Ever since the Sandy Hook School shooting there has been an online debate on Patch about gun control, arming teachers, armed school guards, and similar topics. I have read many of those comments, and I find most of them troubling. The troubling nature is not because of the opinions of the writers. It is because I believe the writers do not have the expertise to back up their opinions. They mean well, but intent is not expertise. You cannot prescribe a defense unless you have defended.
As background you should know that I am fully supportive of the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. I do not want to take anyone’s guns away (unless they are crazy or criminal). My Uncle Joe, a hunter, taught me how to shoot when I was seven years old (1949) using a .22 cal. rifle and many cans and jars as targets. I think that early exposure was what helped me to qualify as a Sharpshooter in the Marine Boot Camp in the 1960s. Back then I first qualified on an M1 rifle. It had an 8 round clip. After boot camp I had to qualify on the M14 assault rifle. It has a 20 round magazine. In the mid sixties I had to qualify on the M-16. It too had a 20 round magazine. I also qualified on the M1911 45 cal. pistol. It had a 7 round magazine. Today’s military assault rifles have 20 round magazines and the pistols have either 7 or 9 round magazines. That is how we equip our war fighters today, and we know that they do very well at their jobs. So why does any civilian need a rifle magazine with more than 20 rounds or a pistol magazine with more than 9 rounds? Simple fact is that they do not. Hunters don’t need them. Target shooters don’t need them, and they are not really needed for self defense. Self defense depends upon careful shooting not unleashing a hail of bullets. The best weapon for self defense is a shotgun. It is hard to miss with one. The best self defense handgun is a revolver (5 or 6 rounds) because it will not jam on a misfire like a semi-automatic pistol will. In a gunfight a misfire can mean you die. Want glamor? Get a semi-auto pistol. Want reliability? Get a revolver. Want to NOT miss? Get a shotgun.
Enough lesson. Here’s my opinion.
The idea of arming teachers is crazy. The idea of placing armed ex-military personnel as school guards is hardly feasible. Armed security guards and even police are not trained to shoot it out in a firefight with a nutcase or fanatic with an assault rifle. Teachers are totally unprepared for it. SWAT teams and combat infantry Soldiers and Marines are so trained, but they are busy with other work. Even if they were available to guard schools, do we want to turn schools into armed camps. Protecting a campus like Lower Merion High School would require that all entrances be locked down and that one entrance be fortified with armed guards. Do you want your kids to go to school in an environment that shouts DANGER when they arrive in the morning and leave later in the day? I doubt it.
I am amazed by the opinions of those who call for armed teachers and ex-military to bear arms in our schools. I suspect that they come by those opinions without the benefit of experience. Until you have had a a hail of gunfire aimed at you, you cannot know just how much discipline it takes to return fire at a shooter with the fire discipline required to not harm others. Candidly, I doubt that the average untrained person could prevail in such a situation. A teaching certificate is not a credential for a firefight. Having been in the military is also NOT a credential. Many who have never served fail to realize that the vast majority of service personnel are not trained combatants. It is the infantry Soldiers and Marines that are trained to shoot it out with bad guys. They are less than 25% of the forces in which they serve. How many ex combat-trained personnel do you think want a job with a gun? I’ll assure you from personal experience that it is not many. Shooting at people leaves bad memories. Hitting them leaves bad scars. Most who have had violent confrontations just want to avoid them in the future.
The simple facts are that guns are neither the cause of violence nor the solution to it. The people who perpetrate violence on others are amoral, sociopathic, fantasy indulging, or lunatic. We need to find ways to identify them, to stop them from exercising their second amendment rights, and to get them help or incarcerate them. To do that we need laws that require tighter screening of gun buyers and greater burdens on gun owners to keep their guns safe.
Finally, if you have never had the experience of hearing the crack of bullets breaking the sound barrier as they whiz past you, don’t respond. You really don’t know what a firefight is let alone how to fight back against one.