It is bad enough when another narcissistic idiot with a gun kills innocent victims. It is worse when the mainstream media gives the murderer a multi-million-dollar publicity campaign. That is crudely stated, but profoundly true. Until that media dynamic changes, we’re left to defend our children in school and defend our neighbors at church. Along the way, we’re balancing some conflicting emotions and some important truths about protecting our kids. Finding the best middle ground is hard.
Let’s start with some facts. We defend our elites with guns. That is true for rich anti-gun billionaires like Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It is also true for elite DC politicians and their families. Ignore what the politicians say about guns and watch what they do. They think guns save their lives and the lives of those they love.
That is easy to say, but the emotions around public violence are still hard to deal with. Part of us feels that attacking a school or a church is unimaginable. Just because it is uncomfortable for us to consider doesn’t mean a narcissist won’t do it to grab our attention. Mass murderers deliberately attack innocent children to leave us outraged.
When it comes to our neighborhood school, our first reaction is to fill the hallway with police before the school opens. We want the best defense for our children and our neighbor’s children. That feeling fades as we add up the costs. Yes, we could put a SWAT team in every hallway of every school building. We could put an armed team on every bus and ballfield. The good news is that attacks on our schools are so rare that almost every school will never be attacked. There were two mass murders in schools in 2022. Being realistic for a moment, all that money spent on armed cops would devour the school budget. There is no point in sending our children off to school if we don’t have any money left to teach them while they are there.
Fortunately, there is a broad middle ground that works perfectly to protect our students. For over a decade, we’ve had thousands of armed volunteers in schools. These volunteer teachers were recruited by their school principals. They were trained by outside organizations and then approved by their school board. We’ve had several million classroom days of having a trained volunteer defender at school without a firearms accident. That is a lot of practical experience.
The best defense prevents the attack in the first place. So far, these volunteers have never had to defend a school that had a publicly announced safety program of armed school staff. Their success changes everything.
Murdering narcissists feel like desperate losers. They certainly don’t want to fail as they try to become an overnight celebrity while they commit suicide. The murderers deliberately avoid schools where they will face armed resistance. Unfortunately, we put up clear signs that tell murderers exactly where to hunt disarmed victims. The mass murderers look for “No Guns Allowed” signs.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that both teachers’ unions and police unions often dislike volunteer defenders at schools. What might surprise you is the number of school staff who volunteer. We certainly don’t need every staff member to carry a gun. When asked in an anonymous survey, more than one-in-six teachers said they would volunteer to be part of a recognized program to defend their school. That is more than enough.
Most training programs pick up where the usual concealed carry class ends. (1) Volunteers then go through a refresher class of basic marksmanship and firearms manipulation. All told, that takes about three to four days of training and practice. Now the volunteers are ready to take a specialized class to become a first responder in their school. Some don’t pass that class the first time.
That class typically includes three more days of instruction. (2) Some say that is too little training and some say it is too much. As you think about that question, please consider this. With those three days of specialized training, we’ve never seen trained staff have a firearms accident or lose a gunfight in their school. We also have many schools that are left undefended because we don’t have enough armed responders on campus. I don’t think the mass murderers care if the defenders have 6 hours of training or 6 weeks of training. The murderers want unarmed victims rather than facing a gunfight.
Do we need fewer defenders who are better trained, or more defenders who have less training? The statistics say that we need lower training standards until every school has an armed safety team. Logic is cold comfort and our emotions pull us the other way; we want at least one superhero in every classroom. We’d like even more.
We know that we put our children at risk if we set the standards too high, and we might put them at risk if we set the standards too low. Please give it some thought, and then let your school board know what you think.
(1)- About 29 states allow some program for volunteer school staff to go armed on campus. I’ve taken five of those classes in three different states. I’m describing the minimum entry standards I saw, though most of the volunteers had much more.
(2)- This is the minimum training that new defenders have on the first day they are allowed to carry at schools. School safety teams also train during the year and typically take an advanced class once a year.