From a “Sitting Ducks School” model to a “Sheepdog Teacher School” model

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I am a parent of an elementary school child. Like every parent, I was horrified yesterday when I saw the news from Uvalde, TX. I felt so literally sick to my stomach that I skipped dinner. I just cannot imagine the thought of losing my innocent child to the sort of violence we saw in Uvalde. I cannot fathom what it would be like to get a phone call saying that my child’s whereabouts were unknown and to come to the school to find out whether or not my child survived. As I was tucking my child into bed last night, I thought of the parents who would never be able to do that again. This is every parent’s absolute worst nightmare.

It is easy to say that what happened in Uvalde should never happen again, and even cheaper to virtue signal that with a “#NeverAgain” hashtag online. But the fact of the matter is that something like that is bound to happen again – not for the lack of societal or political will, callousness, or selfishness. It is the bitter reality that evil exists in this world, and that evil can and will strike at a time and place of its choosing. That leaves potential victims with only one option: fighting back.

But the victims in this case were innocent young school children who cannot fight back. The responsibility is thus on the adults in charge – the teachers and school staff. 

Law enforcement has its role but they are no guarantor of security. They simply cannot respond in time to prevent deaths. During the Sandy Hook shooting, cops arrived at the scene 3 ½ minutes after the 911 call, but the assailant took his own life 1 ½ minutes after they arrived; the entire attack was over in 5 minutes. Sometimes when law enforcement responds, they go to the wrong location. This happened In Richfield, Minnesota, earlier this year. And even if they are present at the scene, there is no guarantee they will respond. During Parkland, which lasted 4 minutes, School Resource Officer Scot Peterson who was armed, present at the school, and on the taxpayer payroll with the explicit purpose of protecting that school, did not enter the building where the rampage was happening. A federal judge ruled later that he did not have a duty to protect the students either. (It’s long-standing precedent.)

The status quo in most localities is that schools are gun-free zones. Teachers and school staff have an individual mandate to be disarmed and good victims. This is the “Sitting Ducks School” model. That needs to change. 

Armed security in theory is a good idea, but the Parkland SRO’s failure to do his job reveals why that’s a Single Point of Failure (SPOF). If an assailant takes that person out, or if that person fails to engage the assailant as happened in Parkland, it’s open season on the victims.

Armed teachers and school staff on the other hand provide redundancy with multiple failovers. The defenders are always on-site, there are many of them, and an assailant has no idea how many defenders there are, what they are carrying, and what direction he will be confronted from. This is the “Sheepdog Teacher School” model.

I am not calling for an individual mandate for all teachers and school staff to be armed. This is a free country and individual mandates are bad in either direction, whether they require teachers to be disarmed or armed. All I’m calling for is for teachers to have the CHOICE to fight back.

As for those worried that teachers can themselves turn into killers, I ask this: under current laws, what is preventing a teacher from swiping in his or her official access card to enter a school, violate a no-guns policy, and commit a horrific crime when everyone else is obediently disarmed by law?

There is another set of adults in charge who bear the most responsibility for protecting innocent children: they are our legislators and school board officials. It is absolutely possible to create a security framework that allows teachers and school staff who make the choice to be armed to get the requisite training and screening that will satisfy parents and put in measures to harden schools. The burden is upon those adults now.

It is amply clear that gun control has failed time and time again. The attackers always slip through the cracks even when there are numerous warning signs, get what they need, and proceed to commit their evil.

In the worldview of Yoni Netanyahu, the hero of the Entebbe airport hostage rescue, “Good is no match for evil without the power to physically defend itself.” 

It’s high time we give good the power to physically defend itself.