Schubert-Akin: Let’s take a comprehensive, common-sense plan to secure our schools
The Onion needs some new material. The satirical news website has run the same headline — “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens” — after every mass shooting over the last several years to highlight the lack of federal gun safety efforts and prod lawmakers to act.
This faux headline gained mainstream media plaudits when it was used across the site’s homepage after the Uvalde school shooting in May. But it has always been more of a left-wing cudgel for gun control than an accurate satirical take. It is now outdated with June’s passage of the bipartisan gun bill.
Yet action to protect the lives of schoolchildren shouldn’t stop with this federal legislation. Additional practical solutions at the state and local levels exist to further reduce school shootings.
Ultimately, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. Unfortunately, police often take too long to arrive. Even armed school resource officers are sometimes inadequate, as demonstrated during the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Armed and trained citizens, such as Elisjsha Dicken, who saved countless lives at a recent mass shooting at an Indiana mall by taking out the gunman, offer the best defense against active shooters.
This is why school boards should allow teachers and school administrators with concealed carry permits to bring their firearms to the workplace to protect their schools. Currently, teachers and administrators with concealed carry permits generally must disarm before entering their classrooms. Allowing them to exercise their constitutionally protected right at their workplaces would harden schools against attacks.
Yet under the status quo, classrooms are left defenseless against school shooters. Only enormous acts of bravery, where an unarmed teacher or student confronts the shooter, likely paying the ultimate price, can potentially give students time to escape.
That was the case three years ago in the STEM School shooting in suburban Denver when Kendrick Castillo heroically confronted the shooter and sacrificed his own life to protect his fellow students. Allowing teachers to be armed would give classrooms a fighting chance and make potential school shooters think twice before carrying out their monstrosities.
As Independence Institute President Jon Caldara points out, pilots are allowed to carry their firearms into their cockpits to protect their airplanes from madmen. School boards should extend this right to teachers under the same protection principle. Obviously, teachers wouldn’t be required to be armed, as some commentators have implied in an attempt to straw-man this argument.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt also recently issued an executive order with additional practical solutions to protect schools. The order includes behavioral assessment training for teachers to identify potential mass shooters before they strike and threat assessment analyses of schools to address vulnerabilities. Governors in other states should mirror these common-sense provisions to make schools safer.
For the Steamboat Institute’s 14th Annual Freedom Conference in Beaver Creek on Aug 26-27, the Steamboat Institute brought together Gov. Stitt, John Castillo (Kendrick’s father), Laura Carno, the executive director of FASTER Colorado, which trains school staff to respond to active shooter situations, and Brett Titus, a retired Denver Metro SWAT team officer and the creator of an app to notify police when a school shooting occurs, for a panel discussion about these and other effective strategies that can be implemented now to secure our schools.
Reforms that transcend politics must also be a part of stopping school violence. These include solutions to pernicious and growing anti-social trends, such as the degeneration of spirituality, community and traditional American values of hard work, neighborliness and good cheer.
The government can’t and shouldn’t try to fix these cultural issues. Yet by implementing practical solutions such as hardening schools by allowing trained school officials to defend their classrooms, we can significantly reduce school shootings.
Jennifer Schubert-Akin is the Chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Steamboat Institute.
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