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TTAG often focuses on the conflict between individual liberty and public safety. The example that sets the stage for me: school lock-downs. Add to that list the current TSA pat-down searches at airports, the argument on open carry. Hurricane evacuations. Chicago’s pseudo gun ban. Washington DC’s pseudo gun ban. Etc. and so forth. Suppressing individual gun ownership has always been the “official” response. Why? I’ve been an engineer for over 20 years. Part of our safety/peer review process: develop worst case failure scenarios with focus on the potential costs (equipment, personnel, and financial). This thinking often carries over into management bureacracy, with a slight spin on worst case. Allow me to present a view into the mind of the other party . . .

Take school lockdowns. We gun-owning parents like to think we’ll always be there to protect our young-uns in times of trouble. But that ain’t always so, therefore we hope others will step up in our absence. Our viewpoint:

  • nutjob invades school, no one can respond, kids dead, parents grieve.
  • nutjob invades school, lawful armed response, nutjob dead, parents happy.

Note that the lawful armed response means either 100% patrol by cops, or armed parents, or armed teachers. So goes the armed teachers concept. But looking into the mind of the school administrator, we see the logical evaluation of the worst case scenario, re. teachers with guns:

  • teacher accidentally shoots kid – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I (school admin) lose my job.
  • teacher shoots kid on purpose – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I lose my job.
  • teacher loses gun – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I lose my job.
  • kid gets ahold of gun – parents upset, investigations, lawsuits, I lose my job.
  • nutjob invades school, teacher with gun ineffective – lots of “I told you so” notes, followed by policy reversal, I get transferred.
  • nutjob invades school, teacher responds, threat neutralized – yeah, like that’ll happen.

Thus in the mind of a bureacrat, teachers-with-guns is inherently bad. And statistically, a bad gamble. The number of schools versus the number of school shootings (no matter how sensational in the media) present very long odds that your school will be next. The chance of an accidental shooting is much, much higher.

So denying guns to teachers has no real downside, unless you’re real unlucky. Then what? Almost every investigation I’ve led has had management ask the following two questions: Did we have a plan? Did you follow the plan? It’s the way of the bureacrat. Nothing warms the cockles of a bureaucrat’s heart like “we had a plan, we followed the plan!”

Student lock-down is “the plan.” Simple, easy to implement, easy to understand, cheap, and you can present it to media with a straight face and look good doing it. Is it right for every circumstance? No. Is it easy to implement in every circumstance? Yes. Did I mention cheap? Decisions Made Easy, 101.

You see this same mentality on airline security. The odds of a gun mishap are much, much higher than the odds of a terrorist attack on any single flight. Any administrator that OKs CCW will be out of a job at the very next incident. The Decisions Made Easy solution is to stick with the current ban everything, search everyone plan. Simple, easy to implement, and who cares about customer complaints?

It’s not about stopping terrorists, it’s about appearing to do something while mainly protecting your job. City officials, police officials, school officials, the list goes on. They all relate to the lowest common denominator, and it’s not about protecting you as an individual.

So what does that mean to gun owners? It means those of us who are willing to take responsibility for our own individual protection are going to run head first into those who are responsible for protecting the public at large.

Robert recently had one of those motivation posters that said “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” I think he was going for gun ownership, but it applies to a much larger slice of life. No one wants to have the finger pointed at them after the next school shooting, saying that you should have done more. That’s completely understandable. But what’s not acceptable is hiding behind “the plan” which is mainly devised to make people feel better, without any actual protection.

Everyone is familiar with the phrase, I’m not authorized to make that decision. It’s above my paygrade. I’m just following orders. As they then continue on to trample your consitutional rights and suppress your liberty. After all, it’s much easier to make the “safe” choice. Safe and right are not the same. Safe means it is much easier to defend the decision if the SHTF. Right means there are some risks involved.

As gun owners, we must be the adults in the room. We must lead by example. We must vote the right people in office, and make sure the larger bureaucracy understands we won’t put up with certain things. We need to accept responsibility for certain risks, and insist that it’s our right to take those risks.

We need to make difficult decisions, and then live with them. We must reduce the size of the government to reduce the number of people telling us what to do. We need to insist that government be moved down to the lowest possible level – local. And then we need to hold the local government accountable.

Put simply, I’d rather have a neighborhood meeting to discuss armed carry in schools than to trust some administrator half a state, or half a country, away to make that choice for me. Because I already know the choice he’ll make, and I know why he’ll make it. And it’s the wrong choice.

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  1. excellent article! this really gets to the underlinying issue doesnt it? the reality is that “those in charge” dont think we the masses are adults enough to exercise responsibilty. They dont see us as free independent adults but as children.

  2. Without addressing the larger issues, which you already did quite well, RF had another idea for school shootings-GTFO. Whether or not arming teachers is a good idea, a lockdown is the worst idea. It may be terrifying for parents to not know where their children are for an hour or two after an incident, but it is vastly preferable to knowing that his body was found in his seat in Mrs. Crabtree’s second period English class, right where he was supposed to be when the school was locked down.

      • One huge advantage to home schooling, the chances of your kid graduating as valedictorian are much greater.

      • I know i am about to turn 37, but i bet i would make a great student. I even know my abc’s, Military and standard phonetics(backwards after a few beers even). :p

  3. Some very good points. My guess is you’ve described exactly what most school administrators are thinking (excluding those nitwits who are against anything resembling a firearm, up to and including Legos and NERF).

    Risk equals probability times severity: if teachers are allowed to carry, the chances of an accidental discharge on school grounds just went up 100%. Weighed against the likelihood of them ever having to actually use it makes for a tough call. Put yourself in their shoes, and honestly what would you do?

    It seems a good idea to not just say “OK” to armed teachers and be done with it…the school should probably insist on a minimum course of training, over and above whatever that state’s CCW laws provide for. I would also think it prudent for a principal to know which teachers are carrying, and take it upon themselves to hook up with the po-po and maybe drill scenarios with blue guns after-hours. “Plan” may be a dirty word, but we’re talking about serious protection of other people’s kids now. So yeah, I’d like the school to have a PLAN. As much of a 2A proponent as I am, I wouldn’t want someone armed around my kids without having a high level of confidence in their judgment and abilities. We’ve all seen our share of knuckleheads at the range, weirdos that just get off on having CCW, etc. So imagine how the gun-fearing parents out there must feel…

    And I second TTAC’s comments. GTFO would be my first reaction. In fact, it WAS my first reaction when I witnessed a shooting at a local grocery several years ago. Unarmed, no cover, and close to the door made that an easy decision. If they’d “locked down” the store I and many others might be dead now.

  4. Great article and a well thought out POV. Personally, though, I think teachers are better off boring students to death, as teachers have done since the dawn of time, rather than shooting the little bastards.

  5. “It’s not about stopping terrorists, it’s about appearing to do something while mainly protecting your job.”

    A great documentary just came out about the TSA called “Please Remove Your Shoes.” It goes into how the smart guys upstairs are pretty much useless and don’t listen to the foot soldiers on the ground. One part is about how Air Marshals were forced to wear a suit and tie on every flight “to look professional.” Of course, they stuck out like sore thumbs, and the marshals had a joke about “the suit dies first” since any terrorist would easily be able to pick them out of the crowd and kill them first.

    • I’ve seen the Air Marshals in their suits and believe me, nobody looks professional in polyester.

  6. I taught high school for three years in the ’80s, and carried a concealed handgun every day. There were no metal detectors back then, so not much chance of being caught. Never had to use it, but glad I always had it. Had to disarm a kid with a knife once, but aikido was all I needed. Had there been a nut-job with a gun, I’m glad I would have had a fighting chance.

  7. “if teachers are allowed to carry, the chances of an accidental discharge on school grounds just went up 100%. ” Math is obviously not a strong suit here. “Up 100” from zero is still zero. To be sure, the chance of an accidental discharge increases. But so does the likelihood that meaningful defensive action is possible.

  8. Today is a mess politically and socially. Too many people with their head up their bums. More guns in the hands of law abiding citizens will in fact reduce crime and prevent it. Who is going to shoot someone else if dozens of people nearby, witha concealed carry gun, have them pointing at you? Plus, cars kill more people than guns too…just throughing that out there.

  9. We must also remember teachers are people to & all people are not stable minded people. who decides who gets to carry…?

    • I’ve been the president of a school booster club recently for my child, so I’ve had some close contact with teachers at the junior high level. There are a few who I’d trust completely to do everything they could to protect the kids, and actually be effective at it. Then there are a few who I wouldn’t trust to walk my dog. My main point being not that we should have 100% school carry, but that the thought process of the bureacrat is excrement. We should be able to discuss and decide at the local level and be done with it.

  10. I support gun-free zones. All you gun nuts are just delusional. After all, in the land of invisible pink florescent unicorns and green opaque translucent stocky short tall slender leprechauns and rainbow-riding angels, disarming the citizenry makes sense. Me and Barry Obama, my old-time buddy from way back, are totally in love with that idea. I think you guys should just admit you’re wrong.

    Nobody cares whether your kid dies, Don. It’s all about the government payroll. 🙂

  11. Nice article and well laid out. Just a couple of things.

    Schools these days are built with steel doors. Middle schools with fencing with fewer entry points. These steel doors are lockable from the inside. Same goes with intercoms or phone systems so that every classroom can be alerted ‘just in case.’ To add. Schools do indeed have plans and drills for drive-by shootings and/or shooters on campus. Typically it is a lock down 1st, move away from windows, followed by evacuation to a known location. Federal money was dished out after Columbine to retrofit some schools but most (if not all) new schools have integrated features for such an occurrence. And yes. Having a plan for CYA is normal.

    I imagine you can guess at the sheer number of calls going out from high school teens to their parents during such an event (then a 1000 calls back to the office). And/or the office phone lines being jammed as EVERY parent rushes to the scene to pick up their kid. All the while the police are rushing to get to campus where they will wait and consider options for 30 minutes (before doing anything).

    I guess my point is, unless we’re going to fund a law enforcement position at every school for this extremely random event, arming teachers is just never going to happen. Nor can I say I’m overly excited about the notion.

    But administrators who often where a suit and tie, where concealing a weapon might be easier, and with people who are properly trained? You bet. This makes more sense logistically anyway since teachers would be locked down in their classrooms. This leaves administrators the effort to coordinate LE, and to move in the direction of the disturbance. From a policy perspective, this is about the best we’ll ever be able to hope for. And in my opinion, a bit more reasonable.

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