FASTER Training & Armed School Staff

100% agree.

Also agree.

Due to the complexity of school security, I believe a multi-faceted approach is needed. I am obviously in favor of the presence of a good guy with a gun who can potentially stop the bad actor. However, what about prevention?

Years ago, I attended a seminar by the US Secret Service. They made two different statements saying the #1 thing you can do for school security is… #1 is lock your doors and also #1 is maintain a positive school climate.

Many mass attackers are engaging in their crimes in order to correct a perceived injustice (or right a perceived wrong). If you can prevent that perception of injustice, than you might be able to prevent that mass attack. A positive school climate where the leadership deals with discipline issues (bullying is such an overused term in schools) can be a powerful preventative measure for some of these bad actors.

Another issue is what experts call “leakage.” Many mass attackers “leak” their plans ahead of time. They post something on social media, make a comment to their friends, or otherwise talk about violence. (The VA Tech shooter wrote about it for English assignments.) Schools also have a strong culture of silence–especially among teenagers. No one wants to be a tattle tale, rat, nark, or whatever the current term is. So kids don’t talk. If kids talked, perhaps the authorities could be alerted and the attack could be averted.

I personally don’t think an armed guard at a school should be standing or walking around on patrol seemingly at a distance from the kids. I think he or she needs to be a part of the school community, be approachable, and be involved in the lives of students in appropriate ways. I actually think an openly armed non-cop might have some advantages. He might not be as intimidating, won’t have the same level of arrest authority, and might, therefore, be more approachable.

I also personally think the deterrent effect of an openly armed guard has been overrated. Look at Parkland, FL, VA Tech, and Columbine. All had armed officers. For many, the presence of a good guy with a gun is as much of a feel-good measure as it is an actual, legitimate security enhancement. It should, at best, only be one part of the school’s approach to security.

The US Secret Service talks about a threat assessment approach. This approach puts a threat assessment team together and uses that to address concerns about particular students. They would include the classroom teacher, coach of any sport, administration, and law enforcement where necessary. An on-site guard who actually knows the students would be a candidate for this team.

I assumed in my quick read of the article that this dynamic is what the author was getting at. But perhaps I read my own presuppositions into the article.

Sorry for the wordy response. Thanks for the feedback and value of your perspectives.