As 15 teachers sat in a meeting last Friday at their school in Halfway, Ore., two gunmen suddenly burst into the room with handguns. The assailants wore hoodies to hide their faces, and they immediately started firing. Within moments, almost every teacher was dead — or would have been if it hadn’t been a drill.
I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to scare these teachers by making them believe they were being killed, but some of them claim that it was an effective teaching tool. What’s interesting, though, is that these teachers had already received training from the local sheriff’s department about how they could react in the even of an active shooter.
It apparently made no difference when they weren’t expecting an attack. For me, this brings to mind several points.
First, these are teachers, not a team of armed security guards. Just as those on the progressive left are completely unrealistic about the effects of taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, those on the conservative right are just as unrealistic about the effectiveness of arming teachers. I’m sure there are the occasional teachers who would be effective in a firefight, but I’d say they are few and far between. Trying to turn them into security guards isn’t going to work. It’s not their job and they’re probably going to panic if a real shooter shows up. That’s Halfway teacher Dollie Beck in the picture above. Does she look like someone you’d hire as a security guard?
Second, there’s a tremendous amount of effort to prepare for something that will almost never happen to any of these teachers or students. I’ve talked about relative risk before, but most people just aren’t interested in the numbers, because they have emotional reactions instead. This kind of armed attack on a school is very rare. A child is far more likely to be hurt or killed in a car on the way to school — or even in the bathtub at home — than he is to ever face an attack in his school.
Third, what kind of insane police and school officials send apparent attackers into a school to make teachers believe they’re being shot? They’re lucky that nobody got hurt. They’re also lucky that none of the teachers happened to have a weapon of any kind. Some other schools have gone even further, simulating live attacks with students. For instance, a school in El Paso had such a fake “raid” last year. Children were frantically texting their parents that there was yelling and shooting all around them. Is this helping anyone?
There’s a lot of paranoia about school safety right now, but it’s mostly wasted effort and needless fear. There are a lot of very reasonable things to be concerned about happening in life — because they have a decent probability of happening — but crazed school shooters aren’t among them. And the more we keep talking about it, the more likely the copycats are to try.
I’d say these teachers were far more terrorized by their own local school and police officials than they’re ever going to be by a school shooter. We need to get some perspective about this issue, but that’s not likely to happen.