Frightened Politicians Leave Students at Risk

We can stop mass-murderers from killing students if we’re willing to face a few truths. An ordinary volunteer in the classroom is a better defender than a certified professional who arrives too late. When seconds count, quantity has a quality of its own. So why are politicians standing in the way of saving our kids?

How good is good enough when it comes to protecting our children in school? One extreme view says that Superman who stops bullets with his bare hands is barely qualified to protect our children. The opposite extreme says that anyone who isn’t in jail should be qualified to act as an armed guard for our kids. One argument asks for quality while the other asks for quantity. While we are busy debating, mass-murderers are still stalking our children at school. We can stop mass-murderers if we’re willing to face a few truths.

Do armed defenders belong in schools? Celebrities and politicians protect their children with armed security. Our children are as valuable as the children of those rich elites. Unfortunately, the typical American child goes to school in a publicly-declared, “gun-free zone.” Since the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School a decade ago, some school districts have taken a different approach. They authorized thousands of school staff to become trained volunteer first responders to protect our students. Each of those armed defenders have taken days of training in the safe and effective use of firearms. They learned trauma care and emergency response. We’ve trained volunteers in 20 states and in over 300 school districts. Those armed defenders have been protecting students for millions of hours.

That sounds good, but it isn’t nearly enough. In the last year, we saw 30 people shot and killed by mass-murderers attacking schools. In contrast, we’ve never had an attack at a school with a publicized program of armed school staff. In the decade since these programs began, not a single student has died because a trained volunteer defender was negligent with a firearm at school. (I’m not aware of a single injury of any kind, but we’re comparing deaths rather than wounds.) No mass-murders. No accidental firearms-related deaths.

That 30-to-zero ratio tells us lot. Our armed defenders were wonderfully effective at stopping attacks at school, usually without touching their firearm! By a ratio of 30-to-zero, our students were murdered because there wasn’t a volunteer armed defender to protect them when they needed it. We should not abandon our children to mass-murderers.

Do we need better defenders or do we need more defenders? The higher the testing standards, the stricter the requirements, the fewer volunteer first responders we have in our schools. Until there is a volunteer defender in every school, our standards are too high. We should relax the qualifications until there is a defender in every hallway. When seconds count, quantity has a quality of its own.

An ordinary volunteer in the classroom is a better defender than a certified professional who arrives too late.

Some states don’t allow armed staff at school. Several states like Florida and Texas require that armed defenders in school take classes typically taught in the police academies. The volunteer defenders then have to renew their academy training every year. That sounds good, but it hasn’t worked as planned. Those requirements have too few volunteers and leave too many schools unprotected. Witness the mass murders of undefended school children in Florida and Texas.

Those stringent requirements for armed school staff were chosen in legislative committees because they were easy for politicians to explain to the public in a soundbite.

I’ve taken training classes with these school defenders. Believe me that every single one of them fears making a mistake and injuring an innocent person. Politicians and the media may not give us credit, but our neighbors have weighed that concern as well. Of parents with children in school, nearly half (49%) wanted their children protected by armed staff rather than leaving them undefended.

That still leaves roughly 40% of parents who feared having a few armed defenders at school. Some teachers fear having different opinions in the teacher’s lounge. Some school boards fear hard questions from the public. If volunteer defenders can face a murderer’s bullet, then we can face those fears and save our kids.

I think this decision is easy. I’d much rather face a hard question at a board meeting than have to explain why I left an unprotected child to die. If you feel that way, I urge you to run for office. Or at least share this article with a friend.

Notes- I used the older FBI definition of mass-murder which is four murder victims not counting the murderer. In the spirit of complete disclosure, I’ve taken four FASTER classes in three states. I’ve written dozens of articles about FASTER, and made financial contributions to them as well.

This article was originally published at the SlowFacts blog and is republished with permission.