As of January 1, 2020, 28 states allow school staff to arm themselves in some form or fashion. In some states, such as Colorado, there are no statutes allowing armed school personnel but also no laws explicitly prohibiting it. In Arkansas, the carrying of firearms on school grounds is prohibited but there is an exception for law enforcement officers and “registered commissioned security guards.” Some school districts, claiming a lack of resources to hire conventional guards, have obtained the necessary licenses in order for teachers and staff to be “armed security guards.” Why is it beneficial for a teacher to be armed? The next examples will highlight how quickly things can be diffused when teachers are properly armed and trained.
May 25, 2021
41 year old drug addict, Ira Cox-Berry, made his way onto the playground of Lincoln Elementary School in Ogden, Utah. Upon entering the playground Cox-Berry grabbed the arm of an 11 year old girl who was playing and attempted to leave with her. A teacher saw this through the window of their classroom and immediately sprung into action. They confronted Cox-Berry, during this altercation the girl and rest of the children were able to escape into a nearby classroom. Once the children were inside Cox-Berry began punching windows of the classrooms in order to gain access to the children. This is the point where the teacher, being a trained concealed carry holder, produced their weapon and simultaneously called 911. If this teacher had not been armed Cox-Berry could have either: 1) gained access to the children and hurt one or more, or 2) injured or even killed the teacher in a physical altercation. This instance ended with the perpetrator in custody and no bodily injury to any children or school staff.
October 1, 1997
16 year old student, Luke Woodham, woke up the morning of October 1, 1997 and stabbed his mother to death. Then he brought a .30-30 lever-action rifle, traditionally used for killing deer, to Pearl High School. At 8:06 AM the first shot rang out across the campus hitting a student in the stomach. 56 year old assistant principal, Joel Myrick, was crossing the commons when he heard the shots. He immediately ran to his truck where he kept a Colt .45 pistol; after loading the fire-arm he ran towards the sound of gunfire. He aimed at Woodham but did not fire out of fear of hitting one of the other students. “I knew not to shoot because the backstop was not safe,” he said. “I didn’t just go blasting away.” Once he noticed Myrick’s gun trained on him, Woodham retreated from campus, got in his car and began to drive away. The car spun out and came to a stop 20 steps from Myrick. Myrick had Woodham held at gunpoint when the police arrived. Two students, including Woodham’s former girlfriend, were killed and seven others were wounded. Woodham is serving life in Mississippi State Penitentiary. Myrick is against arming teachers and administration but he is an avid supporter of having armed officers in schools. This could be helpful in areas where teachers do not wish to be armed but want extra protection. An armed resource officer was helpful in the next example.
May 16, 2018
The morning of May 16, 2018 at 8:06 AM, a former student, 19 year old Matthew Milby opened fire during graduation practice at Dixon High School. Dixon Police Officer, Mark Dallas, chased Milby from the school then shot and wounded him after he continued to shoot at the officer. Milby was treated for injuries, which weren’t life threatening, at a local hospital before being taken to the county jail under a two million dollar bond. Mike Pence was on Twitter praising the officer. “Another example of the brave work performed by law enforcement each and every day. Lives were saved thanks to the heroic actions of school resource officer Mark Dallas,” Pence said. The shooter’s mother, Julie Milby, said her son had been kicked off the football team for smoking marijuana and had recently been beaten up as other children watched. She suspected he was trying to get the police to kill him. Thankfully, no students were harmed during the shooting. The swift action of an armed resource officer saved so many lives.
In all of the above examples an armed staff member was able to take action. Casualties in these cases were lower than similar instances where it took longer for shooters to be apprehended. School staff should have the choice to bring properly concealed and maintained weapons in order to protect themselves and their students. Schools should offer training in things such as severe trauma first aid. FAST is a course offered by the Red Cross to highschool students under the age of 19 for free. It teaches students severe trauma first aid and what to do during an emergency. Adults can take this course for a cost and can even be certified to teach it. High Schools should add FAST to their curriculum so students can be prepared for situations that may arise in or out of school. Schools should also offer active shooter defense training or some sort of guardian program. Teachers should not be required to risk their lives or fight anyone potentially dangerous, but if they find themselves in the situation where the knowledge could be useful they will have the option of putting their knowledge into practice if they choose to do so.
School districts who decide preparing teachers is not in their best interest should have law enforcement or armed security guards. It is unfortunate that the conversation even has to be had but students need to be protected. The sad reality of modern times is that with or without “Gun Free Zones” incidents can occur from active students, former students, or even strangers. It is better to protect ourselves, and our children, to the best of our abilities, with whatever force is necessary.