Opinion

School Administrators Show Arming School Staff Can Work to Protect Students

Once again, reflexively and hysterically, the Left is out in full force, exploiting students, and screeching for more gun control. Translation, seeking to infringe on a constitutional right which was expressly created not to be with the words: “Shall not be infringed.” Why is that such a difficult concept for so many?

It is the anti-gun coalition’s reaction to the latest gunman’s attack on a gun-free zone. Remember, it was the Left that chose to “control guns” in schools by putting up useless signage. Signs that have no effect on armed criminals, but are pretty darned effective in preventing law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms on school property. How’s that working out, anyway?

The Left must truly believe that guns have the ability to shoot themselves. Or that responsible gun owners can’t be trusted despite it being shown that legal gun owners are more law-abiding than the average person.

Well, while other officials are vacillating about should we or shouldn’t we ruminations, there are school administrators in America who have already decided they should. Rather than joining the cacophony of crazies, they have instead implemented genuine, real-world solutions by arming school staff. And they’re doing it in a place you might not expect: The Yakima Indian Reservation in eastern Washington State.

(Credit: IN Close via YouTube)

Following the excruciatingly sad gun-free zone shooting that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, where an inhuman creature murdered 20 children and six adults, Toppenish School District administrators took action. District superintendent John Cerna introspected, How are we going to keep our kids safe? A lot of people are asking this question lately. Some, like the Left, ask it with good intent, though unseriously, while others are considering responses that follow the Toppenish model — because it works.

During a recent speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, President Trump articulated his support for the idea of arming school staff. He said, “It’s time to make our schools a much harder target. When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger.” President Trump has said he supports arming qualified teachers and administrators.

Mr. Cerna raised his idea to arm school administrators in a meeting with other administrators who reportedly thought the idea was crazy. Cerna then brought the notion up with the school board, which was more amenable to the idea.

With the school board committed, he contacted a former Washington state trooper who was a firearms instructor to train the district’s cadre of armed administrators. Currently, 19 administrators, including principals and vice principals, are certified to carry on campus. Mynorthwest.com reports there is one administrator with a firearm in every Toppenish district school, each armed with a 9mm handgun. For security reasons, of those armed, only Cerna is publicly known to concealed-carry a firearm on campus.

(Toppenish school Superintendent John Cerna, the only publicly-known concealed-carry holder in the school district, dons a “School Admin” vest over a ballistic vest. (Credit: IN Close via YouTube)

As King 5 News reports, “Along with the initial range training, several hours are spent in the classroom learning the law, when to engage, and what might happen if you do.” Administrators also learn how to shoot while moving as well as other considerations such as how to operate in the backdrop of a school shooter, which could include students and faculty.

Cerna adds that in Toppenish, with it being a rural area, the average police response times are about 10 minutes. Reports say the Florida school shooter’s attack went on for at least six minutes before he walked off campus and was stopped by police a few miles from the school. Cerna says, “If I have someone [armed] in every building…that gap time becomes seconds [instead of minutes].”

Aside from shootings that specifically target students, which are, of course, worse, Cerna also cited the 2010 Panama City, Florida school board shooting as an example of both threat and solution. The gunman in that incident specifically targeted members conducting a school board meeting. The threat: a gunman attacked the meeting. The solution: an armed former school board member and school district security chief exchanged gunfire with the gunman, wounding the attacker. The gunman then shot himself, committing suicide.

Communities need to put this issue into a proper context and perspective based on facts, not emotions. These shootings are so rare it is highly unlikely any administrator (or teacher) will ever need to draw his or her weapon, never mind actually firing it during an active shooter incident. Think about it. Most police officers, who are much more likely to be put into real-life shoot/no-shoot situations, still work their entire careers without ever firing their guns in the line of duty.

There are also some school teachers who have elected to arm themselves while at work. Kasey Hansen, a Utah teacher reflecting on the Sandy Hook school massacre, told Fox News Channel’s Martha MacCallum, “The teachers just huddled their kids in the corner and stood in front of them and hoped for the best. They didn’t have any defense for them, and all they could do was hope that the bad guy didn’t come in and shoot up their room. For me, I needed a better option. I needed a better plan set in place rather than hunker down and just hope for the best.” Amen!

Toppenish school district Superintendent John Cerna trains at the firing range, instructed and certified by local police officers. (Credit: KCTS9 via YouTube)

Teachers in the Toppenish School District are not armed, but many have expressed interest in being trained to carry on campus. For Superintendent Cerna and his school district, arming administrators is enough for now. Cerna understands if something goes wrong in Toppenish, the entire nation is watching. Still, as prepared as his schools are, he hopes he never has to learn how they would respond to a real active-shooter incident.

Thanks to enlightened, realistic educators like Mr. Cerna, Yakima Reservation schools are no longer gun-free zones. Their children won’t be sitting ducks for the next bad guy with a gun. Any bad guys planning an attack on these schools will become aware of their preparedness. And those who don’t know may learn the hard way. Toppenish School District administrators who are doing a concrete thing to protect their students can be proud. With all the calls from the Left to “do something—anything,” these Toppenish School District folks truly did something, and they did something that actually works.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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