Opinion

Get serious about protecting schools

In April 2008, we started hearing about school buses missing in the Houston area.

The Houston Police Department and other agencies made reference to homeland security concerns. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have also discussed the possibility that terrorists plan to target school children.

The concept of providing armed security on school buses and at schools is often dismissed as being too expensive and impractical. Nevertheless, in the 2002 legislative session, Sen. Harold Hochstatter (R-Moses Lake) filed SB 6479 that would have allowed school staff with concealed pistol licenses to carry on campus for the purpose of protecting students. The bill was assigned to the education committee, where it died without even a hearing.

There was massive opposition to the bill from the “education establishment.” This same crowd opposes gun safety education in our schools and ignored the “Eddie Eagle” memorial (SJM 8009) passed unanimously by the Legislature in 1997.

Our “professional educators” seem prepared to oppose implementation of any program that legitimizes the use of firearms in the hands of non-police personnel to protect our children. This is particularly tragic in view of recent school shootings and the threat from enemies that would seek to provoke hatred by brutalizing school children.

Such attacks have already occurred in Russia, Thailand and other countries. In discussing such issues, I have found that some people will even become angry at the messenger for bringing such a warning because the subject is so abhorrent to any normal parent.

A school district in Harrold, Texas, is prepared to deploy armed teachers and staff for protection when classes begin later this month. The Harrold school district approved a policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings. In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun and authorization from the district to carry in the schools. Employees are required to receive training in crisis management and hostile situations, and must use ammunition designed to minimize risk of ricochet in school halls.

Harrold is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff’s office; this is exactly the kind of location that terrorist Web sites identify as soft targets for their attacks. There are training videos available online that instruct terrorists how to inflict maximum pain on American parents by means of our children. When the police, media and parents gather outside the school, there is a likelihood that secondary attacks against responders will already have been prepared. Every media report of a school shooting becomes a case history for the terrorists to study. As they research how the responders react, each incident moves the terrorists quickly through a tactical learning curve.

The district spent a year investigating all the arguments for and against the new policy before instituting the volunteer security program. He said the district also has various other security measures in place to prevent a school shooting.

Israel and other countries have successfully implemented such programs. An armed woman who volunteered for security duties in a Colorado church stopped a young man that had already gunned four other young people and was determined to kill many more churchgoers. Similar security efforts are being quietly organized all over our nation. The biggest barrier to organizing opposition to these horrible shootings is the belief that it will not happen here and the misguided philosophy that if we can just eliminate the “gun culture” with new laws, the shootings will stop.

Remember, the shootings usually occur in “gun free” zones. We need to raise the cost for the demented individuals that seek to get publicity by targeting helpless young people.

Please let me know if you have an opinion about providing school employees with tactical training. I first came across the concept of armed school volunteers in some of Massad Ayoob’s articles about Israel’s program to protect school kids from terrorists.

I am a lawyer in Federal Way and have taken classes through Ayoob’s Legal Force Institute. Contact me with your ideas. I am convinced we should make such a program a priority.

Federal Way resident Mark Knapp: knapp.m@comcast.net or http://firearmslawyer.net/.

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