Time to protect our schools using our nation’s veterans

If you’ve turned off your TV in disgust over coverage of the Parkland massacre, let me catch you up:

It’s the gun’s fault. It’s the President’s fault. It’s the NRA’s fault. It’s the FBI’s fault. It’s Gov. Scott’s fault. It’s DCF’s fault. It’s the (standard capacity) magazine’s fault. It’s the gun industry’s fault. It’s the gun dealer’s fault. It’s the ammunition’s fault. It’s the gun community’s fault. It’s the school’s fault. It’s the teachers’ fault. It’s society’s fault …

There’s hardly a mention of the pasty-faced little bastard who actually pulled the trigger, other than during an interview with the family who took him in. (Is it their fault too?)

In my humble opinion, all this endless debate does is distract us from the real issue: We need to harden our schools ASAP or there will be more carnage.

To sum: We need to fix the problem, not the blame.

There’s a group out there who are ready, willing and more than able to help secure our schools — our nation’s veterans.

They’re incredibly well trained. They’re equipped — every veteran I know has a carbine and a plate carrier — and they have already raised their hands and sworn an oath to protect this country from all enemies — foreign and domestic.

All that’s needed is a lawmaker at the state or federal level who’s willing to put their name on a bill authorizing the raising of a volunteer school security force.

I’ve heard from a lot of vets since the latest tragedy and, to be clear, they are all ready to go to work. They want to help.

There’s a sense of selflessness among our guys and gals who have served — the kind you won’t find in any other group.

If they were at a school and someone threatened the children, they would march — or more likely run — to the sound of the gunfire. They wouldn’t stage or stack or wait for SWAT.

They’d assess the situation, identify the threat and then shoot them in the face. If there were multiple shooters — rinse and repeat.

Then, they’d go home, have a beer or two and sleep like a baby, content that they’d done the right thing and that they’d had a easy day, since for most of our vets, after what they’ve been through, engaging a single shooter would be a very easy day.

The thought of vets wearing body armor and toting carbines on school property may be off-putting to some.

Good.

Better to deter a crime than to have shots fired.

If some deranged young paste-eater hellbent on making a media splash sees an armed team and rethinks his plans for Valhalla, so be it. The plan worked.

This proposal is damn near plug-and-play. All that would be required is some screening, some minor training — more like an orientation — and a green light from the politicians.

It makes infinitely more sense than training and arming teachers, since, if it’s my kids on that playground, I don’t want any first-timers or amateurs involved. I want the best — someone who knows exactly what they’re doing — someone who’s encountered and eliminated threats before.

As to the cost, maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t think of too many veterans who would take a dollar for safeguarding children.

For most of us, it would be an honor.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

19 Comments

  1. You seem to have made the assumption that none of the teachers and administrators are also veterans and equally as capable. And, with the exception of elderly retired vets, aren’t nearly all of these vets you mentioned working during school hours? There is no single, simple “plug & play” solution here. It’s a complex issue requiring a combination of solutions to include investing in hardening the target with a combination of better access control, redesign of school entrances to provide for bullet resistant entry foyers that could isolate an attacker before he/she could enter the building, armed security personnel who are trained to a level that makes them competent to deal with an active shooter situation in a challenging environment, better coordination with law enforcement to enhance response times, and that’s all before we get to the very touchy issues surrounding fixing the background check/Hipaa relationship to try to keep guns away from lunatics and all the other controversial topics surrounding this very complex issue. And all of this will cost a lot of money and require a resolve to forego political posturing on the right and left in order to move towards real solutions that actually deal with the problem without infringing on the rights of law abiding gun owners who aren’t part of the problem.

      • In general I agree that qualified teachers and administrators who are willing and able should be authorized to carry concealed. I have advocated for this in letters to Rep. Greg Steube and have also advocated for changing the state laws so that a person with a CCW who has a legitimate reason to be on a school campus (picking up or dropping off, attending a meeting, attending an event) should be covered by the portion of law that says the person is lawfully carrying in a place where he/she lawfully has a right to be. I also realize that the school systems might have legitimate concerns regarding training and liability issues, and for that reason I also believe some type of formal training program should be put in place to certify teachers and administrators who will be authorized to carry to undergo additional training, perhaps to the standard of a Class G license.

        • That teacher was against the idea of arming teachers and did it as a political statement. The good news is that that teacher can teach in te Georgia State Prison System.

          Those teachers who want to carry should be allowed to carry. Teachers should have an armored desk that will provide real cover in a classroom, a firing point to protect the room.
          An AR SBR with a suppressor, perhaps in caliber 300 Blackout should be in every desk under a proper lock system.
          There are about 1 million classrooms in the USA. That means we’d need to hire and pay several million vets if 100% coverage and security is desired. Who wants the job of telling parents that their child’s school doesn’t need a guard at every possible point of attack?
          Since a million vets, standing around hallways and classrooms will become bored to death, more than a 2-4 hour shift means that these guards will develop PTSD from boredom waiting for a terrorist attack or a lonely troubled student to attack.
          Hiring guards will double the cost of education and taxes.
          Training those teachers who are not suicidal and want to carry a gun doesn’t have to cost more than a few hundred dollars for ammo. Plenty of volunteer and qualified firearms instructor will be available at reasonable cost to train teachers to a level of safety. Teachers do not require building clearing and combat tactics training. Just the laws on use of force and psychology on the identification of unstable students and other people.
          Training should not be just a way to delay actually getting armed guards ASAP in the classroom.

          • Really – you think the vets would be bored to death? more than a 2-4 hour shift and they will develop PTSD? Boredom? I’m sure not every moment of the day will be busseling, but classes let out every hour or so. That gives them time to walk the building with the next bell ringing. Getting to know the people – kids and faculty there. I’m thinking a full day – a real days work.

  2. Joe Gremillion on

    Retried vets and retrired law enforcement would not be working a job now. They as you said are already trained. You would only have to make a couple of these idiots go toes up and the others would get the idea. I am for it 100 percent. Although at 75 I’m not as fast as I once was but im as fast once as I ever was. Still fairly good after having shot bullseye, Ipsc,. combat,and other things

  3. Geez, Lee, what are you promoting better gunfights?
    I’m not worried about losing my guns, but I don’t shoot military style rifles (actually I don’t shoot that much of anything anymore). However, an eye-catching number of these mass killings seem to involve AR and AK variants. Thoughts and prayers, aphorisms about guns not shooting people, people shooting people and dismissive tutorials on semi-auto actions to concerned individuals unfamiliar with firearms aren’t going to get it done anymore. Neither is wishful speculation about armed vets standing watch at schools. Also, I don’t think the NRA will be of help much longer once the extent to which that organization was in the tank for Russia is fully exposed. I think the shooting community has a real problem on its hands, and if it doesn’t move to solve it credibly, it is going to be solved for you. I believe the Parkland shooting is a tipping point.

    • Our Sheriff’s Office here just announced it’s gonna use veterans and retired LEOs as part of its school security program, Peter.

      We’ll see about the “better gunfights.”

      As I wrote, not a fan of armed novices — teachers — but I’ve yet to see a valid reason for not using well-trained pros.

      Disagree with you about the rest, bro, respectfully.

      The shooting community has been under fire forever. We’ve seen political tipping points before and faced Quisling politicians. Funny how these politicians take an oath to support and defend the Constitution — the entire Constitution — not just the parts that are politically expedient.

      • Peter Harriman on

        I have no problem with the second amendment as long as someone can exercise it responsibly. It has got to be substantially tougher for disturbed individuals to get their hands on firearms.
        I do get tired of the open carry crowd that can’t go out for coffee without a 9mm strapped to a hip — seen that — but in the main if you are no threat to society burn as much powder as you want through whatever platform you want. My point is to continue to be able to do that there has got to be some legitimate sympathy expressed toward people who are fearful and dismayed about mass shootings and accommodations made to address those concerns. Circling the wagons is not an answer.
        I still don’t think putting vets and retired cops in schools is a widespread answer. How many sheriffs, PDs or school districts want to take on the supervisory responsibilities and liability for that? But it is probably good to have a demonstration project to see how it works.

        • But Peter, whenever they try to regulate someone’s access to firearms they end up infringing on the rights of law abiding people. Criminals don’t follow the law. That’s why they’re criminals. Making more laws in not the answer. We already have laws against murder. Making good folks jump through more hoops is silly and ineffective. Improving access to mental health treatment is the real answer. Leave gun owners alone, bro.

        • How many taxpayers want to hire, a million or more guards at $15.00 or more per hour, plus benefits and training cost.
          Maybe an extra $10,000,000 per day nationwide. All the schools have plenty of spare money just lying around.

          Teachers should be quite able to learn how and when to shoot. The skill level does not require hitting tea cups at 50 yards, more like pie plates at 25 feet.
          Teachers will secure a room and wait the 20-30 minutes for the police and sheriff to show up and clear the building.
          Ideally the only causality will be the attempted killer.

  4. Excellent. Well said in the article, and you have proven that you really stand for what you believe in the comments. Keep up the good work.

  5. You’re correct in stating all veterans are trained. But not all training is equal. And for the many veterans you cite who own personal body armor and a small arsenal, few among them can effectively employ their assets in the stress of combat. Indeed, most of those veterans are non-combat arms and have limited, if any, actual combat action experience.

    If you’ve taken enemy fire enough times, you’ve seen highly trained and experienced combat arms veterans hesitate in combat. And if you’ve served long enough, you know that most servicemembers (and veterans) talk a good game and put up a good front. But can they back it up?

    I’d say the pool of veterans fit for the duty you suggest is quite small: special operations and few other combat arms candidates. To be sure, even the smallest towns in Anywhere, USA, can boast at least a few such veterans. How many of those few are willing to run back into the fray?

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