I was driving my truck down the highway in the left lane, when another pickup truck came flying up to within twenty feet of me. He stayed there for about a half a minute and then backed off to about four car lengths. He stayed back there until I moved to the right lane in anticipation of my upcoming exit. Then, that pickup flew past me and, again, up to about twenty feet behind the car that I had been following. For the next two miles that pickup stayed right behind the car.
What could have made the difference between me and the car that affected his behavior? This scenario happens to me all the time. I’m just guessing, but I think it may have something to do with the bumper sticker on the back of my truck which reads: “Have Gun – will vote”. The “Have Gun” part is in a larger font size than the rest. The drivers who come up behind me, after seeing the sticker, probably think I might have a gun in my truck (which I do) and that I might be inclined to use it in an “emergency”. Ahhh… the power of words. It’s just a bumper sticker. Those are just words. There’s no guarantee that I have a gun with me, but people respond exactly the same way every time they read those words as if they were certain that I did have a gun just because the sign said so.
What if there was a sign on every school building. What if the sign said: “This School is Protected by an Armed Professional”?
A bolt of fear just coursed through the hearts and minds of many of you at the mere mention of a gun being present in your child’s or grandchild’s school. I understand the feeling. I get the exact same feeling every time I walk into my grandsons’ school, unarmed and unable to protect them from harm while I’m there. Bear in mind that I’m not advocating for teachers or grandpas with Vietnam combat experience to be armed. The sign would say, Armed Professional.
All of the mass murders involving guns were committed in a “Gun Free” zone. Ahh.. the power of those words. The shooter at the Aurora theater incident travelled past four other theaters showing the same film to get to the one that had a sign prohibiting guns on the premises. All K-12 schools and colleges are “Gun Free” zones. When a crisis occurs, the police congregate at the shooting site, set up a command position, determine a strategy for execution, and then get involved in stopping the carnage. Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes can go by in the process while a shooter is taking as many lives as he can. It’s not the Police’s fault – it’s just what you have to do to orderly confront one of these situations from the outside.
I want to tell you a true story about the possibilities for safer schools. It happened, recently, in Denver, Colorado at the Arapahoe High School. An 18 year old came to the school with a shotgun, 125 shotgun shells, a machete, and two Molotov cocktails. He went to his locker in the basement and left the machete and Molotov cocktails there. No telling what his intentions were for those items, but you know he planned on being in the school for awhile. The boy walked up to a student and killed her with one shotgun blast. Eighty seconds later, the crisis was over. When a School Resource Officer who was in the building heard the shot, he immediately started running in the direction of the sound screaming, “Get down. I’m a Deputy Sheriff. As soon as the shooter saw him enter the room, he took his own life.
One life tragically lost. Eighty seconds later, the crisis was over. Mo Canady is the CEO of the National Association of School Resource Officers. The officers are sworn law enforcement officers who are specially trained to work in a school environment. He has 10,000 Resource Officers in schools across the country already, one of which was there at the Arapahoe School.
I believe that just having the sign in the window, warning people that the school is protected by an armed professional will effectively eliminate the need for an emergency response to a shooting there. Evidence strongly suggests that the officer will probably retire with a coating of dust on his gun.
The power of a sign. Yes, indeed. We could just put a sign up about our armed professional, even if there wasn’t one there, and for awhile that would be deterrent enough to keep your kids safe, but as sure as there are little green apples, some parent or citizen will get wind that there really wasn’t a gun on the premises and run to tell all their gun-fearing friends that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of – there really aren’t any armed professionals at the school. And when that happens, you’ll be in the same boat as you are right now – waiting for the cops, listening to the gunshots, filling out reports, mourning the loss, and moving on until the next time.
A school district, home to the city of Eagan, Minnesota, just got a bonding bill passed for millions of dollars. The taxpayers were encouraged to pass the bill because the benefits would far outweigh the cost of just $12 per month per household. How much do you think it would cost the taxpayers to hire a highly skilled, armed professional to protect their kids while they are at school at the rate of $100,000 per officer? Pennies? Would the benefit outweigh the expense?
Of course, it’s not a debate about facts or logic, is it? We all know that we’ll never get rid of all the guns in the U.S.. We know we’ll never identify and contain all the evil people and mentally impaired people who walk in our midst. We all know that all mass killings are in Gun Free zones. And we all know that the only thing that stops the shooting is another gun in the hands of our police. No. It’s not about the truth. It’s about denying protection for our children because of our visceral fear of every gun there is, even the ones being held by those who could stop or minimize the pain of another school shooting.
I believe there’s an answer to mass shootings. I just don’t think we’ll come to the point of taking the steps necessary to stop them.