The much maligned Wayne LaPierre, president of the NRA, said, "The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun." Unfortunately, this is mostly true, as these sprees tend to end only when police arrive -- the shooter takes his own life, or the police do. Still, the idea of armed security at schools is one that should be considered. In fact, there are some schools that already have this in place. However, having armed security at schools is controversial, and even if approved, implementing this will take time and money. Further, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said these measures are "not conducive to a positive learning environment."
what about watch dogs? Schools already employ lots of security
measures: locked doors requiring visitors to buzz in, scanning of drivers'
licenses, wearing name tags, checking into the front office upon
arrival and departure. It appears that Sandy Hook Elementary had many of
these procedures in place. Instead of complying with protocol, the
shooter gained entry after shooting out a window.
It was only that commotion that alerted the front office to jump into
action, which they bravely did. If they had had just a few seconds more
notice of the shooter, even unarmed, they likely would have been better
able to deal with the situation.
awareness, which will provide a jump on the bad guys, is arguably even
more important than being armed with a similar weapon. These shooters
rely on two things: possessing a weapon that cannot be met with like
force, and something which seems to have been overlooked -- the element
we can debate how to meet force with force, or banning the force
altogether, it should be not be controversial to agree that eliminating
the element of surprise can be easily implemented and requires little to
no money. It calls for parents or community volunteers to organize
roaming unarmed patrols during school hours. Parents clamor for
opportunities to help out at school -- you will see them in the front
office, in the classrooms, putting together fundraisers and teacher
appreciation days. It's not far-fetched to believe that they would also
be strongly supportive of a parent patrol.
patrols could be comprised of volunteers who have had some type of
security awareness training -- police departments put these on all over
the country. Perhaps there is one already that can serve as a model
specific to school security. Parents could spend a few hours and certify
on a Saturday morning. A background check should be incorporated, which
cost might be borne by the volunteer. Once cleared and certified to
become a patrol member, these parents organize into patrols, perhaps
through the PTA, and commit to however much time they have to be present
at the school for a few hours during the school day.
Some parents may
be able to come frequently, others maybe only once a month. Others may
not be able to come at all, but those parents are still frequently
involved in other school supportive activities.
purpose of the patrols is strictly for awareness. They would be serving
as a lookout for the school, allowing teachers and students to enjoy
the day of learning, instead of having to be hypervigilant about each
shadow that passes in front of their classroom door. Removing the
element of surprise from these shooters is an essential factor in
defeating their ability to harm unsuspecting innocents.
how the patrol might work: A two parent team walks the grounds during
school hours. They pay particular attention to entry points on the
grounds. They survey the parking
lot. (Perhaps a lookout could be stationed permanently in the parking
lot to prevent an intruder from simply driving in.) They have the
ability to observe those who approach the school. They can alert
emergency services and begin safety plans
before an intruder gains entry to the school. If an intruder does gain
entry to the school, they are already in the mindset to put a safety
plan into action -- directing students to safe areas, perhaps even
providing distractions or obstacles to the shooter in certain
circumstances, although they should never be expected to personally
confront the shooter, only to sound the alarm. Some may be comfortable
in direct confrontation, but that would not be the purpose of the
patrol can be more extensive and refined. There can be more than one
patrol, particularly depending on the size of the school, and a patrol
could consist of only one person, though two is probably better for
communication and safety purposes. The patrols would carry their own
cell phones, or an inexpensive walkie-talkie system would help keep them
in touch with the front office. Schools would review safety plans with
the patrols in mind, perhaps in conjunction with law enforcement, and
run through scenarios that incorporate the capabilities of the patrols.
measures would be valuable in both dealing with an actual attack, but
also in providing a deterrent effect. By making a place, such as a
school, much less of a soft target, potential attackers will have more
factors to consider in carrying out their plans. Law enforcement often
reminds us to make ourselves less of a target to prevent crime. This
same concept applies to protecting our schools, and it can be done
without having to settle the gun control debate -- which seems to be
more about scoring political points than protecting our children. The
patrols would provide added protection against any type of attack -- not
just one where someone approaches with a gun.
patrols are one thing, aside from a teacher with a gun, that may have
stopped the atrocity at Sandy Hook. Had someone seen the shooter
approaching the school, a safety plan could have been launched a few
seconds earlier. Announcements could have been sent out over the PA to
lockdown the classrooms, or get to a safe place -- the simple knowledge
that an intruder was on the premises would have given teachers a
precious few seconds to secure their students. The teachers in the front
office would have known to secure their area (and maybe given them time
to grab their guns if allowing teachers concealed carry was something
the community decided to do). Most importantly, stripping the shooter of
the essential element of surprise would have severely crippled his
ability to be successful.
plan calls for minimal cost, but maximum community support. These days,
everything seems to be reduced to the level of cost benefit analysis.
This plan presents an excellent ratio in favor of implementation. The
costs are minimal and it is less prone to having a downside than having
armed security at schools. There is little harm that can come from
having an unarmed attentive parent on school grounds whose sole purpose
is to watch for dangerous people trying to enter the school. Certainly
it is not a foolproof plan to protect the children, but it goes a long
way toward removing the essential element of surprise in these attacks,
and it does so in such a way that avoids additional violence.