The uncomfortable truth about school shootings

Commentary updated Oct. 5, 5:00 p.m.: MSNBC Live Vote: Should teachers be armed?

By Ken Hanson

In a rare moment of straighforwardness, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a staunch gun control extremist, has acknowledged that stronger gun control laws could not have prevented the horrible shooting at the Amish school in his state.

During a press conference, Rendell stated, “I believe with all my heart that we need more gun control.” But he went on to acknowledge that tougher gun control laws would not have prevented Charles Carl Roberts IV from carrying out his deadly attack, admitting, “You can make all the changes you want, but you can never stop a random act of violence by someone intent on taking his own life.”

Despite this, due to the current rash of school shootings, America is going to be inundated with lists from media talking heads and/or government taskforces/hearings (including a taskforce called by President Bush for next week), each list itemizing steps that need to be taken to protect the children. Since we are a short attention span culture, these lists will typically be advertised as “X easy steps to prevent school shootings.”

The uncomfortable reality is that we CAN NEVER prevent school/workplace shootings, and I would venture to assert that this has already been conclusively proven. Anytime there is a workplace shooting involving multiple victims, you will have a 95%+ chance that it occurred at a workplace 1.) banning all guns, even in parking lots, and 2.) with some reasonable form of onsite security. Further, with all of the school shootings in the past decade, schools across the country have taken extraordinary “soft security” measures – metal detectors, cameras, resource officers etc. Yet shootings continue to occur.

The shift from preventative mindset to reactive mindset is further reflected in the shift in police tactics for handling school shootings: away from forming a perimeter and negotiating towards getting into the building as quick as possible and eliminating the threat.

The police “get it.” The priority is to incapacitate the nut job as quick as possible. One premier training facility in the USA even has a school shoot-house so that police can practice shooting inside a school.

So, while media talking heads broadcast their lists suggesting less violent video games and more anti-bully policies, I figured I would chime in with the one measure that clearly will have an impact on school shootings: Arm and train a select group of volunteer teachers in each building.

Please understand - I am not talking about merely allowing teachers to take guns to school; rather, these teachers should be seriously trained in all aspects of firearm usage with the intent that they will be the first responders. Given all of the money I am sure we are about to throw away on self-esteem programs and video cameras, we could train and arm this core group of people for a fraction of the costs. This approach was applied to air transportation after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and there has not been another successful attack in over 5 years.

These school shooters are on one-way trips; they know that, it is part of their intentions. The quicker we, as a society, help them arrive at their end, the more kids we will save from being shot/molested etc. There is nothing rational going through the minds of school shooters the morning before they set out on the path of infamy. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can prevent these shootings by somehow “hardening” these targets to the point where the shooter will be discouraged. Besides, many school districts are failing in their main mission, now we expect them to take on the additional task of having 100% security 100% of the time? Please.

The uncomfortable truth about school shootings is that they are going to happen no matter how many preventative steps we take, and the only step we can take that will conclusively help protect our children is to make sure the shooter is killed as quickly as possible. The longer we refuse to acknowledge this uncomfortable thought, the more times we will watch our children’s bodies being carried out of schools.

Ken Hanson is Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair and author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws.

Related Story:
Citizens Committee for the
Right to Keep and Bear Arms: RENDELL ADMITS GUN LAWS COULD NOT PREVENT SCHOOL SHOOTING

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