Should teachers be armed in our schools?
How safe is too safe, or unsafe?
A teacher is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competences, or values. 1 This person must also possess core characteristics such as being kind, compassionate, empathetic, positive, and inspirational. Recently, schools are considering using these people with nurturing characteristics to become security forces and perform lifesaving tasks expected of duly sworn law enforcement officers. Okay, so I fully support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and the right to keep and bear arms. That being said, I’m not convinced that transitioning a 2nd Grade teacher to an armed and ready security guard is an appropriate response to the active shooter threat facing our nation’s schools.
What happens during a school shooting?
Let’s imagine a typical school day, in a typical classroom, with a typical, kind, and positive teacher. The order to lockdown has been given and the sounds of gunshots begin ringing out. Instantly the safety protocols are engaged and the classroom is locked and darkened. The teacher sits at the ready with her 25 innocent and scared students, gun in hand. Her heart races from 60 beats per minute to more than 200 as the adrenaline surges through her body, causing her vision to become myopic, and her fine motor skills to decrease. The classroom door is forced open and an armed intruder enters. Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! But can she? Has she been adequately trained? Does she possess the proficiency to stop the intruder without endangering others?
It is said that in all of us lives the characteristics of fight or flight when faced with danger. 2 Can we execute protocol under direct stress? Nobody can accurately say how they will respond in a given high-stress incident, it must be experienced. So then, it would come down to training for the moment of truth. What is required of our teachers to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun and act with precision under stress?
Concealed Carry Requirements
Many states provide for the privilege to carry a firearm in a concealed manner. There is an established application process, background check, and mandatory firearm training period required. In this case, we will use the State of Ohio and its CHL law. 3 Section 2923.125 of the Ohio Revised Code states that the total time required for training is 8 hours with a minimum of 2 hours of in-person training that consists of range time and live-fire training. Two hours of actual hands-on training with a firearm! That’s it. Two hours to procure and hone the skills required to protect human lives. Hold on, there’s more. The renewal of this license to carry a concealed handgun is every 5 years and requires no proof of firearm proficiency, just a form and a fee. So then, what level of proficiency is maintained by our teacher and how can we evaluate her ability to hit the mark? There is currently no requirement to mandate regular training and proficiency. It’s shocking to think that our teacher can establish a passing score on the firing range once and then never have to practice or re-qualify to maintain proficiency.
Comparing teachers to law enforcement
Let’s compare our teacher to the men and women of law enforcement who carry firearms daily throughout their careers and are mandated to demonstrate their proficiency annually if not semi-annually. They perform state mandated proficiency live-fire under the guidance of certified instructors to ensure that they can hit what they take aim at. Surely, these officers are proficient with their firearms due to the mandated and constant qualifications. But how well do these highly trained law enforcement officers really perform?
The New York Police Department (NYPD) implemented a program in 1970 to keep statistical information related to police-involved shootings called “Standard Operating Procedure #9” (SOP-9).4 Between the years of 1990 – 2000, officers demonstrated a hit ratio of only 15% when shooting at suspects. Under stress, even trained professionals display difficulty with firearm accuracy. How well will our teacher, with no mandated training, perform in life-threatening incidents?
Conclusion: Is it safe to ?
The United States is averaging 20 active shooter incidents annually and our nation is scrambling to provide legitimate lines of defense to combat the problem. School systems are researching ways to safeguard the lives of staff and students by strengthening entrance procedures, increasing the frequency of emergency drills, utilizing classroom door barricades, and working with local police departments to hire School Resource Officers (SRO) to maintain an armed presence. There are a variety of remedies available to schools that provide much less risk, liability, and potential expenditure than the arming of teachers. Perhaps it is best to leave firearms in the hands of police when in educational settings.
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Be aware, proactive, and safe.
President, Bolo Stick LLC
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