With the NRA’s call for an armed police officer in every school, a debate has erupted over cost of such a strategy, but there is a much more efficient and inexpensive path to secure schools. For some reason the teachers’ unions, politicians and school administrators think that teachers are somehow less responsible, less capable and less trainable than those who choose a career in law enforcement, and that having anyone with access to a gun in school besides a uniformed police officer would interfere with children’s ability to learn. Setting aside those confused perceptions for a moment, what about those of us who are not teachers or school administrators? What about parents, grandparents and other concerned citizens?
As the loving grandparent of a wonderful 6-year-old, a veteran, shooter and all-around good guy, my answer to school security is the same as Isaiah’s answer to God thousands of years ago; “Here am I; send me!”
I am competent with firearms. I work well under pressure. I have a proven track record as a responsible and law-abiding citizen, and I have a deep concern for the safety and security of my grandson and the other children who attend his school. I also know that there are literally millions of intelligent, responsible parents, grandparents and concerned citizens just like me who would gladly step up to serve as protectors of their own local schools. All of us are ready, willing and able to fill the security void exposed by the demented coward in Connecticut. We are here. We are available. We are 10 million strong voices, all saying, “Here am I; send me!”
Perhaps this is part of the broader idea the NRA was suggesting during its press conference. I don’t know their full plans. NRA’s Wayne LaPierre mentioned retired police and firefighters as potentially part of their proposed school security plan, and that’s a good start, but there is no rational reason to limit service only to these groups. There are plenty of other people who have what it takes to learn and implement security practices.
Some media have suggested that LaPierre called for the arming of teachers. That is a complete distortion. LaPierre’s call was specifically for armed police officers, and then he mentioned the idea of drawing upon the experience and trust found in retired police and firefighters. Never did he suggest that teachers or other school staff be included in the NRA’s proposed security force.
I was personally disappointed that such an idea was not included, but I am less politically correct than Wayne and more confrontational in my opinions. The media’s distorted reporting of the NRA proposal demonstrates the wisdom of being excessively conservative in their initial announcement. Now, according to their plan, former Rep. Asa Hutchinson will lead a team of experts in developing school security plans based on facts and logic, not emotion and irrational fear. I hope that Mr. Hutchinson’s panel of experts will recognize the vast pool of qualified, caring individuals who would gladly put their lives on the line for the sake of innocent children.
I read recently that each full-time school resource officer in the state of Arizona costs their schools over $95,000 a year – plus benefits. On the one hand, we say that’s a small price to pay for our children’s safety, but on the other hand, I ask, why would we pay so much when highly qualified and effective guards can be had for little or no cost at all?
As primarily a writer and researcher, my personal schedule and circumstance would allow me to provide my grandson’s school with full-time service in exchange for nothing more than a comfortable chair in a quiet corner with an Internet connection. The majority of the day I would simply do my work as normal, but would do so while maintaining a view of the school’s entrance and with the means to stop an attacker close at hand. I know a number of other retired and self-employed individuals who could and would do likewise. Others would require some small stipend or health insurance benefits to be able to provide full-time service, and still others could only serve part-time.
Another huge pool of qualified individuals ready and willing to take on this responsibility are, as mentioned earlier, the people who are already working at the schools and dealing with the children every day. There are teachers, school administrators and other school personnel who would gladly join us in our mission to ensure the safety of our children. These are among the most highly educated, widely respected and most reliable citizens in the country. The suggestion that they are somehow less capable or less responsible than the average police officer is idiotic. These are the people we trust with our children already, why would we doubt their ability to act responsibly with a firearm or in a crisis?
All of us, teachers, parents, grandparents and other concerned citizens, would be willing to submit to background checks, psychological evaluations and undergo special training. Most of us could even provide our own weapons and ammunition. We don’t need extravagant salaries or fancy uniforms – we just need a commitment from politicians and school administrators to support our efforts and provide us with the most basic resources to accomplish our mission.
The idea that police officers are the only ones capable of safely handling firearms or dealing with difficult or delicate situations is ridiculous. The fear that one of us would misplace a firearm, mistakenly shoot the wrong person, or go crazy and go on a rampage of our own, while not completely impossible, is so unlikely as to be ludicrous.
Our children are vulnerable. No gun bans or restrictions are going to stop lunatics who choose to target them. Whether they use guns, knives, automobiles, or samurai swords, the only way to stop them is to be able to physically incapacitate them instantaneously. Only a gun can reliably do that. Whether in the hand of a police officer, a school employee, or a community volunteer, only armed resistance can effectively stop an armed attack.
So, in the wake of the terrible atrocity in Newtown, as the nation cries out for reassurance that their children are as safe as they can be, I ask responsible parents, grandparents and school personnel to join me in answering the call and saying, “Here am I; send me.”