With Concealed Carry Laws, Operational Uncertainties Confuse School Administrators
This former principal describes the questions and concerns he and other K-12 officials would have should a person who is not in law enforcement legally bring a gun onto school property.
I believe another consideration that is receiving little discussion is the real possibility of a teacher or staff member actually having to shoot at an armed student or parent. In the majority of places where the permitting of conceal carry on campus is being considered, communities are smaller and the people are well known to each other.
As historic evidence reveals, the middle school child who is known by the staff for his/her inability to maintain friendships may well be the student who brings a gun into the crowded lunchroom. Will the teacher who has worried over this child for the last several weeks be the same one who ultimately shoots him?
Many opponents to personal carry point out the possibility of students overpowering a staff member to acquire their gun, while others point to the possibility of a gun being found unsecured by students. Yet, as a principal, my concern focuses on one of the most common incidents among those who routinely handle firearms: the negligent discharge.
As recent events in Idaho and Utah demonstrate, negligent discharge (ND) can and will happen in a school setting. Will they be rare? They should be. Will they happen? If we can draw from military and police data, NDs happen when firearms are a constant in the environment. While a negligent discharge in a police ready room or a military unloading zone is nerve jarring and merits a procedural investigation, an ND in an elementary classroom will create a barrier few parents will care to scale.
Consider Deputizing Designated School Employees
In all of these considerations, the real point of discussion should focus on local law enforcement response time. In locations where police response is predictably protracted, an onsite armed response may well be in order. Both my business partner and I ascribe to a “sheepdog model” patterned after air marshals. In this model, individual school employees who wish to be considered for conceal carry deputize with local law enforcement, submitting to the same evaluations and training as sworn officers.
In an attempt to summarize my own perspective on this issue, I believe that the widespread allowing of staff and visitors to bring firearms onto a school campus creates operational vulnerabilities that did not previously exist. At this point, no data suggests that allowing guns on campus mitigates the threat of an active shooter. As a simple economics equation, I see predictable cost with no discernable benefit.
Brian Armes is co-founder of Educators Eyes. He previously was a teacher and school principal. For more information, visit educatorseyes.org.
Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.
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