Will the Douglas County school board and county commissioners use actual shooter research to keep kids safe, or will they be spooked by the rampant anti-gun phobia of leftist politics and spend the commissioners’ recent $10.3 million gift for school security on costly, unproven methods?
Distasteful as it may be to gun deniers, a new study from the Crime Prevention Research Center proves that armed staff prevents school shootings. The Center analyzed nearly 20 years of school attacks in hundreds of school districts with armed school staff. They found well-trained, volunteer staff – janitors, teachers, coaches — have kept children safe for two decades without firing a single shot. That’s because would-be shooters may be crazy but they’re not stupid. It’s simple. Killers don’t want to be killed before they kill innocent children, so they stay away from schools with defenders, and attack schools with “NO GUNS ALLOWED” signs out front.
The report’s conclusion notes : “There hasn’t been a single mass public shooting in any school that allows teachers and staff to carry guns legally. Since at least as far back as January 2000, not a single shooting-related death or injury has occurred during or anywhere near class hours on the property of a school that allows teachers to carry.”
Why not Douglas County? Colorado law has permitted concealed carry by staff for over 15 years (CRS 18-12-214, Subsection 3B) and more than 30 Colorado school districts have armed staff protecting their students. But will the gun-haters and their ridiculous scare-mongering propaganda about armed teachers running wild “accidentally” shooting up schools prevail?
We’ll soon see. The Douglas County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), their newly appointed School Safety and Protection Committee, and the Douglas County Board of Education (BOE) will be grappling with a critical decision — how to spend the $10.3 million the BOCC wants to give the school district to save our kids’ lives. The BOCC’s gift was inspired by the tragic May 8 shooting at the public STEM charter school in Highlands Ranch that killed student Kendrick Castillo and wounded eight others.
Was the BOE elated and grateful for the BOCC’s generosity? WELL NO – just the opposite. Instead, the school board expressed their stern disapproval and even publicly scolded the BOCC for the $10.3 million at a May 28 meeting. Parents may be ecstatic that their county commissioners were moved to chip in millions to protect their kids after the STEM shootings, but not the school board that Douglas County parents elected.
BOE President David Ray and VP Wendy Vogel took to the podium, sharply criticizing the BOCC and informing them they had no business giving the school district that $10.3 million. They challenged the BOCC’s authority both to gift the district money for school safety and/or to participate in deciding how it should be spent. “It would be irresponsible…for our seven elected, volunteer board members to abdicate decision making responsibility for DCSD to the Douglas County Commissioners or any committees they may form,” they said, reading from the BOE press release.
In case anyone missed the point, Ray made it personal by admonishing the commissioners that the BOE, not the BOCC, were elected to take care of schools. Vogel added that the school district wouldn’t be able to match the $3 million allocated for more School Resource Officers (SROs) as required by the BOCC, because the BOE had already completed their district budget process. But didn’t Douglas County voters give the school district $250 million in new bond money plus $40 million in new taxes just last November? Why yes they did.
As of this writing, the BOE still hasn’t agreed to match the BOCC’s $3 million gift for more SROs. Douglas County parents and taxpayers should find the school board’s distaste for more money to protect their kids and grandkids curious at best. Good news: in November, we get to decide whether we want to re-elect Director Ray, Director Vogel and Director LeMieux.
If the county commissioners decide one of the proven, most effective ways to make schools safer is armed staff, things will rapidly get curiouser and curiouser, since the current school board will almost certainly reject this approach, even though their own policies allow it.
The BOE’s Guide to Student Rights and Responsibilities, Section C, page 96, permits concealed carry weapons in schools, when authorized by the appropriate administrators, as does the school district’s employee guide (page 19).
BOE President Ray was quoted in the July 5 Parker Chronicle and other local papers insisting “our desire is to maintain focus on a comprehensive research-based approach for safe schools…” The 20-year Crime Prevention Research Center study proves that well-trained, armed volunteer staff is exactly that.
Furthermore, the Parkland Safety Commission that spent nearly a year studying how to protect students following the horrific murder of 17 in Florida last year came to the same conclusion: concealed carry by school staff is the only way.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the commission’s chairman, said most deaths in school shootings happen within the first few minutes, before officers on and off campus can respond. He added that the shooter stopped to reload his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle five times, all of which would have been opportunities for an armed staff member to shoot him.
“We have to give people a fighting chance; we have to give them an opportunity to protect themselves,” said Sheriff Gualtieri. He noted there aren’t enough officers or money to hire one for every school, but even then officers need backup. “One good guy with a gun on campus is not enough.”
The predictable backlash ensued; the same caterwauling that happens everywhere arming teachers is suggested. The opposition – the anti-gun lobby, teachers union operatives and others — say teachers want to teach, they don’t want to be armed guards. But sadly they are already unarmed guards, with three of them dying in Parkland alone trying to protect their students. The gun-phobes insist putting more guns on campus will just increase the danger to students. But that is clearly idiocy; the SROs are armed and so are Brinks guards, bank guards, and pilots on many airplanes. When we have something precious to protect, we protect it with guns.
Every day millions of parents entrust their children to school districts whose “plan” for saving their kids’ lives if a shooter invades their school is “Run, Hide, Fight Back,” according to 2014 Dept. of Education guidelines. Ask a Douglas County teacher and you will learn that’s how they are trained to deal with an active shooter situation, too. “Fight back,” they are taught, means throwing books or chairs or staplers at the shooter. Staplers and books against bullets?
Laura Carno, executive director of the FASTER program, which has trained over 150 school personnel in about 30 Colorado school districts, has been getting a flood of phone calls and questions from concerned parents and teachers since the STEM shooting. FASTER training is conducted by active duty law enforcement officers, many with SWAT experience. Most volunteer trainees have already had their concealed carry permit for years. The program also includes medical training to save the lives of the wounded, and since it’s funded by donations is available to school districts at little or no cost.
Carno advises worried parents, “Remember that your children are yours and do not belong to the school district. You are entrusting them to a system, and you need to know what your school board’s system is for protecting your child in an active shooter situation.”
She adds, “It’s all up to the board whether or not they allow willing staff to carry. If enough parents wanted this to protect their kids, we would have 500 parents show up at school board meetings to demand it. The school boards that are willing to look at reality accept that it’s possible the worse could happen, and take steps to prevent it. When a school board says, ‘We’re not going to allow armed staff’ their reasons are not based on fact.”
The Douglas County Board of Education should reject the politically charged anti-gun cliches – silly scary scenarios that have never actually happened. They should enlist the only method proven to keep kids safe: armed school staff whose presence alone protects kids without firing a shot.
Joy Overbeck is a Colorado journalist, author and Townhall columnist who has also contributed to The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, American Thinker, and elsewhere.