It’s unusual, if helpful, to have a columnist announce his lack of qualification to comment on a subject right off the bat. Don Murphy opens a piece he wrote on school safety for lohud.com by stating, “I’ll begin with the disclaimers … I’m not an educator, in law enforcement, in politics or a mental health professional nor a member of the National Rifle Association. I understand the Second Amendment but I am not a gun enthusiast. In fact I’ve never fired a gun.” Maybe you can see where this is going . . .

My credentials, for this piece, are borne out of the good fortune of having four grown children and 10 grandchildren. The latter 10 are currently either in our public schools or day care centers, mostly in Dutchess County.

So while perhaps not an expert on much of anything relevant to school safety, no one can argue that Don doesn’t have a dog in this fight. Unfortunately, being invested doesn’t ensure quality of reasoning (although I give him major kudos for not naming any of the spree-shooters he references).

Don actually starts out promisingly enough, pointing out the miniscule chances of a school massacre happening in Dutchess County. Hell, the chances of something like that happening anywhere are tiny. As MP of mofopolitics.com points out, your child has a better chance of being struck and killed by lightning than being killed in a school massacre. Still, Don immediately flushes reasonableness right down the tubes.

Nonetheless, because it could happen, school safety should be elevated to a higher plane – but in the context of common sense and the reality of scarce financial resources.

I always get a little frisson of fear when I hear someone using the term “common sense” in conjunction with gun control. Probably because my common sense take on the subject — that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right, subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility — is nowhere near that of your average hoplophobe’s.

But before dismissing Don’s ideas, maybe we should actually look at them.

1. Stop the practice of placing armed guards in our schools. The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Arlington Schools will spend $2 million per year to maintain this. It is unneeded and unaffordable. Some Arlington Schools have two full-time guards. Post Sandy Hook, this practice made us feel safe but it is unsustainable.

I have to agree with Don, here; spending $2 million a year is both unsustainable and stupid. Unfortunately, as long as Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County are part of the People’s Empire State Republic of New York, good bloody luck getting something intelligent and sustainable (i.e., allowing teachers and staff to exercise those fundamental rights I just spoke of and carry on the job) approved.

I grew up in Westchester County, right next door to Dutchess, and I can tell you that the mere suggestion that the people responsible for teaching their children should be able to carry guns would cause immediate loss of all bladder and bowel control in at least 80% of the population. As a friend of mine still trapped in the East Coast said, “I don’t want some nicotine-jonesing teacher to get pissed off and shoot my son because he mouthed off!” Sad to say he actually believes that the simple presence of a gun would make it much more likely that a teacher would succumb to murderous rage.

Heres’ Don’s second idea:

2. Introduce closed circuit TV (CCTV) on a few entrances and on key external locations. After 9 a.m., use only one entrance which is CCTV monitored. By the way, to avoid adding to operating costs, existing non-professional school personnel could assist, taking turns watching CCTV.

Will the cameras be there so the people watching will have a really good view of the killer as he shoots his way through the door? Remember that Sandy Hook had “controlled access” (i.e. locked doors) which did nothing to stop the killer there.

Don’s other example of Columbine shows the other reason such a system would be useless; the shooters in Littleton (theoretically) belonged there. They were Columbine students. The only advantage that such a system might provide is a few extra seconds of notice that something was wrong. And using Sandy Hook as an example those seconds would have been immaterial.

Through proper scheduling two hours/week from 20 people could do the (CCTV monitoring) job and no extra expense, just a safer school and a culture of safety. Post exterior signs that the school is monitored by CCTV inside and out.

Maybe Don can you explain how all the video cameras at Columbine did anything besides provide hack documentarian Michael Moore with some footage to exploit in Bowling for Columbine? A camera, in and of itself, will do nothing to make a school safer. As for the “culture of safety,” what the hell is that, besides a place where our children can get used to our modern surveillance society?

But Don’s not finished. He has loads more ideas.

3. Place in conspicuous locations (fire alarm locations) lock down alarms which can be pulled by anyone – not just the principal in the front office.

So just in case the sounds of gunshots and screams echoing through the halls and over the intercom aren’t enough, we should provide another source of chaos and cacophony to disorient and confuse students and staff alike? Got it.

4. Insure that all classrooms can be locked from inside which is not the case in some schools.

This actually is an idea I can get behind. As long as our schools remain target-rich environments gun-free zones, making the shooter waste a little time by shooting out locks could almost be construed as useful.

5. At the district’s central office, assign one person as chief protective service officer who will check on each school’s readiness. This will not be an added person but a reorganized job. Perhaps our Sheriffs[sic] Dept. can assist in this task of school readiness.

6. Share the best security practices in Dutchess County Schools by convening reps of all districts once per year. A good idea in Dover can become a best practice in Beacon.

This won’t involve any additional personnel eh? Does anyone really believe that? Because what I foresee is a protective service officer assigned to each school, with a district-wide coordinator in the central office.

You’d then have to have liaisons between the coordinator’s office and the local LEOs, plus liaison officers and coordinators for liaising and coordinating across districts. You’d need ‘best practice’ managers to recognize these best practices and share them. Then you’d have the inevitable secretaries and diversity program coordinators, HR people and accounting … reminds me of the old joke about the government junkyard. Good thing this idea won’t cost anything.

7. Recent reports suggest the perpetrators were severely bullied as students. Let’s energize out anti-bullying efforts.

Here’s a tip, Don… lots of people were bullied in school. I was often picked last for sports teams, ridiculed for playing Dungeons and Dragons, mocked for my love of reading and, to top it off, the Homecoming Queen wouldn’t dance with me at Prom! But I didn’t climb the clock-tower with a sniper rifle, nor did I march into the cafeteria with Dad’s shotgun. So let’s drop the “bullying” B.S., okay?

Finally, Don trots out his big idea for “arming” teachers:

It is not perfect but it could also be used by school personnel. It is safer than a gun, or nothing at all, which is what the brave teachers in Connecticut had.

Which is a pretty sad commentary on our society when you think about it. But settle down, here comes the big idea. You can just feel the anticipation building, can’t you?

It is low tech, very inexpensive, non lethal and does not require a practice range to become proficient. It does not conflict with the second amendment nor does it oppose NRA beliefs. This solution is a $3 can of wasp spray …

Got that? The big fix for safeguarding our kids while confined to gun free zones is a can of Yard Guard.

Just a couple of problems there, Don. First, the longest range wasp sprays I’ve seen are only good out to about 30 feet. Guns, on the other hand, generally have more range than that. Second, in order to be effective, your a spritz of Raid has to hit the shooter’s eyes; bullets are known to be quite effective when striking almost anywhere in the head or torso areas. Third, an upraised hand or arm can block wasp spray, but tend to be less effective deflecting bullets.

So although he doesn’t seem to realize it, Don’s made a great case for what Wayne LaPierre was ridiculed for saying and what President Obama was applauded for saying; the best way to stop an armed bad guy is with an armed good guy.

Just please — for the sake of the children — arm your good guy with something more than wasp spray.

66 Responses to Finally, Some Common Sense School Safety Solutions

    • It does not give them any notoriety. People always seem to remember the shooter’s names, but, not the victims. I would be fine with never having the names published and burying them in an unmarked grave. Some of these people idolize these twisted individuals when they know their identities. If they have no infamy to live on, they may have no reason to do it.

    • Holmes and Lanza=LIBOR. Yes I am at it again. You armchair intellects need to look at the connection between the fathers of these two! I will help you, both fathers were to have testified to Congress about certain roles that certain companies, and politicos were/are involved in this. It is more than just coincidence that these two go out and shoot up a movie theater, and a school. Yep wasp spray would have prevented this, if only it had been used while they were still in the crib.

  1. Wasp spray is an effective non-lethal defense. It sprays farther than many pepper stays.

    However, responding with non-lethal force to a lethal threat is really a poor tactic.

    • and every can of wasp spray has the following warning on the label;
      “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with it’s labeling”.

  2. I believe the problem is when the shooters ARE named publicly, over and over again. People know their names, but rarely ever the name of any of the victims. We make these people into rock stars, showing them constantly on the news and using their names millions of times on the various media outlets. It elevates these people in such a way that it ‘inspires’ others to commit such acts, wanting their name to be known. It’s a form of immortality that no one deserves.

  3. In high school, Junior high, and elementary school, all the doors had a giant glass windows on them. And all the front doors to the school were just glass doors.

    That’s probably the first thing that needs to change. Locks mean nothing when they can be defeated with a rock.

    I remember getting a detention in high school because during a lockdown procedure I didn’t keep my feet hidden well enough apparently and my principal yelled at me. I told him straight to his face that he was an idiot for thinking that a locked door and not being able to see anyone means a shooter would move to the next room, and that if anything bad happened I planned on tossing my books through a window and running for the parking lot. He wrote me up for “threatening school property” and I spent an hour after school reading a book until my mom picked me up, asked me what I did, I told her, and she said good. Don’t be an idiot and wait to die.

    Luckily school shootings are very rare, and that the bastards who do it usually eat their own bullets so they can’t share success stories and feel even more self important.

    Also, I’m surprised TTAG didn’t mention the Chardon Ohio shooter wearing a shirt that said “Killer” under his clothes and then proceeded to mock the victims families after he was found guilty.

  4. Wait. What. Wasp spray? Cause I wanna bring a can of bug-b-gone to a gun fight? I understood what hishis goals were until he spouted that drivel…

    • Every word that comes from the guy proves he doesn’t live in the same world as the rest of us AT ALL. His mind is all cobwebs and bubble soap.

  5. Completely aside from the choice of a “spray” to begin with… but why wasp spray and not some chemical defensive spray like mace or OC pepper spray, specifically designed and formulated for this purpose?

  6. Do they still make wired glass and security screens? Has it been so long in the suburbs since schools had wired glass and security screens and since someone ever looked at the front of a city school that these are lost ancient technologies?

    -D

  7. Bug spray? Really!? That stuff doesn’t even incapacitate most bugs right away. What is so ridiculous about having properly trained school personnel or volunteers carry a gun? Ridicule that idea of the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, but I’m quite sure you’ll think differently if it’s your child or loved whose life is spared because a good guy or gal was there to protect them WITH A GUN!

  8. The one thing I don’t get, and that almost every gun-control nut ignores, is that most people who shoot up schools, public places, etc.. rarely every expect or plan to get out and avoid capture realistically. This is why locked doors, cameras, and other ‘deterrents’ will never work. Those doing the shooting don’t care if they survive… When the gun-control fanatics stop projecting their own need to get away from a crime, maybe they will finally see that deterrents, outside of an armed response, will fail… Really wish my kids teachers could protect them with actual force, and not hiding…

  9. I don’t know why everyone here is bashing wasp spray. Personally I’m lethal with that shit. Don’t let my name fool you, that’s just so I can feel more adequate. My everyday carry is a can of evil black raid.

  10. God forbid we do something useful like cut foreign aid and use that money to fund guarding our schools!?!?!?!?!

    • Now you are just being silly. Let’s all focus on something serious like using wasp spray to deter criminally insane gunmen,

  11. Well it’s nice to know this guy is using random Facebook post to recommend how to defend our children. There was a post going around about a week ago that said wasp spray was more effective than mace or pepper spray. I looked into it and what he is proposing is actually illegal in quite a number of places. I guess this guy has taken his cues from Joe “Shoot into the Air” Biden.

    I can’t imagine the uproar if the people of the gun were to go around recommending people carry concealed where not legally allowed to in order to protect themselves. Oh well.

    • You are absolutely right. I can’t believe I missed that. You are directly disregarding the label on the back and using it for other purposes than were intended. Good catch.

  12. Bring a can of wasp spray to a gun fight.

    Uh huh.

    It just goes to show what several millenia of domestication*/** has done to homo sapiens—exactly what it does to all domesticated species—a proliferation of docility and stupidity.

    The toy poodles are in charge now.

    * Peter J. Wilson (1991) “The Domestication of the Human Species.” Yale University Press.
    ** Jack Goody (1977) “The Domestication of the Savage Mind.” Cambridge University Press.

  13. Someone needs to discuss with Granddad the idea of giving up his keyboard. His ideas started out with a list of the “already been trieds,” but ended with insanity.

    That isn’t to say that if I’m otherwise unarmed, I would reject wasp spray. But I’d much rather use controlled placement of 147 or 230 grain hollow points.

    • Great article Bruce. Heres a link to some real life lessons-learned, with some indications of whats worked, years later, for implementation after school shootings.

      http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/mar/24/school-shootings-lessons-san-diego-sandy-hook/

      It looks like TTAG is attracting attention of thoughtful liberals and larger numbers of left-wing oriented trolls, which is actually good – if you are taking flak, you are over the target. We need more of a challenge than what MikeyB can offer.

      Lets hope the intellectually courageous and “common-sense” oriented among them will reflect on the responses here. (I’m going to give “Don” the benefit of the doubt – if he is for real and not a Soros paid sock-puppet…as his talking points just seem too similar to something coming out of ThinkProgress…but hey, even an old dog can learn new tricks.)

  14. Ummm… cans of wasp spray? REALLY?

    This teacher would definitely NOT bet the lives of his students or his own on a can of spray. Just sayin’.

    • Why not? Most teachers are currently betting their lives on gun free zones. What do you use to protect your students and your own life when guns are so clearly evil?

  15. Most of us were probably the targets of bullies at some time, if not all of it, yet I never considered bringing my fathers firearm to school to settle things up.
    Why not, you may ask. I knew where he kept it (unlocked) and could have easily removed it from the cardboard boy it resided in. The reason is, I happen to have a Moral Compass, something that seems to missing for many people.
    As such, I knew that killing people was WRONG, be it school children,bullies, LAPD and their families or some random person on the street.
    Perhaps the worst feature of modern life is the idea that truth and justice are relative, not absolute. We see this every day in the highest corridors of power (I’m looking at you DOJ) and so it trickles on down.

  16. So this guy has no law enforcement or military training, has never fired a gun, and has no experience in combat or defense tactics.

    As far as I can tell his entire security qualifications consist of being able to breed.

    Why is anyone taking his advice on anything? I’ve never been to med school, but I have kids of my own – should I dispense medical advice?

    WTF is going on in this country? We really are a bunch of sheep being led to the slaughter.

    I’ll gladly listen to advice from security professionals – preferably people who have actually been shot at in their line of work and survived. They can actually tell you what works and what does not.

  17. I came out of retirement in January and went back to work at a California public school system. At all the schools I have worked at, elementary, middle and high schools you could just walk off the street and into the school grounds. No cctv, no locked gates and in many cases no fences. Campus supervisors who are unarmed and mostly middle aged + women. The only armed response is at the high school level. SRO’s are assigned to each high school.

    It has been more than 3 months since Sandy Hook, years since STockton and columbine. difi, biden, barry, bloomie etc. are doing nothing to increase school security and their wasting of effort to try and grab guns is losing time and resources that could go to increasing school security.

    Any further school massacres at undefended schools will be at least partly their fault.

    • This.

      For all of their self-professed “common sense,” liberals have a funny way of allowing their non-quantifiable fantasies to run roughshod over actual solutions to problems.
      I am also thoroughly entertained when these “rational, educated” liberals attribute supernatural powers to inanimate objects. Merely HAVING a gun could possess a teacher to violence. What a laugh.

    • I’d go further and say there is *already* blood on the hands of any legislator who voted for “Gun Free School Zones”. That ridiculous no-common-sense legislation has certainly increased the number of children killed in school shootings, it’s just impossible to estimate how many. Much like it’s impossible to say how many people were *saved* by legal gun owners in places like the mall in Clackamas, where Nick Meli scared off a gunman before he took more than 2 lives. It was a mall, so would that shooter (who shall remain nameless) have shot more than 26 people? Possibly, but we’ll never know because he was stopped. And how many people know Nick Meli’s name? That guy’s a hero, but nobody knows his name, while it seems like everyone knows Lanza and Loughner…

  18. After reading this article, I still have a few questions. 1) What color is the sky in Don Murphy’s world? 2) Was the law named after him? 3) The unlawful use of crack cocaine is assumed but I am wondering what brand he prefers?

    Dear God! Does this man think that McD’s gets meat only from suicidal cattle? Violence is a part of life. I don’t like it and we have done a lot to sanitize our daily world. But violence is going to happen. Some criminals are not going to surrender peacefully. Some drug dealers have somehow acquired handguns. Some crazed potential mass shooters are going to have a field day until their brain matter is splattered on a ceiling tile or wall. Can’t be avoided.

  19. “Through proper scheduling two hours/week from 20 people could do the (CCTV monitoring) job and no extra expense, just a safer school and a culture of safety. Post exterior signs that the school is monitored by CCTV inside and out.”

    It is absolutely shocking that, even now, after all we have been through as a nation, someone could suggest that THIS would help to make schools safer. How are those gun-free zone signs working out?

    AT BEST, what would this measure do exactly? Give the CCTV monitor enough time to warn the students VIA intercom? Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t they do that at Sandy Hook as the gunman began breaching the entrance?

    Are we so weak as a nation that we prefer this:

    – Teachers and students fleeing while being gunned down

    to this:

    – Teachers voluntarily carrying concealed weapons in accordance with applicable state permitting laws who can confront a gunman and stop him/her?

    • “Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t they do that at Sandy Hook as the gunman began breaching the entrance? ”

      The camera, recently installed, as I remember it, “was not working”. Now that could mean 1) not working or 2) tape shows something which casts doubt on official story, so we’ll say “not working”.

  20. Isn’t that rich? The bullies of the political world, big Gov democrats, want to stop bullying? Governments are always the biggest bullies. And we wonder where bullies come from? An over-reaching government is the model. In this respect, if bullying is considered appropriate for the Fedgov, why is it not OK for anyone else? Ah,..ah,…ah…er. Ya, I thought so.

  21. Minor bullying on some children can have very little effect. However, when timid and insecure children (who shouldn’t be in a school setting anyway) are sent to school every day fearing most of all what emotional and physical aggressions will be cast on them, violence results. When a child feels trapped, helpless, and everything he does makes him feel more trapped, and teachers don’t listen because they are manipulated by the bullies (they are), and his parents don’t have the whatever to pull him out of school, that child feels nothing for the bullies. He is angry, and does not care about what happens to them, their feelings, their humanity, their families. The bullied child feels dehumanized, and is put into a battle mindset. Please try explaining to this child why he should not take out his enemies who cause him suffering every school day.

    Bruce, that’s wonderful that you were strong enough to not let the bullying get to you. However, not all children have your personality, and I highly doubt that you had it as bad as some of the kids out there.
    It’s true that schools are the perfect breeding ground for bullying, and eliminating it is impossible, but there’s some horrible stuff that goes on, and addressing the issue more (or taking kids out of the school setting) would help a lot. Guns are great for physical defense, but prevention is better. Ongoing torture changes a person and his character significantly.

    • By the way, as unfashionable and uncomfortable as they may be, ballistic vests would likely decrease the number of students killed. Hey, safety first, right?

      • Prohibitively expensive. Sorry, we’re sticking with the wasp spray. But we’ve diverted some cans of vegetable oil from the cafeteria that can be splashed in the hallways to make the killer slip and fall down.

      • Don’t laugh – there is already a cottage industry for backpacks where the back panel is bullet resistant for pistol calibers.

        l think part of the problem with the supposed increase in “Bullying” is that nowadays the victim can’t even stand up for themselves without getting in worse trouble than the bully used to in the old days. Pretty much any time you see a “zero tolerance policy” you can be guaranteed that whatever it is applied to, the situation has gotten WORSE because of it.
        Sometimes kids just need to punch each other in the nose, and it’ll hurt for a day but stop the mental anguish for years. When you can’t fight back, bullies will find other ways to torture you. I say this as a father of two kids (9 & 12) and someone who was bullied as a kid. I had my fight out behind the school, got my ass kicked, but actually got respect from the bully for at least having the balls to show up, and he never bothered me again.

  22. I was bullied. I retaliated with chemical and biological warfare. No, I didn’t kill any of the sh!ts, more’s the pity, but I stopped ’em cold – and in some cases hospitalized ’em. All without grabbing my dad’s M1911.

    But we must remember that as these incidents become more common, some kids will see them as acceptable.

    Crazy kids when I was a kid set fires. Now they shoot kids. Things change.

    What to do? Here’s an idea which would cost money.

    In Vietnam Nam, the U.S. tested a nerve gas which worked through contact and dissipated quickly, but was non-lethal. It induced extreme, debilitating nausea for a quarter hour or so.

    One dropped it, then went in and disarmed the retching VC. Unfortunately, this went against the Geneva Convention, so we had to go back to good ol’ acceptable techniques of fighting – bullets, WP and napalm.

    I’d be for a panic switch or shot locator flooding an area with this stuff – school, cinema, indoor mall or whatever. Not fun, but better than becoming a colander.

    Yes, it’d cost money but it’s for the kiddies!

    Dissenters welcome.

  23. Bullying? Please. Whatever happened to discipline? Or a school of hard knocks to get the maladjusted back in line?

    What’s ironic is only in the last 10 years have parents been subject to lawsuits and civil action from their own children or anyone suspecting “bad parenting”. Sure, there are some examples of actual abuse out there and those children should be protected, but as usual, what was once a well-intentioned ruling, has tied parents hands behind their backs and they can’t even do the basics (ie. raising your voice, being authoritative, spanking) without fearing legal action.

    What’s even more ironic is extreme cases of parents not being able to deal with their kids is they end up on talk shows and do you know what the socially acceptable solution to problem children is? Boot camp. Where the children are subject to the very same authoritative parenting that most parents are chastised for.

    It’s beyond stupid.

    Stop with the mamby-pamby babying of children, teens, and young adults. Teach them right from wrong and make sure they understand it before they go out in the world. How hard is that really? I’m 35 and my parents were probably the last generation that was able to parent without having to look over their shoulder.

    Then you wonder why maladjusted kids lacking a moral compass are shooting up schools? Because parents aren’t allowed to discipline their kids anymore.

    Getting tired of this country causing all of it’s own problems by people trying to tell others how to do things who have no clue what those people are dealing with on a daily basis.

    Here’s a tip: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

  24. Murphy’s screed was really one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Are we sure that he wasn’t kidding? Because nobody in his right mind could possibly have written that for any reason other than getting big laughs.

    Wasp spray! Utterly hilarious!

  25. You know, I have had people mention wasp spray to me as an alternative to being armed as well as mace. It’s funny, these are the same brain trusts that worry they will be caught in a crossfire and shot accidentally when a person with a concealed carry defends themselves or others from an active shooter. The last thing I would want is someone BLIND FIRING after I have maced them. They also fail to realize that if mace is used inside a house, say a bedroom et al, you are also likely to suffer pretty strong effects of the mace yourself just being in proximity.

    Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.

  26. A simple revolver locked in a gun cabinet that a few interested school officials who are trained and have access to with keys. End of story. A big can of bear spray would not hurt.

  27. Stopping the entry of a would be shooter/killer from a school will not always result in no killing. Everone knows there is recess and how many schools have windows with visible kids from outside the school?

  28. There is an alternative that is very affordable – the folks at Brandon COPsync have a product that is a very effective way to add safety and security to our schools – the cost per campus is less than $3.30 a day which is less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. The solution includes a program that runs on the laptops of all the teachers and on the administration office computer network. Once a threat is identified you open the application that is always running and press the 911 icon – if it was a mistake the alert can be canceled within 15-seconds – however, if it needs to be sent right away you hit the icon twice. What occurs simultaneously is the following:

    1) immediately notifies all faculty members tat there is an alert and to begin your lockdown procedures
    2) Opens up an immediate two-way communication with Police Dispatch
    3) Alerts the 5 closest Police vehicles that there is an alert from your school.
    4) Sends a map to first responders with most direct route to the school
    5) opens a diagram of the school campus
    6) shows floor plan of the building under threat
    7) identifies the person and room where the alert was activated
    8) allows for direct communications with first responders
    9) allows for other faculty to give real time updates
    10) sends alert message to others outside of the school via PDA or cell phone text defined by the school on a need to know basis

    All this occurs within 3-seconds. Cost per school – Installation $1,200 and annual fee of $1,200 – so for less than $3.30 a day (less than a cup of Starbucks coffee) you could have technology installed to help your school if there is a viable threat.

    FYI – in a study by the CDC they report that 8% of Middle School and High School kids carry or have carried a gun or knife onto their school campus.

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