Protecting Your Kids in School

It’s a scary time to be a parent of children attending public schools in America. Between the drug culture, social media bullying and yes, mass shootings, parents spend a considerable amount of time worrying about the safety of their kids when they are in school.

Over the years, various strategies have been employed to enhance school safety. They include:

  • The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 (co-sponsored by presidential candidate Joe Biden),
  • Ever increasing and more restrictive gun control laws including (in Colorado) “universal” background checks, magazine capacity restrictions, age limits to purchase or possess firearms, and others,
  • Placing School Resource Officers (SROs), licensed and trained police officers, at some (but not all) schools,
  • Safe2Tell hotlines.

Despite these measures, school shootings, while still rare, do occur, and are amplified by the mainstream media who are, after all, seeking ratings and sales.

Even though many schools employ multi-layered strategies to enhance the safety of their students, there is one strategy that has proven to be effective both as a deterrent and as a countermeasure to school shootings, and that is on-site armed defenders.

Many times, these armed defenders are SROs. But even this has proven to be a strategy with less than 100% effectiveness. Columbine High School had an SRO. Margery Stoneman Douglas High School had an SRO. The recent STEM School in Highlands Ranch, CO did not have an SRO but did have private security. In all of these examples, the SRO failed to prevent the school shooting from occurring.

The individuals who perpetrate these crimes generally want to kill as many of their fellow human beings as they can. They are essentially cowards and will not commit their crimes in front of an armed and uniformed person. Yet as we saw at Arapahoe High School and the STEM school, despite the presence of armed officers in each case, one life was still lost.

There clearly needs to be another layer of defense, but what should that be?

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012, a group of concerned citizens in Ohio banded together and created the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) program. This program is a three-day intensive training program for school staff members who are already legally qualified to carry concealed weapons and who have answered the call of their school districts to carry while at work to protect the young lives in their care.

Now in Ohio, over 2,500 teachers and other school staff from dozens of school districts have been through the FASTER training. Because most school districts in Ohio now have armed staff, potential armed aggressors know that they are likely to meet armed resistance from unknown persons, and school shootings in Ohio have become very rare since 2012 compared to other states.

Colorado now has its own FASTER training program, and in the past few years, over a hundred school administrators and others have been through the intensive three-day program. Others have taken refresher and annual qualification courses. Thirty school districts in Colorado allow staff to carry concealed, and so far, there have been zero shootings at these schools. In fact, a recent study by crime researcher John R. Lott, Jr. found that in the years since 2000, there have been ZERO shootings in schools where teachers carry guns. In short, the kids in these schools are safer than their counterparts in large metro school districts.

In response to this fact pattern, students and parents are becoming aware that the best way to prevent the next tragedy is to have armed staff on hand. Sadly, many large urban and suburban school boards do not allow their staff to be armed defenders, clinging to a naïve belief in the efficacy of designating their facilities as “gun-free zones” and/or relying on the presence of SROs or private security.

I know many parents with children in public school districts are very concerned about their children’s safety. The question is: What can parents do about this? How can they effect change in their district?

The laws governing armed teachers are different in each state. In some states, this would have to be enabled by act of law. In others (like Colorado), it is already legal with the approval of the district’s school board, or in the case of a charter school, the charter school board.

The first step is to let your school board know that you are in favor of armed, trained school staff being present to defend your children. Here are several ways that you can make your concerns and wishes known:

  • Attend a school board meeting and speak during the public comment portion of the meeting. Most boards limit public comment by an to individual to 2-3 minutes slices of time, which means it’s best to show up prepared to make a 2-minute speech. This will become part of the public record.
  • Write emails to your school board members. Be polite, respectful and fact-based while making your concerns and wishes known to them.
  • Call your school board members. Again, be polite, respectful and fact-based.
  • Engage your community and your school board on social media – Facebook and Twitter. Social media advocacy is much more effective when it is polite, factual and stays on the issues and away from personal attacks, profanity and snark.

The second area of activism involves meeting with other parents in your neighborhood and working together to do the above activities. There is strength in numbers, and large numbers of voices together are more effective at being heard and effecting change.

Third, engage with your local sheriff and police departments to let them know you are in favor of armed staff in schools to protect your children. Sometimes, law enforcement views this as an infringement on their turf when they should be concerned about public safety instead. Demand that they put the safety of your children before all other considerations.

Fourth, engage with your elected officials at the state level. Let your state representative and senator know how you feel about all avenues being employed in protecting the kids that are attending public schools.

If at any level, you meet resistance, ask yourself: “Are those who represent me adequately concerned about the safety of my children?” If the answer is at any time “No,” consider supporting candidates in the next election who will be more responsive to your wishes regarding school safety.

Last, if you have the means and ability, consider placing your child in a private school that supports all appropriate security measures, including armed staff.

We’ve already seen that teachers and even other students are willing to put themselves between a bullet and your child. It’s time to give the teachers at least a fighting chance.

 

By Richard D. Turnquist

Photo credit: Creede Newton/Amarillo Globe-News via AP

 

To learn more about FASTER training, click this link

Bullets Both Ways supports armed defenders in schools by providing scholarships for teachers to attend the Colorado FASTER training program. Proceeds from our merchandise sales go to support this mission.

Bullets Both Ways Foundation is our Public Charity (501c3) organization:

  • The Foundation’s primary purpose is to raise funds to support mental health resources in our schools along with equipping school and church facilities with updated safety, security, and increased protection measures.

Through our two organizations, we plan to do all we can to help make a difference in our communities and culture.  Donate today and send a check to Bullets Both Ways Foundation at 16 Inverness Place East Bldg D-200 Englewood, CO 80112.

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