Thousands of educators across the country have been trained in recent years to serve as a first line of defense in case of a targeted attack on their school or classrooms, and one Florida county is now expanding the idea to encompass other government buildings.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says the idea is a good one.
“We want clearly and unequivocally for anyone who is thinking about being an active shooter to know there is well-trained people with firearms that will shoot you a lot,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.
Judd said some of the specifics will be kept discreet.
“I just don’t want them to know where and who,” he said about the marshals to keep any potential shooters from knowing too much.
Polk County commissioners say they began discussing the idea earlier this year after a city employee in Virginia Beach shot and killed twelve people, injuring several more.
The county is hoping the employees who volunteer for the program could stop something similar from happening in Polk.
“I don’t know the statistics, but I do believe a lot of these have happened in gun-free zones and this will make someone think twice,” said commission chairman Bill Braswell.
This is a much better plan that what is likely to be adopted in Virginia; a bill that would allow local governments to ban guns in local government buildings. An individual intent on taking as many lives as possible isn’t going to give a damn about a local ordinance that makes it illegal for them to bring a gun into a building, but it would prevent armed citizens from being able to respond to a targeted attack if one occurs.
Like Florida’s school Guardian program, which allows for teachers and school staff to volunteer, get trained, and carry on campus, Polk County’s Workplace Marshals will be an all-volunteer force as well. Those selected by the sheriff will undergo 132 hours of training before being allowed to carry while at work, as well as undergo a psychological evaluation and a background check.
Beyond law enforcement and county commissioners, the idea is getting buy-in from the local community as well. Polk County’s local newspaper, the Lakeland Ledger, calls the plan a “wise move”, and reminds us that several employees in Virginia Beach were so concerned about the behavior of the killer in the days before his attack that they debated carrying while at work, but were concerned about violating the city’s prohibition on armed employees (in Virginia, citizens can carry into local government buildings, but employees cannot).
A few days after the shooting a lawyer representing the family of a victim, Kate Nixon, told the local media that the night before Craddock’s rampage Nixon and her husband had discussed her taking a gun to work. She knew another employee was due to be fired and feared he might have a volatile reaction. But Nixon opted to not bring the weapon, even though she had been trained to use it, because she didn’t want to violate the city’s ban on employees carrying guns in the workplace.
Nixon’s story is terribly sad. And if the choice before us is to face reality and allow select staffers who are sufficiently trained to carry guns in gun-free zones, or confiscate more than 300 million guns and yank a constitutional right for millions of law-abiding Americans out by the roots, we’ll take the former – and applaud the County Commission for also thinking this.
I applaud the Polk County Commission as well. I just wish that lawmakers in Virginia would take this step instead of pushing bills that would take legally owned guns from law-abiding residents in a misguided and unconstitutional attempt to ban their way to safety. Polk County has a much better plan for public safety than stripping residents of their rights to keep and bear arms.