Notice the word “the.” An armed guard is not “the” answer to school shootings. And no, I’m not going to prattle on about a comprehensive approach to preventing active shooters in this nation’s schools. I’m simply pointing out that an arm school guard can be counter-productive. If nothing else it creates a false sense of security. Think of it this way . . .
If an active shooter wants to inflict murderous mayhem on a school he can simply shoot the guard and carry on with his carnage. I say simply, but . . . how easy would that be? A lot harder than attacking a school without an armed guard, obviously. But not terribly difficult as TTAG proved during our simulation.
We set up a simple test . . .
A bunch of people filed by someone playing the role of an armed guard. One of those people took out a gun and shot the guard. The guard knew it was coming. How many times did he stop the attack? Not once. As Nick’s report concluded, “the armed security guard appears to be ineffective at interdicting the active shooter.”
Our simulation was relatively crude. But common sense alone suggests a determined killer could catch an armed guard on the hop.
The guard will be to identify, especially if the shooter is someone within the school population. Even if the guard is a former SEAL, they can’t be situationally aware all the time. They will lose focus. And crucially, as in all gunfights, the attacker has the first mover advantage.
It’s actually worse than that.
According to the just released book Active Shooter Events and Response, spree killers carried multiple weapons in 40 percent of the attacks surveyed (which includes gang shootings on multiple targets). The killer(s) used a rifle 27 percent of the time. And “While it is true that many active shooters will kill themselves either before the police arrive or when the attacker becomes aware that the police are on scene, the shooter aggressively fights the responding police officers in many cases.”
Banning or severely restricting the sale of “assault rifles” to prevent a school shooter or shooters from wielding same during their murderous rampage is a fool’s errand. Lest we forget, Adam Lanza shot his mother in the head twice to obtain her firearms before attacking the Sandy Hook Elementary School. In any case, expecting an armed guard with a handgun to take out a determined AR-wielding madman—or two or three or more—is highly problematic. As we saw at Columbine.
God forbid an armed school guard should carry a rifle. At the very least they should have immediate access to one. But even that doesn’t solve the strategic problems mentioned above. There is only one practical solution: multiple guards who can not be identified by the shooter. In other words, armed teachers.
When we ran the simulation with armed teachers they landed hits on the spree killer every single time. Why wouldn’t they? The mock teachers huddled the children in a corner and aimed their weapon at the doorway (a.k.a, the “fatal funnel”). Shooting an armed invader entering a classroom isn’t like shooting ducks in a barrel, but it’s not the hardest shot in the world either. As we demonstrated.
Equally, armed teachers are a far greater deterrent than a single armed guard. An active shooter (or shooters) contemplating assaulting a school with [some] pistol-packing teachers wouldn’t know if, when and where they’d face a counter-attack. (An armed teacher in a defensive situation wouldn’t have the same need for a rifle.) It would be a far more daunting prospect.
You know I’m right. You also know that the schools where teachers aren’t armed like, say, the entire Northeast, aren’t about to allow school personnel to pack heat. If shit got real (to coin a phrase) school and parents would start by hiring an armed guard, then add multiple roving guards, then build guard towers with machine guns.
How great is that? Not great at all. In fact, if there’s an “outbreak” of school shootings the “let’s hire a highly-trained professional” response—championed by the NRA no less—will move America closer to what it’s already in danger of becoming: a police state.
Eliminating the “gun free school zone” laws that prevent teachers, administrators and staff from tooling-up would be the single best move we could make to respond to the threat of school shootings. At least schools could move towards a more effective deterrent and response should they wise-up.
Of course, there are states where that’s already happened (e.g., my new home state of Texas). I know the NRA is the master of the art of the possible. But recommending an school armed guard for is a potentially worthless half-measure. I pray that I’m wrong.