One year after spree-shooting at the Sandy Hook School, a leading firearm trainer told Guns & Patriots that while strategies to prevent deadly shootings at schools are being implemented, more must be done.
“The question is not should we arm teachers, the question is should we allow teachers to be armed,” said Rob Pincus, owner and operator of I.C.E. Firearm Training Services. I.C.E. is a full service company offering training and consulting to armed professionals and those interested in self-defense.
Being armed is a personal choice, not a prerequisite to being a school teacher, he said. “When you sign-up to be a teacher you do not make a decision to be armed.”
Since the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last year, calls for specifically arming teachers have fallen on deaf ears because it is not the right solution, he said.
“The key to any conversation about guns in schools is giving teachers who choose to be armed and are permitted to carry in their state, the ability to carry and defend themselves and others at their workplace.”
Teachers who are already gun owners should be allowed to carry their firearm wherever they go, said Pincus. “We should be talking about allowing teachers who already have carry permits, who already have training, whether its law enforcement or military training to private training – allowing them to be able to carry their guns in school.”
Doing so would have an immediate deterrent effect on gun violence in schools, he said.
“When there are teachers available and willing to use and carry a firearm at their workplace, the option to carry has to have a deterrent effect,” he said. “If there are people around who have the power to defend themselves and others, then the predator knows that there may be a violent response to their actions.”
The deviant criminal is not choosing to enter into places where they know people are armed and ready to defend themselves such as a shooting competition or a hunter-safety meeting, he said. “They are choosing schools because they know people are unarmed and do not have a constructive defense.”
Arming teachers specifically is an emotionally charged topic, said Pincus. “If we say we are not going to make a teacher learn how to shoot and carry a gun, but giving teachers the option to learn, if he or she chooses to, is an acceptable median.”
Changing the conversation from specifically arming teachers to arming teachers who choose to be armed is a logical approach, he said.
“Most of America is in the middle-ground on guns,” he said. “They are neither emotionally against it, nor emotionally for it – they just want an interactive, logical, rational conversation to happen.”
Any working environment that is subject to violent predators should be giving their employees the option to personally defend themselves and others, he said. “Giving teachers the option to be armed is basic common sense.”
Concerned citizens cannot sit-back and let the government protect us in vulnerable situations, he said. “The government is institutionally complacent.”
The best approach is a proactive strategy that gives teachers and children options other than cowering in the corner, he said. “All the kids that survived Sandy Hook literally ran out of the class room and left the school campus.”
Prior to Sandy Hook, close to 100 percent of the public schools in the U.S. had a lockdown procedure in place, he said. “The lockdown policy is what I call a ‘hide and hope’ strategy.”
Pincus, who is the developer of the personal Firearms Defense video series, which has over 60 titles and has shipped more than four million copies since 2005 said the strategy of hiding and hoping that either the predator will not target you or the police will get there in time to make it stop has clearly failed.
Educators are reacting, he said. “Schools have radically changed and updated their systems to cultivate a more proactive response.”
Similarly, firearm training companies are developing ways to effectively respond to threats inside American schools and many companies began offering free training to any teacher who wanted it, he said.
Last year at this time I.C.E. launched its School Attacker Response Course that exclusively teaches unarmed responses for children and adults. I.C.E. also implemented courses specifically for law enforcement response, firearm training for teachers and staff, public awareness seminars, and recently released a DVD for schools. SARC is 100 percent non-profit and 100 percent cost free.
“We cover all costs and fees and our instructors are unpaid and volunteer.”
I.C.E. offers these courses in six different locations around the country, said Pincus. “We certified 100 instructors in 2013.”
There are a handful of school districts that have sponsored programs to arm teachers and staff members, and at a slightly larger scale have made allowances for already-armed teachers, but this number should rise, he said.
“Today, less than 1 percent of American schools arm teachers and there are a small percentage of schools that have armed security guards or school resource officers.”
Teachers and students should not feel helpless, he said. “They are not supposed to wait for someone to rescue them; their response should be something they choose.”
I.C.E. is building awareness in the community and empowering teachers and students to act and defend themselves, particularly those who are already capable, said Pincus.
“I am greatly in favor of arming teachers that would otherwise be armed and arming teachers that want training on their own,” he said. “They should be allowed to carry their guns at school.”