An analysis of school shootings by the U.S. Secret Service doesn’t really tell us anything new.
A report released last week by the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center on “targeted school violence” doesn’t add much to what we already knew. Nearly every attacker “experienced negative home life factors.” Most were victims of bullying and had a history of school disciplinary actions. The perpetrators typically had a grievance and a plan, which usually involved the use of a gun. But ultimately the report finds, “There is no profile of a student attacker, nor is there a profile for the type of school that has been targeted.”
As Stephen Sawchuk writes in Education Week, the analysis generally confirms the conclusion of the agency’s 2002 publication on school safety that “checklists of characteristics supposedly common to school shooters were not helpful in preventing violence.”
While the social scientists continue to try to figure out what to do next, let’s keep things in perspective. First, it is more likely that a kid will be killed being driven to school or by lightning than in a school shooting. Also, according to James Alan Fox, professor of criminology at Northeastern University, school shooting incidents involving students have been declining since the 1990s.
But rare as they are, we still need a plan to deal with them. To that end, the most important thing a school can do is allow some of its teachers, on a voluntary basis, to be armed. In a report released in April, John Lott, founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center, concludes, “Since at least as far back as January 2000, not a single shooting-related death or injury has occurred during or anywhere near class hours on the property of a school that allows teachers to carry.”
As Lott notes, there are currently 20 states that allow teachers and staff to carry guns to varying degrees on school property. (Interestingly, even though only 20 states allow teachers to carry, teachers in 42 states received training on how to use guns in July.) Florida, where the horrific Parkland shooting occurred last year, has just voted to enable some teachers to carry. Volunteers must pass psychological tests and drug screening, and then complete at least 144 hours of training. The volunteers receive a stipend of $500 for participating.
Arming teachers, of course, horrifies teacher unionistas. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten insists that doing so “would make our children’s classrooms less safe.” In a recent press release, AFT blamed Republicans and the NRA for being “complicit in perpetuating a broken gun-safety system in America.” In August, the union called for a boycott of Walmart unless they stopped selling guns. The nationwide chain partially buckled, and to assuage the union decided to stop selling handgun ammunition and “short-barrel rifle ammunition.” (Interestingly, AFT didn’t go after Dick’s, Big 5 or countless other ammo sellers. Walmart was undoubtedly singled out by the union because of its opposition to let its workers organize and the Walton Family Foundation’s advocacy for school choice.)
Here in Progtopia – or as it is officially known – California, the mood is hysterical. The California Teachers Association insists that we must “stop the seemingly endless plague of mass shootings and violence in America.” Also, the very woke San Francisco Board of Supervisors proudly declared the NRA a “Domestic Terror Organization” in September.
In 2012, after the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, I wrote, “I would like to see a few armed teachers at every school. These volunteers would go through a rigorous background check and proper police-type training, and then should be allowed to anonymously carry a concealed weapon on campus.”
Seven years later, and very slowly but fairly surely, we are getting there. It’s about time.
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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.