Would armed administrators stop school shooters who begin their rampages expecting to die?

Snow-covered stuffed animals with photos attached sit at a memorial in Newtown, Conn. Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. People continue to visit memorials after gunman Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Friday, Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Snow-covered stuffed animals with photos attached sit at a memorial in Newtown, Conn. Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. People continue to visit memorials after gunman Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Friday, Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

School systems across the country are beefing up security in the wake of the Newtown massacre that took the lives of  20 young children and six educators, including the principal and school psychologist who confronted the gunman.

(Here is a story on the White House’s plan to meet this week with gun violence victims’ groups, gun safety organizations, gun ownership groups and representatives from the entertainment and video-game industries to discuss ways to stop the next Newtown.)

One response is to increase the number of guns in schools, either through armed police officers in every school rather than only in middle and high schools or by allowing trained adults in the buildings to carry firearms.

Those advocates argue that it was not by chance that Adam Lanza chose an elementary school to stage his deadly attack. He had attended the local schools and probably knew he would face a greater possibility of armed resistance in the middle school and high school.

However, other assailants have targeted schools with armed school resource officers, including the Columbine High killers. In talking to experts on school shootings, they describe the shooters as disturbed young men who expect to die so the presence of an armed police officer on the campus may not matter to them. Their goal is to kill as many other people as possible before being stopped by an officer’s bullet or by a self-inflicted one.

A police officer in every school is costly so state Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, is proposing to  allow school administrators to carry concealed weapons in buildings, school events and on school buses. Battles says House Bill 35 bill is not a mandate.

As posters here have noted, an effective deterrent in Newtown was a locked classroom door. There is a call to fortify classroom doors and to get rid of doors with breakable glass windows.

According to the AJC:

Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, has prepared legislation lawmakers could consider when they return to session beginning next week. The bill would empower school boards to allow one or more administrators to carry a weapon at school, at a school function or on a bus. Anyone chosen to carry a weapon would have to complete a state peace officer training course and qualify each year.

Battles said he’d rather have a trained police officer in every school but local boards and the state don’t have the money.

“We went through the discussion process of even possibly deputizing some of the administrators,” Battles said. “We had long discussions about different approaches. We came up with what I feel is the cleanest, most appropriate way for school systems to deal with their inability to provide security.”

The bill does not require an administrator in each school to be armed but provides the option.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

109 comments Add your comment

usually lurking

January 8th, 2013
9:11 am

Seriously people? I think I’d pull my child out of a school that had a bunch of armed administrators running around.

Short answer

January 8th, 2013
9:14 am

Concerned DeKalb Mom

January 8th, 2013
9:17 am

I would pull my children from a school with armed teachers and administrators. No question.

Little we can do to stop crazy people.

Mitch

January 8th, 2013
9:23 am

Virginia Tech has a police force, Georgia Tech has about an eighty person police force so am not so sure that having armed people in the school will help. I think we need to work on our “gun culture” and cut down on the daily shootings in Georgia and other states. This notion of every one carrying a gun is how we got here in the first place. Too many guns on the street. They are needed in the home as is often demonstrated. Teaching good family and personal values will go a lot further than havding every jock and jane carrying a gun to school.

Metro Coach

January 8th, 2013
9:23 am

It won’t stop them from trying(they are suicidal after all), but it would help them reach their preferred goal much faster if they got popped as they walked in the door rather than after they’ve killed several children.

hopespringseternal

January 8th, 2013
9:25 am

It is topics like this which make it hard to have a cogent discussion on pressing matters. This is the usual dose of silly coming from the legislature. Absolutely not, and I too would pull my children from such a school.

Lynn

January 8th, 2013
9:42 am

As a former public school teacher, I would have been terrified if any of our administrators were carrying weapons. The people I worked for were neither particularly bright nor ethical. The last thing they needed was to be packing heat.

Beverly Fraud

January 8th, 2013
9:46 am

It appears in the Newtown case it would, as it has been reported to staff lunged at the gunman unarmed. But every case is different.

To allow guns (because in some scenarios they undoubtedly would save lives, in others cause greater harm) would lead to questions that precious few have posed; such as:

What if a teacher’s life was threatened by a student? Would we be as equally supportive of a teacher saving her own life if it was a student not an outsider trying to take it?

What if a student’s life was threatened by another student? Would we support a teacher who used deadly force to save the life of a student, if the threat came from a fellow student and not an outsider? Or would we call the teacher a murderer because she didn’t “manage” the class better?

Or, just as problematic, what if an armed teacher made a judgement call and didn’t discharge a weapon in a violent struggle between students, and as a result a student died?

Would we support his/her judgement call, or would we try to bring them up on charges for being “accountable” for a student’s death?

Are we even remotely prepared to have the level of honesty required to have such discussions?

cris

January 8th, 2013
9:52 am

I’m a gun owner and a teacher…NO WAY I would consider carrying to school. Most school have sound safety plans and most faculty and staff know that you can’t account for everything. If the shooter happens to be familiar with the school (is a student and participates in drills and might even have knowledge of the SRO or other gun carriers) they will know who to eliminate or avoid first. There’s just no way to plan for every scenario, but more guns seems more crazy to me.

Private Citizen

January 8th, 2013
9:53 am

DunMoody

January 8th, 2013
9:57 am

mystery poster

January 8th, 2013
9:58 am

To add to Beverly’s list of “what ifs”
What if the armed administrator fired at an intruder and killed an innocent bystander?

Private Citizen

January 8th, 2013
10:06 am

PSYOPS or Psychological Operations: Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator’s objectives. Also called PSYOP. See also consolidation psychological operations; overt peacetime psychological operations programs; perception management. (Source: U.S. Department of Defense) http://www.military.com/ContentFiles/techtv_update_PSYOPS.htm

indigo

January 8th, 2013
10:14 am

“but local boards and the state don’t have the money”

And this is because they are corrupt to the core and value the enrichment of their own personal estates FAR above the lives of our school children.

Retired from Teaching

January 8th, 2013
10:15 am

As a retired teacher, I agree with Lynn and Beverly.

I worked under numerous administrators and only 3 of them had any real idea of sense or decency. The last bunch I worked under were the absolute worst. Teachers were on the absolute bottom of the heap in that school and students were allowed free reign to do whatever they wished to do. If a teacher accused them of something, the TEACHER was investigated, not the student. I saw it over and over again.

In that building, if a student had a gun to the head of the teacher, the teacher’s motives (trying to live) would have been questioned. They would probably have been suspended and their pictures plastered all over the local news. It would have been positively frightening what an armed administrator would have done in that situation.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

January 8th, 2013
10:24 am

@cris and @Beverly…two of the best reasoned responses to this issue that I’ve seen.

William Casey

January 8th, 2013
10:29 am

OK. Armed guards in every school! Simply moves the problem to day care centers. Arm them, too?

HRPufnstuf

January 8th, 2013
10:31 am

Would you risk your life to protect your child? Then what makes you think administrators wouldn’t do the same to protect their students? And they’re probably capable of much more rational thought, even under pressure, than the crazy that came to kill. Or would you rather that they just become additional victims?

Private Citizen

January 8th, 2013
10:33 am

I suggest that at the very least this “should schools have armed administrators” is propaganda intended with an agenda of incoherence put upon the public. The whole major media echo-chamber (owned by 4 corporate behemoths total) is singing the song of this absurd idea.

Note: Ronald Reagan removed the anti-trust laws that used to protect the public from centralised corporate ownership. In 1975, there were 1618 telcos (telephone companies) in the United States. Today, Comcast (one company) owns both the lines and the service for much of Georgia.

Centralised ownership = information echo chamber, same message repeated by few who act as many. What is the purpose of this agenda of incoherence? -Keeping the public occupied with arguing / debating absurd ideas and bypassing reality.

Private Citizen

January 8th, 2013
10:36 am

Armed administrators and a few guns locked up in closets will not protect from a military-grade hit job done by professionals.

Teacher Reader

January 8th, 2013
10:37 am

As a former teacher, there is no way that I’d ever go back if administrators or other teachers were able to run around with guns without the same course work and testing of a cop and even then I’d be a bit nervous. If you want armed guards with police/military training in the schools that is one thing, but not teachers or administrators. Having been attacked by parents who were gang members as a teacher, would I have been justified to shooting them if I felt threatened or would I only be able to draw the gun when another gun was shown and visible. There are too many unanswered questions.

Many of our schools already have security officers. I am not sure their training, but they are paid on par with teachers, so if they don’t have training of a police officer, they need to go and ex-military or police officers need to be hired who have training, skill, and no emotion in the building.

I am an ex-teacher who has guns and LOVES going to the range to go shooting, so I am not anti-gun. There just haven’t been many administrators or fellow teachers that I’d trust with a gun around children. Teachers and administrators are already over burdened with having to get extra hours to keep certification, having them get time in on the gun range or with gun use will add to this, and I am not sure that either group really has time, if they have a family and an outside life from the classroom/school to meet their certification requirements and that of properly having a gun in our schools.

Cindy Lutenbacher

January 8th, 2013
10:40 am

Seems to me that folks are asking excellent questions here. I keep thinking about the parking lot scene in which Rep. Giffords was injured and six people were killed. What if even a fourth of those attending had been carrying guns and decided to try to take down the shooter? I fear that the massacre of six people would have been tripled or worse. Most bullets from police officers’ guns go astray, and police officers are trained for just such situations and face stressful situations all the time. A day workshop in gun handling wouldn’t come close to what officers receive in training, right?

Old South

January 8th, 2013
10:45 am

One effect armed guards at schools will have on deranged American citizens who increasingly wish to shoot everyone, is that the deranged citizens will stop targeting schools and instead find some other place where people are vulnerable. Kids are often at other places, in groups, and these places will become the new targets.

The United States is simply a deranged country full of mad citizens (and mad institutions and mad business) with unlimited firepower.

Concernedmom30329

January 8th, 2013
10:46 am

Cindy
There was someone armed at the Giffords event. They later said they couldn’t/didn’t shot because of the chaos.

joe

January 8th, 2013
10:47 am

Unknown, but at least they’d have a better shot, no pun intended, of stopping said gunman, than an unarmed administrator…

The Deal

January 8th, 2013
10:49 am

I’m with Beverly. There are too many situations that aren’t as clear as “armed gunman comes into your class”. Policemen who are trained for these situations make mistakes. Do we really want to put teachers or administrators in the position to make mistakes with students’ lives? Our schools have a hard enough time doing their primary job of educating students. They do not need this extra burden. If you are having to arm teachers and administrators, you are admitting your school is not safe as it is anyway.

Inman Parker

January 8th, 2013
10:53 am

I have worked in schools for many years, and I assure you that arming teachers/admninistrators is INSANE! That is not the answer. The answer is a fundamental change in our violent culture that glorifies mayhem at every turn.

Don't Tread

January 8th, 2013
10:59 am

Well if they’re walking in there expecting/wanting to die, I’m all for speeding up that process.

Spartacus

January 8th, 2013
11:06 am

Interesting to note that the private school Obama sends his kids to have at least EIGHT armed guards….

Timmy

January 8th, 2013
11:09 am

Will failing to arm administrators insure that more children are killed?

There are no magic answers.

Centrist

January 8th, 2013
11:10 am

The idea is to thwart the threat more than stop it with deadly force. Weapon free zones become enticing targets because they are defenseless.

Knee jerk “zero tolerance” and disarming honest folks is counter-productive as we have witnessed. It will probably take many more innocent lives to be taken before rational defense comes into vogue.

Teacher Reader

January 8th, 2013
11:11 am

@ Spartacus

What’s even more interesting about the Obama girl’s school is that Sidwell Friends is a Quaker School and Quakers don’t believe in violence.

jess

January 8th, 2013
11:14 am

I do not see the problem with law officers in each school. I live in a small county and town in North Ga. The entire county has one high school, two middle schools, and two elementary schools. I recently found out in our local newspaper that each school has always had a full time officer from the sherrif’s dept. assigned to it. It’s a matter of priorities. I believe most schools could find at least one of their numerous administrators who would not be missed if replaced by an officer.

Private Citizen

January 8th, 2013
11:14 am

The United States is simply a deranged country full of mad citizens (and mad institutions and mad business) with unlimited firepower.

That’s what your supposed to think. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, every home has a rifle and is trained to use it. But they’re not “mad citizens (and mad institutions and mad business) with unlimited firepower.”

You seem to be playing into an agenda to prohibit citizens from owning “firepower” as you call it. I’m not a gun person, but I note online commentary from Russia saying that the removal of citizens guns was done there prior to when things really got terrible from the government. Not a nice thing to say, but the Russians say, the difference in free people and slaves is that slaves do not own guns. Anyway, your comment seems to be following the intended script. The whole “Newtown” thing makes little sense. We’ve had a lot of seemingly rhythm trauma in the U. S., Ruby Ridge, Waco, Murrah Building, Oklahoma City (where the local sheriff found unexploded ordinance inside the building, 9/11 with every blew upwards and the people were told it fell down, and now this, complete with insta-packaged legislation change to go with it that will be used to occupy the media echo-chamber for months. Meanwhile, don’t forget the unique U. S. distinction among all countries: 1 trillion dollars in existent higher education debt. @ 6.5% interest, that’s 65 billion dollars a year in interest. Divide that by 300 million citizens, well it only averages out to $217. per person in the United States for interest only per year for the existent “college debt.” Point is, the media echo chamber is not talking about that, is it?

KIM

January 8th, 2013
11:15 am

@Lynn et al: Well, I am one of those “not bright nor ethical” as you write, Lynn. Of course, first, let me say I bet your administrators thought the same of you. However, I worked with lots of bright teachers and certainly bright and ethical assistant principals. (Don’t forget, it was they who hired you, Lynn, right?) And, let me say we probably could have done nothing to prevent what happened in Conn. The administrators in my building were in classrooms or in an administrative meetings or doing discipline in their offices. They would most likely not have been in the front of the building. Well, take that back. At the time of announcements, I would have been in the front doing them. And I suspect that is exactly when the Conn. incident happened. but I cannot see me standing at the PA system packing. Something about that seems odd. Now, to protect the children, I say let’s be realistic and look at protecting society from those who are so mentally ill: effective gun control and mental health policy that works. Schools are no different than the malls, movie theaters, churches, etc. where people gather. They are all open to the same insanity. Right?

Retired Cop

January 8th, 2013
11:21 am

As a cop we went through extensive and follow-up training involving many scenarios with tactical concentrated options. We trained long and hard. We also went personal evaluated selection process. We know that good citizens are susceptible to having their weapons turned back on them and others. Having educators have only simple classroom training along with some firing range efforts, just do not prepare them for such dangerous horrid possibilities. They have wonderful educators minds but not the experienced cops mindset.. I pray for the educators who are so important decision makers, Hope you do as well. They won’t be prepared.

Sandy

January 8th, 2013
11:25 am

Schools should immediately remove doors to all classrooms, lunchrooms, etc and replace with bulletproof doors with very strong locks. And even if having armed trained people in schools ends up not stopping all lunatics from doing this, the fact that they may only be able to kill 10 kids before getting shot instead of killing 25 kids before shooting themselves is a win.

Negotiator

January 8th, 2013
11:28 am

The answer is possibly yes. It would be better to provide each school with an armed off duty police officer or one that is hired by the school system. Since this is not going to happen, it would be a good idea to allow for the administrator to be armed. They have a much better chance of stopping and armed intruder with a gun than with “deescalation tactics” utilized by the principal at Sandy Hook. The public hears about the situations like Columbine and Sandy Hook, but they never hear about all the near misses that occur daily in schools throughout the country.
School properties have teacher and visitors cars broken into frequently. Argumentative and unstable parents going through domestic disputes and custody situations involving their children make the school front office a tense environment sometimes.
Schools are a potential death trap for a deranged individual and they are a very permeable environment to the surrounding community.
Changing the culture to one where even a deranged person knows that the likelihood of his intent to hurt others would be met with equal force would make that person reconsider their actions.
Every employer in downtown Atlanta of a large volume of people has an armed security guard at the entrance of the facility at the front desk. So they are not forced to work in a “gun free zone”.
I would bet that the AJC, a company with a pro gun control stance provides 24/7 security with armed guards for all of its employees. In fact, I bet employees working late can request an escort by one of these “armed” guards to the parking lot!
Many of the readers of this blog are employed and work or conduct business in facilities that provide security with a gun toting individual. Have you visited your local bank lately!
So why wouldn’t we want to offer the same safety and security for an environment that has 50-100 employees(faculty and staff) and 450 – 1500 customers (children), not to mention the coming and going of 50-150 parents, service contractors, and outside agencies daily.
Parents have to re-frame their thinking about the schools they attended as children and help empower their local school to become safe.
We live in a different era and schools need to be treated as truly “safe zones” and afforded the same protection as all businesses.
Arming the administrators is a suitable alternative to change that culture.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 8th, 2013
11:31 am

I don’t believe that arming administrators or other staff is advisable inside the building. It would take very little time for students to figure out where the weapons are kept, and even less to figure out how to get to them, for theft, pranks, and worse. However, I do think we need to allow those licensed to carry to keep firearms locked in their vehicles in the employee parking lot. I also am of the firm conviction that every brick and mortar school in this country needs to have a trained law enforcement officer (School Resource Officer) armed onsite.

Prevention is the best way to deter. Making classroom doors less penetrable, similar to what has been done on airplane cockpits, is one step. School cultures where kids feel connected to adults is another–if students hear any rumors, they should feel comfortable notifying a trusted adult, who then refers it immediately to the administration and SRO. The Columbine situation was a powder keg waiting to be lit, with numerous huge red flags that were ignored by the adults.

living in an outdated ed system

January 8th, 2013
11:40 am

I think this is bad policy, period. There should not be guns in schools. The mayor of Marlboro, NJ, a town near where I grew up, has become one of the first locations to approve armed security at all of its schools. And this is a VERY upscale zip code! I’m sure my views are not popular in this state, but I don’t believe that more guns will prevent catastrophes such as what we saw in CT last month.

Shark Punch!

January 8th, 2013
11:53 am

“Those advocates argue that it was not by chance that Adam Lanza chose an elementary school to stage his deadly attack. He had attended the local schools and probably knew he would face a greater possibility of armed resistance in the middle school and high school.”

So the fact that the shooter’s mother worked at the school had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with his choice of target? *headdesk*

Dr. John Trotter

January 8th, 2013
11:56 am

I have been advocating arming certain school personnel. I wrote about this a few weeks ago on my personal blog and was interviewed about in on 11 Alive News. To do otherwise is to bury your head in the sand. We protect politicians, athletes, et al. Why not our children? We live in a different world these days. Twenty years ago, who heard would have thought about such invasions of schools…or home invasions?

You cannot expect the staff to sit around and holding hands and singing nursery rhymes as the children and colleagues are murdered.

http://www.georgiateachersspeakout.com

paul fisher

January 8th, 2013
12:19 pm

I would like one or more armed personnel in my kids school, it’s the only time I don’t have control of his safety.
Anyone who says they’d remove their child from an armed school is living in a fantasy land, crazy people know where the gun-free zones are, that’s why they hit them, i.e. Batman movie / CO.

Retired from Teaching

January 8th, 2013
12:21 pm

@ John Trotter I normally agree with you, but I can’t in this instance even though I personally own several hand guns and regularly go practice target shooting.

The reason I can’t agree with you is because some of these spineless administrators will do ANYTHING to avoid addressing a problem even when it is right there in front of their face. And when they do? They blame the teacher for whatever the problem is FIRST.

Give these people a gun? Are you kidding me?

cris

January 8th, 2013
12:41 pm

@spartacus..I think it’s SOP that the children of the current president are assumed to be “likely targets” and that all of them are protected by Secret Service or armed guards….as have past presidential children…..

catlady

January 8th, 2013
12:50 pm

Our administrators rarely would be the first to encounter a gunman. Better arm the secretaries and janitors!

HS Math Teacher

January 8th, 2013
12:53 pm

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a very small percentage of Teachers, and/or Administrators are already packing heat, conceled in brief case, or a closet.

ylojkt

January 8th, 2013
1:09 pm

I agree with Private Citizen, I think these attacks are being planned at worst, and exploited at best, by our government in order to reduce and control the amount of firepower we have access to for our defense against those who would potentially harm us, including our own government.
Notice how the Bushmaster was used in Newtown and dragged all over the news, then one week later you have the firemen attacked in New Jersey with the exact same weapon? A weapon “owned” by a felon who couldn’t purchase one and lived with his mother, who somehow had a neighbor willing to buy the acknowledged crazy, violent man next door such a weapon.
Notice the Aurora shootings, where you have the police on their radios describing multiple shooters, you have photos of bloody gas masks outside the theatre far away from where Holmes was found, you have eyewitnesses describing different scenarios than what is the official report, and the police and FBI providing the same story about one single shooter after the fact when evidence clearly shows an accomplice. Then James Holmes shows up in court drugged out of his mind and we’re supposed to accept this as due process? We’re not allowed to hear anything directly from Holmes, whose fathers’ and his career ties to US Intelligence agencies experimenting with mind control are not even mentioned in the media.
This is all too fishy, yet we keep getting the same type of actors on TV in all of these incidents using similar phrases and wordings to promote fear and anxiety in the populace.
It is my opinion these are false flag operations to limit our freedoms as US citizens.

Grumps

January 8th, 2013
1:18 pm

@Inman Parker

You may have the answer.. Now, what is the answer for next week? Next year? 2020? Because I don’t think we’ll accomplish your goal in a generation or two.

Regarding guns in the schools — I trust me to take care of me more than I trust anyone else. I don’t trust security guards to keep me safe. I don’t believe police can protect me — they can’t be everywhere. I don’t trust lawmakers. I trust me. I also trust me be responsible with my firearms — I’ve not had to draw a firearm except on the range — yet. I will protect myself using appropriate means — including shooting the bad guy if I have to. So I don’t want to give up my gun when I step onto school property — I not only have the right, I have the responsibility to take care of myself.

Surely, out of an entire school, there is an adult who is as responsible as I am.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

January 8th, 2013
1:24 pm

“Weapon free zones become enticing targets because they are defenseless.”

I have heard this argument repeatedly since Sandy Hook. But I find it a ridiculous argument.

In my opinion…
The students in Columbine didn’t choose a high school because it was defenseless.
The Sandy Hook shooter didn’t choose an elementary school because it was defenseless.

There are complex reasons why people do what they do, especially when it involves mass murder. Would a person with a weapon in those situations have decreased the number of casualties? MAYBE.

Here is an important question…are the numbers of children who would be protected in a mass shooting situation by teachers/administrators with weapons in a building worth the possible casualties caused by teachers/administrators with weapons in a building (a la Beverly Fraud’s questions above)?