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Emergency Management, School Shootings and Second Amendment Rights

by Cathleen Vought

My husband, Eric, was invited to present as part of a panel on active shooter scenarios at the International Association of Emergency Managers’ annual convention, which happened to be in Reno this year. In 1992, on Simon’s Rock College of the Bard campus in Massachusetts, Eric’s former roommate, Wayne Lo, went on a shooting spree. Eric’s had to live with the guilt of hindsight, wondering if he’d missed some warning sign that this guy he trusted was going to blow his top. He and other students had to fight the school administration from going completely overboard about a student bringing a brightly-colored plastic squirt gun on campus and being suspended for it following the incident. He has spent many years studying school shootings, and has seen school policies go from “all guns are evil” to “maybe lockdowns alone aren’t working and we need to try something new”.

The media and “professionals” have told us that there are security guards on campuses and in schools, and this keeps the students safe. The first person Wayne (and most school shooters, actually) took out was the security guard. These same professionals also tell us that banning guns at schools makes them safer. Do they really think that the person coming to kill people cares if they’re breaking the rules by carrying a gun on campus? They tell us that police response times and training in these situations have gotten better. Great, can I carry an officer in my pocket? Even with the phenomenal response time of three minutes by the Sparks, Nevada police department to the school shooting last week just south of where we’re staying, the incident was already done and the shooter had killed himself.

Of course, this was after a math teacher at the school, a highly-decorated Marine Corps veteran, tried to talk the 12-year-old boy down, giving other students a chance to escape, but losing his life in the process. If we can trust a Marine with a firearm to keep the peace in a foreign country, why wouldn’t we expect them to be able to handle one in a classroom, typically a much less violent area? If we entrust our children’s minds, souls and bodies to a teacher for eight hours of the day, why wouldn’t we give them the tools to defend them?

Back to the conference. Watching the presentation on active shooter situations by the other two panelists, I was struck by the changes that were being considered by some of the most forward-thinking and highest authorities in emergency management. An emergency manager at a Texas college made a statement that stuck with me, along the lines of if students were not allowed to carry firearms on campus to defend themselves, it was the responsibility of the school that they were as well protected as if they were. The reason this struck such a chord in me was that not only did she realize the problem, she also realized that there was no simple solution.

The other panel member, from a university in southern California, mentioned the problems they’re having with lockdowns on college campuses. The culture of the area tends towards the idea that the students, as legal adults, have a right to leave a building, even during a shooting, and therefore it is not acceptable to lock them in. I have a problem with this mentality, though – if there were a toxic spill or a bad snowstorm, the authorities will shut down the road until the danger has passed, and whether you’re an adult or not does not even come into play. I would think the more deadly chance of being killed during a shooting would certainly fall in this same type of authority, and that locking an adult in to protect them from harm is at least as acceptable as in those situations.

During Eric’s part of the presentation, you could see a lot of attendees really considering the points he made about what did not work at Simon’s Rock and would not work in other shootings. He had a number of people approach him to discuss further the implications of what he had been through and had suggested for an action plan. This was especially apparent when we went to a banquet that evening. Eric was approached by a gentleman who, after the presentation, had called the security officer at his institution and told him, point blank, that they needed to seriously discuss and change the plans they had been making because, “we’ve been going about it all wrong.”

It’s kind of like the starfish on the beach story, with the little boy seeing thousands of stranded starfish and starts throwing them back into the ocean. A man tells him that he can’t possibly make a difference because of the magnitude of numbers before him. The little boy looks at the one in his hand, throws it into the ocean, and says, “I made a difference to that one.” We will still see some resistance to having teachers armed in schools, but with several dozen attendees at the talk, we may have changed the minds of a few. And hopefully made a difference to the children and students under their care.


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  • loran

    I agree wholeheartedly with this articles author. Yes, we are still seeing people just ignoring all the empirical evidence in support of letting people conceal or even open carry. Mostly leftists/statists are guilty of this. But then again, the progressives are notorious for ignoring any evidence which goes against their ideology. These people will not listen and see. Look at Chicago and DC. Crime rates and shootings are higher here than anyplace else. When confronted about this they usually change the subject or come up with a non-sensicle EXCUSE.

    • Cory Hicks

      We have thousands of veterans coming back from war and have years of experiance in training, supervising and leading groups of people. We only need to teach them how to become teachers of children. The hardest part, tactical response, is already instilled into them. Let’s keep veterans employed and make them teachers and coaches. Shcools would be the safest place in every major city.

      • loran

        Avery good idea cory. Education is the reality which will save this nation.

      • bruceapilot

        That’s the way it was in the 1950s/’60s when so many WWII Veterans became teachers. They allowed no nonsense in school, and were respected by even the worst of students.

    • Cathleen Vought

      Thank you! The college I attended up until this spring (grad school), at some point during my education changed their policy from “no guns on campus” to “You can carry on campus if you have a CCW, but not in buildings.” WTF????? How many people go on a college campus without intending to go into a building?? Does the college provide lockers to secure your firearm when going into a building? Of course not! I have to confess, I kept my 9mm in my backpack and kept my mouth shut about it. I was getting out of classes or work well after dark, on a fairly deserted campus – kind of a “no kidding” response to their policy.

      • loran

        Keep very quiet about this. Don’t trust anyone with the knowledge of where you conceal it. Be safe.

        • Cathleen Vought

          No longer at the school, so not a problem 😉

  • Eric Haulenbeek

    It’s an unfortunate truth that the gun grabbers claim that our country would be a much safer place if no one carried a gun… in other words, let’s ban guns. Of course, what these loons aren’t about to share with you is the real reason they all share this inane policy has nothing at all to do with safety. Their reasons are political, which is of course why the gun-grabbers are all progressives. These liberal democrats see our country as a socialist utopia, and one party rule is the dream that these pinheads have had for well over a hundred years. They’ve infected our governments at the local, state and federal levels. They own our schools too. These creeps are the worst thing that ever happened to this country. They’ve been working to tear it down… and they’ve been very effective.

    • Cathleen Vought

      I agree completely, and that was what blew me away when the emergency manager from the Texas university actually took ownership of the idea that if they wouldn’t allow students to concealed carry, they (the school) had to provide an equal level of protection! Most of the university folks I’ve dealt with try to “fix” the system by promoting gun control, not by recognizing there’s something wrong with their part of it.

  • MichiganFreedom

    It’s never OK to lock in a legally competent adult. God given freedom to self determination gives people the right to determine for themselves what the best course of action is. You could lock in a whole building of students and have someone slaughter them because they’re trapped.

    • Cathleen Vought

      I guess my view of it is more along the lines of locking out a shooter rather than locking in an adult. At the conference, they were showing where the students had lodged as much furniture as possible against a door because they weren’t allowed to lock it. I think if everyone in the room agrees, you lock it to keep the shooter out. Taking the decision out of the hands of those in the shooting was what I didn’t agree with.

      • MichiganFreedom

        If it’s the decision of the individual to lock themselves in, then yes. It’s all about the freedom of self determination.

  • Proud_to_be_American

    The main reason the administration and others in control refuse to do the Right & Logical thing is because they need innocent victims to push their irresponsible anti-self defense legislation!

    • tinkerunique

      It is currently “politically correct” to be an unarmed victim. O’bummer has cut military spending and veterans benefits, and gives “aid” and weapons to the Mexican cartel, Syrian (Al Qaeda) rebels, and his Muslim Brotherhood.

  • tinkerunique

    “Chaining-up” of the legal majority does NOT stop the criminal few. Everybody should have the chance to defend themselves and/or others, as most people WILL do, if the situation allows. Driving and drinking does NOT stop people from doing it, and MANY MORE get killed with autos than the few that die from gun MISUSE. The thugs get promoted for killing others with major media coverage + for weeks, but drunk driving and killing somebody gets small/local coverage.

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