Following the horrendous mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and on the heels of the mall shooting in Clackamas County Oregon earlier that week, I received significant correspondence from readers. Some offered their thoughts on how such incidents could be prevented or responded to while others asked the subject simply be discussed. There’s a lot that could be said on the subject, as multiple theories exist to explain why nut cases do what they do.
Depending upon one’s political perspective, suggestions for a cure range from responsible to ridiculous. Like most cops, I prefer to deal with the real world, not some theoretical or philosophical discussion, which may or may not make sense. Here are some things I consider facts.
Firearms will not be removed from our society anytime soon. No matter how tightly guns are regulated, those intent on using them for criminal purposes will acquire them — lawfully or not. The maximum carnage at mass murder scenes, including schools, will occur before law enforcement arrives even when the ETAs of responding units are within a minute or two.
I don’t think it can be successfully argued that if there is to be an effective response to an armed suspect, it must come from person(s) already on site when the shooter arrives. In the case of schools, that would most likely be school employees whether faculty or staff. Even in schools with School Resource Officers on campus, the chances of that officer being at the gunman’s point of entry to engage him or her before damage is done is unlikely.
Shift In The Force
It’s widely believed that many, maybe even most, educators are of the liberal persuasion and, thus, antigun. I think it depends on where those educators work; in my rural, conservative county it’s certainly not the case. I sense there’s a philosophical shift occurring in the minds of many teachers and school staff. They are committed to children and the safety of the children under their care.
In my unquestionably liberal state, a large number of teachers have petitioned their school districts to recognize the concealed carry permits they hold and allow them to carry concealed on campus. Some districts allow it, while others do not. In this same liberal state on the same day Sandy Hook occurred a state legislator introduced a bill in the state house that would require school districts to allow CCW permit holders, including faculty and staff, to carry on campus. If such legislation can happen in this state, it can happen almost anywhere.
Frankly, I think such an approach makes sense and I support it with a few prerequisites. First, in addition to the usual concealed handgun license training courses, I would want teachers and staff who opt to carry to be trained by local law enforcement on practical considerations going well beyond what the typical concealed handgun safety courses address. Second, I’d want teachers and staff who opt to carry on campus to commit to no less than quarterly qualification with the weapon carried.
Prior to implementation of an armed faculty/staff program, all of the signs presently posted at far too many schools across this country advertising such schools as gun-free zones need to be removed. In their place I would suggest placing signs conveying just the opposite message: FACULTY AND STAFF ARMED TO PROTECT STUDENTS.
Many if not most mass killers are cowards — their actions, as well as post-incident investigations have revealed that. Faced with a choice they will most likely avoid places where they believe they might encounter armed resistance. That is a very good thing.
While I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment, it’s not my belief in the right to keep and bear arms that underlies my point of view on this matter. Rather, it’s the absolute sickening feeling I get each and every time innocent children are slaughtered by some deranged individual when, in the back of my mind, I believe a properly trained, armed citizen on site at the time could have stopped the attack in its infancy.
Law enforcement has long sought partnerships with the public in the interests of enhancing safety. We have done so with the knowledge that our resources are limited and our response times are often too long at no fault of our own. We have refined our active shooter tactics nearly to perfection, but we are limited by the uncontrollable factors of time and distance. Perhaps in the interest of the lives and safety of our children it’s time to advocate a partnership with armed citizens to achieve an admirable and necessary objective.
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By Jerry Boyd