On Protecting Schools

This is probably the most sensible idea I’ve read in regards to how to protect schools, and that may be politically achievable. Talking to Bitter tonight, I’m struck with how many things you may typically find around a school classroom that may double as weapons. Standard dry chemical fire extinguisher? It can make a great improvised defensive spray (don’t ask me how I learned this). Do you remember those pointy wooden sticks teachers used to point to the chalk board? (do they still have those?) Some of you might be old enough to remember when teachers did use them as weapons. :) Anything heavy, like a chair, is an effective bludgeon. When I was 16, I was given a 4D Maglite to keep in my car, along with instructions as to what its true use was (and it wasn’t, necessarily, illuminating the engine in the event of car trouble, though it was useful for that as well).

Point being, and mirroring that of the article, we spend a lot of time and money drilling against outbreaks of fire, which at this point is now more than paranoid, as no child has died in a school fire in half a century. So why not get teachers in the right mindset for resisting school shooters? That doesn’t necessarily have to involve arming them with carbines or handguns. Much can be accomplished just with mindset alterations. And, after all, that is part of moving the culture in the right direction.

16 Responses to “On Protecting Schools”

  1. I know a teacher who is taking up softball. No reason why a teacher can’t keep a gym bag with a glove, ball, and bat under their desk, right?

    • Peter O says:

      I had a history teacher that admitted to the class that he had a sword hidden in the room.

  2. Gene Hoffman says:

    There should be a taser behing alarmed “break glass in emergency” in every class room and administrator’s office and annual taser training from local PD in the couple of days before school starts.

    We’re not going to get most Kindergarten teachers to carry guns. We can get them comfortable with a taser and how to use it if they need to.


  3. Dannytheman says:

    First off, I was one of the kids hit with the pointer by a nun. It had a little black runner tip on it and a smack across the hands or on the back of the legs was quite attention getting.

    How about the 3 hole punch, stapler and binders? Thrown with any force they would be very heavy and distracting. I am very much against the hide in the corner method that many schools now employ.

    My boys youngest is in middle school and next in high school. They have lock down drills. They basically hide. I have schooled my boys to get out a window if possible and run away from the noise. I have instilled in them to fight as best the can, do not trust an assailant. I have taken them to a range many times and explained how difficult it is to hit a moving target as it is moving away. (Not specifically for this reason, but they understand now) I try to instill drills on situational awareness with them as a car game, or walking in mall game. (again not directed toward a tragedy, just subtle “What’s going on around them” stuff.
    I do not agree that we need a cop in every school, but a well trained, certified?” individual who is there to defend the school and has the tools with him/her.
    It won’t happen, but I do believe removing the gun free zone from schools, and allowing trained teachers WHO WANT TO to take tactical training to carry concealed would be a deterrent. These mentally deranged individuals are not gone far enough to not understand they are going against an obvious unarmed location. When the cops were entering the building this nut job killed himself. He know, IMHO, that the school was gun free. Once others with guns came into the picture, he offed himself.

  4. Robert says:

    Just do what the airlines did after 9/11: make access difficult. Classroom doors should be hardened, with a security bar of some sort on the inside so that a maniac can’t get in. Harden outer access doors and station the school “resource officer” (read: cop) at the main entrance to monitor arrivals. Periodic drills that familiarize kids with taking refuge in a “hardened” classroom. No guns for teachers to negligently discharge or otherwise mis-handle. No guns stored in classrooms to draw thieves.

    • Patrick H says:

      With a lot of schools, that’s a lot of money. In a budget crunch that will be difficult.

    • Alpheus says:

      With the larger schools, I would imagine this would be problematic as well: in thinking about both my junior high and my high school (heck, even my elementary schools), that would mean a LOT of traffic through one little portal. Of course, it could be argued that we could fix this by teachers having keys to open the doors…but having a single point of entry can thwart things as well.

      To further complicate matters, if you have another Columbine-like incident, you have “insiders” that will know how to get around the security.

      Finally, airlines don’t make access as difficult as we’d like to think. It *looks* that way, with all the passengers and the pilots going through metal detectors, but there are a lot of people, most of whom work for airlines or airports, who *don’t* walk through metal detectors. Indeed, it’s even possible for a determined person to climb a fence, or otherwise get around the security. We’re fortunate that no one has tried to do so just yet!

    • C. Brown says:

      This is a viable idea depending on the existing structures in place and the school’s or school district’s budget. This might also not be very viable to schools with an open campus design like mine. We have very large steel gates that are locked at the start of the school day to prevent outside access, but it still wouldn’t be difficult for someone skilled with a rope and repel system to climb up and over the walls where classrooms and corridors remain unlocked during the school day.

      With respect to your comment about teachers negligently discharging a weapon, I believe you are misinformed. When your weapon is holstered and concealed, it’s not going to go off. Furthermore, if no one knows you HAVE it (hence the point of carrying concealed), you’re not enticing would-be criminals to steal it. You’re also preserving the element of surprise by carrying concealed, especially in a classroom. Criminals don’t expect it and it also helps keep the focus of the students where it should be: on the lesson. Please don’t generalize that all teachers are gun-idiots and are scare shitless of the things. It’s simply not true and depends entirely on the culture of your town and the people in it.

  5. Divemedic says:

    The article suggests getting the fire department to show up and spray the shooter with a hose. That will accomplish nothing, except getting the firefighters shot. We do not want to use rescuers as targets.

    Harden the schools:
    – Make it possible to lock classrooms.
    – Harden a single entry point to the school, so that entry is possible only with authorization.
    – Put a police officer or armed guard in every school.
    – If budgetary constraints do not allow for armed guards or cops, then the restrictions on armed adults on campus should be changed.

    • Alpheus says:

      My initial reaction to the suggestion was “hey, that firehose thing is a great idea!” but now that I think about it, you have to set the darn thing up, and then turn on the water pressure, and wait for the hose to fill…yeah, you’re right: a firefighter is likely to be shot trying to do that. If a fire-fighter had a “bullet-hose” on the other hand…

      It used to be that certain buildings had fire-hoses as well. Besides the issue of turning such a thing on (compared to a trigger-pull, it would take “ages” to twist it on, and then the hose has to fill up with pressure as well…), I’ve noticed a tendency to phase out firehoses. Sometimes a fire extinguisher is even in the place where a fire hose used to be.

  6. Rob Crawford says:

    AFAIK, modern classrooms have dry erase boards, not chalk boards.

    • Maria says:

      Some, in higher income areas/private schools, even have smart boards…

      Anyways not to get into the somewhat silly details about throwing staplers or sticks… but changing the mentality of teachers to “defend and fight” rather than “confront and try and talk to or barricade and hide” is one way to go.

      Pleas please understand, I’m not dismissing the efforts of the teachers who tried to defend, hide, or protect their children. They where braver then i likely would have been.

      But there is definitely something to be said about training people to prepare/fight if hiding/barricading fails. It can be empowering and could help when confronted with such a horrible situation not just in the classroom but in general as well.

  7. Patrick H says:

    I think the big take away from that article is multiple overlapped layers of defense.

    – Armed somebody- teachers, staff, police
    – Education on cover and hiding
    – Education on unarmed resistance
    – Locked doors

  8. Archer says:

    I knew a small girl (under 5 feet fully grown, and maybe 95 lbs soaking wet) that kept a crescent wrench in her car. It was huge (12-14 inches) and heavy (a couple pounds at least) and totally impractical for actually fixing the car, but at the same time people didn’t blink twice when they saw it; a wrench is a common sight in a car.

    But a big crescent wrench can do some nasty things to the human body if swung with that intention.

  9. TED BLACKWELL says:

    Trained and armed teachers has merit, as does allowing those with CCW permits to actually carry on campus. Lets put some risk in the careers of these baby killers. We’ve given “gun free zones” a try, and it has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocents. Lets try “gun rich zones” a try and see if it makes a difference. I’m betting it will. The only caveat is the firearm would have to be carried on the person and not in a purse or bag, and would have to be concealed if not in use.

  10. C. Brown says:

    Just today I learned about the Harold School District’s (TX) program to train teacher in the use of firearms and to permit them to carry concealed on campus. YES!!! Being a teacher myself (music, k-5), I think this is a fantastic idea. I also happen to be a Virginia Tech alum and it was during my sophomore year at that school that I witnessed 32 people get shot and killed. Many of us college students started telling our school officials, if you’d let us exercise our 2nd amendment right (seeing as all of us are of legal age to own a firearm in VA), we could have protected ourselves. I applaud the university clubs and groups that continue to advocate for the legal ownership and possession of firearms on college campuses, most of which are public property. That being said, I now live in an area in the SW United States that is highly pro-gun. I just learned the other day from the husband (and local gun store proprietor) of a colleague that many of the staff and faculty at my school own firearms and regularly go shooting at the many outdoor and indoor ranges we have in our area. Most of them–yes, even kindergarten teachers–are well versed in how to safely operate a firearm, myself included. Why would we be opposed to being trained and permitted to carry concealed in our classrooms? My main concern would be what parents have to say about it. Would parents feel safe if this measure were to be widely employed by our school district? For those who advocate just arming a school principal, I would reconsider. Most school principals spend their days in meetings and half the time aren’t even on campus. Arming them is not a bad idea, but they should not be the only line of defense. Discretely arming teachers provides a HELL of a lot more defense than one or two armed security guards. More importantly, just the fact that a school is no longer a gun-free zone is a hefty deterrent to potential gunmen. Schools become targets because they are utterly defenseless and criminals know this. It’s my two cents that teachers, parents, administrators, and school boards along with state departments of education have a serious and open discussing about practical school security using the personnel they already have in place.