Leave the task of dealing with active shooters to trained lawmen

By John R. Stone

You can count me among those having a problem with arming teachers in schools.

In theory it sounds like a good idea, to have someone right there to shoot back when someone tries to shoot students. But it is a lot more complicated than that.

There is one scenario where I think that might work. And that is in a situation where a teacher has locked the classroom door, the students are sheltered, and the shooter breaks into the room and is a clear target.

Most of the rest of the scenarios I can visualize would be so chaotic that even trained professionals would have a hard time sorting stuff out.

I’m no gun expert but I did spend some time in the U.S. Army where we went through a lot of weapons training. I was not a combat soldier but everyone (maybe not those in the ministry) learns to shoot a weapon and maintain that weapon.

Some of that training is more than shooting a weapon, it is aiming it, taking consideration of what is behind or near the target, thinking that a bullet might ricochet and more. And most of this training is in controlled situations where safety is a primary concern and nobody is shooting back.

Military personnel are tested regularly and train regularly in the use of their weapons.

Let’s say we have an active shooter situation in a school. When and where it is makes a big difference. Are all the students in classrooms? Is it during a school assembly? Is it in the lunchroom? It is outdoors at an athletic event? Is it at a program in the auditorium?

Each situation creates a need for different skills. In an elementary school where students are in a hallway frightened students would probably tend to run to adults they trust, their teachers. An armed teacher could find students clustered around which could create danger since once a teacher displays a weapon that teacher will become a target of the shooter. And having students clustered around a teacher would certainly be a distraction to the teacher.

In an open situation outdoors bullets can fly a long way threatening people well away from the center of the problem. In hallways a person firing a weapon has to consider ricochets and whom they might hit. Remember most schools have hard, masonry walls and any shot at an angle is likely to ricochet if it doesn’t hit something else first. In large rooms or long hallways teachers might be at a disadvantage, going up against a long rifle with a handgun at 75 to 100 feet is something even Clint Eastwood would find a challenge.

And then there is the situation of a teacher being accosted by a student who then relieves the teacher of his or her weapon and creates a mess.

The school system in Cody, Wyoming spent a couple of months discussing having teachers carry guns. They finally settled on a policy where some teachers will be allowed to carry weapons in schools. They will have to go through quite a bit of training and a psychological examination before qualifying and then there will be 18-24 hours of refresher training each year. We’ll get to see how that works out.

If I were a teacher I would not be interested. The situation I could envision would be that if a shooter started shooting at people in the school law enforcement would be called immediately.

Once called, lawmen and women would arrive at school and enter the building to attempt to subdue the shooter.  If a lawman enters a building and sees a teacher aiming a weapon at someone who may be out of sight of the lawman, what does the lawman do? Is the teacher the active shooter or is he or she helping subdue an active shooter? In the chaos of the moment, with kids running and screaming and others shouting instructions to kids, that’s a snap decision I would not want to make.

My thought is leave the task of dealing with an active shooter to the professional lawmen who train for this kind of stuff.