Introduction: In addition to being intellectually vacant, I find the current arguments for additional gun controls to be cynical and worse, destructive to the goal of providing meaningful protection for our children at school. The common sense solution is immediately evident. It is reasonable. It is doable. It will not require significant additional public resources, which are becoming increasingly scarce. Most important: It will work.
NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has been roundly criticized (vilified, actually) for suggesting armed guards in schools. Some politicians have called his solution “paranoid” and “delusional.” Governor Chris Christie has stated flatly that “arming schools will not make them safer”, but he has declined to explain how this is so. He did not attempt to make that case because the case cannot be convincingly made. Christie is an example of the worst sort of politician; a panderer, finger ever in the air, waiting to board the first populist train to higher office. A.B. Stoddard derisively pronounced LaPierre’s solution to be lunatic, with a price tag of six billion dollars. Even Charles Krauthammer, usually the smartest man in any room, (and a personal favorite) pooh-poohed the idea. But I digress. In my view, LaPierre did not go far enough, did not extend his idea to its most workable and effective iteration.
I am moved—no compelled—by the tragedy in Newtown and its horrible, shrill, futile aftermath to offer an outline for an effective program that would truly protect our children while preserving our constitution and our liberty. No other solution being offered can do this, and the specious arguments for gun control are actually destructive to the desired objective. This proposal is a simple outline, intended to be improved and perfected, so far as that is possible. It is not the sum of everything that can be done; certainly, new schools built with security in mind will be a vital contributor to staff and student safety. Retrofitting older schools with security in mind must also be considered. Comment on it if you can offer ideas, criticize it if you must. Any comments will be moderated because this is not intended to indulge rabid Progressives who have been tweeting that NRA members and officials should be assassinated. There are plenty of other places for these lunatics to massage one another and to put their ignorance on stage. Not here.
Watchdog Dads: A Proposal for the Meaningful Protection from Extraordinary Violence of Children and Staff at Public Schools
Aim: To increase safety and security of vulnerable populations in Public Schools through an effective and cost-efficient program that will have minimal impact on school environment and public budgets. Proposed is a volunteer program centered on local civic responsibility and local community values.
Overview: Study of active shooters in mass shooting incidents points to selection of targets based, in part, upon where large numbers of people are most defenseless, and where likelihood of opposition is low. Malls, theaters, schools and restaurants fit this profile. Proposed is a protective program based upon armed unpaid volunteer over-watchers assigned to each public school.
Scope of service: Watchers would be volunteers willing to commit to at least one full school-day of service per month at a school location in their own communities.
At least two (2) watchers would be required for each school location for each day of school. Watchers would never work alone. Scope of service would be limited to prevention and/or containment of active shooters or terrorist intrusion into a school with an exclusive goal of limiting danger and/or injury to students and staff. In other words, watchers would observe and report in any and all other circumstances with no further involvement.
Liability: Hopefully, school districts would include volunteer participants under their general liability coverage, or would be willing to purchase riders that would cover volunteer participants. Additionally, volunteers would be encouraged to enhance personal insurance coverage through homeowner’s or other personal policies.
Recruiting: Citizens serving in the military on active duty, citizens with prior military experience and citizens with current or prior law enforcement experience would be encouraged to volunteer. Stable retirees with comprehensive firearms experience and training would be encouraged to participate.
Qualifications: Volunteers accepted into the program would be required to commit to a minimum of one full school day of service per month. Volunteers would be drawn from citizens who have trained with firearms and can demonstrate proficiency with them. Utah Concealed Firearms Permit would be required for all volunteers accepted into the program.
Training: County sheriffs and/or local police chiefs would be encouraged to establish a continuing training program for volunteers around an approved syllabus including range qualification, best practices and law relevant to the scope of duty. An ops manual for each facility would be produced and maintained. Assigned watchers would thoroughly tour their schools for familiarity on days or at times when no students are present. School liaison would conduct these tours, assuring that watchers would know how and where to access different areas of each school should an event occur and intervention be requested by school administrators or liaison.
Liaison with School: One primary and one or more alternate school administrators or teachers would be designated for liaison with watchers. School policies, concerns, directives, etc. would be presented at regular meetings with watchers to enhance comfort and familiarity. These meetings would ideally be held off-site to minimize impact on school facility environment. School administrative authorities would drive the program within its simple parameters. Watchers would check in with school liaison at the beginning of each tour and as needed throughout the day. Further: see COMMUNICATIONS.
Liaison with Law Enforcement: Police chiefs or their delegates and county sheriffs or their delegates could pass on the suitability of program participants through oral interviews. Participants would be required to qualify for and maintain valid Utah Concealed Firearms Permits which include basic background checks prior to issue. Police chiefs or county sheriffs could, at discretion, perform or require additional checks, including letters of reference, interviews with neighbors and friends, etc. Watchers would be available for contact with peace officers within each jurisdiction by one of several possible means and procedures. Further: see COMMUNICATIONS
Liaison with Parents: As requested by school administrators, available for group familiarity and comfort meetings in each quarter.
Contact with children: No contact should occur between watchers and children except in extremis, as a result of an incident or ongoing event requiring intervention. These watchers are not “school resource officers” or crossing guards, or field-trip monitors. Their purpose is narrow, highly defined, and extremely limited. Watchers are present to intervene immediately to halt aggressive violence, and for nothing else. (What is hoped for is the most boring duty imaginable.)
Communications – several possibilities – one, more or all:
- Cell phones
- Inexpensive GRMS/FRS radios, frequency selected for each day for each school.
- Law enforcement agencies might provide for each school portable radios providing access to dispatchers.
- A simple report would be submitted to school administrators and/or law enforcement liaison for each tour by each watcher. Reports would detail identification of watcher, start and end times, and any notable observations made during each tour.
***Postscript: Obviously, this proposal is intended to start a discussion for the formation of a protective program for UTAH communities. Some references to Utah laws and permits are thus explained. Some things to consider when thinking about the viability of this program:
- There are approximately 320,000 valid Utah Concealed Firearms Permits issued
- There are approximately 899 public schools in the State of Utah
- There are approximately 491,206 students enrolled in Utah public schools (primary education.)