“Bang! Bang!” A normal Tuesday morning of going to class has suddenly turned into a nightmare no one thought would ever happen. Three gunmen enter the high school with AR-15s and chaos ensues among the entire student body. After 24 casualties and multiple injuries, questions arise, what could have stopped the shooter? Teachers ask this question all the time and the answer remains simple, firearms in school. Equipping teachers with firearms on school property provides safety for all students and helps to prevent mass casualties on campus through action and emergency readiness.
The amount of time it takes for emergency personnel to respond to emergencies greatly impacts the outcome. Different sizes of school districts require varying levels of security based on their needs. School districts come in all different shapes and sizes. With smaller police forces, many school districts have restricted access to officers, therefore, staff within the building must take their own actions when facing threats.
A teacher will protect their students no matter the cost, even if it jeopardizes their own life. Teachers want the best educational experience for their students, but also to keep their students safe and secure. Allowing staff to carry firearms on school grounds remains the only reasonable option for increasing security. (Wheeling, 2019) Rural schools lack readily available officers in close proximity to campus because of the broad area some law enforcement agencies must cover. Arming teachers can provide protection until emergency personnel arrives. A twenty-minute time difference stands between the Northwestern Area School District to receive help from any police officer. (Chavez, 2018)
Training educators in life-saving first aid as well as how to handle a firearm effectively improves the likelihood of survival among victims and bystanders. Teachers acquitted with the knowledge to treat victims and handle firearms in the event of an emergency help the outcome of a dangerous situation. Teachers provide the first line of defense for protecting the students and, therefore, should know how to act in the event of a threat or violent action.
Programs including FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) provide a way for staff to learn first aid and proper firearm training. It does not replace emergency personnel during a dangerous event but allows for the teachers to begin resolving the conflict until help arrives. (Wheeling, 2019) When people know how to take action in an intense situation, productivity instead of chaos occurs and the situation resolves faster and simpler. The programs available for teachers to become certified concealed carriers on school grounds requires extensive training. Courses in some states require trainees to receive firing range scores than some law enforcement agencies. (Santoni, 2018)
Providing training to school faculty on how to use a firearm for protection can not only help save lives in a school shooting situation, it can also prevent them altogether. Having armed staff members warns students of the consequences that could happen if they choose to partake in dangerous behavior. Armed staff within schools discourages violent behavior and makes the possible offender think twice about their actions. Students’ worries about their safety while at school have decreased when teachers carry concealed firearms. (Hennessy-Fiske, 2018)
Students become less likely to harass one another and instead choose kindness when interacting with each other. When students know protection along with education is the top priority for teachers, more students will build long-lasting, beneficial relationships with the educators they trust. While teachers go through firearm training, they also learn about the importance of analyzing situations before deciding whether to react. Teachers can prepare themselves and think through what actions they would take to get all students to safety.
Rural and poverty-stricken school districts do not have access to the necessary security needed to protect their students. School districts must avoid unnecessary costs by prioritizing where funding goes. The rising cost to protect schools with armed resource officers or law enforcement has become unaffordable for some school districts. When deciding whether to cut educational or security funding, school boards will almost always choose to cut security funding first. Training faculty to serve as armed guards saves money and provides more security measures rather than only hiring one other armed officer.
The Clarksville School District near Little Rock, Arkansas, has trained some of their staff to carry firearms because hiring another security guard was unaffordable. ‘“Every second that ticks by is a possibility of a life lost. What we’ve gathered from this is that it can be done, it can be done right.’ CNN affiliate KFSM.” (Chavez, 2018) The proven reality remains that even schools with armed guards receive threats and violent actions towards them. Most school shootings happen within large school districts with many armed guards on duty at a time. When planning violent actions, gunmen often ignore security measures such as the number of resource officers or armed people within the school building. Two armed police officers guarded Columbine High School when the attackers invaded the school. Both officers failed to contain the two assailants. (Trotter, 2005)
Some argue against arming school staff because they believe the risks outweigh the positives. Examples including children accessing the firearms, discharging of the weapons accidentally, and the unknown of how staff will respond when armed disturb individuals not in favor of firearms on school property. Students aware of teachers having firearms could attack to obtain the weapon and use it against others on campus. Keeping the anonymity of who carries a firearm within the school building will prevent attacks by students against staff. Also, if a student chooses to attack the school, they will not know where the firearms dwell or which individuals possess them.
Teachers should always have their firearm concealed on their person or in some sort of safe that restricts access. A staff member possessing a concealed firearm has had training instructing them to never show the weapon or expose it to the public eye. Also, the involuntary discharging of weapons could cause accidental harm. How teachers react to the threat of a weapon pointed at them or others raise warrants due to everyone acting differently when facing diversity. Ensuring the firearm remains in the safety position and never handling the weapons during the school day prevents accidental discharging. Routine checks for functional use and reliability ensure safety for the teachers and faculty who carry the weapons on a daily basis. Callisburge Independent School District started a “guardian” program and routinely runs active shooter simulations with all of its members to prepare for real scenarios. (Chavez, 2018)