LPKS Candidate Recruitment Director Matt Clark wrote this heartfelt essay in the immediate aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting in February of 2018. Unfortunately, it is still applicable today, in the wake of the Uvalde tragedy. His words are used here with permission.
Another school shooting, with the cries of students, teachers and parents looking into the TV cameras and posting online for the government to “do something.”
For two decades now our country has tried to figure out what that something should be. According to multiple reports, the most recent school shooting lasted three minutes. Three minutes, seventeen people murdered. After three minutes the shooter chose to put his gun down and walk away. He wasn’t stopped by the school’s active shooter plan, he wasn’t stopped by a student or teacher or a school resource officer, or the responding police. Police were on the way, and one can assume or hope they would have been able to stop the shooter within another couple of minutes if the shooter had continued. Another couple of minutes could have resulted in many more lives taken. We must do something.
Changes have been made to help lessen the impact of active shooters in the past twenty years. Most police departments no longer wait for tactical teams to go after shooters – they will engage a shooter with whatever resources can respond to the scene first. School districts have active shooter response plans and drills which seem to often involve hiding in classrooms, locking doors, and waiting for police to arrive. Hiding students out of the sight of a murderer does help since the shooter is usually looking for quick and easy targets.
Most high schools have an armed school resource officer who can quickly respond to a shooting. These police officers can act as a deterrent or as first responders. However, high schools are large properties, with many wings or even many different buildings, which means response takes time.
Shootings only last a few minutes now thanks to changes like these over the last twenty years. Columbine lasted 50 minutes. This week seventeen lives were taken in three minutes. Clearly, these changes aren’t enough, we need to do something.
We saw more headlines about heroic teachers giving their lives for their students. What if we could change that headline? Bodies being used as human shields to spare the lives of children are incredible acts of love. What if the teachers didn’t have to give up their lives to display that love and save their students? What if teachers who are willing to risk their lives had the tools necessary to stop the shooter from killing countless students, instead of sacrificing their lives for one or two students by shielding them? What if willing teachers could fight back within 30 seconds instead of police arriving in minutes? What if the headline reads “Teacher Takes Down Gunman with Concealed Firearm” or “Teacher Stops Gunman with Taser?”
I don’t have any comprehension of how someone can decide to pick up a weapon and start killing for no apparent reason. I have no idea how to prevent these shootings entirely. Changing a society and culture that results in so many people willing to commit atrocities like this will take years to fix. In the meantime, we must do something.
Why don’t we try allowing teachers to defend the schools with concealed firearms, or at least a taser or other nonlethal weapon? Why not? We need to improve response times, because 3-5 minutes is not good enough. The police can only respond so quickly. Seventeen lives taken in three minutes.
Let’s allow teachers willing to defend their students with a weapon the legal ability to do so. Let’s provide them with specific training on how best to conceal-carry and use that weapon in a school. Response time could be thirty seconds instead of three minutes. The shooting could be over in 30 seconds or less. Lives could be spared.
A teacher with a weapon in the first classroom to see bullets fly likely won’t be able to quick-draw and stop the threat before anyone gets hurt. That sucks, and everyone wishes there was a simple solution where no one gets hurt. If there was, it would be implemented already. Most school shootings are done by current or former students. We would be asking if there are teachers willing to shoot and kill one of their students if that student opens fire on the school. That is not an easy thing to ask of anyone.
If there are teachers willing to use themselves as human shields, then surely there are teachers willing to conceal-carry a weapon every day and God forbid even use it if all else fails. If we want our politicians to do something, why don’t we make it legal for teachers to effectively respond to their worst nightmare? If they are willing, let them do more than lock their door or lay down over a student.
Security in the form of more police or armed guards or airport-style security costs an incredible amount of money. Would even we want our schools to look more like a prison with security gates and police everywhere? If we prefer students not go through metal detectors or think about death and violence every day, then let’s legalize this hidden defensive option. If the state or local governments don’t have the resources to effectively respond to a school shooting within seconds instead of minutes, ask the teachers and faculty for help.
This is exactly what the federal government asked of airline pilots in the wake of terror, and the resulting program that armed volunteer pilots has helped keep the skies safe. It seems to be the most cost-effective way to defend children nationwide from school shooters, until the time comes when we as a society can raise students that no longer feel the need to slaughter their classmates.
For comments or questions on this article, please contact Allison Ross, LPKS Communications Director: firstname.lastname@example.org.