There is nothing more precious than our children, and they deserve our protection while attending classes. The vast majority of our schools are not adequately protected from active shooters. The mass murders will continue until we get serious. There have been approximately 360 school shootings in the United States alone since 1992.
A "No Gun" sign on the doors of our schools does nothing to protect our children. On the contrary, the sign tells the criminal that no one—unless the school has an School Resource Officer—is armed.
On May 15, 1974, three Arab gunmen killed 31 children and wounded 70 in Ma'alot in northern Israel. Did Israel respond with "schools are no place for guns?" No. They implemented a 40-hour training program to arm teachers and chaperones. In a nation where terrorism is more common, how many children have been killed in schools since the program was implemented? Zero.
In northern Kentucky, we are proposing the P.O.S.T. (Protecting Our Students and Teachers) program. It's modeled on the concept used to establish the successful "armed pilot" program. It relies on volunteers who are school employees such as teachers, administrators, staff, guidance counselors, school nurses, custodians, or bus drivers.
An application is completed and the volunteer completes an interview, background check, and drug test. The participant must possess a concealed carry permit prior to attending training. The training program runs for 5 1/2 days for 47 hours.
The first part of the training is four hours in length and is conducted a couple weeks prior to the training course. The intent of this half day is to prepare the participant for training. It consists of a program brief, sensitive security information brief, firearm safety, safe storage, mindset, handgun nomenclature and function, ammunition, holsters, and methods of concealment.
The core training course is 43 hours in length and includes subject matter such as use of deadly force, mindset, fundamentals of shooting, precision shooting, shooting on the move, shooting from cover, and multiple target engagement. The training concludes with a qualification course of fire as well as scenario training consisting of a half day of firearms simulator training and a half day of scenario training with Airsoft at a school campus.
Firearms qualification would be required at least semi-annually as well as a one- or two-day refresher course in the summer just prior to the beginning of the school year. The intent of this program is to serve as a starting point. Each school district is encouraged to take ownership of the program and modify it as they see fit.
A 5 percent to 10 percent participation rate would result in a successful program. The program focuses on two aspects—deterrence and immediate armed response.
Deterrence involves placing a sign on school doors that says, "This school participates in the P.O.S.T. program. Teachers and staff may be armed on this campus." That would deter most shooters, since they're seeking a body count, not a fight.
For immediate armed response, imagine an assistant principal, school nurse, guidance counselor, and three teachers in your local school carrying a concealed weapon. They may be able to interdict the shooter before he can harm our children.
Even if your school has an SRO, this would be an effective program. SROs are not always on campus. They could be sick, attending training, at lunch, conducting a "home visit" with the principal, or on the other side of campus when the shooting occurs. We must also consider that the SRO may be the first person targeted and now the active shooter has an additional weapon. The identity of the P.O.S.T. program participants would not be publicly known except with the SRO, school staff, and other program participants. The shooter would not know who is armed.
There is a saying, "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away." The 26 people murdered in Newtown, Conn., were killed in three minutes. The P.O.S.T. program is a team concept. The SRO would be aware of who is armed, and they would be trained to work together as a team to provide a layered defense like the airline industry. Dispatch would know the number of participants in each school so responding law enforcement can be notified in the case of a school shooting.
Join me in taking a stand and demand that our children are protected before the next shooting occurs. Will it be in your county? I would bet the four defenseless teachers who were murdered in Newtown while shielding their children from the killer would take a stand today, and argue that an effective tool be made available to prevent more deaths.
Joe Kalil serves in two law enforcement capacities in northern Kentucky and as a law enforcement firearms instructor. He foundeed Defensive Handgun Training, LLC.