rid of state laws that prevent concealed carry permit holders from carrying on school property? That would instantly create a [potentially large] volunteer force, with no [additional] compensation required.

      [EDIT: volunteer force might include some subset of teachers, administrators, parents, etc.]

      The only reason I don’t carry at my kids’ school is because state law prohibits it. I have to leave the pistol locked up in my vehicle.

  9. avatarRalph says:

    I wouldn’t be caught dead in a gun free zone (pun intended). Which is exactly why I love — love! — the idea of gun free zones and would prefer there to be more of them. As long as spree killers are attracted to gun free zones, I’m safe from them. I’m fine with that.

    As far as people who think that gun free zones will keep them safe, all I can say is, if god didn’t want them sheared, he wouldn’t have made them @ss0les. Or word to that effect. And I’m pretty sure that we already have way too many @ssh0les in the world, so a few less won’t matter.

    But let’s get some armed citizens into the schools, okay? Because the kids didn’t turn the schools into free-fire zones. That’s on their parents.

  10. avatarMosinfan says:

    Have to admit, I’m on the fence on this one… It hasn’t been that long since I was in high school and looking back, it’s hard to think of who has more motivation to shoot a student than a teacher. Kids can be real A-holes. Maybe arm other faculty instead of teachers?

    • avatarTaurus609 says:

      And whats to stop a teacher from just bringing a gun in and offing that student, why would this only occur if cc was allowed?

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      Taurus609 said; “And whats to stop a teacher from just bringing a gun in and offing that student, why would this only occur if cc was allowed?”

      Fair point. I can tell you that carrying a firearm makes me a lot LESS interested in getting into the shit with anyone. I think for most normal adults, knowing lethal force is in you reach makes you less inclined to trouble.

  11. avatarJeff O. says:

    I work at a school and spent a week installing networked security cameras, which can be viewed from any teacher PC at the school.

    In addition, the maintenance guy told me he and 4 other staff members got an email from the Principal/Admin of the school saying that the law allows for armed staff, and that if the board approves, they’re getting biometric safes, pistols and Kevlar vests for 5 staff members.

    I found it hilarious that I, being a gun guy and concealed carrier (but not at work!), was not in on that email. (Possibly because I’m a bit of a closet gun guy around other staff members…)

  12. avatarjwm says:

    For general issue to the non gun crowd I believe the revolver is the best option. I also believe each school should have a community volunteer unit on patrol outside the buildings whenever there’s kids in school. 5+ retired guys like me with a retired leo for lead and liason and wearing bright reflective security vests.

    Stop the threat by deterrence or action before it gets as far as the classrooms.

  13. avatarGregolas says:

    While I’m the world’s biggest proponent of pepper spray(and all teachers should have it) it falls far short in an active shooter situation.
    Lasers are a must for such an indoor, highly populated scenario.
    I’d go for a compact 9mm w/a least one spare mag rather than a snubbie(but one one ankle would work. Ankle holsters are the way to go b/c of the constant close observation by kids of the teacher.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • avatarTR says:

      My friend is a teacher in an undisclosed Utah high school. Since Utah law allows CFP holders to carry in schools, he’s been carrying exactly that way for years. Never been made, as far as he knows. He carries a P238 I think. He’s had loads of parents who know he’s into guns ask him if he carries at school, and when he sort of avoids giving a straight answer (state law allows it, district policy doesn’t), they always say they wish he would.

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      When I am asked “Are you carrying?” my answer is always “If I was and I told you, it would not be concealed, now would it?”

  14. avatarBob says:

    Pump shotguns loaded with rubber bullets/bean bag rounds first and then #4 in the rest of the tube. Better yet VEPR 12′s (or someone comes along and makes a mag fed pump) with the mags loaded similar but with the mags carried on the teacher so you limit unintended acquisition potential. SHTF, teach grabs it off the wall, drops the mag in, and does some protecting.

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      The problem with using a shotgun or a firearm suited for CQB like a pistol-caliber carbine is that the damn thing has to be secured in an armory or at least a rack, like the po-po use for their squad car shottie. This makes it a target for theft or vandalism. It also means that rather than have it on their person, designated defenders have to fetch the weapon.

      I do not think this is a good idea.

      • avatarBob says:

        I understand your point but I disagree with your disagreement.

        I think there are two prongs to school security: threat deterance and threat resolution. For threat deterance to be effective everyone has to know it’s there and it should be overt. I think you could keep a shotgun in the room in a biometric/card key access safe, with the ammuntion on the teacher or in the safe…seperation is better I think. I beleive this is good because everyday the students see the safe and know what’s in it and why it’s there. They eventually will come to recognize that it’s there to help ensure their safety. It also deters the nutters from bringing in a gun and shooting up the place from the inside.

        I also like the idea that’s it not “to hand”, that it takes concious thought to “activate”. Teaching is not an easy profession, there is a lot of continious problem resolution, and I’m not sure I would prefer the person having the gun right to hand.

        I think the main benefit to the shotgun is the ability to gain proficiency over a variety of engagement distances with less training. On average new users are lucky to able to hit a person sized target vital zone at 20 yds under target shooting conditions let alone under an active shooter condition. Shotguns will get you on target quicker over a variety of ranges.

        The 2nd benefit is the potential for non leathal loads. Don’t get me wrong if your an active shooter I think you deserve to be killed, but the option of non leathal rounds (backed up by lethal ones) might make some people more confortable to pull the trigger, and might make other people be less adverse about the shotgun being in the room at all.

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      Bob:

      To your point, not having a firearm “to hand” as you put it puts whoever is the first to be threatened at great risk. In the scenarios that immediately come to mind, the poor souls in the front office are at the mercy of the spree murderer until they can get the goddamn gun out of the rack. The sound of gunshots may prompt a lockdown and for teachers to unlock their weapon – which is an improvement – but not for the first few murdered.

      I saw nothing in the TTAG simulations to indicate that retrieving a secured shotgun or CQB firearm would have helped the first classroom attacked. Those lives matter too.

  15. avatarJeff says:

    People don’t like seeing the Sheepdogs hard at work, keeping the wolves from feeding on the sheep with out mercy. I encourage you to read . He hits on why people don’t like seeing active security measures in public areas.

  16. avatarGregolas says:

    Sorry, in my prior comment I meant to say a snubbie would be okay if if paired with a second on the other ankle. Got in a hurry(or galloping senility-take yer pick).

  17. avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

    Those with more knowledge than I concerning ballistics, etc please chime in but:

    When the NRA convention was in Charlotte, NC I had a chance to speak with an FN representative about the FN 5.7. He said it uses a low mass (aluminum), high velocity projectile that tumbles in the bad guy’s body expending its energy very quickly. If the target is missed and it hits a sheet rock wall, it is likely to be found lying on the floor in the next room. Except for the part that it’s an expensive gun using expensive ammo, it seemed to me to be nearly perfect for urban defense if it fits your hand that is. It holds up to 30 rounds in the double stack magazine. And the recoil is supposed to be manageable. Not sure how concealable it is though. Wish I had one but times are tough….

    Anyone else have any experience with this pistol?

  18. avataruncommon_sense says:

    I am not concerned about slipping and falling on ice … a good holster that fits properly will keep a handgun in place without a retention strap. In terms of a teacher intervening for a fight between high school students, a good retention holster would be a must.

    As for whether students or staff know which staff member is armed, I would not let anyone know. If a student or even a staff member were intent on a mass murder and knew which staff member was armed, they might very well target that staff member first.

    As for andvanced training, there is certainly nothing wrong with additional, formal, advanced training. I would be reluctant to require it. Anyone who is qualified for lawful concealed carry is a potential asset. Many citizens are former military members who trained for regular as well as special forces. And many more citizens train on their own. In the end, firearms and tactics are fairly simple. Either you have the skills or you don’t. And for those people who have the skills, it is like ice skating or riding a bicycle: once you learn, you never forget.

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      I think your point about the need of excessive training is correct. In the course of a gunfight (God forbid) I might want to be paired with (in descending order) A Navy Seal with a gun, a Delta Force operator with a gun, A US Army Ranger with a gun, an LRRP Marine with a gun, an Army Infantryman with a gun, a Marine Infantryman with a gun, a Cop with a gun, an OFWG who shoots a lot with a gun, a little old lady with a gun.

      If the only one with a gun is the little old lady, I’ll take her any day of the week, twice on Sunday over all the badasses. The Little Old Lady is deadly at range.

  19. avatarEvan says:

    Hey this only has to do with something I think we all need to be more careful about when discussing things like arming teachers and staff at schools. The way many people I have talked to that are against that understand the statement “Arming the faculty and staff of the places that are in charge of our children for a good portion of the day ” as saying that we will force all staff members to be armed. While some may feel that is the best (probably not many) I think the saying needs to be changed to “allow staff members and teachers to be armed if they meet the neccesary requirements. It seems stupid to us but many people who are in the middle of this debate don’t think we mean the option to be armed rather than requiring it. Another thing many of the uninformed think is that we are saying that there needs to be rifles and AR’s in every classroom. When I have made it clear that is will be an option for the teachers and that it would be concealed handguns, many people seem to lighten up about it all. No doubt the reason they think it is that extreme is the filth the media has been spewing for years that tells people all fun owners are nut cases, but that is something for another time. Remember part of the reason we are in a weakened position after tragedies despite having all the rulings and studies backing us up (see DG’s 1994 article from a few days ago) is because the majority of Americans aren’t involved in this debate in any real way and things that deal with way things are said and the implications from them are extremely effective in swaying those people. The big media groups and anti-gun politicians know this and have been using it to their advantage for a long time.

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