19 Dec 2012

Elementary school shooting reported in Newtown – Should teachers be armed?

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I read about the shootings at Sandyhook with a heavy heart this week as I have about all the other school shootings around the country over the years. The sick individuals that carry out these acts of violence on innocent people do untold damage to communities and ruin so many people’s lives and all for what? To what end? Such acts, in my mind at least, are no different to those of a terrorist who then goes on to commit suicide as the closing act in his/her delusional fantasy… Why for heaven’s sake did he not just take his own life in the first place and save a lot of pain for a lot of innocent individuals and families?

I don’t feel that guns are the problem here but the person behind the trigger of that gun. Anyone nowadays can get a hold of a gun and it can be used for good or bad and it is the mind-set of the individual behind that trigger who determines the end result.

Now whilst the responsibility for the attack rests squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrator it is high time that all schools adhere to stricter security guidelines to safeguard against such horrific incidents taking place. I have worked with schools in my area that lock all classrooms after the bell rings and have locked doors that are only accessible via the use of electronic access cards to let staff go past these locked points. Thus all persons must go to the office before entering the school. This will not stop a person that is determined to get in but it does act as a deterrent and may slow their progress sufficiently for first responders to take action. It may also help stop someone from getting into the main part of the school.

Having considered at length the issue of arming teachers I want to play devil’s advocate. On the one hand is it really a wise idea to have all the teachers in school in possession of guns? It would be a big undertaking to supply and teach all these people how to load and shoot a gun. Then there is the other factor of if you point a gun at someone you better be prepared to use it or they may take it from the teacher and use it against that individual and anyone else they choose. Alternately, leaving kids to be slaughtered in the way they were in Newton is just not acceptable.

Having an armed person in the front office with security locks on the doors is a good option in most circumstances; this limits the amount of people that will be directly involved with the assailant.

In an article I read on the subject by the excellent Caroline Ramsey Hamilton she rightly stated that these kinds of shootings always happen when least expected and always take people off guard, so it is vitally important to understand the correct procedures to follow in case of an emergency. Also knowing at all times just who is in your school is vitally important. This can be achieved by using identification tags or staff and student identification that is visible at all times and by using a visitor check in system for every one that comes to your school.

It’s true we don’t always know who the bad guys are so we must always be prepared. Caroline Ramsey Hamilton has done extensive research in risk management and states that changes must take place NOW so that in the next few years people will be more prepared for this new type of violence that is sweeping our country. I wholly agree.

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