Here’s the lead in the article: “Frustration is mounting in the medical community as the Trump administration again points to mental illness in response to yet another mass shooting.”
Dr. Louis Kraus (article) is apparently incapable of thinking through the issues using systems analysis. Perhaps he’s forgotten the the class in which we consider mass shooters: Violently Criminally Insane.
Certainly, most mentally ill people are not prone to violence.
Certainly many violent people and criminals are not mentally ill.
But anyone who would indiscriminately murder large numbers of human beings outside the bounds of lawful warfare is, by definition, violent, criminal, and insane.
Then along come the armchair quarterbacks like Dr. Kraus: “Mental health professionals welcome more resources and attention, but they say the administration is ignoring the real problem — easy access to guns.”
Dr. Kraus, that is absolutely NOT the problem: 150,000,000 (150 MILLION) Americans have INSTANT access to guns, yet I don’t see them running around blowing holes in school children or predominantly conservative concert-goers in Las Vegas. DO YOU, DR. KRAUS? Of course you don’t. Furthermore, the UK’s violent crime rate shot up from near-US levels to nearly triple US levels when their government banned and confiscated most guns. Clearly, the fact that they had an armed general populace was a significant DETERRENT to violent crime, WASN’T IT, DR. KRAUS???
So what’s the difference? Out of those 150 MILLION gun owners, many can be violent, but they’re not criminals. A few are criminals, but they’re not insane.
The difference is simple: 99.999998% of those who have access to firearms are NOT violently criminally insane. Put another way, simply compare 150 million to the roughly 3 people per year who commit indiscriminate mass murder of the kind we see in school shootings, mall shootings, and theater shootings. Nearly all of them DO Have mental health issues, DON’T THEY, DR. KRAUS?
Please pardon my allcaps, but I’m trying to point out what is clearly obvious to the vast majority of Americans who have had properly military and/or law enforcement firearms training: It’s NOT the guns. Guns are NOT the problem. In fact, mass shooters rarely exhibit either violent or criminal tendencies before the snap. But SNAP they do, and when they do snap, it’s psychological in nature i.e. broken mental health, and many people die.
Thus, when people like Dr. Kraus come along and claim, “The concept that mental illness is a precursor to violent behavior is nonsense,” I find such statements themselves to be nonsense. Don’t get me wrong: It may very well hold true for the 99.999998% of gun owners who do NOT commit a mass shooting during any given year.
But that’s not the group we’re discussing, is it? We’re discussing the 3 people each year who go on indiscriminate shooting sprees against dozens of people. We’re talking about the mass shooters in Orlando, San Bernardinao, the Navy shipyard, Sandy Hook, Aurora, at Gabby Gifford’s talk, Virginia Tech, the church in Texas, the church in Charleston, SC, Luby’s, etc. Each and every one of them is, by definition, MENTALLY ILL.
So OF COURSE President Trump is talking about mental illness.
What YOU can do, Dr. Kraus, is help identify the 0.000002% of gun owners who meet the full definition of “violent criminally insane” AND are likely to go on a shooting spree.
THAT’S how you can help, Dr. Kraus. Please do THAT, instead of sitting back on your high horse and obfuscating the issue.
According to Statista, there are 1.25 million violent crimes in the U.S. each year. However, roughly 725,000 (37%) are stopped before they happen by armed, law-abiding citizens with guns.
Gun control’s success rate in stopping violent crime is less than 1%. Armed, law-abiding citizens stop 37% of all violent crime.
Armed, law-abiding citizens are roughly 50 TIMES more successful than gun control. So why do politicians keep pushing gun control instead of encouraging armed, law-abiding citizens?
There are 30,000 gun related deaths per year by firearms, and this number is not disputed. U.S. population 324,059,091 as of Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Do the math: 0.000000925% of the population dies from gun related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:
• 65% of those deaths are by suicide which would never be prevented by gun laws
• 15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified
• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons – gun violence
• 3% are accidental discharge deaths
So technically, “gun violence” is not 30,000 annually, but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spanned across the nation?
• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago
• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore
• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit
• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)
So basically, 25% of all gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause.
This basically leaves 3,825 for the entire rest of the nation, or about 75 deaths per state. That is an average because some States have much higher rates than others. For example, California had 1,169 and Alabama had 1.
Now, who has the strictest gun laws by far? California, of course, but understand, so it is not guns causing this. It is a crime rate spawned by the number of criminal persons residing in those cities and states. So if all cities and states are not created equally, then there must be something other than the tool causing the gun deaths.
Are 5,100 deaths per year horrific? How about in comparison to other deaths? All death is sad and especially so when it is in the commission of a crime but that is the nature of crime. Robbery, death, rape, assault all is done by criminals and thinking that criminals will obey laws is ludicrous. That’s why they are criminals.
But what about other deaths each year?
• 40,000+ die from a drug overdose–THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THAT!
• 36,000 people die per year from the flu, far exceeding the criminal gun deaths
• 34,000 people die per year in traffic fatalities(exceeding gun deaths even if you include suicide)
Now it gets good:
• 200,000+ people die each year (and growing) from preventable medical errors. You are safer in Chicago than when you are in a hospital!
• 710,000 people die per year from heart disease. It’s time to stop the double cheeseburgers! So what is the point? If Obama and the anti-gun movement focused their attention on heart disease, even a 10% decrease in cardiac deaths would save twice the number of lives annually of all gun-related deaths (including suicide, law enforcement, etc.). A 10% reduction in medical errors would be 66% of the total gun deaths or 4 times the number of criminal homicides……Simple, easily preventable 10% reductions!
So you have to ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, why the focus on guns? It’s pretty simple.:
Taking away guns gives control to governments.
The founders of this nation knew that regardless of the form of government, those in power may become corrupt and seek to rule as the British did by trying to disarm the populace of the colonies. It is not difficult to understand that a disarmed populace is a controlled populace.
Thus, the second amendment was proudly and boldly included in the U.S. Constitution. It must be preserved at all costs.
So the next time someone tries to tell you that gun control is about saving lives, look at these facts and remember these words from Noah Webster: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force at the command of Congress can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power.”
Remember, when it comes to “gun control,” the important word is “control,” not “gun.”
Despite the fact that an article entitled, “Antidepressants Are A Prescription for Mass Shootings” first appeared in November of 2012, five years ago, as part of CCHR* Florida’s efforts, now we have a shooter, Nikolas Cruz, with a 7-year history of calls to 911, FBI involvement, and repeated evaluations by licensed therapists, all of whom deemed him not to be a threat. Here’s another salient article.
The fact they were all wrong is undeniable.
I’m a data/systems analyst. In 2012, shortly after the Newton shooting, I located, downloaded, and began analyzing a very detailed set of data on mass shootings between 1981 and 2011. That’s 30 years of mass shootings.
There are only two substantial conclusions one can draw from the data:
1. Even the best psychological practitioners cannot successfully identify everyone who might prove harmful to themselves and others. Many mass shooters had been evaluated by psychologists or trained/licensed therapists who failed to identify them as a threat. Deeming everyone who passes through their doors as a threat, however, is not the answer. Less than 1 out of 10,000 subjects evaluated for potential harm, yet dismissed as non-harmful, ever go on to engage in a mass shooting. You cannot deprive the other 9,999 (actually, a lot more) of their own rights.
2. So-called “gun-free” zones occupy less than 10% of the physical space frequented by the general public, yet are where more than 80% of all mass shootings occur. In fact, more than one mass shooter has confessed they targeted a gun-free zone precisely because it was a gun-free zone so as to minimize the likelihood anyone would be armed and could shoot back.
Based upon the indisputable facts communicated by the objective data itself, along with 27 years of military and civilian education and experience in the use of firearms, here are my recommendations:
1. Stop designating areas as “gun-free” zones. Not only is that a wide open invitation to mass shooters, but it also denies the lawful general public their Constitutional right to defend themselves. Given the undeniably clear data and findings, the so-called “gun-free” zones are pathetically stupid. Stop designating zones as “gun-free.”
2. For areas where you really do not want firearms, such as K-12 schools, courtrooms and prisons, authorities bear the responsibility of protecting those who must be there. Secure the physical facility from unauthorized entry. Employ well-trained armed guards to stop unlawful armed intruders. Single point of access. Controlled entry. We do a very good job of this with courtrooms and prisons. Some municipalities do a very good job of this with schools. Take heed. Learn. Do. Protect our kids.
3. For more adult areas like malls and movie theaters, stop preventing law-abiding adults from defending themselves. Law-abiding citizens use firearms somewhere between 650,000 to 800,000 times each and every year to defend themselves against violent crime, usually without having to fire a shot. I’ve been involved in three such incidents. No shots fired, but the attack was stopped. In fact, because armed, law-abiding citizens are not cops, they invariably hold their fire until it becomes absolutely necessary to stop the attack. Error rates are only 2% for armed citizens, but 11% for law enforcement officers. Thus, disarming law abiding citizens is pathetically stupid.
4. Don’t touch the current psychological evaluation programs in place. Although it’s not an exact science, they do a very good job, with a very low error rate, in terms of identifying those who are a threat to themselves and others. Trying to monkey with that from a legislative perspective would be a pathetically foolish thing to do.
5. Stop politicizing the issue. It’s not Trump’s fault. It’s not Hillary’s or Obama’s fault. It’s not the fault of Democrats or Republicans. In fact, most of the “solutions” proposed by politicians would greatly exacerbate the issue. Stop it. Knock it off. Do the research and find out what really works. Limits on magazines? Caliber? Number of guns one can buy during any given time period? Absolutely none of these foolhardy measures has ever stopped a single mass shooting. What HAS stopped mass shootings is when either a law-abiding citizen or law enforcement officer at the scene SHOT the mass shooter before they could continue. Securing places where people who must attend are disarmed, like students in schools, is the best way to deter such shootings in the first place.
6. Stop the blitheringly idiotic headlines. Mainstream media bears a huge responsibility to print the truth, instead of sensationalism like, “No other country has these types of…” Phooey. I can name thirty countries off the top of my head where such shootings are far worse than they are here in the United States of America. Fact-checking is a basic yet critical responsibility of all journalists. Those who fail to check their facts make the problem much worse.
7. Investigate the relation between mass shootings and psychoactive drugs. When a mother of four on psychoactive drugs drowns all four kids in a bathtub as her very first indication she has any violent tendencies, it’s a statistical anomaly. When similar events, including mass shootings, are repeated thousands of times over thirty years, you’ve got a real problem, and the drugs are highly suspect.
Yes, mass shootings are a tragedy. Let’s not create further tragedy by resorting to knee-jerk gun control that has not nor will ever stop mass shootings and is likely to make them much worse by progressively disarming law-abiding citizens who can and do protect themselves and others. Instead, let’s secure certain facilities and respect the rights of all citizens to defend themselves in accordance with our Constitution.
*Citizens Commission on Human Rights
This situation has been repeated time and time again throughout all mass shootings, including Orlando, Virginia Tech, Newtown, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and Aurora. In every instance, not ONE of the intended victims was armed.
Being unarmed in the presence of a mass shooter DOES NOT WORK. Just look what happened in Norway: One mass shooter. Seventy-seven dead. Why? Because not a single one of the victims and many more people subject to Breivik’s attacks were armed. They were unarmed. They were defenseless, and they suffered the worst fate because of it.
If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.
How many more wake-up calls must we suffer before those in power actually wake up and smell the coffee? Before they realize that disarming the populace has ALWAYS resulted in a significant increases in violent crime?
Being unarmed DOES NOT WORK, America.
It doesn’t work in America. It doesn’t work in Norway. It doesn’t work in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram have killed 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million from their homes. It did not work in Nazi Germany, when Hitler largely disarmed the general populace, restricting ownership of firearms to “…persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit” i.e. card-carrying members of the Nazi Party. Disarmament has not worked in the United Kingdom, where violent crime rose 250% after they disarmed the general populace. Sure, it reduced firearm murders, but what Piers Morgan and the others refuse to tell you is that the overall murder rate increased.
An armed populace, however, does work. During the last thirty years, firearms laws have been relaxed in nearly every state. Also during that time, crime has dropped — a lot — but the drop always followed the relaxation of firearms laws.
The trend in gun control relaxation began in the mid-1980s, but the overall trend in violent crime peaked around 1991, from nearly 800 per 100,000 population to less than 400 per 100,000. That’s half, a huge reduction, throughout which firearms laws continued to be relaxed. Put simply, the relaxation of gun control laws resulted in more American citizens being armed. As a direct result, violent crime is about half of what it is today as compared to thirty years ago.
Being unarmed has never worked. It never will. Disarming Americans is a direct violation of our God-given, Constitutionally supported and protected rights. Our Founding Fathers established the Second Amendment’s “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” for outstanding reasons, most notably of which is that a well-armed populace is the best deterrent against criminal activity.
Headlines suggest America has had enough. After mass shootings in schools like Columbine, Aurora, and Arapaho High School in Centennial, Colorado has had enough. After the February 14, 2018 shooting death of 17 at the high school in Parkland, Florida has had enough.
By July 30, 2013, at least seven states had armed staffers. Newtown, Connecticut implemented an armed security guard program. Three months later, a rural school in Colorado began allowing staff members and teacher to carry concealed handguns. Eight months after that, Missouri began training and arming at least some of their teachers. Utah followed suite, as did Oklahoma, Missouri, and a number of others states. Many school teachers in Arizona and New Mexico began carrying. Due to those states’ isolated schools, where a response by law enforcement could be up to an hour away, some teachers have always carried.
When a sheriff offers free concealed carry classes for teachers and the slots fill in just 20 minutes, it’s abundantly clear that teachers are interested in protecting themselves and their students. The response is overwhelming. Teachers in at least some areas know what to do. Some school boards know what to do. Some municipalities and states know what to do.
Sadly, many school employees, teachers, officials and legislators don’t understand the problem, don’t know what to do about the problem, or they feel that they can’t afford to hire high-quality school resource officers i.e. well-trained armed guards to implement a school security program that will keep their kids safe.
It is for these reasons I wrote and maintain A Sensible Plan Towards Armed Teachers.
Table of Contents:
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Three Critical Aspects
- TRP – Teacher Reliability Program
When it comes to protecting our kids, I most parents want well-trained and experienced professionals. Armed teachers should go through all of the following stages, with a quality cut at each stage.
I am a retired military officer. My father, himself a retired military officer, taught me how to shoot when I was nine. By “how to shoot” I mean proper firearms safety, cleaning, care, and of course, how to hit the target. I taught my son how to shoot when he was nine. My grandfather began carrying his hand-me-down .410 shotgun to school, along with most of the other school children in rural Iowa, around third or fourth grade. Once there, they would prop up their unloaded firearms in the corner until school was out. On the way home, he’d catch dinner.
In 1990, I began carrying a small, defensive 9mm pistol on a regular basis after my car and a number of apartments were broken into. When I began hiking in the Inland Northwest in 1991, I began carrying a larger defensive weapon for defense against the occasional grizzly. All told, I’ve owned five firearms, although never more than three at any given time.
As an owner of just two firearms and a modest amount of ammunition, I am by no means any sort of “gun nut.” In 1989, however, myself and the rest of my class took the following oath while being commissioned as military officers:
“I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
This is the same oath of office taken by all civil, military, and law enforcement officers in the United States of America. Enlisted members in the military take a similar oath. Civil officers include every executive, legislative, and judicial elected or appointed local, municipal, county, state, and federal official, from the judge in a one-horse town to state legislators and department heads throughout our federal government.
The oath of office is not a symbolic gesture, nor do we get to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution we observe and which ones we ignore, a fact that many members of Congress are quick to forget, if they ever understood this very critical point at all.
My efforts, both here in this blog as well as on other forums, are focused on precisely what is stated in my oath of office: “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
My goal in this article is to provide clear, unmistakable information to all decision-makers and approving authorities so they can take steps based on verifiable fact, rather than opinion, objective reality rather than emotions or idealism.
I originally wrote this article within days of the Sandy Hook shooting as the beginning of a blueprint schools might use to create a safe, sane, and responsible program for vetting and arming teachers while maximizing deterrence and minimizing risk. I periodically update it, usually in response to yet another heart-wrenching, yet preventable school shooting. Thus, if you see that it looks like a work in progress, that’s because it is, as I edit it to make it better.
In the aftermath of Parkland, Florida, one grieving mom is shouting at Trump, “Do something!”
He is doing something. He is supporting concealed carry reciprocity. I will encourage him to repeal the blitheringly idiotic Gun Free School Zone Act, as it has been the DEADLIEST act ever passed by Congress and signed by a U.S. President.
Beyond that, look to your STATE, as the STATES are the ones who create and enforce the very wrongly labled “gun-free zones” in which MOST mass shootings occur.
As a military veteran, I knew full well that all the blitheringly idiotic “Gun Free School Zone Act” did was to advertise the fact that the criminally insane would face far less of a counter threat by attacking people in a school than they would attacking people in in town. Fortunately enough people throughout our general populace held the same conviction, and states have been responding by developing their own vetting and training programs to arm school teachers and staff members.
To date, some of the Armed Teacher programs match what I wrote herein, but others have deviated. Some of those deviations are rather good, while others appear to opportunistic way for certain pseudo-military/law enforcement groups to make a lot of money while providing significantly lower quality training that is available through traditional military and law enforcement venues.
No state should ever involuntarily arm teachers. Furthermore, there are many teachers who should never be armed. If states implement this the way the military implements PRP, it will save the states a LOT of time, money, headache, heartache, and litigation, not to mention the most important thing: LIVES.
“The Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) is a United States Department of Defense security, medical and psychological evaluation program, designed to permit only the most trustworthy individuals to have access to nuclear weapons (NPRP), chemical weapons (CPRP), and biological weapons (BPRP).”
Thus, I am in the process of rewriting this article on a regular basis to incorporate some of the better ideas while highlighting what appear to be some of the worst and potentially dangerous ideas. Throughout, I maintain that not every individual who works in a school could or should be armed, for a variety of reasons.
What I will not do is reveal the specific tactics, techniques, and procedures used by security resource officers to secure schools.
Thus, I remain firmly convinced that all armed teachers should pass a simple but effective three-step process. First, they should be volunteers. Second, those who do volunteer should be fully vetted by law enforcement, peers, and school officials before acceptance into the program. Third, those who are vetted should excel at the third tier of security involving their proper training and qualification.
I’ve certainly had enough. As a parent, I can attest to the fact that most parents worry about the safety of their children. Yet even two years after I posted the first version of this article, today’s headlines read:
15-Year-Old Killed Trying to Shield Others From Gunfire
That could have been MY son. Or YOUR daughter. Or someone else’s brother, sister, cousin, niece, nephew, or grandchild.
The excuse that “these things just happen” does NOT apply to events that are PREVENTABLE. This has ceased to be an issue for the police department to solve. It’s a risk management issue for We the People to solve, and by “risk management,” I am referring to well-established science. Specifically, risk management involves forecasting and evaluating risks together with the identification of procedures to control, avoid, minimize, or eliminate unacceptable risks, and in my mind — and I’m pretty sure in the minds of everyone — the likelihood of our children being blown away while at school is not an acceptable risk!
So, what must we do to effectively manage this risk?
Effective risk management uses a combination of approaches:
Risk Acceptance: Risk acceptance does not reduce any effects however it is still considered a strategy. This strategy is a common option when the cost of other risk management options such as avoidance or limitation may outweigh the cost of the risk itself. An organization that doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on avoiding risks that do not have a high possibility of occurring will use the risk acceptance strategy.
Unfortunately, this is what municipalities do when they tell law enforcement, “we want our kids to be safe” and law enforcement responds with, “we can put a cop in every school, but it will cost more money.” When the municipality balks, they are accepting the risk.
The bad news is that this is almost always the end of the municipality’s approach to managing the risk to our kids! Frankly, I find that abominable. Fortunately, there are three other resources at our disposal:
Risk Avoidance: Risk avoidance is the opposite of risk acceptance. It is the action that avoids any exposure to the risk whatsoever. Risk avoidance is usually the most expensive of all risk mitigation options.
When parents want to avoid risk to their kids in school, they simply pull them out of school and home school the kids, instead. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for many parents. The other option would occur on the side of schools, and that’s to keep all kids out of school!
Both these approaches, however, defeat the purpose of schools, which involves having kids attend school so they can learn.
Risk Mitigation: Risk mitigation is the most common risk management strategy. This strategy limits an organization’s exposure by taking some action. It is a strategy employing a bit of risk acceptance along with a bit of risk avoidance or an average of both.
For example, schools could start using expensive scanning equipment of the kind used at airports. Unfortunately, this approach is prohibitively expensive and not entirely effective.
Another mitigation technique involves forcing only the bad kids out of schools by means of suspension and expulsion.
Employing the services of school resource officers and/or security guards for purposes of both deterrent and intervention is another mitigation technique.
Finally, arming qualified teachers is another way to mitigate the risk by vastly increasing the response rate while lowering the response time. This is a highly effective means of deterring criminal behavior in the first place. After all, the vast majority of mass shootings over the last thirty years have targeted so-called gun-free zones precisely because law-abiding citizens in those areas have been disarmed. But what if they weren’t and the perpetrators knew it? They do the same thing they’re doing now by avoiding areas where people are likely to be armed and go elsewhere or not risk it in the first place.
Risk Transference: Risk transference is the involvement of handing risk off to a willing third party. For example, numerous companies outsource certain operations such as customer service, payroll services, etc. This can be beneficial for a company if a transferred risk is not a core competency of that company. It can also be used so a company can focus more on their core competencies.
Unfortunately, a school cannot transfer the process of educating children to another school better equipped to keep kids safe than they are. The resources to do that simply don’t exist.
So, what are We the People supposed to do when it comes to stopping these mass shootings, particularly in our schools?
First, We the People need to stop expecting law enforcement to be available on every street corner. For one, that’s simply impossible. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, “There are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States, which is the highest figure ever” (Source). According to the United States Census, however, there are currently (as of this writing), 322,359,989 people in the United States (Source). That’s a whopping 1 law enforcement officer for every 358 Americans, among the highest in the world, yet it’s still not enough.
In case you haven’t figure it out, yet, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, no society can afford to hire a portion of its members to fully protect the rest. The key word, here, is “fully.” There’s some measure of protection with any ratio.
Or is there? Does law enforcement action actually do any active protection? When I Googled, “how law enforcement protects,” I found three entries:
- Qualified Immunity: How it Protects Law Enforcement Officers…
- Obama signs ‘Blue Alert’ law to protect police…
- Just Dial 911? The Myth of Police Protection…
In fact, on the first page of results, I found zero websites that could show how law enforcement officers actually do any protection at all. In fact, one entry, an article by the New York Times, headlined:
Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone
Well, there you have it. “No duty to protect.” In fact, aside from the very rare occurrence whereby an officer just happens to be on site when a crime begins, the only protection offered by law enforcement is preventative in nature. Either the presence of a beat cop deters criminal activity, or an investigation after the fact may lead to incarcerating a criminal with potential for further mischief.
Second, answer the question: Who protects the American Public?
We the People do, that’s who. Armed citizens stop an estimated 650,000 to 800,000 violent crimes each year, usually without having to fire a shot.
Furthermore, contrary to popular misconception, we are not only considerably safer in doing so than most members of the police department, we are also more effective at permanently stopping the bad guys.
Are “school resource officers” (cops on beat at a school) an effective risk management solution? Well, somewhat. The knowledge that they’re in place is a mild to moderate deterrent. Since they’re on the scene and making friends with the kids, they often become wise to some events in time to deter them. Overall, however, they will never have as much interaction with the kids as do teachers.
As a retired member of the military, one whose duties included securing high value assets such as buildings, territory, and military aircraft, I can attest that regardless of whether your adversary is sane or not, the best deterrent is one which the bad guys believe changes the outcome for the worst, and to such an extent that they change their minds and never attempt bad behavior in the first place.
As reported about the latest school shooting in Colorado: “When an armed school resource officer entered the room, [the armed student] believed he was cornered and turned his gun on himself. The entire attack lasted approximately 80 seconds and was captured by security cameras.”
The problem with armed school resource officers is the same problem with all highly-trained law enforcement: There’s not a cop on every street corner. Most municipalities cannot afford to post an armed school resource officer at a high school all times when the school is open. For middle and grade schools, they’re spread pretty thin, with one SRO handling multiple schools. An SRO is often assigned to each high school, and multiple middle and grade schools. Thus, when he’s at the high school, the middle and grade schools are vulnerable, and vice versa. Hiring an armed security guard instead of paying a cop may save some bucks, but the school as well a local law enforcement looses some control.
Third, greatly increase the effectiveness of deterrence and on-the-spot stopping power by augmenting school resource officers and security guards ten-fold or more.
This is why I fully support an Armed Teachers program as an effective component of risk management, provided certain reservations are addressed. For example, you certainly don’t want to arm every teacher. Many teachers, for example, do not have the inclination, training, or temperament required to successfully confront an armed shooter. Other teachers do not have the appropriate level of maturity and responsibility to be entrusted with the possession of a firearm in the classroom.
Many people think the idea of armed teachers is abhorrent. I find the idea of unprotected school children in these poorly-named “gun-free zones” to be abhorrent. In fact, I think the politicians behind “gun-free zones” should be held responsible, if not criminally liable, for the deaths of the more than 300 school children who have been murdered to date, as their Gun Free School Zone Act has contributed to the targeting of schools by these mass shooters. GFZ’s boast a mortality rate many times greater than areas in which Americans’ right to keep and bear arms is not infringed.
Disarming a populace has never lead to an overall decrease in violent crime. The type of crime shifts (fewer gun murders, more murders by knife, bat, tire iron, etc.), but the overall incident in violent crime always increases. Cases in point: England and Australia. Before disarmament, their violent crime rates were on par with that of the U.S. England’s is now triple that of the U.S. and Australia’s is more than double.
Clearly, that route does not work.
Surprisingly, I do not advocate “arming” teachers. That’s an action verb, implying you’re putting a firearm in the hands of a teacher who may be reluctant to receive it, but may also feel obligated to pony up, yet who may not be either properly trained or ready to handle that responsibility. On the other hand, some teachers are very well-suited for the responsibility. Most people are unaware that some teachers are former law enforcement or military service members. Other suitable teachers include well-trained, honest, law-abiding citizens who possess the right qualities.
I most certainly support allowing at least some teachers to be armed. Lest we forget, however, all six of the last shooting sprees were committed by liberals, and our schools are hotbeds of liberal activity, so we do need to be careful about who we allow to be armed in our schools. 🙂
Many objections have been raised concerning the arming of teachers, including both “freeze-up” and the opposite side of the coin, an unbridled response which kills innocent civilians. Fifty years of FBI statistics clearly indicate that armed citizens are less likely to kill innocent civilians than well-trained law enforcement officers in a given shooting incident. If anything, citizens are overly cautious. I strongly suspect the reason is because most armed citizens are reluctant to fire unless it becomes absolutely necessary, while most law enforcement officers are trained to stop crimes in progress.
In fact, armed citizens are 6.2 times safer than law enforcement officers in terms of stopping shooting sprees! 14.3 average deaths occur when law enforcement stops a shooting spree. Recall the 2012 shooting at the Empire State Building in 2012: New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said all nine bystanders wounded in Friday’s Empire State Building shooting had been hit with police gunfire. Link to CNN article. “…the bystanders were not hit directly by police, but rather the officers’ struck “flowerpots and other objects around, so … their bullets fragmented and, in essence, that’s what caused the wounds.”
Yeah, right. And I’ve got a bridge on some swamp land I can sell you cheap…
Regardless, had they hit their intended targets, there would have been no ricochets. Instead, they missed, either because they were poorly trained, panicked, or both.
Meanwhile, just 2.3 deaths occur on average when a shooting spree is stopped by an armed citizen. That’s not necessarily because law enforcement is less effective than armed civilians. In large part it’s because there are far many more armed civilians (around 5 to 6 million) out there than there are police officers (about 800 thousand). It’s a simple matter of response times: The sooner you can stop the shooter, the more lives will be saved, and seconds count, big time. The police responded to the Holmes shooting in just 90 seconds, yet look how many people he managed to wound or murder. Good on the police for getting there in record time, but it’s clear 90 seconds is far two long. “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.” Had I or any number of my friends who routinely carry been at that theater, we would have put down the shooter in less than 5 seconds. Then again, I’ve trained for over 20 years to do just that.
Even with minimal training, however, the armed citizen is still highly effective. Recall the mother who was trying to escape the armed intruding by hiding in the attic with her children. She fired all six rounds, hitting the perpetrator five times, and stopping his attack. That’s pretty good shooting.
These statistics indicate we’re safer in the hands of armed citizens, simply because we are everywhere. We’re also less likely to shoot without being absolutely certain of our target. We are indeed effective: Well over a million crimes each year are stopped in progress by armed civilians, and roughly 700,000 of those crimes would have involved violence. The deterrent factor alone is well worth implementing an armed teacher program. Disarming everyone clearly doesn’t work: Gun free zones occupy less than 10% of the locations frequented by citizens in the U.S., yet they account for more than 75% of all shooting spree deaths.
Keeping in mind the above statistics, information, and rationale, let’s consider how we might proceed:
1. Allow teachers to volunteer for this position. Just as we have an all-volunteer military, we don’t want to repeat the mistake of forcing firearms into the hands of those whose hearts aren’t into it.
2. Vet the volunteers with recommendations from the principal, a panel, peers, or possibly the school board, or some combination thereof. Additional background screening should be done by the local police department. Establish clear “no-go” criteria that would halt the process for any single individual. Refer to the military’s Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) for guidance. No one individual should have absolute approval authority. Instead, they should have the authority to rank order the volunteers based on the inputs from a variety of sources, and provide recommendations as to why any teacher should or should not be considered for this position. A four-party panel consisting of the school principal, an Armed Teacher liaison in the police department, a representative from the teachers’ union, and a representative from the parent community should
3. Establish a minimum number or percentage of teachers who carry. This will prevent parties resistant to the idea from disqualifying everyone. It might be prudent to have a maximum number or percentage of teachers who carry, as well, simply to keep the quality of volunteers high. Regardless of the school size, I would recommend at least three armed teachers, and a maximum number of teachers to coincide with the number of exits, or 1/2 of 1% of the school population, whichever is greater. In my high school, we had around 2,500 students and approximately 10 exits, hence this “formula.” 🙂 I know for a fact we had at least 12 well-qualified and entirely trustworthy teachers for this role. That would come to approximately 5% of the population of teachers.
4. Priority should be given to teachers with a long history at that school (or within that school system), as well as former members of law enforcement and the military i.e. those who are well-trained in both the use and withholding the use of lethal force. I would recommend at least three years of history. Provided their service records are clear, teachers from law enforcement and military backgrounds have the requisite training to think and act both clearly and decisively while under fire.
5. Once vetted, armed teachers should be trained by the same specialists in the local police depart who train new recruits and/or who conduct recurrent training for sworn officers. They should also be trained alongside the same school resource officer(s) with whom they’ll be working, in both tactics and procedures. The training should include responses to school shootings and other potential and immediate life-threatening events, while also including identification of situations not requiring the immediate intervention of an armed teacher, when a call to an SRO would be the best course of action. Finally, as not all members of law enforcement and the military are ideally suited to react appropriately, this training should double as a screening program.
6. Some additional compensation should be given to those teachers who elect to put themselves in harm’s way. I recommend a stipend of 5% premium above their salary,
7. Armed teachers should be allowed to use their own firearms, provided they meet certain criteria common to self-supplied weapons allowed for law enforcement officers, such as minimum and maximum rounds, calibers, and barrel lengths. I would recommend calibers to include 9mm, 10mm, 40 caliber, and 45 caliber, with heavy precedence, if not insistence, on hallow-point rounds so as to minimize over-penetration. Magazines should not be limited, but they should be at least 7 rounds, commensurate with the M1911’s common configuration. I believe a common sense upper limit to be the common 16-round magazines. Teachers should be required to carry enough spare magazines so as to afford them access to at least 30 rounds. I feel it’s important to ensure both armed teachers and SRO’s have a similar number of rounds as do most police officers, if not most school shooters. Last time I checked, that’s at least 48 rounds, plus one in the chamber, for a total of 49. Personally, I carry 33 as an absolute minimum, and upwards of 55 when I’m traveling into or through higher threat areas.
8. Teachers who volunteer, vetted, and trained should be required to bring their firearms to school each and every day, and should check in with SROs as to whether or not they’re carrying that day. As with law enforcement and pilots, however, some circumstances, including illness, the use of many medications, and levels of personal stress should be automatic excuses for not carrying.
9. Legislation is required to protect these brave civilians, not from all culpability, but at least from acting in a manner commensurate with their training, the same as with law enforcement.
I may add to this later, on advice and recommendations from readers. 🙂
UPDATE: In the last year, 9 states have adopted plans to arm their teachers, and candidates are currently undergoing training. More…
UPDATE 2: Some states are now enacting this or a similar program, even though in so doing they’re directly violating federal law (gun free school zone act of 1990 – ruled un-Constitutional in 1995, resurrected from the dead by Janet Reno in 1996).
Federal exceptions to the GFSZ Act include:
1. Carrying or storing a firearm in one’s car on school grounds by CC permit holders, provided state law allows the exception.
2. Peace officers when their duties require their armed presence on school grounds.
The solution is simple: Deputize teachers. Not before they’re screened, selected, and well-trained, however…
UPDATE 3: Click here to read more about the Okey School System that has armed their staff.