Colonel Tim Fitch of St. Louis County Police Wants to Arm Teachers. He's Right

Categories: Crime, Tragedy
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Colonel Tim Fitch of St. Louis County Police wants to arm teachers.
In reaction to the Newtown massacre, Colonel Tim Fitch of the St. Louis County Police Department has proposed arming local school officials.

He's concerned about that critical window between the moment a homicidal maniac enters a school and the moment the police finally arrive. A lot of carnage can be wrought in those five to ten minutes.

So Fitch wants to solve a gun problem with more guns. He told The Beacon yesterday: "They say more guns are not going to solve anything.... My response is, then what is your idea?"

Actually, I don't have one. Arming school personnel might be a good idea.

It all depends, of course, on the execution.

Obviously, they'd have be well trained in how and when to shoot -- and have this training refreshed from time to time.

Secondly, if they're going to do it, some of them might as well carry it on their person, because in situations when seconds are critical, you wouldn't want to have to run down the hall, grab a key from a drawer, and try to unlock a gun safe.

But that means they'd have to invest in some secure holster equipment would allow the principal (or teachers or whomever) to carry the firearm on his/her person without the risk of a kid ever stealing it. (Fitch seemed to suggest to the Beacon that such equipment exists.)

In my view, a school employee trained and armed in this way would (ideally) be the functional equivalent of an armed security guard, which no parent would object to. Wait, no -- they might object if it causes tuition to raise. Providing the same security by arming a school administrator might be the cheaper, and thus preferable, option.

Of course, schools should tighten up access to the building, but that's an imperfect defense. Look at Newtown. Everybody in the municipality apparently knew Adam Lanza was weird, but when he showed up to a locked door at the school, they let him in anyway. With so many people coming and going through different doors of a school, a focus solely on building access won't do the trick.

Do I relish the idea of placing guns inside schools? No. Is it ideal for children to watch their principal walking around, packing heat? Probably not. But such is the country we live in right now.  Better to live in this reality, for the time being, than to idly hope another tragedy won't occur.

Better to act like it will, and be ready.

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19 comments
12judges
12judges

I have a question for anyone who reads this editorial and these comments as originally posited by Chief Fitch today on St. Louis On The Air on KWMU at 11am.  If guns in the hands of permanent security gaurds or certain administrators in schools is ludicrous to you and an unacceptable answer, what would you propose to do to stop an active shooter in a school?  How do you propose to save lives during the 5-10 minutes it may take for police to respond that doesn't involve another armed person resisting them with deadly force?  As Chief Fitch so elquently put it, he's heard a lot of anti-gun rhetoric, but no reasonable alternatives, and neither have I.  Reasonable gun owners and police are listening.

bill.streeter
bill.streeter topcommenter

This is the dumbest thing I have probably ever read on this site. Seriously. Arming teachers and administrators only makes things more complicated and adds more risk to the already complicated situation. And I might point out that Lanza's first victim was a heavily armed gun owner? Was she safer because she was armed? Hardly. Just stop, it's not helping.

12judges
12judges

I am glad to hear your opinion on this Nick.  I, like many gun owners, do not relish the idea of placing armed personnel or weapons in places of learning but time and again we see through human history and today the only response to an evil person armed with weapons are good people armed with weapons.  Police officers are not the only good people that care about defending children.  I agree completely it would need to be well thought out and above all secret.  The identity of the school official that is armed would need to be closely gaurded, the weapon's location as well, and insurance protocols and training implemented.  One armed person at Newtown could have made the difference for so many innocent lives.

EhudShamgar
EhudShamgar

@12judges Never mind we can barely find teachers good enough to teach in the first place. Let's just go all-in on the risible fantasy that teachers can and should be trained gun-toting killers, too. Fucking genius. Here are two things, considered and smart:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/the-simple-truth-about-gun-control.html

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html

There is literally no argument to be made in favor of assault weapons or an everyone-armed society, or against even deeper background checks and much stricter certification (like for driving an automobile). If you want to hunt or defend yourself or home for the time being, fine. But individual gun ownership is a (now, historically speaking, totally unregulated) privilege, not a right--and unfortunately, the NRA has obscured this fact. And just because there are lots and lots of guns does not preclude or eliminate the entirely plausible possibility that one day, as a more evolved society, we make guns illegal, develop a return-and-incinerate program for them, and crimes in which they are used given the most severe punishments. If we're lucky or sane, guns (much like nuclear weapons) will be the child pornography of the next decade (or century).

Anyone who defends or desires to amplify the status quo is either an irrational and willfully ignorant gun-zealot fuckhead or bored dickless paintballer who chooses to walter-mitty his sad and dwindling days away as a soldier of fortune. There is often overlap.

NP_DailyRFT
NP_DailyRFT

@bill.streeter Hi Bill, thanks for your comment. First of all, this can't be the dumbest thing you've ever read on this site, because I've written much dumber things. Secondly, if we can agree on the premise that guns are everywhere and bad people can obtain them, then I have a simple yes-or-no question for you: Would you support putting an armed/trained security guard in every school? If so, then what's the difference between that and training and arming the school principal? (To clarify, I don't think EVERY school employee should pack heat; maybe just one or two at all times). 

12judges
12judges

Also of interest to you might be the fact that Israeli teachers in both Israel proper and the West Bank have been issued on a voluntary basis, carried, and in fact utilized arms to protect students.  The country of Israel has not had a mass school shooting since 1974.  I hate to say it, but it works.

12judges
12judges

No Bill, you're wrong and it is considerably more complicated than you think.  Nancy Lanza is dead because I'm 99% sure - as will probably be revealed - she was not a responsible gun owner and did not have her firearms secured or had given her nutcase son access to their secure site.  Furthermore evidence suggests Adam Lanza committed suicide like the coward he was the moment law enforcement, men with guns, showed up at the school.  As I said in my previous comment arming school personnel is not something or any other gun owner relishes but their are practical realities that need to be addressed here.  The best defense against an assailant with a gun is to provide the first responders, the victims, with the best means to defend themselves until the second responders, the police, arive.  If you're deluded enough to think that your best defense against a man with a gun who wants to kill you is to call the police who are more than 5 minutes away than I think your judgement is beyond repair. 

planb247
planb247

@12judges yes, if we just put guns on every corner, there will be less violence and death. that makes a lot of sense....

12judges
12judges

Thank you.  I clicked the link and read the material posted there but nothing there answered the question above.  We are not talking about responsible gun ownership steps that can be taken prior to a massacre.  We are talking about what can be done when the final failsafes have been overcome and children are in the immediate line of fire.  Gun locks, safes, the ten commandments of firearms safety will not keep children being shot at from being killed.  What would you recommend to keep a child being shot at alive before police arrive?  We are still waiting.

bill.streeter
bill.streeter topcommenter

Security guards are one thing but your headline clearly reads "teachers." Which is it? Oh wait ... I get it, link bait. Never mind.  

bill.streeter
bill.streeter topcommenter

@12judges Bullshit. As you said this is a very complex problem, simple answers like "give all the teachers guns!" aren't the answer. Complex problems almost never have simple answers. Simple answers always just make the problem more complex. What happens when one of the kids gets a hold of a teachers weapon? What happens when one of the teachers becomes a shooter? What happens when one goes off accidentally? By putting guns in the classroom you're introducing a huge number of dangerous variables that can't be easily mitigated. Stupidest idea ever. 

12judges
12judges

Guns in every corner is not what we're asking for.  We are asking you to consider the practical realities of a country with 300 million firearms owned by half the adult population.  Guns are here.  They are not going away.  You, right now, are surrounded by them.  There are people standing next to you everyday that are carrying them.  To an extent, they are everywhere.  99% of those people carrying and owning are decent, law-abiding citzens whose guns will never harm you or a child.  Our concern is on how we stop the 1% of those from harming others and the answer, throughout history, is a good person armed with a weapon.  Sorry, but we haven't run out of history quite yet.

NP_DailyRFT
NP_DailyRFT

@bill.streeter Bill, I'm advocating having at least one school employee (whether the principal or a teacher, doesn't matter) be armed, in order to serve as the "functional equivalent" of an armed security guard -- and notice how I'm putting that in quotation marks, because I'm directly quoting what I wrote in the blog post above. All of this is reflected in the headline. Do you disagree? (You're right: Bait-and-switch sucks, but I don't think I committed such in this post.)   

12judges
12judges

FYI we don't know if Nancy Lanza was "licensed to carry a weapon" or not, but last I heard we give people the benefit of the doubt and our rights are not dependent on being guilty until proven innocent.  Calling me names and saying untruths about me won't make me wrong and you right.  I am a military veteran as well and I'm ashamed to think that a marine marksman (if in fact you are...) would have a such a low opinion of the gun owning public and those charged with the safety of our children.  If you think that leaving American children with school administrators and teachers all day who are charged with their safety is ok but they're not responsible enough to carry the tools or have the training necessary to protect them then the dichotomy in your thoughts and life are irreconcilable.

bill.streeter
bill.streeter topcommenter

Doesn't change anything about the first part of the statement and clearly you are a pompus ass who loves to make assumptions based on your own petty baseless biases. I'm a military veteran, marksman in fact, who grew up in a gun owning family. Fired my first gun when I was seven.

12judges
12judges

Actually you're wrong Bill.  Adam Lanza attempted to purchase a gun and decided not to go through with it as he was frightened by the possibility the Federal NICS background check (form 4473) would have shown paperwork had been filed to have him committed.  Furthermore he was only 20 at the time and I believe CT law states 21 for ALL firearms sales.  He would have had to show ID he was of age and they wouldn't have let him proceed.  It is clear from your comments your experience and knowledge of firearms and firearms law is insufficient to the task of allowing you to speak on the issue, but please, don't let me stop you from embarrassing yourself.

bill.streeter
bill.streeter topcommenter

Until Friday, Adam Lanza's mother was considered "good people licensed to carry a weapon" Adam Lanza himself could have passed a background check and legally carried a weapon himself.

12judges
12judges

I have never said "give all the teachers guns!", you're way out of line.  Guess what, those dangerous variables are already there.  Many schools already have and have had armed public safety officers in their schools.  Visible.  Carrying a gun.  For many years millions of Americans have carried guns concealed in public with an alarmingly low rate of criminal negligence.  They have been in schools, restaurants, and other public places.  They have probably stood right next to you.  Your safety and the safety of children is not in jeopardy from good people licensed to carry a weapon.  Your fool idea that putting up a sign that says "gun-free zone" is the best protection is bullshit just like your fool idea that providing a path to arming school personnel is not a complex solution to a complex problem.  Get real.

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