Florida School Hires Combat Vets To Protect Students

Guns save lives.

It’s a simple fact. If a gun’s deployed early in a potential mass shooting to end the attack, the average number of fatalities drops dramatically. A prime example comes from Great Mills High School, where a school resource officer reacted quickly, making a potential headline mass shooting into more of a story that didn’t last more than a week.

However, when a school resource officer doesn’t react appropriately such as with the Parkland shooting, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

So how do you make sure you have guns in the hands of people who aren’t afraid to run toward the sounds of gunfire? You do what one Florida high school did. Hire people who have done it before.

In the post-Parkland shooting era, Florida law now requires each school to have a “safe-school officer” to protect students from potential shooters. One school in Manatee County has implemented a particularly aggressive solution.

Manatee School for the Arts, located in Manatee County, Fla., has hired two combat veterans to serve as “guardians” for the school, each equipped with a Kel-Tec semiautomatic rifle, a Glock handgun and a protective plate carrier.

The school’s decision to hire and arm its safe-school officers has made national news as the anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School approaches. Billions of dollars are being spent on school safety around the country, and lawmakers are examining different policies to curb school shootings.

Manatee School for the Arts’s decision still struck some experts as unusual.

“I have to be honest, I have never conducted a [school] assessment where this level of deter and defend was necessary,” said Errol Southers of the University of Southern California, a former California homeland security official who specializes in research on homegrown terrorism and school safety.

The problem is that 365 days ago, no one would have thought it was necessary at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School either. It wasn’t an inner-city school with nothing to hint that violence would visit its hallways.

Three hundred sixty-six days ago, the school learned differently.

You never know when violence is going to erupt, especially when you’re talking about a mass shooting. They happen seemingly at random and in unexpected places. They’re not happening in inner-city schools with gang problems, for example. They’re happening in places where you don’t expect the wholesale slaughter of innocent people.

As such, it makes sense to be vigilant even if you’re convinced such measures aren’t necessary.

Plus, by hiring combat vets you accomplish two things.

First, you take veterans and give them a renewed purpose. Transitioning from military to civilian life isn’t easy, even without seeing the horrors of war, so something like this is likely to help a great deal.

Second, you put guns in the hands of people you know aren’t going to hide outside if shots start to fly. These are people who have seen the elephant already. They’ve already been through the crucible of combat.

I’m quite sure the fact that they’re already training in how to fight with a weapon and how to go from room to room was a nice bonus as well.