Contract security giant Securitas released their biennial survey and were surprised to find out that “active shooters and company insiders”, were the biggest physical threats facing corporate America today according to the surveyed corporate security managers.
The only way to effectively defend against an active shooter is with a cadre of highly-trained and armed employees who will be there at the moment of contact. Anything else is security theater.
Distributed Security, Inc. can train enterprise employees* to defend against violent attack. Our program integrates 56 hours of training over 3 months – 16 hours of dedicated range training with 24 hours of reality based training – and includes tactical medical training. Our training develops combative firearms skills and focuses on the use of concealment and cover, working hallways, stairs and doorways, crossing thresholds and clearing rooms.
There is a disproportionate buzz about the newly signed Florida legislation that allows its school districts (each at its own discretion) to authorize concealed carry of firearms by teachers in their schools.
Why disproportionate? Because the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, signed into law in March 2018 soon after the Parkland mass shooting, had already established the “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program” named after the coach who gave his life attempting to shield students with his body during that shooting. That program gave school boards the option of allowing school staff members to carry firearms, excluding most classroom teachers who were not JROTC teachers, or current service members, or current or former law enforcement officers.
Last year’s bill established a tough training standard, and left the decision to local school boards, both very good things. And since school staff who are not classroom teachers often comprise as high as 50% of the total, this approach was rational, if overly cautious, as school boards would still have the authority to approve or disapprove any applicant, without the no-teacher provision imposed by law.
The only change with the new law is that now all classroom teachers are also eligible to volunteer for the Guardian program. Note “eligible” and “volunteer” and you will understand why so much of the near-hysterical opposition to this law is baseless.
Of course, no one is actually “arming” any teachers – there is no arms room where they will line up to be issued weapons before filing into the trenches – much less “all” teachers, which is how the opposition likes to frame its strawman argument. They will arm themselves, if their school board votes to implement the Guardian program, and if they individually volunteer, pass rigorous screening and selection, and complete the legally mandated 132 hours of training. No one is guaranteed approval, and the standards they must meet are high.
The Miami New Times, not known for smart or principled positions on any firearms issue, is one of the media outlets appalled that the legislature and governor, elected by citizens to legislate and govern, have not allowed themselves to be ruled by teachers’ unions, high school students, and some school boards and administrators. All those folks display their statist leanings by wanting to impose their own fears of positive protective measures on everyone. Under Florida law, if they (and, pointedly, the voters in their school districts) do not want to implement the Guardian program, they don’t have to. They can keep the Gun Free Zone signs over their doors and hope for the best. But that’s not enough for them; they think they know better than anyone else what is best for every school district in Florida.
Local control on this issue is a sound and sensible approach, in line with the rule of subsidiarity, the concept that decision-making should occur at the lowest level appropriate to its purpose. Local control is often preferable to decision making by officials far-removed from the affected population, less responsive to their local and regional preferences, and more likely to impose one-size-fits-all solutions. Voters can more easily influence or replace an unresponsive local elected official than his state or federal counterparts. Here it means what Florida and many other states have ruled: let the school districts decide for themselves.
Beyond that repugnant statist attitude, opponents of “arming” school staff try to bolster their argument with unsupportable claims and sloppy ‘research’ – textbook examples of confirmation bias, the tendency to only consider evidence that supports one’s preconceived notions. The Miami New Times cites an analysis by Gabrielle Giffords’ anti-gun organization that purports to show how dangerous introducing “more guns” to schools will be. It is such a sloppy piece of research and reasoning that we cannot let it go unanswered.
This long piece cites 67 “incidents of mishandled guns in schools” from all over America, from 2014 to the present, to support their opposition to concealed carry of firearms by school staff who meet the requirements of Florida’s Guardian program. But here’s the rub: only one of these 67 incidents involved a school staffer carrying a firearm under similar requirements. That one involved a Texas superintendent who left her authorized firearm locked in a district vehicle when she and her staff visited another district where she was not authorized to carry it – and then forgot to recover the weapon and left it in the van overnight, to be found in the morning.
Every other incident on this list actually supports the premises behind Florida’s Guardian program, and similar programs in the many other states with similar laws on the books. Not one carefully vetted armed staff member carrying a concealed firearm with knowledge and approval of their school board, in accordance with strict standards, in well over 1,000 schools around the country, was involved in any of the other 66 incidents cited.
Fifteen of the incidents on this list involved subjects who were not staff members at all; some of these were commissioned officers, while others were merely family members or or other visitors carrying firearms on school property in violation of the law. Another incident involved two coaches, but occurred off school property. Desperate to plump up the numbers, are we?
What this list actually does is to demolish the assertion often made by opponents of armed school staff, that guns in school should be left to the “armed professionals.” While the Miami New Times quotes some who seem to believe that armed officers make schools safer, Giffords does not think so, and on this point at least, we can at least understand the sentiment. Fully 27 of the 67 incidents in the Giffords study involve “armed professionals” – commissioned police officers or deputies assigned to a school, officers responding to a call for assistance or visiting for other reasons, or other uniformed security guards or school resource officers employed on site. These “armed professionals” had unintentional discharges (several of which injured themselves or others), left their weapons in restrooms or elsewhere unattended, and in two egregious cases, failed to stop a child from pulling the trigger of their holstered weapon.
So much for ‘armed professionals’ – we who are armed professionals know how little sustained, realistic, demanding training most officers undergo, and how easily complacency creeps in. Uniformed guards – commissioned or not – are not ten feet tall. They are unfortunately sometimes less dedicated and often less proficient than educators who understand their responsibilities “in loco parentis” and undergo rigorous and frequent training required by law and school district policy. Who has not heard educators saying, “we would sacrifice our lives to protect the kids in our care”? Give the tools and the skills to those who are willing, and they can do better than just sacrifice themselves like Coach Feis did at Parkland.
This is not to say that officers are all deficient in their skills and judgment – far from it – or that they cannot train to a high standard; but we who are trainers know without a shadow of a doubt that motivated civilians can do just as well, with the proper training. In the schools as on the streets, they are not volunteering to act as law enforcement officers, which is a very broad skill set indeed, but only to protect innocents against lethal threats – a very narrow skill set that comprises only a small slice of a police officer’s responsibilities.
In fact, what we do know is that responding police – even when do not have unintentional discharges like several in this list – do not protect schools against active shooters, because they almost always arrive too late; and that uniformed officers on site have a very spotty record. The uncertainty in a potential aggressor’s mind that is created by the prospect of an unknown number of trained staff members carrying concealed weapons at various but unpredictable locations throughout a school, appears to be a better deterrent than one uniformed officer, as evidenced by the complete absence of active shooter incidents in such schools. Arguably, if one is swayed by logic, they will prove to be a more effective and flexible defense as well, if that unprecedented day does arrive when a shooting happens in their school.
Again, with the exception of that Texas superintendent, none of these incidents involved an approved, trained, school staff member carrying a concealed weapon. The closest thing to it is the anomalous case of a teacher in Utah in 2014. State law there allows any resident with a concealed carry permit to carry in the schools. There is no requirement to even notify the school board or administration, much less be vetted or approved, or to be trained to any standard beyond the 8 hours of mostly classroom training required for a permit. This teacher dropped her weapon in a toilet stall (before school, with no students in the building); it discharged, shattering the bowl and cutting her calf with a flying shard. That’s not a laughing matter, or not only a laughing matter, but should be taken in context. Utah’s law has been in place for 20 years, and out of 700,000 citizens with concealed carry permits (14 million person-years?), this is the only reported occasion in which anyone has been injured by a legal concealed carrier’s firearm in a Utah school. And she doesn’t work there any more. It may also be significant that Utah has had no mass shootings in its schools, but we can only speculate. Pretty safe state, Utah, for all that their statute is far less prescriptive than Florida’s or many other states.
So Giffords, although it titles its piece “Every Incident of Mishandled Guns in Schools” and assures us that theirs is a “systematic analysis,” and that this list of 67 incidents is “comprehensive” for the date range of 2014-2014, has absolutely failed to make a case against armed school staff members in districts that opt in, under authorizing state law, with well-drafted programs and requirements.
Opponents of protecting our schools and children with armed staff on site will have to do better than this, to make a case worth listening to.
Below is a tabulation of the incidents the Giffords piece cites, upon which these conclusions are based. The “Disqualifiers” column notes specific conditions which render the example irrelevant to the argument. “Illegal firearm” indicates that the weapon was on school property in violation of federal and/or state law. The only exceptions to this disqualifier are the 27 cases involving law enforcement officers and paid security guards, and the afore-mentioned cases of the Texas superintendent and Utah teacher. Those who violate the law or handle firearms incompetently are precisely the sort who are unlikely to volunteer in the first place, or to pass a careful vetting and selection process, or a demanding, standards-based training program, all characteristics of Florida’s Guardian program and those of many other states. As in so many firearms discussions, the actions of criminals and incompetents do not form a rational basis for critiquing the vast majority of actual or potential armed citizens in any venue, including schools.
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.
David Parker revives neighborhoods in the Boston area. Since the 1970s, he has gone into the most impoverished parts of the city, only to buy the apartments and buildings that very few wanted. Parker’s intrepid nature proved prescient. The locales once shunned by Boston’s many well-heeled residents are now very desirable to them.
Parker’s success is an effect of him having fixed what was broken. Yet he’s very modest about it. Lightly paraphrasing this most courageous of investors, “I could only afford neighborhoods that I didn’t feel safe in.”
f you’ve heard anything about insulin lately, it’s probably been palpable outrage over soaring prescription prices or dubious optimism about Eli Lilly’s recent release of its new version that, at half the price, will cost an arm or a leg but not both.
The inventors of insulin sold its patent for $1. Eli Lilly now charges $360 a month for the drug and made $3.2 billion in profits last year.
Meanwhile, Americans must sell all their possessions to get the insulin they need.
Amid this cesspool of indignant commentary, you’re likely to hear one of the biggest misconceptions around: that markets, competition, or capitalism have failed to respond to the patient’s need in creating more affordable insulin. What you won’t hear is how pharma giants have enlisted the FDA, the DEA, the FBI, customs and border security, and a dozen other taxpayer-funded regulatory and enforcement agencies to protect their profit margins.
The reason Chicago was the “city that worked” for so many years was an effective combination of money and competency. Money came from a robust industrial base and most politicians, while corrupt to their core, knew how to make the trains run on time.
Today, the competent politicians are long gone leaving just the corrupt, and the industrial base has been replaced by a services core that favors the elite and disenfranchises the common man.
Que the socialists.
If you own or operate a smaller enterprise in Chicago, “they’re coming to git what you got”.
The democratic socialists say their strong showing in Chicago’s election last month is partly a reaction to its entrenched machine politics, along with policies that progressives say have prioritized the wealthy over the interests of black, brown and working-class residents.
While I agree to a great extent with their characterization of the problem, I vehemently disagree with their collectivist solution. If you plan on keeping your business in Chicago plan on defending it.
As a church leader, are you responsible for the safety of your congregation, volunteers, and staff? Churches are the last place we’d like to think of violence happening. But it’s a possibility we can no longer ignore. You don’t want to have to say, “We didn’t think it would happen here.” So, in the event of a violent threat, are you prepared to defend and protect?
DSI is at the forefront of creating solutions and training for places of worship anxious to move from defenseless to defended.
Regardless of if you have 10 or 10,000 people to protect, we have a plan for you.
While we understand that you have a unique budget, there are ways you can start to train your security team within that budget…at your own location.
You can determine how far you want your training to progress. Regardless of the level you choose to build toward, they will all provide better options than doing nothing.
STEP ONE We recommend signing up for the Team Level Membership. You can put 6 team members into our online Team Defense Academy for $89/month. As your staff or volunteers change, it’s easy to swap team members in or out of the membership.
STEP TWO Next, we’d suggest you find a competent, local instructor so your team can take some basic NRA-type courses if they are not already at that skill level. Those classes are generally inexpensive and will ensure basic firearms handling in a hands-on environment.
STEP THREE Train the trainer. Consider sending a key team member to our Instructor course. This will allow that team member to come back and train other team members at no cost to you. If new people enter your security team, they can be trained by your own instructor.
The Team Level Membership – You and 5 others for $89 per month.
THE HUB FOR ALL DISTRIBUTED SECURITY, INC TRAINING RESOURCES is our online Defense Academy. Inside you will find content, instructional courses, lectures, training plans, and other resources designed to help you achieve your training objectives.
The TEAM membership for the Defense Academy is designed for church staff or security teams who face a common security challenge – in the event of a violent confrontation, how do you defend your congregation, volunteers, and staff until the arrival of law enforcement? Our Team membership is intended to provide the content, instruction, plans, and resources for small teams to learn how to defend life and property.
Our Team Level training expands the area of operation from an individual in their home or on the street, to a team working to secure your house of worship. We build our team plans around 6-member cadres and utilize our 12-month Advance training plan to train them to Advance level competencies. Training of the individuals to work as a team is only part of the process. Because they are working to secure a physical location, it is necessary to add to the plan, various analytical and organizational steps. The Team Plan details the following steps necessary to secure building and property including:
Conducting a security analysis.
Forming your security team.
Provisioning the team.
Training the team.
Validating your training.
Mobilizing the team.
DSI has been at the forefront of creating programs and strategies that train individuals in organizations to defend their life and property. Our Team membership to the online defense academy is designed to provide the content, instruction, plans and resources for small teams to learn how to defend and protect lives. The cost for a Team membership to the online defense academy is $89 per month for a team of 6 individuals.
Teams get their own online Private Training Group (PTG).
Consider the Private Training Group as your virtual ready room where you store your important information – photos, videos, files, announcements related to the organization, training and operation of your security team.
Each Team gets a customized interactive training plan and supervising instructor.
Anchored by participation in DSI’s on-range training courses, this plan defines pre-requisites for each progressively more challenging level of training, and specifies the readings, videos, and practice drills that must be addressed before course attendance at each level. The plan is not overly prescriptive – there remains considerable flexibility for the student to control his own pace and adapt the program to his individual schedule and circumstances, while still focusing on the end goal of proficiency in two weapon systems and in the tactics and cognitive knowledge that will allow the sober, lawful, and deliberate application of those skills as an individual, and as a member of a team or larger articulated unit in defense of home, business, church, school or community against evolving threats.
In broad outline, this program ensures competency in the combative use of handgun and rifle; in the principles of individual tactics that will make you hard to kill and allow you to apply those skills successfully in a fight for your life; and in the cognitive infrastructure of intelligence, communications, planning, collective training, and organization that will provide you the enormous leverage of working with like-minded and similarly trained people to secure your business, school, church,or community in that critical gap between the sudden appearance of a violent threat and the decisive intervention of law enforcement – a gap that is steadily widening in much of America as the social contract frays and resources contract.
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?
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.
FIREARMS TRAINING GUIDELINES
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.
The on-line Defense Academy is home to our tactical firearms training curriculum 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. Ron Danielowski, chief instructor and co-founder narrates a tour of our on-line resources used to support new students. Click here to subscribe: https://distributedsecurity.com/start-here/membership-options.html
Concealed carry of firearms by school staff – or church cadres, or businesses, or even just broadening the right to legal concealed carry by civilians – provides the ability to defend innocent lives in the first seconds that they come under attack, when police are minutes away at best. While some in our society have difficulty grasping that simple concept, even more push back against the assertion that this capability actually deters attack, and that the deterrence is far more powerful when it is in fact concealed carry by unidentified persons, whose presence, location, numbers, and response cannot be predicted by a would-be offender. Some people understand this concept implicitly, while others do not. We are asked, “Where’s your data?” We point to the absence of mass shootings where people are known or likely to be armed, and especially to public schools in districts across 24 states that allow concealed carry by non-law enforcement (under a variety of conditions and requirements, but the skeptics ask, “How can you prove that the absence of shootings there has anything to do with concealed carry by permittees in their schools?” Well, here’s the answer: there’s no definitive data. There’s no proof. This is not something that can be established statistically. It requires critical thinking, common sense, and some experience-based understanding of how humans think, plan, and act in the arena of violence.
In 2015, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Craig Broyles submitted his Master’s thesis at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Titled Military Maneuver Terrorism, it addresses the threat against the U.S. and the West of terrorist attacks involving multiple attackers using small arms, explosives, and other low tech, like those that occurred in Mumbai, India (2008), at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (2011), and at the Beslan school in the Russian republic of North Ossetia (2004). He cites, among many other sources, a piece that I wrote as a research paper at the Naval War College in 2007 and published in Homeland Security Affairs in 2008: Paramilitary Terrorism – A Neglected Threat, which made several of the same points. We both applied similar concepts that are familiar to people schooled in risk management, threat assessment, intelligence, and the operational and strategic arts.
LTC Broyles recommends several potential remedies to this threat but points out that deterrence is the most important strategy against the threat of a large, organized armed group of terrorists attempting a mass casualty attack. If such an attack is executed, regardless of how well we respond, the consequences will be terrible. Better to keep it from happening at all.
One thing that terrorist organizations have in common with most of the apolitical psychopaths who perpetrate mass shootings is a penchant for planning, and especially a desire for their action to go off according to plan, without a hitch. They study their target, and if they don’t select a target because it is undefended, they have carefully prepared plans on how to circumvent or defeat whatever defensive element is there. Unpredictability is their worst enemy. They have one shot at it, either because it’s an individual who plans to die on site when he is done, or an organization that risks irreplaceable resources by coming out of the shadows to execute an attack.
The presence of an unknown number of unidentified armed defenders, in unknown locations, with response plans and specific training and rehearsals that the attacker cannot find out, is precisely the kind of thing that discourages or deters them from ever acting. “Beginnings are delicate times” as some sage said, and the chance of having your grand one-off final curtain event come apart in its first minutes, because of stout resistance you were unable to predict, is literally a show-stopper.
LTC Broyles points out the obvious – that, because of the unpredictability it creates, concealed carry of firearms by American citizens, everywhere they can (and therefore presumably do) carry, deters terrorists and other bad actors. The jihadist killing spree on the streets of Paris in November, 2015 has not occurred on the streets of any American city, and I can think of one primary reason why. We should be working to extend the distributed security provided by discreetly armed citizens into more locales, rather than fewer. Arm school staff, arm church security teams, arm business associates in the workplace. The police cannot be in these places to protect us – though we welcome and rely on their assistance – but we can.
Bill Tallen is Executive Vice President – Tactical Operations of Distributed Security, Inc.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.
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.
At best he is an attention whore. At worst he is a traitor.
For a man who styles himself as the ultimate patriot he should have acknowledged the simple concepts of loyalty and honor many years ago by leaving the Republican party and becoming an Independent.
But there are no spotlights for Independents.
And the adoring liberal press will disappear if he did the honorably thing.
McCain is no maverick. He may have been a hero 50 years ago. But no more.
The grand irony is that Trump may well be the ultimate hero by taking on the forces that McCain marshaled throughout his career.
Trump is gross, ill-spoken, temperamental and self-absorbed, but he is fearlessly taking on forces that are much greater and more powerful than he is.
Trump is smart enough to understand that he is in the ultimate grudge match up against adversaries that will use any means possible to eliminate him. He is risking his life, the lives of his family and his wealth.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. After 30-years of more guns in the hands of more citizens, we know that most of those who carry do so responsibly and can and do make a difference in lethal threat scenarios.
“COEUR D’ALENE – Exactly one year after it went into effect, an Idaho gun law that allows people to carry concealed firearms without a permit has had little effect on crime rates, state law enforcement officials said.
When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.
The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.
The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city.
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