Securing Schools

Well, I haven’t done a blog for a while, and this seems like as good a time as any.

I concede that I’m probably more “Pro-Gun” than the N.R.A..

I’m an advocate of ANYONE of good character being capable of defending themselves anywhere they are,  whether in schools, or other venues. The proposals of Securing Schools is certainly something I find inherently appealing, but schools present specific issues that neither the “Pros”, nor (especially) the “Antis”, seem to be taking into consideration. Basic human psychology; the psychology of fear, the psychology of authority, the psychology of human interaction under stress, and the result of the stress induced by loss of adequate communication.

What does that mean? Well, we have to take a look at the normal skill-sets of people, and understand that the gun itself, while not the detriment the antis make it out to be, is not the cure-all. At least, not without a lot of other things being done in parallel.

For one thing, let’s be honest, most police agencies train heavily for “Entry”, but very few actually train to defend a position, or structure. The tactics are completely different, as well as the required tools. There’s also a difference in “Mind-Set”. One is offensive and authoritarian (MUST gain entry) the other is defensive and authoritarian (MUST deny entry). By now, you should be pondering the issues arising when the two mentalities inevitably interface in a high-stress environment, with nothing worked out ahead of time!

One of the fallacies of the current perception of the “Arming the Teachers” proposal is that allowing teachers to be armed is the ultimate goal. If active defense is to be effective, it must be tiered. Armed and trained teachers is certainly better than what we have (defenseless sheep awaiting slaughter), but their obligation, in such times, should be to follow the normal “lock down” of the classroom, and be the first person an active shooter encounters when he forces his way into that classroom.

Just because there are armed responders inside the school doesn’t mean that the “Active Shooter Training” developed previously should be abandoned! In my humble opinion, nothing can be farther from the truth! As comparatively ineffective as it may seem, the basic philosophy of “Run, Hide, Fight” is quite productive. Not only does it accept and exploit normal human psychology, but, I believe, it’s tactically the best advice!

The basic plan for an active shooter scenario is to close the doors to whatever room one is in, and attempt to prevent entry by blocking the door. Doing so, while providing a competent armed force inside that room, all but guarantees the survival of those within. Previously, without such an armed force, that room became nothing but a kill-box; a convenient container. One which an active shooter could easily open and begin killing with no fear of immediate consequence.

The apparent belief system of the reasoning makes me shudder. The hope is that the shooter will be delayed by gaining access to one room, and be preoccupied killing those occupants while the “authorities” arrive to save everyone else. This has been referred to as “Acceptable Losses”, and I denounce such acceptance of sacrificing innocent life.

Like they say… “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away”.

Still, even with an armed force inside the locked rooms, allowing an active shooter to wander through the halls unchallenged is a bad idea. It is, of course, what the current plan is, but it’s still a bad idea. Within the school, and among the intended active defenders, plans and policies must be developed pertaining to guiding the assailant(s) away from some areas, and towards others, as well as how to force or coerce them to an area where they can be contained, if not neutralized. Without an active response to an active shooter, this has been impossible. With aforethought, and (what will most likely turn out to be) a minimal investment in materials and equipment, an active response can be that one component of a plan that makes it possible to steer and control the movements of an active assailant. Architecture itself can influence the movements of individuals. With this in mind, future structures can be planned accordingly, and with the addition of active defenders, the effectiveness of such architecture is greatly enhanced.

Ideally, there would be at least, one more tier of personnel; even if it’s only two or three more people (depending, of course, on the size of the school). These could be in the form of uniformed or non-uniformed active defenders who are always inside the building moving to and from entries and exits at busy or likely times. Someone is also going to have to function as a provider of real-time information to other active defenders pertaining to the location and movements of the threat(s), but that could, and most likely would be fulfilled by normal school administrative personnel, be they armed or otherwise.

There are methods of communication to be worked out. Communication between active defenders; Communications with the defenders behind locked classroom doors; Communications between school personnel and responding authorities…

Procedures need to be established pertaining to interaction between all active defenders and responding personnel. Traditionally, for example, when the police show up, they’re in charge. This arrangement is deadly in an active school shooter environment with active defenders inside. Those inside at the time of the attack are the ones that MUST be allowed to steer the entry team by providing information as to the whereabouts and disposition of the active shooter(s) (who, hopefully by then, will no longer be active).

Remember the psychology of fear and mortal self-defense. Once one’s life is in jeopardy due to an attack, ANY attack seems part of the same assault and could get dealt with in the same manner. This isn’t going to be “trained out” or “reasoned away”, and it sure as isn’t going to go away by “ordering compliance”. This is hard-wired into the human psyche. Trying to compel someone to act counter to their hard-wired instinct is, literally, simply the act of a bully. One may be able to get away with it, but that changes nothing.  The mentality is simply wrong, counter to the desired outcome, and must be abandoned.

How is the active defender behind the locked classroom door going to know that it’s now safe to open that door? Anyone can pronounce the words “Open up. It’s the Police”, or “F.B.I.”, or “Homeland Security”. Bad-guys have no problem pronouncing those words. When that door is closed, and someone is standing behind it, and in a heightened emotional state because they’re protecting themselves and a room full of kids, all they can hear from the other side of that door  is a disembodied voice claiming to be their friend in a very  unfriendly environment. Somebody needs to work out what must be done long before somebody forces that door open!

These are just a few of the things that MUST be pondered, studied,  taken into consideration, planned for, and incorporated in policy. Does that mean we shouldn’t do it? Of course not. Truthfully, I believe society has been downright negligent for not doing it before now.

Will it take away the foundational issue of evil people and remove them from society before they cause harm? Of course not. What it will do, however, is to finally accept, and even codify, the fundamental reality and basic truth of human natural right, that the intended victims deserve to be protected by, and equipped with the same or better tools than the assailant intends to use against them.

God Save the Republic.