Teachers could and should be armed to protect students
By Cal Edwards
There is no easy cure for violent acts in our society when there are so many needed answers to solve the problems, but a reality check for our society is that law enforcement cannot prevent these violent events from happening. Another reality check is that firearms will not be removed from our society any time soon. When you have a firearm and force being used on our children in schools, it is generally going to take force to stop it.
Any time you have a school shooting it would be better to have one person present in one minute to stop the assault than a SWAT team to stop the assault in a half-hour. Even an officer that is only five minutes away will be too late to save many lives. Many of our educators and politicians are anti-gun. They advocate that no guns should be on a campus or school grounds. They even post signs stating, “This is a gun-free school zone.”
This is like telling a criminal this is a fertile environment for them to prey. We should be putting signs up that state: “Faculty and staff armed to protect students.”
There are always new discussions and laws enacted about gun control with new victims. The new laws are not any more effective at protecting us from these events than a restraining or protective order protects the victim of domestic violence. They are just pieces of paper designed to make us feel better. It is feel-good legislation and meaningless to those who don’t abide by the laws and don’t play by the rules.
When someone stops breathing or their heart stops, you only have a few minutes to save a life and if CPR is not started within a few minutes, no amount of advance care later is going to do any good. If someone is to live or die, it is not the ambulance personnel that will save them, it is the bystanders that know how to give CPR until help arrives.
Time is the biggest problem to saving a life in a cardiac or pulmonary arrest and time is the biggest problem to saving the lives of our children when you have an active shooter in a school. If there is to be an effective response to an armed suspect in a school, it must come from a person already on site when the shooter arrives. Police officers today are very well trained to handle active school shooters, but an active shooter can do a lot of damage before law enforcement can mobilize to stop the threat.
Faculty and staff could and should be armed to protect students and children. Many areas around the country have legislated faculty and staff to be able to carry firearms on campus and school grounds. Not all educators would want to be armed. But some do want to be and they should be allowed to be armed if they have the training.
In addition to having a concealed handgun course, they should have training that goes well beyond a typical concealment course and have a stringent background check. They should have a requirement to have regular shooting qualifications and training. This is easily done by law enforcement and qualified firearms instructors.
The teachers and staff are the real first responders to stop an active shooter in a school. Police departments and schools do not have the manpower or budget to put armed officers in every school. Waiting for the police to respond is reactive and teaching students how to hide and play dead is an unfortunate reality. We have given our teachers the responsibility to educate our children and we expect our children to be safe in their care.
According to the Force Science Institute, which tracks mass murder data, public schools, preschool through 12th grade, are targeted 38 percent of the time, colleges/universities 17 percent and church/religious facilities 10 percent. Intervention to stop the killing happens about half of the time. Of the times when intervention occurs to stop the killing, two-thirds of the time it is stopped by unarmed civilians, and only one-third of the time by law enforcement.
Mass murders are at a record high in our society today. If our educators were armed with training, we could prevent a lot of needless killing. An armed citizen on site, at the time of a shooting, could prevent a lot of unnecessary deaths. The liberal educators or politicians that don’t want guns on a campus or schools are either of the false mindset that the police will protect them or they assume that nothing will ever happen in their area. They are in the denial mode, which is the most dangerous of all. When it does happen, these politicians and educators will advocate that it was not their fault that intervention did not occur sooner.
Cal Edwards is Inkom’s police chief and he served as a police officer in Twin Falls for about eight years and was the coordinator of the Idaho State Police academy for about seven years. He is currently the coordinator of the law enforcement program at Idaho State University, a master firearms instructor for the state of Idaho, a past paramedic and formerly served as the coroner for Twin Falls County.