It’s such a catchy phrase: “If you’re gonna have a gun on our campus, you’re gonna have a badge.” That is the statement of the Leon County School Board in Tallahassee, Florida. They voted to NOT permit teachers or school staff to carry arms to protect themselves and their students from an active shooter.
Now that sounds just fine, other than the grammar. It would be even more impressive if the school board would outline for parents and students how the schools will deal with an active shooter in the three to five minutes before someone with a gun and a badge shows up to help. The facts are that active shooter situations are so dangerous because counter measures from law enforcement cannot reach the school building in time to stop a mass tragedy. Even with a gun and a badge standing outside the school at Parkland, innocent children and teachers were wounded and killed.
How can students respect grown adults that cannot deal with the facts of the violence in our culture and work to effectively counter such evil? Placing more guns on a campus is no magic wand to end all violence. And some perpetrator will inevitably try to take advantage of an armed teacher, so yes, there is a risk here. That is why effective active shooter training and techniques, practiced as routinely as fire drills are necessary for all schools, churches, corporations and citizens. Knowing how to respond to an active shooter – other than gathering together and hiding in a corner, is critical to saving lives in the future. Just as critical as more guns and badges on campus.
The Leon County School Board took a picture of themselves and their resolution. It was published by the local media. What does their vote do to make anyone safer? They claim the answer is more staffing, mental health services and anti-bullying programs. They may be right about that but what if the shooter is not from their school system or is not a student at all?
What if, God forbid, something does happen in Leon County, Florida. Will those same School Board members be held accountable for having no effective plan in place to protect the lives in their care?