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OPINION

When Seconds Count, Police Are Just Minutes Away – and That’s Why Kids Die

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/John Amis

There are many fierce, hungry tigers living near your home and they are stalking your children. How best to protect your young ones: declaw the tigers, or equip your home with strong defenses so they cannot enter, and if they do they will be stopped dead? 

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This is the essential question tragically raised once again in the bloody wake of the Tennessee Christian elementary school massacre. Anti-gun media talking heads, Democrat legislators, government officials, teachers’ Union chieftain Randi Weingarten, and Democrat gun-haters in general as usual are claiming the only way to stop these horrific attacks is declaw the tigers – that is, pass more laws to restrict gun ownership. They steadfastly refuse to face the reality that a crazed shooter will always find a way to obtain a gun – in the Nashville killer’s case seven of them. When the tiger comes to the door, the only defense is making sure the animal doesn’t get inside to murder innocents.

We know how to do that; the killers have shown us. Mass murderers may be crazy, but they aren’t stupid. Just like the Nashville shooter decided not to hit a school because it had “too much security” most killers will very deliberately avoid a target where they could be killed by an armed defender before they can achieve the carnage they intend. 

Similarly, the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooter who killed 12 and injured 70 in 2012 specifically said he looked for a theater with a “Gun Free Zone” sign, bypassing other movie houses closer to where he lived that lacked that sign. Nearly all massacres – whether in schools, churches, or shopping malls – have that fatal sign in common.  

It’s not clear if the Covenant School had such a sign. But we do know that a shooter will likely avoid a target with security such as an armed guard, say a volunteer retired veteran, or a school resource officer working for the local police force. Or a school with armed staff who can mount immediate resistance.  

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The Nashville police have been praised because it took them only 14 minutes to respond, yet even that quick action cost six lives. During the 2018 massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the killer took less than 7 minutes to murder 14 students (9 of them aged 15 and under) and three staff - seventeen souls gone altogether in mere moments.  

The key to fewer dead children is faster response time by armed staff who are actually at the ready inside the school at all times.

To the horror of the gun-phobic and the gun-grabbers, that means well-trained school staff – teachers, janitors, administrators – who are carrying concealed weapons. But won’t kids wrest the guns from them and spray the classroom with hot lead? Or an annoyed teacher takes out an annoying student for cracking gum?

Well, no. Colorado is one of 32 states allowing teachers and staff to protect children with a concealed carry firearm. Laura Carno is Executive Director of FASTER Colorado, the nonprofit that trains school personnel to defend their schools. FASTER is an acronym for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response, originally begun in Ohio after the 2012 Sandy Hook, Conn., shooter murdered 20 children and six teachers. Carno brought the training to Colorado about seven years ago and the number of trained school staff has now risen to 300 people in 41 of the state’s 178 school districts. 

In those seven years, there has never been an incident of accidental fire, or an  intruder bent on murder entering a school with a firearm. Since about 10% of Colorado’s population are longtime concealed carry permit holders, school-based volunteers for the FASTER program which uses active-duty law enforcement trainers with SWAT experience, are plentiful. About 40% of the FASTER participants are classroom teachers, while 60% are principals, superintendents, lunch ladies, school nurses, or janitors.     

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In the few days since the Covenant School tragedy, Carno has heard from about 10 new Colorado school districts interested in her program. People seem to be looking beyond more gun control laws to common sense ideas that can keep children safe. “The closer an armed staffer is to the beginning of a violent event, the sooner it is stopped, and the fewer people die. Since killers don't know which staff members are armed, that itself is a huge deterrent,” Carno says. “Every time there’s one of these horrible shootings, more school board members and superintendents move to the decision that they have to do something to protect the children.” Carno approves of the School Resource Officer (SRO) concept but points out, “Armed staff is a free or low-cost addition to SRO’s because one or two SRO’s can't cover the entire school.” The FASTER program offers financial assistance.

The idea of well-trained and armed volunteer school staff is gaining traction, according to reports. After Parkland, a special Commission analyzing the slaughter recommended that every middle school and high school in Florida have an armed school resource officer and that a program allowing for trained teachers to carry concealed weapons should be greatly expanded. A similar recommendation was made in a Federal Commission on School Safety (2018) report. 

In predictable contrast, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and gun-control outfits (e.g., Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund) strongly oppose arming teachers

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These organizations are not fans of the Second Amendment.  Political ideology often determines trust or distrust in firearms for school security.  A Pew Research survey in 2021 found that 66% of Republicans support allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns in K-12 schools, while only 24% of Democrats approve. What a shock

Yet a Rasmussen survey in 2022 found that by a 49% to 37% margin, Americans support armed teachers to stop school shootings; a significant jump up from their 2018 survey when Americans opposed it by 43% for to 48% against. Significantly, adults with children at home supported armed school staff by 57%.   

Still, anti-gun derangement syndrome has taken firm hold of radical union boss Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She insists her union members don’t even want the right to defend themselves, even though brave educators from Columbine to the Parkland massacre and now at Covenant have died trying to protect their kids. “Teachers don’t want to be armed; we want to teach,” she railed. “We would never have the expertise needed to be sharpshooters…” The dead, like the Head of School at Covenant, may disagree. 

Never has there been a more sickening display of a union putting crass political alliances before human lives, and children's lives at that. Next election, parents must remember that the teachers’ unions are the most prolific contributors to leftist causes and Democrat candidates. Make sure you know where your school board candidates stand on protecting your kids from the ravening tigers.

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Joy Overbeck is a Colorado-based journalist and author whose work has been published in Townhall, American Thinker, The Washington Times, The Federalist, the Daily Caller, Complete Colorado, and elsewhere. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @joyoverbeck1 

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