Category Archives: 062 Distributed Threats

Distributed Security Responds To Texas Removing The Limit On Armed Teachers.

This report by Alex Parker at redstate.com reports on Texas’s efforts to legislate armed staff and teachers in schools. In his article he raises a couple of questions that Distributed Security’s Bill Tallen answers below:

What do you think? Are we safer with more guns in school? Or is it best to limit the number of armed staff, therefore hopefully more effectively relegating the privilege to the very most-equipped staff to handle such an immense responsibility?

Alex Parker redstate.com https://www.redstate.com/alexparker/2019/04/09/sanfa-fe-high-school-shooting-sb-244-armed-teachers-texas-school-marshals/

First, Texas both before and after the reported legislation is in no way unique.  Over half the states in the nation have provisions that allow armed staff – in some cases any legally armed citizen – on school property.  And here’s the first and perhaps the most important question: Alex asks, “What is the balance of lives saved due to the deterrent versus harm done via accidents or improper use of force?”

The historical record of armed “good guys” on school property since the passage of the federal Gun Free School Zones Act in its final form in 1996 makes this answer an easy one.

There has been one – exactly one – documented accident, which occurred in Utah early one morning (before any students were present), when an armed teacher dropped her drawers in a bathroom, and a presumably substandard handgun fell out of a clearly substandard holster, hit the floor and discharged, demolishing the toilet bowl and wounding the hapless teacher, whose leg was struck by a ceramic shard.  Context is important: Utah’s law (still in place) allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry on school property. The school’s administration need not be informed or aware; there are no standards or for acceptable firearms, holsters, or ammunition; and there is no training standard beyond the minimal one required to obtain a permit. Since this has not happened again in any Utah school, we might (since we have no access to confidential personnel files) infer that the teacher involved is no longer employed or received a solid education in how to carry and handle a firearm safely; and others took her inadvertent lesson to heart. It is hard to argue with Utah’s record of success with its law over the last twenty years, but a case can be made that there are better ways to provide armed security in our schools.

There has been, across the country, not a single case of improper use of force involving a legally carried firearm in a school.  Students do not take away teacher’s guns; teachers who carry do not “go off the deep end” and shoot people.  Opponents of “guns in schools” can’t stop expressing their fear of these events, but there’s no evidence to support their angst.

So there you are: on one end of the scale, only one minor accident nationwide in the last twenty years, and no improper use of force.  Against that, we weigh the interesting datum that there appears to have been no shooting – zip, zero, none – in any school in America that has had school staff – or citizens, as in Utah – legally carrying concealed weapons.  Note this does NOT include schools with “school resource officers” or other uniformed, armed security personnel, because schools “defended” by those have been attacked, with a very mixed record. At Columbine, and in Parkland, Florida, school resource officers failed to stop the shootings; in a few other cases, they have been successful. But the key thing is that when a potential attacker does not know how many people may be armed in their target location, or who they are, or where they will be at any given moment – they simply don’t come, because they cannot be confident of how long they will have to work their evil intentions before someone steps forward to stop them; they do understand that it would be within the first few minutes, long before police arrive on scene.  That is deterrence.

So the simple answer to Alex’s question is this: concealed carry by school staff appears to have deterred attack (saving lives from potential threats), while there has been essentially no down side to balance against that sterling record. 

Local control is key to the success of this approach.  State legislation must establish the legal authority for armed school staff, because they must “license” individuals to carry as an exception to the federal Gun Free School Zones Act. But once that authorization is in place in state law, local school boards – the lowest level elected officials in the nation, presumably responsive to the wishes of their community – must establish policy, and approve armed individuals in their schools.  Where a community strongly supports this approach, the school board trustees should ensure that it happens, and provide for careful vetting of volunteers, as Texas does, and establish specific requirements for initial and ongoing training and for the safety and effectiveness of firearms, ammunition, and ancillary equipment.

There is no logical reason for a legislature to limit the number of staff members who can be armed in a school; their job, and the school boards’ job, is to set a high bar of qualifications and training, and then support, encourage, and approve every individual who volunteers and meets those standards. The Texas legislature has shown that they understand this simple principle.

I have yet to meet a proponent of arming school staff who does not understand the importance of detection and intervention programs to prevent school shootings from occurring. But rather obviously, these shootings do occur, and each time they do, it’s because those programs have failed.  Innocent lives must be protected if and when that day comes.

Alex quotes one opponent of armed school staff who gets it exactly wrong. Guns in the hands of carefully screened volunteers, who train to a rigorous standard, are precisely that last line of defense, and will deter armed attack or – if deterrence fails – defend innocent lives.  “Adding guns to the problem” in the hands of dedicated, well-trained persons is most definitely the solution.

Bill Tallen is Executive Vice President – Tactical Operations for Distributed Security. Prior to joining the enterprise he had a 20 year career with the Department of Energy, where he served as a Federal Agent, team leader, unit commander, training instructor, and manager in the agency which provides secure transportation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials within CONUS. He helped to found DOE’s Special Response Force program, developing and teaching urban and close quarter battle techniques to Federal Agents charged with recovery of lost assets. He has designed and conducted a variety of wargaming efforts in support of vulnerability assessments, security system design, and leadership training, and has taught a variety of crisis decision making models. Bill holds the degree of Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. 

How Much Training Is Enough Training?

Anybody who purchases a gun for self-defense at some point might find themselves actually having to shoot somebody.  Theoretically, any basic firearms training should teach you how to use a weapon to defend yourself in a lethal confrontation.  Since your life and the life of innocent bystanders are at stake – you should get competent training.

Most first-time gun buyers spend less on their firearms training than they do for a month’s worth of yoga classes.

After all, people spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours annually to pursue their hobbies and athletic pursuits. So you would think that a potentially deadly pursuit like purchasing a weapon for self-defense would cause them to prioritize their time and budget to learn how to safely and effectively use a weapon. Right?

Wrong.

Most first-time gun buyers spend less on their firearms training than they do for a month’s worth of yoga classes. Or a new golf putter. And worse yet, once they have completed training they don’t practice what they learned (going to the range and shooting 100 rounds from a stall at a stationary target is not practicing).

Understand that if you are engaged in a lethal force confrontation you will be in the fight of your life. Your body will react in ways that you never could have imagined. In a few short seconds you will be called upon to make life and death decisions while physically manipulating a lethal weapon. The ability to do this safely and effectively will be dependent upon the skills you learn and practice.

Yet most Americans think that a $75, four-hour concealed carry course taught by a local community college instructor using state-mandated PowerPoint slides that mostly focus on legalities and cleaning and storing their weapon is enough training. It isn’t. This is like buying a cheap pair of Nike trainers and expecting to run a sub three-hour marathon without actually training. Or watching a YouTube golf lesson and expecting to shoot par on your first round of golf.

Just like any other human endeavor that requires you to learn a new skill, effectively utilizing this skill demands that you train. That you practice this skill. And nowhere is this more applicable than firearms training. When we started DSI back in 2009 it was with the intention of offering the training necessary to develop safe and effective defenders of life and property.

Over the ensuing 10 years we have developed a tactical training curriculum second to none and consisting of thousands of pages written over tens of thousands of hours by a team of military vets, security contractors, federal agents, state police, special forces operators, and SWAT team members. We deliver our curriculum via on-line, on-range, and on-site courses, programs, and hundreds of supporting resources. We use an integrated format that threads together pre-course, on-range, and post-course persistent training phases in order to develop safe and effective defenders.

Ron Danielowski, chief instructor and co-founder narrates a tour of our on-line resources used to support new students:

The most important phase is post-course, the persistent practicing of skills and techniques learned during the on-range phase. We cannot emphasize enough the need to practice, in a programmed manner, under the watch of an experienced instructor, the skills and techniques learned on-course. Nowhere does the old adage “use it or lose it” apply more than tactical training.

We have developed  guidelines reflecting our belief that sustained training and correct practice are necessary for anyone to be a safe and effective defender of life and property. At every level of  training, we insist upon – and provide the resources for – this level of commitment and persistent effort:

For the CONCEALED CARRIER – 18 hours initial training + 74 hours persistent practice annually. For the casual concealed carrier who carries periodically in public venues like restaurants, shopping, commuting, etc.

For an INDIVIDUAL DEFENDER – 48 hours initial training + 103 hours persistent practice annually. For the serious citizens who wants to learn how to safely and effectively defend life and property from lethal threats.

For a TEAM DEFENDER – 72 hours initial range training + 133 hours of persistent practice annually. For serious citizens who want to learn how to work as a team to defend their business, church and school.

The table below contains a more detailed breakout of training phases and the activities involved during each phase. These guidelines are developed with our curriculum in mind but can be adapted by other training groups or instructors.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not an overnight sensation. She is the culmination of 100 years of battlefield preparation aimed at destroying America.

We knew about the Frankfurt School in the 1920’s. We knew about the communist infiltration of the FDR administration in the 1930’s and their role in creating the New Deal. We knew about Hollywood communist sympathizers in 1950’s and their anti-American agenda. We knew the social upheaval experienced in the 1960’s resulted from a direct attack on traditional American values. And we have sat by and watched the accelerating slide towards socialism since the 1970’s.

In 2019, we see socialists outnumbering Republicans on the Chicago city council. The Democratic party, once the noble opposition, has been hijacked by socialists and special interest groups shredding the constitution. The public education system has been infiltrated from top to bottom with socialist/communist sympathizers indoctrinating our children with their collectivist propaganda. Polls are indicating that small majorities of millennials now favor socialism over capitalism.

Easily the most egregious example of just how entrenched socialism has become is a new media group dedicated to promoting socialism to millenials. The group, called Means TV, was a key driver of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign win. Promoting themselves as “anti-capitalists”, the group just launched a new video attacking capitalism:

While a video attacking capitalism is not new news, what is new, is the ignorance demonstrated by the writers, producers and actors in their description of capitalism. I intentionally did not use the word “lies” because a lie indicates that the speaker at least knows the truth. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, this is group is so blindingly ignorant that your first reaction would be to ignore them. Nobody will listen to them.

But that’s the problem. A majority of our millinials will listen to them and do their bidding. We’ve created several lost generations of programmed idiots just waiting to be filled with this type of propaganda. Too harsh, you say? Just listen to the current ring leader as she makes the rounds of late night TV soaking up the attention of the adoring hosts and audiences while speaking total gibberish.

Remember, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not an overnight sensation. She is the culmination of 100 years of battlefield preparation aimed at destroying America.

And we have let it happen on our watch.

Folks, it’s time to choose a side. Or one will be chosen for you.

Britain Gearing Up For Civil War

“National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) boss Martin Hewitt appeared to imply the nation is on the verge of violent disorder with his warning that public figures should “think carefully” before speaking at the same time as other headline-grabbing statements were issues by police, including an announcement that they have prepared a 10,000-man strong rapid reaction force to deal with riots.”

“The officers are needed, The Guardian reports, because of the supposed possibility of food riots and looting after Brexit — despite several key stakeholders having confirmed repeatedly that they are ready for Brexit, whatever happens.”

https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/04/04/speech-police-top-cop-warns-pro-brexit-politicians-not-to-inflame-peoples-views/

Distributed Security, Inc presents “The Role Of Armed Security In A House of Worship” at a community gathering in Cody Wyoming.

Bill Tallen, Executive Vice President, Distributed Security, Inc. presented a one hour briefing to 200 house of worship leaders at the Cody Auditorium March 26, 2019. DSI was invited to speak to a community gathering coming from churches across the Big Horn Basin. Bill spoke about armed security – how to plan, train, organize and conduct it. Other speakers included U.S. Attorneys from Lander, Cody PD Chief Baker, the department’s Chaplain, and Kenny Longfritz, the DHS Protective Security Advisor for Wyoming (who spoke about federal grants and other assistance available to churches interested in improving their security posture).

If you would like a copy of the slide deck used by Bill during his presentation send an email to info@distributedsecurity.com. We would appreciate it if in your email you would indicate who you are and the HoW you represent.

Jacinda Ardern’s Gun Confiscation Scheme Is A Hysterical Reaction To The Mosque Shooting That Will Weaken New Zealand.

As I watched New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s first press conference after the mosque shooting, I was struck by how naive her comments were. She seemed to think that her country existed in a utopian world exempt from terrorism. Now, further demonstrating her naivete, she is proceeding with a hysterical, half-baked plan to confiscate the weapons her citizens need to defend against future attacks.

These are the facts for New Zealand. It will happen again. Law enforcement will not be there when it happens again, and via her gun confiscation scheme, she has eliminated the most effective measure her citizens have for defending themselves.

Exit question. Why is Jacinda taking weapons from lawful New Zealanders? The crime was committed by an Australian who purchased his weapons legally and held all of the proper permits.

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/new-zealand-prime-minister-says-semi-automatic-weapons-will-be-banned-after-mass-shooting/

How do you create the defended enterprise?


In the event of a violent threat, how do you defend your enterprise?

How do you move from defenseless to defended?

DSI is at the forefront of creating solutions and packages for enterprises anxious to move from defenseless to defended. Whether you’re a Brooklyn bodega, a Detroit manufacturer, a Chicago professional services firm or a suburban mixed-use development we have the resources you need to become the defended enterprise.

Learn more here: www.distributedsecurity.com

Another Perspective on “Arming Teachers”

Jon Alexander has raised some serious challenges to the concept of “arming teachers” to strengthen security in our schools. Allow me to shift the debate somewhat by adjusting its fundamental assumptions.

Speculation isn’t necessary

In the U.S. today, at least fourteen states have laws on the books which allow school boards to authorize concealed carry of firearms by school staff, under various conditions, while ten more states do not restrict concealed carry to school staff members only, although most of them still require specific, individual permission of the governing school board. The number is growing every year: last year, Wyoming joined; this year bills are pending in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Meantime, in Ohio alone, over 1,000 trained school staff members are carrying concealed handguns in more than one-quarter of the school districts in that state. In South Dakota, Texas, Colorado and other states, significant and growing numbers of school staff members are already legally carrying concealed firearms – while Utah has allowed anyone with a state concealed carry permit to carry a firearm on school property for going on 19 years.

So, this is not a new idea; quite the contrary. We have a considerable amount of experience with it, and because of the decentralized approach, wherein state laws and school board policies differ, we have quite a variety of experiments underway.

How is it working out? Famously. While mass shooters have not been particularly deterred by the presence of uniformed School Resource Officers (Columbine High School and Parkland, Florida being particular examples), there is no evidence of a single school shooting taking place in any district across the country where trained, non-law enforcement school staff members are carrying concealed weapons. Correlation is not causation, but that fact cannot be easily dismissed.

There are also zero examples of injuries resulting from the kind of mishaps commonly predicted by the skeptics: no accidental shootings, no rowdy students shot by frustrated teachers, no gun take-aways by students. They’re just not happening.

Read More

11 School Shootings This Year? It’s Past Time to Arm Teachers!

Guns-In-School

By: Bill Tallen Executive Vice President – Tactical Operations – Distributed Security, Inc.

The BBC ran a story recently on school shootings and the debate over arming school staff to defend against same (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42804741). I was present as an observer (along with the BBC reporter) at the FASTER training in Colorado in June 2017, supported the passage of legislation a year ago in Wyoming that allows armed school staff at school board discretion, assisted in the formulation of non-regulatory guidance on the topic for the Wyoming Department of Education, now support implementation of this law in my own northwest Wyoming school district, and am an officer and founding partner in Distributed Security, Inc. (www.distributedsecurity.com), which offers training in this and related areas. So I think I’ll weigh in.

Let’s not quibble over statistics any more than necessary, as it is about as thankless and unrewarding as wrestling a pig. Regardless of when you start counting, or what you count, it’s inarguable that school shootings, while not commonplace given the sheer number of schools in America, are certainly frequent enough to capture the attention of the media – and of parents and communities who understand that our children are our most precious assets. School shootings are a classic example of a “low probability, high consequence” risk. Events of such monstrously unacceptable consequence deserve our attention and resources, even if as individuals we think the dice in our particular neighborhood are very unlikely to come up snake-eyes.

Resistance is futile – arming school staff is the trend

The legal context is this. Federal law – the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995 – makes it illegal to possess a firearm on school property anywhere in America, unless an individual falls under one of several specific exclusions, the most self-evident being the ones for commissioned law enforcement or contracted security guards.  But there is also an exclusion for anyone “licensed by the state” to possess a firearm in the schools. That license has been interpreted by the courts to include a state concealed carry permit, but only if the state law regarding permits explicitly authorizes permittees to carry in schools. The States differ widely. A few, such as Utah, simply do not list schools as areas off-limits for concealed carry.  This qualifies as an “inconvenient truth” for those opposing firearms in schools, because there hasn’t been a shooting, accidental or otherwise, in a Utah school in the 18 years this law has been in effect. Half of the States allow permitted concealed carry in schools under varying conditions. At last count (and here is an important quibble, BBC), fifteen States allow concealed carry by permittees with the permission of the school board or administration; another ten allow carry by staff as well as non-staff concealed carry permittees under a variety of conditions, most of which involve some form of local approval. As the BBC reports, six more states are currently considering bills which allow the arming of school staff.

We often hear, “If the threat is that bad, we should have police officers in the schools.” But to use my district as an example, we have one commissioned School Resource Officer, and seven schools. To hire more would cost $43-45,000 a year in burdened salary for each, or over a quarter million a year to put just one in each of the six unprotected schools. The initial cost of processing and training school staff who volunteer to carry their own weapons concealed would be $2-3,000 each, plus perhaps 20% of that each year for annual refresher training. The first year’s salary of one uniformed officer would pay the initial cost of 14-20 concealed carry staff members; and in many states, non-profit fundraising organizations provide scholarships to pay for armed school staff’s training. The cost advantages are obvious.

This background allows us to reply to the BBC’s title question, “Is it time to arm teachers?” by pointing out that between one-third and one-half of the States in this union have already decided that yes, it is, and authorized their school boards to proceed.

Teachers who do not trust. . . teachers

The next part of the BBC’s reportage that I’ll comment on is the uncritical presentation of certain opposition viewpoints. We are told that an NEA survey in 2013 reported 68% of teachers opposed to having armed non-law enforcement people in school. What is not pointed out is: (1) the NEA as an organization is opposed and campaigns against arming school staff; (2) the NEA is a teachers’ union with a well-documented leftwing slant on most social issues; (3) their survey was only sent to 800 of their own members, so what we do know is that 544 union members agree with their union on the topic. Pardon me if I am unimpressed. A survey undertaken in Powell, Wyoming this month gave results very nearly opposite the NEA’s – 64% of staff, not to mention 75% of parents, felt that armed staff would make schools safer – and I suspect that is closer to the sentiment of much of America, educators and non-educators alike. If it isn’t so everywhere, well, that’s the beauty of living in a republic – you can, within personal constraints, choose your community.

Legislators who don’t trust teachers

Our BBC friends also share the sentiments of a Michigan “former teacher-turned-Democratic state senator” who is among a “vocal minority that opposes” the bill that passed his house by a large margin last year, and who disparages anyone who would volunteer to carry in the schools as a “Rambo”. On the one hand, I might point out that his viewpoint lost, or that his views don’t seem to be informed by experience as an armed citizen or trainer. On the other hand, I could (and have) spoken against a legislative approach like Michigan’s that forces an expansion of concealed carry into a wide variety of locations – like schools – where it was formerly prohibited. Especially the schools. It is a contentious topic, and I believe it is best handled the way the afore-mentioned 15 states have done so – leave it to the discretion of individual school boards; and of course, the people armed will all be volunteers – no one would be forced to carry a firearm. Experience in Ohio, South Dakota, and elsewhere has shown that while boards are initially hesitant to use their discretion, once a few do so, the trickle quickly becomes a flood as it is demonstrated that the thing can be done safely, for a very substantial increase in security. I suspect this may also have something to do with the real liability question involved – not “what if there’s an accidental shooting?” but “what if there’s an active shooter, and our kids die because I and my fellow trustees voted down armed security?”

Training is the key

Everywhere this battle is joined, one of the more common refrains of the opposition to armed school staff is that “teachers” can’t be trained in X hours, with X being whatever training they’re taking or required to take.  First of all, “teachers” is a misleading, as usually all school staff, not just teachers, are eligible, and arguably administrators, counsellors, coaches, custodians, etc. can be better candidates as they are less likely to be tied down, responsible for a classroom full of kids, instead of free to respond toward the “sound of the gun”.

Second, many of the critics have never participated in any combative handgun training whatsoever and have no idea what they are talking about.

Third, modern training techniques allow a 24-hour course, mixing live fire training with scenario-based training using nonlethal firearms and live role players, as offered by DSI, FASTER, and other purveyors of training (and required by law in several states, and by liability insurance providers in others) to impart the necessary skills and mindset. I’ve heard these assertions of “not enough training” both from anti-gun progressives, and from retired law enforcement officers. The latter (all credit to them for their service) sometimes have not witnessed modern training techniques and default back to their dreary academy courses decades ago, where they spent 40, 60, or 80 hours in what amounted to painful, redundant, and unproductive training. I speak as a retired Federal Agent and former director of an agency academy myself; there are better ways, guys, come and see.

Finally – on the training issue – I find it interesting to hear it asserted that educators cannot possibly be trained to react appropriately in an active shooter situation. I’ve been training civilians (as well as police and military) for decades, and haven’t found any career field that disqualifies a dedicated person from learning the firearms, tactics, and decision-making skills required. In fact, educators by their very nature and background, are among the best adult learners out there. Millions of Americans, from all walks of life, carry concealed firearms daily without mishap or misjudgment, and when forced to react to a shooting, usually do so with skill and discretion – even those who have not completed intense 24-hour training programs. If you asked me, as a trainer, whether Michigan’s proposed eight hours of training is enough, I’d say probably not – and I hope that requirement will get beefed up before the bill reaches the Governor’s desk. But to all the “not enough training” sharpshooters, my last response would be, “Why do you think it’s better to have no defender at all, leaving kids helpless against a mass murderer, than to give them a chance of survival with someone who is willing to rise to the challenge and protect them, even if they have not attained some arbitrary threshold of training?”

 

Bill Tallen is Executive Vice President – Tactical Operations. Prior to joining the enterprise he had a 20 year career with the Department of Energy, where he served as a Federal Agent, team leader, unit commander, training instructor, and manager in the agency which provides secure transportation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials within CONUS. He helped to found DOE’s Special Response Force program, developing and teaching urban and close quarter battle techniques to Federal Agents charged with recovery of lost assets. He has designed and conducted a variety of wargaming efforts in support of vulnerability assessments, security system design, and leadership training, and has taught a variety of crisis decision making models. Bill holds the degree of Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. 

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