By Mario Rodriguez and David Rodriguez
As the new school year approaches, student safety is on every parent’s mind. Following the Parkland school shooting earlier this year, there were calls to arm teachers, the idea being that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Even though this concept is well-intentioned, it is a singularly bad idea. Instead, there are safer ways to secure the safety of our children in the classroom.
The vast majority of teachers have little or no firearms training, and face daily challenges in the classroom. As a result, arming teachers with guns will significantly increase the chances of death and injury through accidents and misuse of stolen weapons. It could also result in potentially horrific and unintended consequences during an active shooter event.
There is a secondary argument for arming school employees with relevant backgrounds in law enforcement or the military. Who better to defend the students than a teacher with the appropriate training to handle “bad guys?” The problem is that there are relatively few such trained individuals compared with the total number of teachers, and it distracts from putting in place the defensive measures that can make schools safer everywhere.
Instead of putting more guns into more hands in more schools, there are other actions that can and should be taken (putting gun control and mental health assistance aside). To help prevent attacks and safeguard our schools and our children, we recommend school districts take the following steps.
A central reporting mechanism, such as a dedicated phone number or smartphone application, should be established to help students and school employees report troubling behavior. School buildings can be hardened with simple and affordable technologies such as bullet-resistant glass, monitored security cameras, and access control on internal doors. Lockdown drills already performed by so many schools around the country should continue, and be expanded to any places that believe, falsely, that “it can’t happen here.”
Teachers should also be trained in what to do following an attack. Most incidents end in minutes, but it can take much longer for authorities to deem a scene safe for medical personnel to treat victims. Employees, and even older students, will be the true “first responders” and should learn how to stop dangerous bleeding.
“Active shooter” might be the scariest phrase any parent can hear. But fear is no reason to make rash choices that endanger our kids even more. Instead, make it a lot harder for those wishing to cause our children harm and train hundreds of “good guys who can help anyone” survive a bad day.
Mario Rodriguez is president, and David Rodriguez vice president, of Forseti Protection Group, an active shooter and emergency strategy consulting firm.