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December 14, 2012
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Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief 10-43: Be Advised...
with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

Active shooters in schools: Should teachers be trained by police firearms instructors?

Should at least one teacher on every floor of every school in America be armed, trained, qualified, and ready/willing to end a deadly threat in their school?

It is truly a dark day in America.

In a nightmarish attack, at least 20 elementary school children were slaughtered by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Six adults were also murdered at that school.

My heart aches. Merely writing about this incident is difficult. I cannot even fathom the feelings of the families of the victims and first responders now gathered at the tragic scene. My heart truly aches.

Stopping Killers from Killing our Kids
In the aftermath of this incident, there will undoubtedly be a lot of pressure put on politicians at every level to propose and pass more stringent gun-control laws. That’s inevitable, but in my opinion it’s also missing the mark on a much more important issue. 

I’ve written extensively on the subject of arming campus cops, which to me should be a no-brainer. Incidents such as the tragedy today at Sandy Hook make me wonder if we need to go even further, by training, certifying, and arming American school teachers.

Every school in the nation conducts two or three fire drills per year, despite the fact that not one single child has died from a school fire anywhere in North America in well over a half a century.

Yet, we almost universally ignore the threat which really is claiming the lives of our kids — active shooters like some 20-year-old asshole whose name merits no mention in this space. 

Given the budget strain on most police departments, and given the fact that even those agencies which have lots of money and lots of cops are scaling back deployment of SROs, do you think that at least one teacher on every floor of every school in America be armed, trained, annually qualified, and ready/willing to end a deadly threat in their school?

I think it merits serious consideration.

Do you think that training should be conducted in conjunction with that jurisdiction’s police academy?

I think it merits serious consideration.

I’m not alone in this thinking. I asked these questions of my dear friends and PoliceOne colleagues Dan Marcou, Dick Fairburn, and Ken Hardesty — each of whom has taught extensively the topic of active shooters.

Marcou was quick to reply, “Doug, I believe in facing modern threats with modern solutions. I believe in armed pilots, armed teachers, armed judges, and armed fill-in-the-blank. I believe we need good people — who are good shots — who are armed in today’s world.”

Fairburn added, “In my opinion, the answer is more guns and more trained sheepdogs. But some people in our country will immediately try to ban guns — inanimate objects, simple tools — rather than understand we need more people standing ready to KILL the sick bastards who would prey on our lambs!”

Fairburn wasn’t done there.

“We don’t have enough police officers to protect every school or school bus at our recession-degraded staffing levels,” he added. “So, I vote for training/equipping volunteer sheepdogs to protect our lambs. How about a nationwide corps of retired cops? They’re already trained/equipped and background checked.”

Hardesty said, “Americans can no longer depend upon legislation to defend them from all who intend to do them harm.”

Hardesty added that while he doesn’t advocate in any way taking the law into one’s own hands, he does advocate for people taking personal responsibility for their survival and well being.

“Robert A. Heinlein was correct in the statement, ‘An armed society is a polite society.’ Gun-free zones are an open invitation for homicidal maniacs. Armed civilians of any kind — teachers included — will no doubt be met with trepidation. I believe some of the fears can be assuaged through a comprehensive selection and training process. Individuals selected must be mature, motivated, and above all else, volunteers. Prior to arming them physically, they must be armed mentally and indoctrinated with not only up-to date use-of-force law, but also with the unwavering mindset that their immediate action in the face of evil is saving the lives of others,” Hardesty concluded.

Let’s Do Something About This
My friends, the tragedy in Newtown is the third active-shooter event in an American learning institution THIS YEAR.

In February, 17-year-old T.J. Lane murdered three students sitting at a cafeteria table before school. In April, a former nursing student named One L. Goh opened fire at Oikos University near the Oakland International Airport, killing seven people.

A college. A high school. And now, an elementary school. All in 2012.

Fifteen years ago (1998), the total number of child fatalities in American schools reached what was then an all-time high — 35 children died that year in gun- and non-gun related incidents.

The next year, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 classmates and one teacher (wounding 26 others) before killing themselves in the school’s library. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people (and himself) on Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The following year, it was Northern Illinois University.

Yes, my proposal is provocative, and I do not make it lightly. The selection process should be rigorous and ongoing (the adage “selection is a never-ending process” applies here), and perhaps in the same way we arm our airline pilots, those involved in the program would be vetted volunteers. 

I ask you — should American law enforcement train and prepare civilian educators to take immediate action against armed attacks? Now that you have read the opinions of yours truly and some of my friends, add your voice to this discussion.

Perhaps in 2013 we can create enough momentum on this concept that something actually gets done.


About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 750 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Read more articles by PoliceOne Editor in Chief Doug Wyllie by clicking here.

Contact Doug Wyllie





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