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Is Armed School Security The Answer For School Shootings?

One possible solution to the threat of school shootings that many people have floated is armed school security personnel. Some people have even gone so far as to say that school districts should hire retired military personnel for the job, as it's a great way to get veterans into a job they have skills for in the civilian realm and so on.

It's a great idea, but is that going to keep these things from ever happening again?

No, it's not, but the idea has great potential for reducing the impact of such events. You can't stop bad people from doing bad things without solutions that only exist in science fiction or by basically destroying all humans.

In other words, it isn't the only solution and in fact it's a down-stream solution rather than an upstream solution that prevents such incidents from ever taking place to begin with. THE answer? No. But, armed school security would likely be a useful tool.

Armed School Security Is By Nature A Quick-Reaction Force

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Pretty much by definition, armed security of any kind including armed school security is a quick-reaction force for lack of a better way to put it. Essentially, they're able to react to a threat more quickly because they're right there.

That should be fairly obvious as to why that's important, but we'll talk about it anyway.

There are two significant arguments in favor of armed school security, one being that of a deterrent and one of course being the rapid reaction capabilities of such personnel.

The argument of deterrent is that if there is armed security present in schools, and the students know it, any potential school shooters will think twice as they know they'll be shot back at.

Whether there's any truth to that...well, you have to make up your mind for yourself. It makes sense on paper, but does it really work in the real world? It's impossible to say for sure, because it's hardly the case that someone will admit they were thinking of committing a school shooting, but totally called it off because they saw a school security guard. It's probably true that the knowledge that there are people who will shoot back would deter some, but might not others.

As far as rapid response...well, armed citizens and police have intervened plenty of times to shut down active shooters. Of COURSE that works.

What About Arming Teachers As Well As Armed School Security?

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Arming teachers is basically just extending concealed carry into a different area. Just like the average citizen having a concealed pistol on their person, the idea is basically that there are more people equipped to stop a lethal threat around.

How effective is it for armed citizens to be around? Does concealed carry actually prevent crime?

The passage of many state's shall-issue permit laws occurred during a period where violent crime declined; what is often called the "Second Wave" or "New Wave" of concealed carry started in the late 1980s and continued into the early 2000s. During that same period, violent crime declined to historic lows and has stayed that way ever since.

Some people think it's proof of how effective concealed carry is on a macro basis, but that's actually very shoddy thinking. For one, correlation isn't causation. For two, crime has many different causes and crime prevention works or doesn't work for a great deal of reasons as well.

Furthermore, said decline in violent crime was actually global. Violent crimes actually declined almost worldwide, and especially in the G20 nations. Therefore, you can't say it had anything to do with concealed carry laws.

What you CAN point to, however, are incidents and frequency where armed citizens have intervened on their own behalf or on that of others, of which there are certainly many. Thus, the most reasonable conclusion is that while liberal concealed carry laws (liberal in the sense that it is more freely permitted; words have different definitions in different contexts, folks) is that concealed carry makes it possible for more people to respond immediately to violent crime and stop, delay or otherwise interfere.

And that's what arming teachers does. You have people around that can respond immediately IF something happens.

That is IF there are teachers who are willing to get the training and carry a gun, and not all of them are. Clearly, just allowing faculty to be armed if so desired is not a be-all, end-all in and of itself.

Armed School Security, Armed Teachers...Are Just Tools

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Armed school security probably isn't going to prevent school shootings from ever happening, and neither are armed teachers. Not only that, but they actually occur elsewhere in the world; it is a fiction that it is solely an American phenomenon.

Look, a good guy with a gun is not the ONLY solution to violent crime. Thinking so is at best naive and at worst is willfully (and monumentally) ignorant. Crime, including random acts of atrocity, is a complex phenomenon with many different causes and influences; finding upstream solutions (before the act occurs) is just as good as pursuing downstream (once the act is in progress) ones, if not arguably better.

With that said, having armed staff in schools also allows for faster reaction to a school shooter than waiting for police. Armed guards can make contact in seconds; police take minutes. To ignore that capability entirely would be foolish.

If we, as a society, want to be serious about reducing the frequency and severity of school shootings, there are too many potential benefits to ignore.

Sam Hoober
 

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.