It’s time we have a serious talk about arming our educators. I’ve listened to the arguments on both sides, and neither side is talking about practical details that the Parkland shooting has made painfully necessary.
We know that at least one Sheriff’s Deputy was on site during the shooting. He’s been heavily criticized for not entering to protect the children. Now, I’m not here to be the armchair quarterback, but I’d like to share some tactical information that may be pertinent.
For US Military tactical planning purposes, those in a defensive posture hold a 3-1 advantage over an assaulting force. That means that all things being equal, the US anticipates 3 loses for every enemy casualty when on the offensive. Now, our military forces have a lot of training and equipment to make sure that all things are not equal. But it’s important to understand that the average law enforcement officer does not have that level of training or equipment.
The only way to ensure that the 3-1 odds are on the side of those protecting our children is to arm our teachers. There will never be enough spare police officers to hold every key position and fully protect our children.
Why do defenders hold a 3-1 advantage?
There are a lot of advantages to holding the defensive position. I’ll cover a few of them here:
Cover – When you’re on the move, you’re constantly looking for positions where you can take cover. When you’re set in a defensive position, you can use the same cover and never be completely exposed.
Shooting – Shooting a moving target is certainly more difficult than shooting a stationary target, but it’s not nearly as difficult as shooting a target while you’re on the move. If you’re walking or running while trying to shoot anything, you have to account for your body movement and the constantly changing position of your target relevant to yourself.
Sectors of Fire – When you’re in a stationary position, you can clear your area once and then focus primarily (sometimes only) on avenues of approach. In the case of a classroom, this means that you only have to watch the door. The person trying to enter an area and search for targets needs to enter and scan the entire room/area before they can engage a target.
Observation – Movement attracts attention. In a defensive posture, you can hold your position and you’ll attract a lot less attention. However, moving from point to point will make you easier to identify.
Fumbling Around – We fumble around with things every day. Car keys, dinner plates, war paint (or make up for the ladies), the list can go on. But when you’re trying to keep positive control of a weapon, even simpler tasks like opening a door can be fumbled for an inexperienced operator.
Arming our teachers would provide emotional benefits
You’re probably already aware of what is known as the Fight or Flight Response. Each response comes with its own physiological reactions.
When you’re in flight mode, you become more aware of your surroundings.
When you’re in fight mode, you become hyper-focused on the task at hand.
What you never hear about is what happens when neither option is available.
I’ve been asked several times if I have nightmares about the firefights I’ve been in. The truth is, I have struggled with some.
I’ve been in firefights where we broke contact and ran. It’s not the type of thing I’d go bragging about to my buddies, but it was the right decision and doesn’t affect my sleep.
I’ve been in firefights where we kicked ass. Those also don’t keep me up at night.
The ones I struggle with are the ones where I couldn’t escape or fight. You’re pinned down with nothing to do but hope something changes. Neither your body nor your mind know how to respond. You begin to just shut down with fear and anxiety, and it’s made even worse when you have people around counting on you to protect them.
Teachers should never be put in this situation. In an active shooter situation, flight may not be an option. So by removing their ability to fight, teachers are left with nothing to do but be afraid. And it will haunt them.
Concern: “The right is already cutting funding to our schools. Who’s going to pay for this?”
Response: Despite the politicizing of the issue, this is a good question. When I was a kid, schools and local law enforcement both regularly held fundraisers. I’m pretty sure they could come together for a fundraiser on this issue. Not only that, but this approach is far cheaper than hiring entire teams of security for the school.
Concern: Teachers aren’t trained for this type of situation.
Response: Teachers could go through a standard firearms course and a few power-point presentations and be almost as prepared as a rookie cop. According to a 2009 Beaurou of Justice report on State and Local Law Enforcement Training Academies, “Basic training included a median 60 hours of firearms…” instruction. In case you are wondering, that’s not a lot. And police are training for a variety of situations. Only HRT, SWAT, and other similar teams are really prepared to handle this type of situation, and they aren’t going to be the first to respond.
Concern: I don’t trust our teachers!
Response: If you don’t trust them with a gun, you shouldn’t trust them with your children’s minds. Start homeschooling your kids.
Concern: Teachers shouldn’t have that responsibility!
Response: Teachers are already responsible for the safety of their students. You’re just giving them an out on this situation. But I bet you’d hold them responsible if your child cut themselves with scissors in class. And I believe most teachers feel responsible for their students, so we should give them the tools to act responsibly.
With 12 years as an Infantryman in the United States Army, Jason has served in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has served in positions from Rifleman to Platoon Sergeant, and as an Observer/Controller. During his time in the Army, he received the Ranger Tab, Airborne and Pathfinder Badges, a Bronze Star Medal for service and more. After leaving the Army, Jason served as a WPS contractor in Baghdad for 2 years and now has a bachelor's degree in Web Design and Development.