That Is The Difficult Question
One of the most debated topics relating to Active Shooter Incidents is whether to arm teachers or not. In Texas, they have decided to do so. Back in 2013, the State of Texas created the School Marshall program. The program is said to be only one aspect of addressing school shootings. It has been bitterly disputed since its inception. Many feel that arming a teacher is not in their job description. Others feel that it is just a reality we must address. As such, some school districts in Texas opted to hire more law enforcement in their schools instead of participating in the program.
The choice to arm our teachers and school staff is quite complex. Here is a break down of pros and cons for arming teachers in our schools.
- Deterrence to anyone thinking of initiating an active shooter incident in the school
- Armed teachers and staff would be readily available to address threats immediately ahead of police arrival
- Law enforcement response times can be as high as 18 minutes
- Active Shooter Incidents last less than 12 minutes with the majority under 5 minutes
- Equipped to meet an active shooter with an appropriate weapon to increase the chance of success
- As the saying goes, you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight
- Most active shooters are stopped once engaged by another person
- Arming teachers provides them the ability to control their own security
- Empowering the teachers/staff to not be victims
- Training armed teachers is expensive, time consuming, and must be recurring
- Weapons cost, range fees, ammunition, instructor fees, etc. can cost into the thousands per teacher
- Guns could be taken away from teachers during an active shooter incident and be used against them or other staff/students
- Teachers should be focusing on teaching, not security
- Armed Teachers and Staff could be mistaken for the active shooter suspect during an incident as they are not readily identifiable by law enforcement
It’s clear to see that the concept of arming teachers very complex. In most cases, the cost to do so may outweigh the benefits. With school budgets already stretched beyond the breaking point, funding will be the biggest deciding factor in arming teachers. However, this is not to say that an armed teacher program can’t be done successfully. Texas has seemed to address each of the negative aspects of arming teachers by providing funding, requiring extensive training that is recurring to ensure proficiency with the firearm, as well as a good vetting process to ensure that only the best candidates can participate in the program.
In the end, it is a difficult decision that needs to be made at a local level. What may work for one school may not work in the next.
Is your school or organization considering arming its employees? We offer training and policy writing services to address the specific needs to keep your employees safe. Call today to schedule a free phone consultation.
As always, stay vigilant. Stay safe.
Gene Petrino is a decorated Law Enforcement Officer (Retired), SWAT Commander, Street Crimes Unit Sergeant, and Educator whose dedication to keeping people from harm’s way has earned him the reputation as an ambassador of safety. Over the course of nearly three decades, he has gained in-depth expertise in the areas of tactical command, security threat analysis, and active shooter instruction. Gene has been featured in an article on Forbes.com as an expert in mass shootings.
In addition the being a University of Louisville Southern Police Institute Command Officers Development Course Graduate, Gene holds his B.A. in Criminology from the University of South Florida.
You can learn more about Gene at www.SurvivalResponseLLC.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.