“Mom! My English teacher wants me to rush an armed killer, and I don’t have time to sharpen my pencil!” I suspect—I hope—that sounds just about as crazy as anything any parent could ever imagine hearing from one of their kids, but that’s precisely what may be coming to schools across the nation, and much sooner than anyone might think.
In a November 10 story by ABC News, Sydney Lupkin writes:
Students in Canton, Mass., are the latest to receive training that would give them a more proactive role in responding to a school shooter. Instead of hiding, they would barricade doors and learn counter techniques.
The program, called ALICE — alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate — has been implemented in 300 schools since it was founded in the mid-2000s by former SWAT officer Greg Crane and his wife, a former school principal.
This is a topic I first addressed during my days writing at Confederate Yankee (closed since 11-01-11 to all but archival access), and later resurrected and updated in December of 2012 at SMM (the first article in that four-part series is available here).
Since April 20, 1999—the Columbine High School shooting–police agencies and schools have slowly but surely begun to confront the threat of active school shooters, and most have, to varying degrees, accepted certain inescapable realities. Among them:
(1) Doors, locks, and physical impediments cannot stop a determined shooter. At best, they’ll only slow them down.
(2) Gun Free School Zone signs might make some people feel better, but actually serve only to guarantee unlimited unarmed victims to killers planning attacks on schools.
(3) The police will virtually never be present at the beginning of an attack.
(4) It will take time for the police to arrive, and during that time, students and teachers will be injured and killed.
(5) Officers who arrive must immediately enter the building and assault the shooter(s). Hesitation and waiting for help costs lives.
While police agencies have begun to rewrite polices and engage in training to allow their officers to immediately attack shooters rather than waiting hours for SWAT teams, most schools are still stuck in the “run, hide and lock doors” mode of response. A number of consultants are now adding a final step to the run, hide and barricade strategy: having children and teachers swarm an armed attacker.
The C in ALICE is for ‘counter,’ and that’s often the most controversial step, but it’s also a last resort, Crane said.
Usually only for older students, ‘counter’ involves making use of students’ advantage in numbers over the lone shooter, because 97 percent of shooters act alone, Crane said. In his experience police are often less accurate shooters during shootouts because of overwhelming stimuli, like noise. Taking that knowledge into account, Crane’s program suggests that students keep moving, make noise, and sometimes throw things.
‘There are things you can do to make yourself a harder target,’ Crane said.
Of course, ‘counter’ only happens if the student comes face-to-face with a shooter.
Obviously, some are going to be opposed to that final step:
But ALICE has its critics, most notably, Kenneth Trump, a school safety consultant in Ohio who runs a consulting firm called National School Safety and Security Services.
Trump argues on the NSSSS website that Crane’s expectations are unrealistic. He told the Globe that as soon as a student is shot obeying ALICE standards, parents are going to ask who taught them to do that.
I’m sure that many reading this site are already ahead of me in terms of an ultimate solution, but Crane is quite correct. When the choice is cowering behind a locked classroom door and a ¾” particleboard desktop–flimsy materials that will not stop bullets or bombs–or attacking a killer rather than waiting to be shot, attacking is clearly the better option. Those timid souls who expect the police to be the salvation of their children will likely be attending funerals prominently featuring small coffins.
For the police, who would like nothing better than the chance to shoot a murderer in the act of killing school children, reality is comprised of time and distance. By the time an officer receives a call of a school shooting in progress, many minutes will already have passed since the first shot fired, and his arrival in the parking lot will depend on how far from the school he is. Even after arriving, he will still have to race into the school and locate the shooter, a task that will also take precious time and cost precious lives. In my four-part series, I illustrated the problem with a realistic—and terrifying–scenario.
Another dose of cold, hard reality is the fact that in virtually every mass school shooting in American history, the police had no role at all in ending the carnage. Commonly, after shooting as many innocents as seemed good to them, the shooters killed themselves, or in some cases, fled before the police could arrive. Occasionally, armed citizens or school employees have stopped and/or captured killers, but the media, for the most part, have carefully avoided reporting on such cases.
Police agencies are always understaffed, so they schedule the most officers for the times they are most needed: commonly Friday and Saturday nights. When do they schedule the fewest officers? During school hours, Monday through Friday. It would shock and amaze most people to discover how few officers are actually patrolling their communities at any time of the day or night, and considering ObamaCare and the minute-by-minute worsening fiscal disaster our political masters have created and seem determined to maintain—God forbid any reader live in a bankrupt or soon to be bankrupt California city–this is not a situation that is going to improve—or even stabilize—anytime soon.
This means that when the call of a school shooting comes in, there may be no officers free to turn on their lights and siren and head toward the school. In many communities, particularly those in semi-rural or rural areas, the first police officer may be as much as an hour away.
But even if the nearest officer is merely around the corner when they receive the call, they need do nothing. The police have no legal obligation to protect any individual citizen, a matter that has been unambiguously decided by the Supreme Court, as I explained in a December, 2011 PJ Media article. If that officer around the corner wishes, if he is that immoral and/or cowardly, he can simply pull to the roadside and wait until many other officers are close, and there is nothing anyone can do to force him to drive to the school.
This sounds outrageous, even insane, but it is not only reasonable, it is absolutely necessary. If the police could be successfully sued by anyone injured by a criminal, what city could possible afford a police force? Who would become a police officer understanding they would likely be continually sued for failing to prevent injuries about which they had no knowledge and over which they had no control?
Obviously, the police have a moral obligation to do their best to protect the innocent, and most states have laws that allow the firing or punishment of police officers who, having actual knowledge of their duty, refuse to do it. However, this will be cold comfort to the parents of children killed in a school attack.
The truly inconvenient truth, but a fact of life whether one chooses to recognize and accept it or not, is we are all responsible for our own safety and the safety of those we love. We may be licensed concealed carry holders—Illinois is the sole American state that denies any exercise of that right to its citizens—but when our children leave our vehicles and set foot on school property, they are under the “protection” of people who rely on sheet metal signs, locked doors, wooden desktops, happy, inclusive thoughts, self-esteem and good intentions to protect their lives.
Perhaps the last frontier in firearms freedom is allowing teachers and staff members to carry concealed handguns, and for the first time in American history, this is actually politically possible, and as with concealed carry, when a few states authorize and publicize it, many others will follow in short order.
It must be publicized, for the strength of concealed carry is that every criminal is forced to realize that while only a small portion of the public will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun, it is highly likely that anyone they attack might be carrying at any time and any place. If the Jonesburg school district makes it clear that its employees are allowed and encourage to carry concealed weapons, and the Smithtown school district next door is proud to announce that its employees are disarmed, which district is most likely to attract the attention of a madman considering a shooting rampage?
The ability to immediately confront and stop an armed attack, potentially before a shot is fired at innocents, is priceless, yet in the name of “safety” and particularly “feeling safe,” that ability is denied those who could save the lives of our children.
Few solutions to real education problems are so simple, so readily implemented, and will cost so little. Arming those school staff members who choose to be armed—who with concealed carry licenses already are armed and trained–is a solution whose time has come. The continuing cost of failing to implement true protection will be calculated in the lives of children.