Nationwide there has been increasing emphasis on how to prevent violence directed at schools. Between adoption of metal detectors, increased use of school security guards and police officers, there have been others who contend that those already in constant contact with the students have the option of going in hot. Let us look at that.
The ProblemIn recent years schools with such innocent sounding names like Sandy Hook and Columbine have become household words due to the actions of mass murderers who would attack innocents. While criminologists contend these types of incidents are not gaining in frequency and have remained at a constant in the past several years, they are not going away.
In April a Pennsylvania teen went on a stabbing spree with a pair of kitchen knives in the crowded hallway of his high school, injuring 22.
In May, a troubled 17-year old teen in Washington state, John LaDue, appeared in court to answer a dozen felonies stemming from a foiled plot to kill his family and then attack a local school with pressure cooker bombs and firearms. According to reports, after shooting the school's resource officer first, LaDue planned to remain on his spree until he was killed by responding SWAT teams.
SolutionsHoping for the best while not planning for the worst is not a plan. Some fixes are easy. For instance Franklin Regional Senior High School, the site of the stabbing spree in April, has no metal detectors. Installation of such devices, turning entrances into controlled entry points, could very well have caught the knives in the student's bag before he made it into the school. Further, their very presence would have turned the school into a hard-target, and possibly discouraged the plan to begin with. However, this alone will not stop school violence.
Then there are armed security and police. Unfortunately, these cost a lot of money and, in law enforcement; you really do get what you pay for. While there are programs such as the Department of Justice's COPS grant system, which put 356 new school resource officers onto campuses around the country in 2013 at a cost of $45 million (do the math on that), there simply isn't enough of them to go around.
In a situation such as the case with LaDue, should an active shooter target the sole resource officer at the beginning of the incident, the facility could be at the mercy of the shooter until police arrived.
Arming FacultyFirst off, this concept is not new in our modern society. Since 2007, Texas has allowed for 'Guardian plan' teachers who are armed the entire time they are in school. The district reimburses employees for training, ammunition and the gun itself. They carry concealed. They are required to keep their gun in their possession the entire day-- not locked in a car, locker, or desk.
In all at least 71 districts in Texas now use this plan as standard operating procedure.
Ohio, through the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, faculty in more than 30 school districts has undergone what is called FASTER (Faculty / Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response) courses and have armed staff inside their schools.
In Florida, a bill pending in that state would allow military veterans and former law enforcement officers to carry guns in Florida classrooms if they receive additional training and authorization from school leaders.
OppositionFollowing the 2012 Newtown shooting, 37 states sought bills to allow armed teachers, but only seven passed into law. In Arkansas, the state stepped in and declared a school district that sent some 20 volunteer armed faculty members through 50-hours of training, illegal. Meanwhile movement to this plan in one Colorado brought discourse in the community.
"The only thing that's going to mitigate an active shooter threat is equal force, and a fire extinguisher and a pen or stapler or whatever these other programs suggest aren't equal force to an automatic weapon," one parent said in the meeting to discuss the plan.
To this administrators responded, "Our educators are telling us and the majority of my community is telling me this is not a plan that they're comfortable with at this time," school board chair Karen Byrd said.
Still, while John LaDue was comfortable with going to his local school and shooting it out until the local swat team arrived, would he have still hatched his plan if he thought it was possible that the first teacher he ran into may have shot back?