Perhaps it makes sense to arm teachers — with T-ball bats, not guns.
That’s what College Place Public Schools has done and, to this point, it’s worked well.
In June 2017, staff at John Sager Middle School armed with 25-inch-long aluminum T-ball bats fended off two assailants. The bats were intimidating enough to convince the intruders — one armed with a wooden club and the other with javelin-like weapon — to retreat from the building. And the two intruders were soon in custody.
The school principal suffered some cuts and bruises, but no lives were lost.
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Having bats in every office and classroom was part of a safety program, which was implemented by Jon Ladines, the founder of Grandview-based Force Dynamics Security Consulting, His task was to train staff at College Place schools how to live through violent incidents.
“That situation could have been so much worse,” Ladines said.
School Superintendent Tim Payne said when the district opted to beef up security with bats it saw it as a better solution than guns.
“No one is worried about a bat being in the classroom,” Payne said in 2017. “You’re not putting a gun in every room. Not everyone wants that level and not everyone is capable of it. But a T-ball bat in every room is pretty societally acceptable.”
This holds true today. Guns in the classroom remain a lousy idea.
Yet, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., mass killing, talk of arming teachers with guns has become a serious topic of debate.
Teaching is already one of the hardest, most demanding and important jobs in society. Teachers are in the classroom to teach, not to be armed guards.
While a few teachers might be capable of using a firearm to stop an attack, most either don’t want to use a gun on another person or are not capable. Using a gun in these situations is difficult, which is why law enforcement officers spend a great deal of time training. Even then, as occurred in Parkland, officers don’t always succeed in stopping a heavily armed attacker.
Beyond that, if teachers are armed it could create a nightmare scenario for law enforcement when they go to a scene of a school shooting. The good guys holding a gun —teachers — could be shot by mistake.
And when guns are present, deadly accidents can, and do, occur. Arming teachers would be very expensive, time consuming and extremely dangerous.
Providing teachers training on dealing with emergency situations won’t prevent all school shootings, but it will likely stop some and reduce the carnage of others.