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Armed Pilots Program Provides a Good Model for Arming Teachers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Gun control debate aside, the idea of armed teachers is a good idea because it will provide a deterrent to mass school shootings.  The deterrent factor is the most important reason to support the idea, because if a teacher actually has to deploy a firearm, then the strategy will have been a failure.  A look at the history of the armed pilots program provides a good example of how to set up the new program to arm teachers against mass shootings.

After September 11, 2001, Congress considered a number of ideas on how to prevent future attacks using commercial aircraft as weapons of mass destruction. On 9/11, terrorists targeted the cockpits of aircraft for hijacking, because they knew that they were soft targets.  Our nation had disarmed and forbidden pilots from flying armed in the years before 9/11. Terrorists conducted a coordinated hijacking of four aircraft after planning for months to commit a terrorist attack that killed three thousand people. 

Congress passed a number of reforms, yet there were only a handful of members who pushed the idea to allow some pilots to be armed as a means to prevent another similar terrorist plot. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) and Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), my former boss, worked to create a new program to train, deputize and arm pilots to defend a commercial airline cockpit from terrorist attack.  Today, there are hundreds of volunteer Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO) protecting us from another 9/11. 

Evildoers can no longer storm a cockpit without fear of being shot. President Donald Trump was spot on to cite the armed pilot FFDO program as a model for a new program for teachers to protect schools. Many resist the idea of having a few trained and armed teachers to protect school children as a deterrent to school attacks. President Donald Trump made the strong case on Twitter that “concealed guns” may be provided to “gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best.”  That is the same model that has provided a deterrent to future acts of aviation terrorism and it is a good one.  

The FFDO program that has trained willing pilots to fly armed has been a success – arming a few teachers and staff would also be a success.  Many on the left have trashed the idea because it provides an element of self-defense within the schools.  Left wingers have only one solution and that is to seize all the guns in America.  Ultimately, the left will oppose and mock a common sense idea to arm a few teachers at schools, because it takes some of the steam away from banning guns.

Layers of security have worked with airports and it can work with schools. When a passenger purchases a ticket, they are checked on a no-fly list. Then there are security officials who put passengers through screening to make sure they are not sneaking weapons onto a plane. Flight attendants are trained to identify potential problem passengers.  Ultimately, the last line of defense is an armed pilot should a threat enter the cockpit. 

The same idea applies to protecting schools. Instead of continuing the idea of “gun free zones” around schools, maybe there should be some deterrents to bad kids who want to commit mass atrocities.  Maybe have layers of security at schools.  A periodic police presence in front of the schools would help. Training and arming a few school officials might provide another deterrent to bad kids with bad ideas. Ultimately, the last line of defense to protect kids are the kids themselves and the teachers.  

The left has mocked the idea of arming teachers or school officials as if it is the only solution being proposed.  They, and some in the Fake News media, have lied about the argument and make it seem that President Trump and his allies are proposing 100% of teachers be forced to be armed at all times.  That is not the case.  With the FFDO program, there are only a small percentage of pilots who are armed and the same should be true of the armed teachers program.  A voluntary program that may only lead to one trained, deputized and armed teacher, with nobody knowing the teacher’s identity, seems like a reasonable idea.

Congress will likely consider a number of ideas in the wake of the tragic events in Florida, yet the left wants you to believe that the only idea that is coming from conservatives is to arm every teacher in America and create fortresses in schools.  The feel good proposal is to just ban all guns and then the problem is solved.  The truth is that this is a complicated issue that speaks to law enforcement failures, mental health issues and school security.

Bottom line is that arming teachers is a common sense idea, so don’t let the hard core anti-gun left take that issue off the table.

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