It is obvious to me that many people simply do not understand the concept behind armed teachers in the classroom. I am one of those teachers who has been trained to be armed in the classroom, and I can assure you that training is long, detailed and extensive. Police officers do not receive as much training as we have had in the Armed Teacher Training Program.
For example, in the live fire shooting, police officers are required to initiate their training with firearms with 750 rounds of ammunition while shooting at targets as far away as 25 yards. They are also required to maintain an 80% accuracy record. Imagine an airline pilot qualifying with an A340 airliner loaded with 350 to 400 passengers and weighing in at 190 tons having an 80% record in landing that plane safely. But then, I digress.
The Armed Teacher Program required me to expend 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and we had to qualify just like the police officers, but with the exception of firing at targets set up at 30 yards. There was a major difference in the requirements for qualifications. The police are required to maintain an accuracy rate of 80%. We were allowed to miss our targets twice. That’s two bullets fired and missing our target two times, while the police are permitted to miss 20% of the time.
Now, as far as the use of firearms in the classrooms, folks have some wild ideas of what we have set up in most schools. First of all, we do not have a pistol on our hip like Wyatt Erp or Matt Dillon. Second, many of the teachers who are qualified to be armed are prior military personnel who have had extensive training with numerous firearms – and are willing to stand between their students and an armed assailant. Instead, there is a lock-box in designated classrooms of teachers who are willing to be that barrier that will stop an assailant from completing his goal. Should the need arise, those teachers with the gun safe secured in their classrooms will simply place their finger on a button and the safe’s electronics will recognize their fingerprint and release the door and allow the teacher access to the firearm and extra ammunition.
But why arm teachers? Why not just call the police? Or perhaps rely on the local Resource Officer assigned to the school?
Well, for one thing, in all of the school shootings where there were multiple children and/or teachers killed, were there armed Resource Officers available? If so, why were they not successful? But if there were multiple teachers with a prepared firearm available, then the chances of stopping an active shooter would be highly increased. Without armed teachers, the school officials would call for the police to come. And once the call went out, it would take up to 20 minutes for the police to make it to some schools who might be more rural than others. And if that’s the situation, how many would an active shooter kill or maim before the police arrive?
In many emergencies, we are our own first responders, yet many are willing to delegate that responsibility to others. For example, a woman who is being threatened by a violent ex-boyfriend may call the police and ask for help. She has called for someone with a gun to come and help her, and she will pray that he will get there in time. But if she was armed, she has leveled the playing field and no longer needs to fear for her life. She has become her own “first responder.”
Now, in order for me to be qualified as an armed teacher, I have had to complete 42 hours of professional training with a pistol, all by Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy-qualified police instructors. This is more firearms training than most basic police recruits received in their respective academies. Granted, police recruits will receive additional training for shooting at night, use and operation of shotguns and full-auto battle rifles that are generally available only to police and the military. But hour for hour, the Armed Teacher Program exceeds the training received by police recruits in the use of pistols and revolvers.
Some have said that there is an organization that supports gun safety. That would be Everytown for Gun Safety. I have checked with them and they do not teach gun safety. In fact, it is their goal to remove guns from all of society. But consider this; how many folks legally own guns in America versus those who own them illegally? Which group has created the crisis in America? It’s obvious to most folks that those who own firearms illegally are the ones who have not only created the crisis, but have been active in maintaining that crisis.
If we go after the ones who would kill and maim their fellow man (and our children) and remove them from society, these events would become very rare, indeed. Are we going to stop these killings altogether? Probably not. Even if we eliminate every gun in America, there are those who would still kill using whatever weapons they could imagine. Fire, knives, motor vehicles, airplanes, and whatever else history has shown us. It is our responsibility to remain vigilant and ready to defend.
Hank Meiners is a retired search and rescue pilot with the Air Force Auxiliary, a retired aerospace engineer with many years working with the production of aircraft jet engines, and a retired part-time school teacher with both the Hamilton and Clermont county Educational Service Centers. He lives in Milford.