The Big Debate: School Safety, the Fight for Gun Control and the Attack on the Second Amendment

On 24 March 2018 In DC and other cities, hundreds of thousands of students and others marched to demand common sense gun control in the wake of dealdly school shootings in the U.S.

During Saturdays March for our Lives protest, the NRA posted an epic statement, “Today’s protests aren’t spontaneous. Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones.”

The emotionally charged event brought Hollywood A-listers out to perform for the crowd, students from school shootings gave short fiery speeches to rally support, all with one goal in mind, attacking the second amendment. Instead of recognizing the shooters responsibility for the terrible actions they took, the mainstream media blame the weapon they used.

In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, schools and state legislatures around the country are grappling with how to protect the lives of their students. The controversy, of course, surrounds how to best do this. Those in charge ponder how young is too young to start drills? How realistic should the drills be? What is the best way to integrate school resource officers? How do superintendents keep a neutral stance in such a political debate?

“They will be stoned”

One Superintendent in Pennsylvania has come up with a unique solution. Dr. David Helsel of the Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County Pennsylvania made national news after telling lawmakers that his students would be armed with stones in case of an active shooter.

Helsel testified to the House Education Committee in Harrisburg stating, “Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone. If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full students armed with rocks and they will be stoned.”

“At one time I just had the idea of river stone, they’re the right size for hands, you can throw them very hard and they will create or cause pain, which can distract,” Helsel told WNEP.

The superintendent explains that the schools have also gone through a program called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) for active shooter training.

In the case that a teacher would lockdown a classroom, there are rocks in a five-gallon bucket stored in classroom closets for students to throw at the shooter as a “last resort.”

“We have devices installed in our doors that help to secure them, to make it very difficult to break through,” said Helsel. “We also have, we train kids and talk about barricading the doors.”

A teenager who is a senior at Blue Mountain High School says he and other students like that plan.
“It matters because it will help protect the schools, anything helps, rocks are better than books and pencils.”

Parents do as well.
“At this point, we have to get creative, we have to protect our kids first and foremost, throwing rocks, it’s an option,” said Dori Bornstein.

But not everyone thinks this is a practical line of defense.
“I think that’s rather comical,” said one college student in Schuylkill Haven.

“It’s absurd, arm the teachers,” said a parent.

Giving students rocks in many cases would not be sufficient defense against the mentally ill individuals that commit these horrendous acts.

New Life Baptist Academy

In a stunning instance, a pastor and superintendent of a private school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Larry Allen, has been preparing his school for potential gun violence for five years. New Life Baptist Academy trains every student from kindergarten through 12th grade. A group of upperclassmen is chosen to receive tactical training to teach them how to stop a gunman. The school has 20 teachers and at least five of them carry a loaded handgun on their person. The superintendent, a former cop, believes that this form of training is increasingly important in today’s chaotic world.

The New Life Baptist Academy takes security very seriously, unfortunately, in public schools, the type of training offered there is extremely controversial. A lot of teachers struggle with the thought that they might have to carry a gun, after all, they have been educated to teach, not to protect. As a solution to that, another option that has been put on the table for years now is employing School Resource Officers (SRO’s).

School Resource Officers

School Resource Officers are defined by the United States Department of Justice as sworn law enforcement officers who are responsible for providing security and crime prevention services in schools. The long-standing argument against having SRO’s in schools is that it increases juvenile arrests, but according to Mo Canady, the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) executive director since SROs have been employed, juvenile arrests have decreased by 50%.

Speaking on MPR News, Mo said “Between 1994 and 2009, juvenile arrests in this country fell by almost 50 percent. And that happened to occur within the same time frame where the numbers of SROs in this country rose pretty dramatically. We think there is some direct correlation there,” Mo said.

“The majority of the SROs that we deal with and that we talk to; they make very few arrests during the year, Mo continued. “That really becomes their goal; to not make very many arrests, and so they’re pretty good at it.”

“We’ve always been very aggressive in terms of training and encouraging it on a regular basis. Training should never be a one-time deal, where an officer goes through the basic SRO course and that’s it. They should be training constantly, and that’s why we provide constant training opportunities” says Mo.

“I wish a hero like Blaine Gaskill had been at Marjory Douglas High”

On the eve of March for our Lives, Colion Noir, a host on NRA TV reminded the young people who were advocating for the removal of gun rights, that if a School Resource Officer like Blaine Gaskill had stopped the shooter at Marjory Douglas High School, no one would know their names.

“To all the kids from Parkland getting ready to use your First Amendment to attack everyone else’s Second Amendment at your march on Saturday, I wish a hero like Blaine Gaskill had been at Marjory Douglas High School last month because your classmates would still be alive and no one would know your names, because the media would have completely and utterly ignored your story, the way they ignored his,” Noir said.

The SRO Noir referred to, Blaine Gaskill successfully ended an active shooter situation in a Maryland High school. Heroically, Gaskill exchanged shots with the 17-year-old shooter Austin Wyatt Rollins, preventing him from injuring more students. The entire situation lasted less than a minute.

The New York Post reports that St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said, “[Gaskill] had to cover significant ground. The premise is simple: You go to the sound of gunfire.” CNN quoted Cameron saying, “[Deputy First Class] Gaskill fired at the shooter … almost simultaneously as the shooter fired. This is something we train, practice and in reality, hope would never come to fruition. This is our worst nightmare.”

Sadly, two students were shot and injured, one critically, before Gaskill was able to end Rollins’ attack.

Colion Noir’s point was that the media gave very little air time to Gaskill and the students of that Maryland high school because it doesn’t support their funded narrative of removing the second amendment.

Training Techniques

With the growth of technology, new training is available for School Resource Officers. Last month, the O’Fallon, Missouri Police Department received virtual training in their active shooter simulator.

Using footage of local high schools provided them with realistic surroundings. The system has a device that shocks them if they’re shot by the suspect.

But police aren’t the only ones who are preparing for such a situation. Schools are running drills to ensure the students know exactly what to do, and that training varies in scope. An Alaskan high school made news for their form of the drill.

East High School had the school resource officer walk up and down school hallways and fire blanks for the sound of gunfire.

According to KTVA-TV in Anchorage, Alaska, students in the area where the “shooter” was active stayed put and barricaded themselves in classrooms. They piled chairs, tables, and desks against the door as the rest of the students in the school evacuated.

“So many times, you read about these active shooter situations where they hear a gun going off like that and they think it’s something different,” Assistant Principal Josh Green said. “You’re programmed to think, ‘I’m safe all the time,’ right? So when you hear something like that, you think, ‘I’ve got to take some action on this.’”

“We don’t want to scare them,” Principal Sam Spinella said. “We want this to become as close to reality as possible.”

Just how realistic should the drills be? And, at what age should they begin taking place? For instance, in D.C., a preschool has begun active shooter drills. There are so many issues that need to be covered to ensure that schools are safe and teachers are able to educate their students without fear.

When it comes to prevention, shouldn’t we as a society focus more on the people than the weapon? Building a more respectful atmosphere, providing opportunities for students to feel safe reporting something they heard or saw that raised red flags, and having places for students who are struggling to go and talk to someone would be a huge step forward.

The media has twisted the narrative to attack the NRA, calling those fighting for our rights “murderers.” There is a much larger agenda at play here and if we don’t stand up for the rights that are freely given to us in the Constitution, they will be slowly stripped away. Do not let yourself or your kids be emotionally manipulated by the media who push fear and deception.