04 Feb 2013

NRA Armed School Security Guards-Practical or Not?

5 Comments Campus Security, Featured Articles

Following the Sandy Hook murders, the NRA proposed placing armed school security guards in every school to prevent another such mass murder. Proponents of the measure stated that having someone in the school that is trained and armed provides an immediate response to an active shooter in the critical first seconds, rather than having to wait until law enforcement arrives, often too late to prevent significant casualties. Opponents of the NRA’s proposal blasted the suggestion as impractical, expensive and reminiscent of a “police state”.

What Would Armed School Security Guards Look Like?

In considering whether the proposal has merit or not, the first consideration is to define what is meant by an armed school security guard. Most people consider the term “armed school security guard” as a uniformed person openly carrying a firearm, employed by a licensed security service. This is a very narrow view of the potential application of the term. Armed security can also be developed from retired law enforcement or military police whose certification is still current and in good standing.

It can also be developed from within the school staff through training and certification, whether they are also teachers, administrators or even maintenance personnel. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has developed an effective volunteer posse program in which people who are interested go through background checks and required training, who are then assigned to duties as needed, further extending law enforcement budgets. Posse members patrol around the schools, rather than in the schools and are insured through the Sheriff’s Office.

The primary concerns over having armed security in the schools seems to be uniformed personnel openly carrying firearms causing undue fear in children and the appearance of a police state. These concerns can be addressed through concealed carry. In fact, both tactically and strategically, this may be a better option to deal with potential active shooting situations.

When perpetrators are not certain whether they will be confronting armed resistance and cannot readily identify who is armed, the uncertainty has a deterrent effect. A case in point is the Aurora Colorado murderer bypassing several theaters closer to his home and selecting a theater posted as a gun free zone. Concealed carry further creates a lower profile within the school and lessens the potential for children, or more often parents, feeling they are in a threatening environment. As part of the school security program, clear delineation of duties and limitations on the security personnel can further address the concerns of some over a police state within the school environment.

Is Armed Security Really Impractical?

Given the number of schools across the country, trying to have school resource officers or formal uniformed security guards in every school is a daunting task. The average salary of a certified armed security guard ranges from $28,000 to $33,000 a year, depending upon education and experience. The 2010 national average salary for a school resource officer was about $56,000. Each school would require enough security to cover the entire campus and to cover sick leave or other absences.

Given the current economic conditions requiring budget cuts and reductions in vital personnel, such as teachers, the prospect does seem insurmountable, especially considering the costs of hiring and training sufficient personnel to fill each school. It also takes considerable time to complete thorough background checks, determine suitability to serve in a school environment and complete the training of sufficient people to fill the positions needed.

Limiting the definition of armed security to only school resource officers or armed security guards provided by a security company would indeed be impractical in terms of the high costs, time to hire, train and deploy these personnel. In considering alternative solutions, basic considerations as to what objectives those responsible for developing a school security program want to achieve.

Alternative Solutions-Voluntary Concealed Carry for School Personnel

Larry Correia, a subject matter expert in the field of concealed carry, self-defense and active shooters, stated that schools dealing with potential active shooters do not need a person trained to the level of a SWAT team sniper or Navy SEAL. Instead, the concept of providing a “speed bump” to a perpetrator would be sufficient. Disabling, distracting or delaying a perpetrator until law enforcement could arrive is sufficient for the purposes of an armed security program for schools. In every instance so far, an active school shooter, when confronted by an armed person, whether law enforcement or not, has either surrendered or killed themselves rather than continuing to engage.

The greatest factor in the number of casualties once an active shooter incident begins is the time that passes between the attack commencing and an armed person confronting the shooter. Utilizing a single school resource officer or armed security guard risks the perpetrator having precious additional seconds to kill in the time it takes the officer or guard to respond to the area if they aren’t targeted in the initial attack. Utilizing personnel already familiar with the school environment and on site, whether it is teachers, administrative personnel or maintenance personnel takes advantage of available manpower, minimizes costs and potential disruption to students.

In the school setting, developing the strategy of having multiple people utilizing concealed carry, in addition to or instead of a school resource officer or armed uniformed security, provides for each component in preventing, mitigating and stopping an attack once it begins. The uncertainty of determining who is armed, where they are located and if the perpetrator will be confronted immediately, may prove to be an excellent deterrent and prevent attacks before they happen. Add to that the capability of multiple responders across the campus reducing the time before the perpetrator is confronted significantly reduces the risk of high body counts sought by active shooters.

Utilizing local concealed carry instructors to train volunteers already in the school system interested in protecting themselves and the children is one of the most cost effective, time saving and easily implemented programs to ensure another Sandy Hook, Columbine or Virginia Tech never happens again.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s posse program is another effective alternate solution that minimizes cost and can be rapidly deployed. The most effective solutions are those that are developed within communities that respond to the unique needs of each school system. Federal level programs tend to be singularly ineffective due to bureaucratic obstacles, one size fits all requirements that are often ill suited to each school’s unique environment, not to mention the high cost and waste associated with such programs. The NRA is also continuing its efforts to bring together the foremost experts in a multitude of fields to comprehensively address the ongoing issue of reducing violence. Given their effectiveness in improving safe gun ownership, it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Additional information below:
http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/20541694/2013/01/09/sheriff-arpaio-to-use-posse-members-to-make-schools-safer
http://www.mikehuckabee.com/mike-huckabee-news?ID=661ac8a6-3398-46e1-a645-996530efa4fc (Larry Correia’s editorial on preventing school shootings)

Do you believe that school personnel that volunteer to concealed carry can be an effective deterrent to active school shooters? Does the term armed school security guard always mean a uniformed guard only carrying a firearm? Can properly screened, trained volunteers be an effective deterrent or response to an active shooter within the school? I welcome your thoughts and comments below.

5 Responses to “NRA Armed School Security Guards-Practical or Not?”

  1. Scott Silverii says:

    Slam dunk I totally agree that minimizing the time between action and confrontation is critical. I responded to an active shooter in 2009. The kid was confronted & immediately retreated to take his life.

    I wrote about it at the Badge Guys. http://www.thebadgeguys.com/my-active-shooter-response-experience/

  2. slamdunk says:

    Well written Juli.

    The quote “The greatest factor in the number of casualties once an active shooter incident begins is the time that passes between the attack commencing and an armed person confronting the shooter” is excellent.

    I don’t have the research (if there is any), but I have observed that many active shooters act like zombies; seemingly in a trance or enjoying the moment. Seemingly, it is not until an armed threat challenges the shooter, that the zombie disappears and the person is afraid for their lives and quickly turns the gun on themselves or surrenders.

    Finding a way to reduce the time a shooter is confronted is imperative.

    • Juli says:

      Thank you for the kind words! I agree with your observation that they seem to be in a trance. It’s like they’ve got it all planned out and when things don’t go quite right it ruins the moment for them. I’d rather be in a position to ruin the moment sooner than later to stop the momentum building for that 15 minutes of fame they seek, not to mention reducing their victim count! Sure wish the media was more enthusiastic about covering when a situation like this is thwarted as they are when they are successful. Seems like hearing the failures more would reduce motivation.

  3. Scott Silverii says:

    Thanks Juli,

    Great exploration of alternatives to the traditional images of armed guards. Must admit, I had locked into the para-police looking retirees in uniforms with holsters hanging on a swivle.

    Thanks for providing a different perspective to the options for ultimately protecting our greatest resource.

    Always a pleasure sharing your vision,

    Scott