Well-trained local volunteers could help stop school violence
This week, Mesa County School District 51 officials were presented with the opportunity to consider bold and sensible solutions to possibly prevent violent assaults like those that occurred in Connecticut.
Possible changes in the way schools prepare and conduct themselves in the face of what amounts to terrorist attacks have been presented by citizens groups, including the idea of arming some teachers and staff. One local group is advocating volunteer security personnel at school properties, some of them armed.
A few people may voice predictable responses that ignore not just the lessons of history but what society has been doing for generations. When an armed maniac is loose, right-thinking people call upon armed citizens to stop him.
The closer that person is to the problem, the less people will get hurt.
Those who subscribe to a “but for” cause of violence often want to assign magical thinking to the problem. No weapons, no violence. Even putting aside the Second Amendment issues, the problems inherent in trying to disarm a population of the size and history of the United States are overwhelming. It would be ineffective in result and likely turn millions of resistant gun owners into criminals.
If past experiments are any guide, it would lead to an enormous black market, providing an armed criminal class with weapons to victimize a disarmed population. It also does nothing to mitigate violence. In England it became worse when the law-abiding population was disarmed.
Instead, many believe that stopping the actual perpetrator committing or preparing to commit a crime is more useful and achievable than trying to deprive all citizens of self defense to stop an unhinged 0.001 percent.
One thing Western Colorado has that sets it apart from many communities is a high percentage of gun owners who have training and experience in handling firearms. Many are ex-law enforcement individuals with training in the proper application of force and the observational tools that are more important than simply being proficient with a weapon. Moreover, there are also many here who are skilled in the use of firearms and have the temperament to receive the training necessary to identify and assess threats at school property.
One factor that seems to be forgotten in many discussions about such attacks is that the maniac does not materialize at the front door or the hallways of the institution. The person hoping to wreak violence in a school (or other public place) usually takes a vehicle to the location, parks it and prepares himself to enter the facility.
A properly trained observer, as advocated by one local group, who may also be in possession of a firearm can identify such an individual and perhaps stop the situation in its tracks. This group believes that establishing an observational perimeter around schools with properly trained and vetted volunteers, might not only stop threats but may even keep them from arising. School guards could be provided with tools that would be equal to their training and comfort level.
It’s not necessary that all guards carry a firearm. Some may be more comfortable with, and their training may dictate, nonlethal devices, such as a Taser. For instance, I’ve received for evaluation less-than-lethal rubber rounds for conventional handguns, which might prove appropriate in a school setting.
Law enforcement resources are already stretched quite thin and school resource officers are not intended to provide perimeter security. Theirs is a different mission, just as school guards at problem schools are usually looking inward, not outward, for problems. The reason there’s higher crime at schools with guards is the same reason there’s higher crime in places you see more police — that’s where the problems are.
Firearm restriction, even if effective, would not restrict the unhinged or the evil from their acts. Just this week in New York, a student was arrested in the process of planning a bomb attack at his school.
Knee-jerk national responses to isolated incidents invariably make us less free and almost never make us more safe.
Each community has a unique take on solutions for protecting its own from harm. It would be nice if our local school districts would look to the talent and ideas available in their own community and not wait for Washington or Denver to impose poorly thought-out remedies.
Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.