Should Teachers Carry Concealed?
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
The problem is that individuals have come onto school property and have successfully killed students and teachers. Using the numbers from Wikipedia between 2015 and May of 2018 in 74 shootings there were 85 students and/or teachers killed, and 219 students and/or teachers wounded. That is in only 3 1/2 years there were 85 students and/or teachers killed, and 219 students and/or teachers wounded.
In many states, public schools are gun free zones other than for School Resource Officers (SROs) who are law enforcement officers. Not all public schools have SROs so any person coming onto those school properties, or worse, entering school buildings, will not have to confront deadly force until police arrive. To my knowledge, police have never arrived before at least one person has been murdered or wounded, and, as is now well documented, until many people have been murdered.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS to SAVE LIVES
After the Columbine School shootings, police changed their active shooter strategies from having at least 4 officers group outside the building and then enter together to having the first officer who arrives on scene enter the building to confront and stop the shooter. While this has been proven to be a more effective strategy, students and teachers were still killed or wounded before the first officer arrived.
School officials began to “harden” the schools so that, hopefully, shooters hoping to become active would never enter the schools. Doors to the buildings were locked. Classroom doors were altered so they could be easily locked and strategies were developed to make students in those classrooms unreachable to an active shooter. Again, this was an improvement. However, active shooters have still been able to enter school buildings and have continued to be able to kill or wound students and teachers. In only the first 5 months of 2018, 40 students and teachers have been killed with 98 wounded. That is in 29 shootings.
After the killing of 17 students and teachers and the wounding of the same number at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last February, the solution of having teachers carry firearms as a faster way to confront an active shooter was not only suggested again, it was promoted with a greater sense of urgency.
Since then, armed School Resource Officers have on at least 2 occasions (Great Mills High School in Lexington Park, Maryland and Forest High School in Ocala, Florida) stopped active shooters. The result was at one school one student was killed and at the other school only one student was wounded.
SHOULD TEACHERS CARRY CONCEALED?
As a police officer, I received active shooter training. Now, as a retired officer, I train civilians to be able to obtain a Tennessee concealed carry permit. I provide extended training to permit holders on how to defend themselves with a handgun in a self-defense situation. I have seen many shooters capable of qualifying for a carry permit that I suspect would have great difficulty handling a firearm successfully in a self-defense situation outside the home. As a result, I always encourage permit holders to obtain additional training.
Handling the adrenalin dump a potential victim will experience when confronted by a perpetrator wanting to rob the victim, breaking into his house, or attempting to rape her, will be overwhelming for most people who have never seriously prepared for this kind of event. The victim will likely have only one perpetrator to confront and will seldom have anyone around as witnesses because your usual perp does not want witnesses.
The active shooter wants both victims and witnesses. Shooting into a crowd is the goal. Defending against an active shooter in this situation requires stress training that is delivered in an atmosphere of firing a gun. Probably 99% of concealed carry holders have never received this type of stressed firearm training.
I have observed many good people who have “been shooting all my life” tremble from the stress of qualifying for a concealed carry permit. The worst that can happen to them if they are not accurate shooters is they will have to re-take the class.
What is the worst that can happen if one of these permit holders gets so stressed they cannot hit the active shooter in a crowd while the active shooter is moving, and while possible victims are screaming and running as fast as they can, and the shooter is firing his weapon (a 12 gauge shotgun perhaps or an AR-15 rifle) which is making an incredibly loud booming sound, and the permit holder is fearing for his or her own life? Well, the permit holder might take so long to get on target, maybe only one second, that the active shooter makes the permit holder a victim.
Or perhaps the permit holder, again not trained to handle the results of an adrenalin dump, fires wildly and shoots students or teachers.
I am in favor of teachers carrying concealed in schools as long as that has been a choice by them and also if they have gone through what might be called ”active shooter training for teachers.” The accuracy standard will need to be very high, for example, under stress, while moving, being able to shoot a 5 inch group at 10 yards. It must include “shoot/don’t shoot” training. It must include training designed to ensure the teacher will quickly and effectively identify not only the correct target, but also what is to the sides and in the background of the target. The training must include how to deal with tendencies toward tunnel vision and the tendency to shoot the gun and not the person.
The police strategy of staging 4 officers before entering the building went away because it did not get effective resistance into the school soon enough to save many lives. Until school buildings become impossible to breach by intending active shooters, having well trained teachers who volunteer to carry firearms in the schools will provide the fastest intervention unless there is a school resource officer awaiting the active shooter on his or her entry into the building.