I have taught in multiple public schools, each of which had its own emergency preparedness plans in place. All teachers, staff and administrators are required to know the various plans for different types of emergencies, which include tornadoes, fires, chemical spills, fights, and so forth, all the way up to an “active shooter” on campus, the scenario which occurred yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut. Most of the plans in place at various school districts are practical and useful, with one exception. That one exception is an active shooter.
The reports coming from Newtown have indicated that the elementary school principal, who was herself murdered by the gunman, had recently instituted new security protocols which included locking the doors at 9:30 a.m., requiring visitors to be buzzed in, and having school personnel trained to lock down their classrooms. In her defense, all of this is currently considered “best practices” by the education establishment. And, as we tragically learned yesterday, it is utterly insufficient to handle the emergency at hand in such a situation.
The preliminary news reports are that the doors WERE locked when the shooter arrived at the campus. Unfortunately, locked, glass doors were completely incapable of halting a determined, armed intruder.
Dawn Hochsprung, the school principal, was reportedly killed when she attempted to intercept and overpower the shooter. Her courage and love for her students are beyond words. But the fact is that while her courage was without measure, she was neither trained nor equipped to deal with the crisis that fell on her school. She did everything that the “best authorities” in the education establishment recommend to ensure the safety of her students, and when that failed she gave her own life in a last, desperate, and ultimately futile attempt to protect the children entrusted to her care.
There is a truth which the “best minds” of our public education systems will not admit. They will not admit it for a number of reasons, some political, some psychological. It is, however, a simple truth that has been considered axiomatic for most of human history. That truth is that when an armed attacker comes to kill you, or your children, the only response that matters is to meet the attacker with equal or greater force. Anything else is just play acting at “security.”
Most public school teachers have been taught that firearms are evil. Certainly the use to which they were put yesterday was evil, but the course of wisdom is to attribute evil to the man who wields a weapon, and not the weapon itself. Timothy McVeigh used diesel fuel and fertilizer in Oklahoma City, and accomplished even more carnage. In that case our nation was able to recognize that evil wears a human face. It is a lesson our culture seems unwilling to learn, and which we forget quickly on the rare occasions we are forced to acknowledge the truth.
One thing, and one thing alone, could have prevented the slaughter of the innocent that our nation suffered yesterday. That one thing would have been a trained, armed, committed defender of the children on that campus. Whether it be a school “resource” (police) officer, armed security guard, or teacher with a license to carry a weapon on school grounds, there should have been at least one adult trained and equipped to meet the threat that descended upon Newtown this week. Until we are willing to admit this is a necessity, and quit relying on glass and buzzers to protect our children, then we need to admit we are really just play-acting at security.