The mass school shootings in Nashville, Philadelphia and other places across the country are becoming far too common.
The left believes gun control is the answer. Removing guns from would-be shooters (and everyone else) will stop school shootings. The right believes that mental health is the true issue. Stricter measures to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining guns is the solution.
While the issues are debated, children in schools need better protection. What I learned from performing security work while serving in the Navy and later as a Defense Department civilian, is that rings of security make a location truly safe. Most schools have security measures, such as locked doors and alarm systems, but in my view, schools should add another vital ring of security, armed guards.
When an active shooter forces his/her way into a school, alarm systems are activated or a 911 call is made, and the police usually respond quickly. But in those precious minutes, the shooter has already killed and wounded several victims.
Armed guards should be stationed in all schools. They are on the spot and can immediately encounter the shooter and save lives. And the best armed guards that schools can hire are former police officers as well as military veterans. Like the advertisements stated some years ago, “Hire a Vet.”
Schools should tap into the pool of unemployed military veterans. Like former police officers, military veterans are proficient in firearms and trained in firearm safety. Many of them are combat veterans. Visible armed guards make schools a hard target that a shooter, even a crazy one, will want to avoid.
Pennsylvanian Senator Mike Regan has come out for hiring armed guards for schools. On March 30th, Senator Regan, a retired U.S. Marshal, released an op-ed that calls for armed security in schools.
“In Pennsylvania, we have taken steps to implement and improve school security measures, but if we have learned anything with each school shooting, it is that every school must be prepared for the worst and to do that, they must meet a certain level of security mandated across the Commonwealth,” Senator Regan stated.
“Over the last ten years, I have led the charge in the Senate on the issue of school safety. Legislation that I sponsored created a School Safety Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and a School Safety and Security Grant Program to provide schools the financial resources to hire school police or resource officers and to purchase equipment or make physical changes to their buildings in order to keep their schools safe and secure. However, with each tragic attack on a school, I am reminded of the pushback I faced on my original proposal to require armed security.”
The senator noted that school superintendents and school boards demand local control and some are resistant to the concept of having armed security.
“This defies commonsense, especially when we have industry experts stating that such officers are the first step schools should take to prevent a tragedy like those that continue to happen needlessly across our country. The sad truth is that individuals are now specifically targeting schools – and especially schools they know are easily accessible and not well-secured. Early reports out of Nashville indicate that the shooter considered targeting another school but was deterred by the level of security there.
“Ensuring our students are fully protected while they are at school needs to be a top priority. That is why I am renewing my call for requiring every school to have armed officers on site, who are not only there in case of emergency but can also serve as trusted resources for students and be the eyes and ears on the ground to alert proper authorities to changes in behavior,” Senator Regan stated.
“My perspective on this issue comes from my career in the U.S. Marshal Service. Part of my responsibilities was to secure federal buildings. I have also relied on other credentialed experts in the field of school and building security as I crafted legislative proposals over the years, and they have all said with uniformity that the hiring of trained and vetted armed officers should be every school’s first step when implementing security measures. But still, many have not.”
Senator Regan wrote that many of Pennsylvania’s schools have already taken the necessary steps to implement both baseline criteria, which includes employing school security, be it school police officers, school resource officers, or school security guards.
“But the time has come for all to recognize that this is a must in today’s world. Let’s not allow another tragedy to occur or another ten years to pass by without taking necessary action. The lives of our young people – and their bright futures – depend on it.”.
I agree. I believe that only armed guards in schools can truly stop the tragic and senseless mass school shootings. And military veterans make the best armed guards.
Paul Davis is a Philadelphia writer who covers crime.