Layered Security Solutions
In order to understand security, it is important to understand that it is made up of different layers. I wrote about this as it pertains to home security here, and the same principles apply to securing a venue that is considered a soft target, such as schools, churches, and entertainment venues. If we only focus on a single layer, then the policies, measures, and tactics that we implement will fail. Every layer must be addressed, and its functions must be implemented. There are three primary security layers, and one auxiliary: Deter, Deny, Defend, +Consolidate (D3+C).
Layer 1: Deter – These are measure that are meant to discourage or restrain from acting or proceeding, or to prevent. This would include measures such as firearm laws, policies, signs, awareness and reporting of potential events, mental wellness checks, and law enforcement following up on legitimate leads as best as possible.
Layer 2: Deny – These are the measures that physically prevent and/or deny access or hostile acts from taking place. I think this is one of the biggest opportunities for improvement as well. These measures would include more secure building access, such as access-controlled entry ways, designated check points, and hardened classroom features. If the first layer fails, this is the next one in line.
Layer 3: Defend – We all want the first two layers to work, but what if they don’t? The shooter is now in your school or office and you realize that laws and locks did not stop them. You will either be the school or office that has a means to defend yourselves, or the one that has to hide under a desk and wait 10 minutes for the police to show up while a mad-man empties magazine after magazine of bullets into your student body and faculty. The difference between having instant access to a firearm vs waiting 10 minutes for police to show up will always be the difference between more lives lost and less lives lost. At this later, the threat must be confronted, challenged, resisted, and engaged. In a venue such as a school, time is of the essence. The 7-10 minutes that it takes for law enforcement to arrive to a mass shooting is statistically too long. If a threat is present, they must be engaged immediately to reduce the number of casualties. Remember, security is about layers. You want your first layer to work, but if it fails, there must be some redundancy in the security plan. In this instance, a firearm on the premises is the only immediate option.
+Consolidate – It is important that in the immediate aftermath of an event, any potential victims consolidate in a safe area once the threat has been immobilized. This is where accountability will take place and immediate trauma care can begin.
Is Arming Teachers a Good Idea?
1) I do not advocate teachers being forced, compelled, or even slightly nudged into having the responsibility of carrying a firearm. It’s not even remotely what they signed up to do and trying to establish a rule like that would be dangerous and counterproductive.
2) I do believe that there should be a voluntary pathway that allows teachers to carry a firearm – meaning if they are qualified, cleared, background checked, and trained through a special program, then they should have the option to carry. They would even be responsible for paying their way through the training program as to not incur any additional expenses on tax payers. There are plenty of trained retired police officers and military personnel that are teaching now, and there is no logical reason why we couldn’t have them armed concealed while teaching.
3) At the very least, my recommendation is that qualifying schools have an emergency tactical safe on the premises that only trained individuals have access to (firearms, trauma kits, comms, even plate carriers). If something goes terribly wrong, then you can at least reduce the 10-minute response time down to 1-2 minutes.
NOBODY likes the idea of having to arm schools, but you cannot ignore the third layer of security. You cannot ignore the fact that layer one and layer two have failed more times than not. When those layers fail, I want my children in a school that at least has a chance of neutralizing the shooter and saving my lives.
Run, Hide, Fight
NOTE: During a mass shooting, a different strategy should be used by those being attacked called Run, Hide, Fight. I recommend that everybody watch it. You can watch a video on it here.