School safety for active killer events

Editor's Note: The following article editorial was published on December 3 edition of the Sidney Daily News. School officials in that city, with the support and aid of the Shelby Co. Sheriff, have implemented a program to provide armed staff members inside the schools, and are struggling with a resistant local police chief.

by Jim Irvine

Everyone wants schools to be safe, but how is that best achieved. There are many aspects to school safety, and the best approach will have multiple overlapping layers of security. They are all important, but I'm going to focus on one specific layer; armed protection.

Our president, business executives and celebrities are protected by men and women who carry guns. We do this because they are at risk and are worth real protection.

I believe that children are our most precious resource. They deserve real protection too.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, people were afraid to get on planes. The public wanted armed guards on every plane, but there are over 5,000 planes to protect, and the U.S. Marines don't have enough manpower to put a team on every plane. The cost was prohibitive.

Pilots volunteered, were trained and deputized and have been quietly protecting passengers and our country for over 10 years. There were concerns of shootouts in the skies and objections that a pilot's job was to fly the plane, not fight terrorism. Most pilots don't carry a gun, but no one knows who does, or which flights are protected. The program works.

After the Newtown, Connecticut attack, many people feared for the safety of their kids. Instead of 5,000 planes, we have over 100,000 schools to protect. It is not feasible to hire armed security nationwide. School resource officers are great and should be used whenever possible, but availability and money make putting one in every school impossible. Just like planes, the answer is already there.

We recognize that many teachers don't want to carry guns. They are great people and no one should be forced to take up arms. There are, however, teachers and other school employees who have volunteered for training, and they will stand as a last line of defense for their kids.

During an active killing event, time is the most critical element. Response is either immediate from within, or people will continue to die while waiting on outside help to arrive. Just as pilots must be able to defend their plane in order to save the people on board, the reality is that educators must be able to save the kids in their school immediately, or our kids will be left to suffer and die while waiting for police to respond, arrive, enter the building and find the killer.

Buckeye Firearms Foundation offered to train a class of 24 people. They were chosen from more than 1,500 applicants. John Benner of Tactical Defense Institute designed a course specifically for schools. We have now paid for over 160 people to attend training, many of whom are now carrying guns in schools. Law enforcement and others have also trained school personnel.

Reading through all those applications was inspiring. There were former police officers who carry a gun everywhere they go, "except to protect the kids." What an insane policy to think that made us secure. Others had never fired a gun or were afraid of guns, but were "willing to do anything" for the safety of their students.

It is common for mothers in the animal kingdom to die to protect their young, and humans are no different, but no where is it common for moms die for another's young. At Sandy Hook, teachers literally stepped into the line of fire for their students. They willingly died, for others' young. That is noble and brave and many other good things, but it is not unique. Your teachers will die for your kids too. We underestimated their love for our kids.

If someone is willing to go to that length, we owe them our full support. Rather than dying in front of our kids, it would be better if they had the tools to win the fight and end the violence before it reached another child. The best tool for that terrible job is a gun.
The same people who have been carrying guns in your grocery stores, movie theaters, malls and parks are now safely carrying guns in the schools. It is silly to think a person who is responsible in all others parts of their life will suddenly become hostile toward the kids they love.

Most districts which have authorized people to carry have done so quietly with no media attention. Like federal air marshals on a plane, no one knows which teachers are armed. They quietly go about their business, but stand ready to act if the need arises.

The attack in Newtown was horrible, but it is likely to get much worse. The last time the terrorists attacked our planes, but next time it may be our schools. Instead of a classroom of children, imagine losing a school full of them. They have done it in other parts of the world, and there is no reason to think our time will not come. Beslan, Russia will never fully recover.

The president's children deserve armed protection. So do yours.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation President, and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award" and the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award."

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