There’s one thing that sustains us through tragedies like the one that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida: The inevitable and irresistible stories of heroism that emerge in the wake of evil. It never fails. Whether it’s the Las Vegas massacre, the Aurora theater, Columbine, or any of the other major tragedies that have befallen this nation (and other countries), there are always, always, ALWAYS stories that affirm the truth: There is good in this world and it is more powerful than the darkness.
As we contemplate the heroic actions of teachers, gym instructors, and, of course, the police and other first responders who helped protect students in Parkland on Wednesday, let’s also consider how things might have been different if some of those school employees – so willing to put their own lives on the line for the kids – had been armed when Nikolas Cruz walked through the doors with his rifle. Would it have made any difference? Could someone have stopped him before he racked up an unthinkable death toll? The answer is, as always: We don’t know. But we do know that it is unfair, irresponsible, and foolish to leave this option on the table, unconsidered.
Obviously, the first line of defense needs to come in the form of trained police personnel stationed at every school. But the basic fact of budgets means that there will never be enough paid security officers at 99% of our nation’s public schools. Most schools are lucky to have one dude on staff. That’s better than nothing, but it gives a shooter plenty of time and opportunity to do some major damage.
We’re not suggesting that we load up every school with a dozen armed teachers, none of whom have the slightest clue about what they’re doing with a handgun in their drawer, much less any professional training. We’re not even suggesting that any teacher be asked to carry or keep a gun in their classroom. We are suggesting, however, that we might consider – just consider – allowing teachers who are properly trained and licensed and WANT to have their firearms at school to go ahead and do so.
Perhaps there could be additional training courses for those teachers who want to participate in such a program. The details can be worked out and debated. Questions of when, how, where, and so on can be determined once we decide that it’s not actually crazy to give these teachers and students a real way to defend themselves against a psycho.
The heroes are already there. Maybe we should give them what they need to survive.