Arming Teachers For The Classroom

I have seen multiple articles referencing the training of teachers to be armed in the classroom. While in theory this is good, I will outline some potential concerns with that solution. 

First let me admit that I am approaching this topic with a broad brush and my points of view do not apply to all teachers. I do believe however it does apply to most. Teachers by nature are nurturers, they help shape and develop the children in their care for 6-8 hours a day. They spend their days educating and defusing problems with reason and discussion. To think that an untrained teacher could ultimately pull the trigger and end the life of a child is not something most are psychologically prepared to do. First they have to fight their instincts which is to try and reason with the shooter. This could and most likely would result in their (the teachers) death thus providing an additional weapon for the gunman. It will also result in students unprotected and without adult leadership. There is also the aspect that the teacher may have or had a relationship with the student. Again putting the teacher in a situation that psychologically they are unprepared for.

Now let’s discuss training. As a combat veteran who served in multiple combat zones and worked for the US State Department in high threat locations, we trained relentlessly on shooting and room clearing drills. I have also had the unfortunate duty of performing those tasks for real when lives where on the line. Anyone who has had to actually do that can tell you its not as easy as it is made out to be. 

None of the “training” I have seen or read about have the teachers go through extensive shoot no shoot scenarios, discuss room clearing tactics, shoot house training and situations causing them to have elevated heart rate, rapid breathing and other physiological side affects that a teacher will experience if put in that situation. Most “training” consists of typical range time focusing on fundamentals (which is a great start) but doesn’t scratch the surface of what needs to be addressed. As any veteran or law enforcement officer can tell you no amount of range time or shoot house time is enough, you can always train more.

While on the topic of training who is vetting these instructors? I have seen so many unqualified or under-qualified individuals popping up to teach people how to shoot. 

Nothing I have seen addresses the question of “what if there is collateral damage” meaning what if you shoot the wrong child or person? Shooting the wrong person would not only be tragic but it will have legal implications, not to mention the emotional toll knowing you shot an innocent child or person. What happens when law enforcement arrives, all they know is there is someone with a gun? These are also topics that need to be addressed before having the knee jerk reaction of “arming teachers” 

I admit with all the innocent children being murdered something has to be done. So if not arming teachers then what? I have always been a proponent of hiring veterans and or former police to be campus police. This is a whole other topic which I will address in the future.

To be clear I am an avid 2nd Amendment supporter, however I also have common sense and experience. There are too many cons and unanswered questions to think that we can solve this by arming teachers. I also find it a little hard to take advice from anyone who has not had to actively engage another human in a life or death situation. This is a very serious topic and asking what real world experience does the “subject matter expert” have should be the bench mark question. Reading books, going to seminars or having a NRA certificate is no substitute for real experience and it doesn’t make that person an expert.

So understanding that teachers A: don’t receive training on all topics necessary and B: receive inadequate amount of training time how is this a good idea? The argument will be made that something is better than nothing, which can be true in certain scenarios, however I do not believe that applies to this topic.

I often like to reference Mr. Joesph Wilcox who was a CCW holder and was involved in an Active Shooter situation. Tragically he lost his life because of inadequate situational awareness and preparedness. I use his story in my book and I refer to it in my training. After watching the video of his death, I had the realistic self reflection that what happened to him could have happened to me, even with my years of combat experience.

So is arming teachers a good idea? Im interested in your comments and points of view.

James Cameron and Security Concepts Group’s (SCG) www.scg-pace.com provides one of the few workplace violence training and consulting solutions that targets the prevention of active assailant situations; while responding to and recovering from an incident is a crucial component of their programming, they also arm employees and managers with the reporting channels and knowledge required to proactively identify red flags and direct troubled individuals to employee assistance programs. 

This goes above and beyond the boilerplate trainings local law enforcement provide, and more thoroughly meets emerging OSHA “duty of care” guidelines. SCG leverages more than a decade of assailant response experience in some of the most dangerous combat zones around the globe, applying this specialized knowledge to develop and deploy upfront vulnerability assessments, all the relevant medical training and certifications, and highly-practical in-person and eLearning content. 

More can also be read in my book P.A.C.E. Active Shooter, Workplace Violence Preparedness