The Worst Event That Has Happened On A School Campus
Imagine that the worst event has happened on a school campus. The classroom instructor is in the midst of discussing punnett squares to a class of fifty students when the door suddenly comes crashing down. A man dressed in all black pulls out a rifle and does the horrific act of opening fire. No authorities will arrive on the scene until three minutes later. Unfortunately, three minutes seems like three hours as several casualties have already occurred. However, this scenario could end much differently if a single factor were added to the equation. Some may disagree with the possibility, but such a factor gives victims a fighting chance and has the potential to save lives. The ability for educational staff members to carry concealed weapons in schools is ethical and, in fact, logical.
Sadly, there has been an unmistakable pattern of high numbers in school shootings across America. The tragic events continue to happen because they all occur at one type of setting, gun-free zones. In efforts to decrease school shootings, congress took action and passed the Gun-Free School Zones Act. This act states that it is a federal crime to have a firearm on any school campus. However, according to Nedzel (2014) this ultimately means that, “If a person is legally armed and fires in self-defense or defense of others against an armed shooter, while a prosecutor might decline to try him, his actions (in carrying and firing a weapon) would still have been in violation of the law.”
As it seems that this segment of the law is ignorant of the necessity of self defense, school shootings have also increased since its passing in 1995. “There were 154 incidents of school shootings during the 3-year study period. The events increased from 35 to 55 to 64 in 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively” (Kalesan, Lagast, Villarreal, Pino, Fagan & Galea, 2017). Unfortunately, many still fear the idea of repealing the Gun-Free School Zones Act and allowing educational staff members to have concealed carriers on campus. As the law’s name may sound promising, the statistics have proven otherwise.
America has two opposing forces, both of which are pulling vigorously from their side. One side wants to reform gun laws while the other would rather see more guns in the right hands. As increasing the intensity of background checks may sound like the ideal solution, Israel has shown a more direct way of handling the issue that should leave America taking notes. The Palestine Liberation Organization had student hostages in the 1970s. Sadly, the monstrous group massacred the large number of students. After this horrific incident, Israel armed their schools. “Israel schools have increased security in the form of an armed guard or armed teacher on trips, at school doors, and more widely at schools in dangerous areas” (Nedzel, 2014). Due to Israel’s decision to arm their schools, no other tragic events have happened since. This example shows that gun-free zones may be counterintuitive. As Nezel (2014) described, they create “barrels full of defenseless fish.”
When an awful event occurs, the first reaction taught to society is to dial 9-1-1 if and when possible. When 9-1-1 is called, first responders are immediately notified. However, someone is having to live or survive through the situation at the same moment. Even though response times have exponentially improved over the past few decades, it is within the first few minutes that first responders are needed the most in the occurrence of a school shooting. As explained by Nedzel (2014), “…a mass shooter with a semiautomatic weapon can shoot one bullet per second. Even if it took only four minutes for an armed security guard to arrive, 60 x 4, or 240 bullets could have been discharged by the interim.” Ultimately, the possibilities are endless for a shooter once one enters the school premises within the first few minutes. The potential for damage is dangerously high.
As tied into the police response time in the event of a school shooting, some school shooters may premeditate as to how to stall the police for an even longer period of time. In the event of the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007, Seung Hui Cho premeditated his plan to delay the response time of the police. After already killing two students in a residence hall, he entered the Norris Hall engineering building. Cho padlocked the three main entrances on the first floor of the three story building as he made his way inside.
The padlocks he put on the main entrances of the building delayed the police for eleven long-lasting minutes. “The panel’s report estimates that between 9:40 and 9:51, Cho shot and killed twenty-five students and five faculty members in the hallway and in four classrooms. He wounded seventeen other students” (Bird, 2011). Cho then committed suicide after his awful acts of terror. Once the horrendous event took over national news, Bird (2011) explained that he personally heard many people wishing that a victim within event had a gun. Many believe that the ending could have turned out much differently if someone inside the building had a gun.
Having selected educational staff members carry concealed weapons may seem extreme to certain people, but looking at another example may show otherwise. Columbine High School was a school that experienced one of the first mass school shootings in American history. On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold secretly brought multiple bombs into their large high school. They were also armed with a semiautomatic handgun, a carbine rifle, and each had a shotgun. Unfortunately, the weaponry did not stop there. In addition, they were also armed with several different kinds of knives and sharp brass knuckles (Larkin, 2007). The police were first notified at 11:22 A.M., and Sheriff’s Deputy Neil Gardner was the first to arrive. However, as he was monitoring the school when he received the call, he saw Eric Harris.
The two exchanged fire but neither was hit, and both of the unstable boys ran into the school. In efforts of the police trying to control the chaos and secure the area, the shooters were in the school for forty-five whole minutes (Larkin, 2007). In that period of time, twelve lives were lost and twenty-four people were injured. After the horrific acts the shooters committed, they both committed suicide. It is hard to believe that students and staff members were left helpless for the duration for forty-five minutes. Even with the deputy sheriff monitoring outside of the school, the response was too slow. In return, the slow response costed many lives. Once again, if a trained staff member had a firearm, the outcome could of have a much happier ending.
A popular counter argument that people express is the possibility that a shooter could seize a firearm from an innocent victim. As facing a shooter is unpredictable and an action that requires unspeakable amounts of courage, it has been shown that the likelihood of a shooter seizing a victim’s firearm basically unreal. According to Nedzel (2014), “In only 0.2 percent of the incidents of defensive gun use that Kleck studied was the innocent victim’s gun seized by the criminal.” Since most school shooters are mentally unstable, most will stop their act once they are faced with a strong, forceful opposition. Thus, this study shows the potential protection that an educational staff member can provide if he or she carries a concealed weapon.
When there is a school shooting, much of the political focus turns to creating stricter gun laws. However, there are already prominent gun laws that stretch across the nation. “States already prohibit from obtaining concealed carry licenses those individuals who are under twenty-one years old, who have been convicted of a felony, who have spent time in a mental institution or been adjudged insane, or have DUIs” (Nedzel, 2014). Safety training is also required in order to obtain a concealed carrier permit in almost all states as well (Nedzel, 2014). The underlying question to increasing the magnitude of gun laws is: when will there be too many restrictions? In other words, when will gun laws become too strict for the average law abiding citizen to have difficult purchasing a firearm? Many politicians on the far end of the spectrum believe that decreasing the purchasing of guns is the answer. However, as the past will tell us, it would actually put innocent people in more danger.
Within most school shootings, there has been an obvious pattern found within the criminal. He or she is unstable and determined to carry out his or her actions. Therefore, the shooter will go to extreme lengths to obtain a firearm. In the novel, A Mother’s Reckoning, Sue Klebold explains how her son, Dylan Klebold, and his partner, Eric Harris, obtained their firearms that they used in the Columbine High Massacre. She explained how Dylan’s prom date, Robyn, had purchased three guns for him and Eric (Klebold, 2016, pg. 84). Later in the novel, she also explained how the the shotgun, that Dylan sawed the end off of to hide it better, was illegal to own (Klebold, 2016, pg. 135). Thus, this would make all of the other purchased guns used in the school shooting illegal as well. Another way shooters are likely to obtain firearms from, “…their grandparents or parents, after killing them” (Nedzel, 2014). Therefore, all cases show mentally unbalanced individuals who do not have any business handling a firearm in the first place.
Another novel that sheds light on the minds of criminals was written by Mark R. Pogrebin, Paul B. Stretesky, and N. Prabha Unnithan. In the novel, Guns, Violence, & Criminal Behavior: The Offender’s Perspective, researchers collected data from eleven correctional facilities in Colorado. Specifically, the researchers interviewed inmates about their opinion on the issuing of concealed carrier permits. The researchers found that, “The majority of interviewed inmates viewed the Colorado shall-issue law negatively, and thought that it was not going to have any deterrent effect on crime or interpersonal disputes involving guns” (Progrebin, Stretsky & Unnithan, 2009, pg. 110).
Since these criminals will not qualify to legally obtain a gun due to their previous actions, this data should actually persuade the reader to endorse concealed carriers. Even some of the criminals’ explanations against the law were very disturbing. One of the interviewees, Lance, said, “If I was there and someone pulled a gun, it’s on. I’m all armed and mine’s already out, and it’s loaded… Somebody standing in line trying to be a hero might get everybody shot… It’s better if I’m coming into that store robbing and everybody is unarmed” (Progrebin, Stretsky & Unnithan, 2009, pg. 112). Does this sound familiar? It sounds similar to what school shooters target, gun-free zones. Deranged criminals feed off of power, and if there are educational staff members with concealed carriers, they will no longer have it.
As it has been expressed previously, the mental stability of school shooters is very unbalanced. They commit horrible and impulsive actions that lead to devastation. These types of events also appear in the news too often and with too many casualties. “Based on the USA Today sample, mass killings involving firearms with four or more people killed occur on average every 12.5 days in the US. Based on the Brady Campaign data, school shootings occur on average every 31.6 days” (Towers, Gomez-Lievano, Khan, Mubayi & Castillo-Chavez, 2015). After school shootings, the criminal will often commit suicide after his or her awful actions. It was found that 46% of shooters commit suicide out of the 176 mass shootings that were researched (Towers, Gomez-Lievano, Khan, Mubayi & Castillo-Chavez, 2015). It can be agreed upon that school shootings happen too often and a refined solution is in great need.
Overall, there is a solution that may have pieces from both sides of the spectrum. I strongly believe that educational staff members should have concealed carriers within schools. However, specific staff members should go through a detailed training process that can be administered by the local police department or a military program that is willing to educate staff members on the subject. This way, the staff members will learn about all of the possible scenarios that could happen during an active shooter situation and be prepared in the best way possible. The staff members would also be refreshed on the training periodically and have many opportunities to practice with a concealed weapon.
Another key factor that is critical is to emphasize that the school is not a gun-free zone. It should be known that certain educational staff members are armed and are prepared to take any action necessary to ensure the school’s safety. Lastly, I do believe that there should be increased mental stability background checks on individuals seeking to purchase a firearm. Citizens will not be limited of their freedom of the Second Amendment and there will be an assurance that only the right people have access to a firearm. Ever since firearms were invented, it would be impossible to restrict everyone from owning one. Criminals are determined and will obtain a firearm in any way possible. Therefore, it is our duty as citizens to obtain firearms the right way and secure our future.
As many people fear the sight of a firearm, it may be the only object that can protect us in our darkest hour. The saying “people kill people” is the actual truth. Individuals with the wrong mindset can plan disastrous events, but it is the duty of well trained personnel to obstruct such plans. Properly trained educational staff members are on the scene when school shootings happen, and would ultimately be the first responders to the situation. Allowing educational staff members to carry concealed weapons would be ethical as they would have the potential to increase the amount of good in the world. If a school shooting were to happen, I would say that it is finally time to fight fire with fire.