armed teachers guns schools
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By Rob Morse

Solid facts are rare in the ocean of opinion surrounding arming teachers. Allowing armed defenders in schools is a polarizing issue with plenty of passion on both sides of the question. The legacy news media feed us lots of emotion but relatively little data or informed analysis. I asked the best sources I could find if school staff should be armed to protect our students. Their answer was clear.

I spoke to the brain trust at Tactical Defense Institute (TDI). These men and women built the training curriculum recommended for school resource officers (SROs) across the country. Their analysts and instructors also provided regional training for SWAT officers. They take their classes across the US and train local law enforcement instructors and they train the trainers.

The instructors at TDI examine police reports to uncover what works and what doesn’t work. It is their job to study new threats on the street and recommend changes in the way law enforcement officers are trained. They looked at the attacks on our schools and have concluded that school resource officers alone aren’t enough to protect our students.

For one thing, there were too many times when SROs weren’t on campus. In addition, the SROs are an obvious target during an attack. The SROs were also spread too thin to respond quickly. Protecting students from a murderer is a battle against time.

The sooner the murderer is stopped, the fewer students will be injured or killed. The sooner the murderer is stopped, the faster we can treat the injured and save lives. One of the largest teacher training programs is called FASTER, though the acronym stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. FASTER trains first responders to stop the killer and treat the injured until help arrives.

What we’ve done in the past isn’t working any longer. A uniformed school resource officer is a visible sign of authority on campus. That’s an effective deterrent most of the time. That deterrent works right up until it doesn’t. We have many examples when attackers either waited for the uniformed officers to leave the school, or when murderers began their attack by killing the uniformed officer or driving him away from the school. Sadly, we have also seen recent examples of police officers who stayed outside the school while our children died inside.

One dedicated officer ran toward the sound of gunfire and arrived too late. Yes, he responded as fast as he could, but he also saw a student who was horribly wounded in the attack. That student would die a short time later at the hospital. This long-serving police officer and SWAT cop knows that a few seconds make the difference between life and death. Given his experience, this officer wants armed school staff to protect students. He knows that teachers are closer to the students than he is. Therefore, teachers can respond faster to an attack on their school.

That isn’t a feeling or an opinion. That’s the hard lesson this officer learned from an actual attack on a Colorado high school. Today, this officer instructs selected school staff on how to carry loaded firearm on campus. We might want to listen to him.

Lots of sheriffs will give you their opinion. But it’s more credible to ask sheriffs who have actual experience with armed staff in their county schools.

I went to Ohio where the FASTER program has trained over a thousand school staff members. Ohio sheriffs have seen the programs from beginning to end. Sheriffs are an active part of the screening and the training process for armed school staff.

Some of these sheriffs ran side-by-side tests comparing school staff and police officers in the same exercise. They looked at who got to the scene first. It usually takes officers a few extra minutes to arrive on scene. The sheriffs also looked at what the responders did once they arrived. I spoke with a deputy who started out opposed to armed school staff but became an advocate. He said, “I hope sheriffs look at this with an open mind.” Many have. Eighty-two of 88 Ohio sheriffs approve armed school staff in their counties.

FASTER Teacher training guns in schools
courtesy Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

While I was in Ohio, I participated in a refresher training class for school staff who are already protecting their students. These teachers were honest with me about the problems of being an armed defender and medical first responder. They said, “Of course, things could go wrong. I could get shot by the attacker, but it would be worse to do nothing and see my kids killed.” They take their responsibility seriously.

I was honored to be a student alongside these teachers and administrators. I’ve never carried a gun and bandages to save our students. I’m glad to learn from those who have.

If you want to know if school staff should be armed, you might want to learn from the cafeteria workers, custodians, teachers, principals, and school superintendents who volunteered to put their bodies between our kids and a bullet. They weighed the costs if they were armed and the costs if they were unarmed. They make the decision to be an armed protector every day.

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  1. I work in a school system in northern Virginia. Elementary level. There is no way in the foreseeable future that my county will allow armed staff, which is idiotic to me. And also to the kids I teach. When we go over possible responses to someone attempting to attack the school I’ve had lots of kids ask why I don’t have a gun. Sometimes kids are smarter than adults.

      • this is a local issue…although state approval is usually required….it’s also a question of economics…and arming teachers is usually the cheapest option even though there is a liability risk………

    • Unless there’s metal detectors, concealed is concealed.

      I don’t know of many intelligent teachers who would choose watching their students die over potentially losing their job.

    • I used to teach in northern Virginia – Fairfax County – and now teach in Indiana. 18 Years in high schools after thirty years as an often armed Air Force pilot and 50 years of gun ownership and experience. If I could carry in school I would. I don’t fear a school shooting because they are statistically well beyond rare. What I do fear is that should a shooter enter my school my ability to defend my kids would be limited. I certainly do not advocate all teachers to be armed. In my life’s experience as parent and teacher, I would roughly guess that about 75-80% of teachers I have met and worked with would not mix well with weapons. The remainder would be fine particularly with proper training. Those teachers who claim not to want to be armed largely know their limitations and that is fine with me. HOWEVER, those teachers who don’t want me to be armed would rather hug their children as they are gunned down rather than have a chance of the shooter being stopped before he gets to their room. Fairfax County has a large and solid PD and my high school there (a secondary school with over 4000 kids in the building and over 250 teachers) had two resource officers. But….. seconds vs minutes …..

      • Fairfax County’s demographics and proximity to DC would make it a perfect target for a Beslan style terrorist attack on a school. I hope they have a well trained SWAT force. It would be needed, but some armed school staff might make the difference in slowing or possibly thwarting an attack. To say it won’t happen is plain stupid. If it can happen in Russia, it most certainly can happen here. I am honestly surprised (and relieved) that it has not happened here already.

  2. Gathering the students in the middle of the room for a mass huddle is much more efficient and effective than having yucky guns in the classroom.
    Really, this is the actual drill at some schools in Indiana.
    Wife is an Elementary Education Teacher.

  3. Stop using the govt. indoctrination system. If kids aren’t in the schools they can’t be attacked. When’s the last time you heard of a home school having a shooting? The life you save may be your child’s! Or grand child’s! 😉

  4. One solution to no-guns-allowed smurff schools is to provide garden sprayers filled with Hollywood blood in every classroom. The teachers should be instructed to spray the kids and then have them play dead if a shooter alarm occurs.
    Might confuse a shooter. Might not. Better than sitting there waiting to be executed while the police are “on their way”..

  5. I can’t understand the folks that issue those 16 inch bats to protect the students, but wouldn’t use icky guns.
    “We don’t want to be sitting ducks” William Hall, superintendent of the Millcreek Township School District in Pennsylvania.
    Won’t think about firearms. Idiots.

  6. Why would teachers and administrators need to be armed? They have brave officers like sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson to protect them by setting up an impenetrable perimeter.

    Parents can all sleep soundly at night knowing that cops like Capt. Jan Jordan and Sheriff Scott Israels are always watching and waiting, and that top bureaucrats like Superintendent Robert Runcie are protecting their asses.

  7. Obviously correct solution is the same as in 1789. Who, within a school, is armed or not is none of your business unless you intend us harm. Also who, within a building, who, within a state, and so on. If you intend us harm, then you would obviously be concerned with who is armed. Otherwise, not so much.

  8. Civil disobedience…easier to get out of jail than to get out of a cemetery.
    Foxtrot Kilo Alpha. 30

  9. There should be 2 school systems. One with these types of protections in place and a second as a guaranteed dogmatically pure “gun free” zone. The children of all who oppose the first option and the children (grandchildren, etc.) of all who speak against it and against second amendment rights are to be enrolled in the second school; everyone else is free to enroll in the school system of their choice. Run this for a few iterations and lets see which school system ends up with the greater enrollment.

  10. takes 6 weeks training to be a leo in Colorado. takes min 6 yrs to get masters degree to teach in Colorado. I am sure some of these over educated teachers could be taught to handle a gun I have been in schools during lockdown, no decision about going in or not, you are there man. good guy or gal with a gun who is already there best possible defense. and yeha, educators are smart enough to carry

    • a lot of them already have permits…very common around here (PA)…specific training [for armed security work]…entails a physical and psych exam,..background check…and a 35 hr course that includes range time…I started teaching in ’65…and picked up that license in ’74 when it was first required..provided a good second source of income…mixing the two together would be easy…

  11. Legacy Charter here in Phoenix posts an armed Sheriff on the corner where the kids cross the street. And we’re all fine with that. Thank you for your time and come again, Sir.

  12. I do not care who they arm as long as it is not law enforcement. They do not have the intelligence to do the job and the ones that want to work in the schools are pedophiles.

    • not really true…but they can’t be everywhere…and often get a little rough with the kids…..

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