gun control

Should School Staff Carry Guns?

There’s no question that occupants — including facility managers — are the actual first responders to these episodes.

By Dan Weltin, Editor-in-Chief  

Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, is a small village with less than 8,000 residents just two hours away from me. It’s mostly known for its abundance of trolls (don’t ask) and a nearby cave you can explore. Unfortunately, that quaint town was shattered last month when police shot and killed an armed teenager outside of a middle school, preventing another active shooter situation.  

Most active shooter incidents are over in four to eight minutes, faster than the average police response time. There’s no question that occupants — including facility managers — are the actual first responders to these episodes.  

However, along with these stats often comes a misguided proposed solution: if occupants are the first responders, then they should be armed. Just days before the Mount Horeb news, Tennessee approved a measure allowing school staff to carry concealed firearms in classrooms.  

During a recent “Ask the Expert” session for fnPrime members, speaker Bo Mitchell (who is a current consultant and former police commissioner) was asked about arming facility staff. Bo pointed out that these scenarios welcome myriad issues. If you're authorizing the use of force, staff will need firearm training and instruction on when weapons can/can't be carried. You also need to consider liability concerns. If this person accidentally shoots an innocent civilian during an active shooter situation, the employer will be held responsible and likely pay millions of dollars in restitution. 

Facility personnel are trained to operate buildings — HVAC, lighting, grounds, etc. Yes, they provide safety, but monitoring security cameras is far different than confronting a shooter with a semi-automatic rifle.  

If the worst ever happens and there is a gunman in the school, who is to say that an armed technician, plumber or facility manager will have the courage to run toward the danger? And if they do, what are the odds they have the skills needed to make an accurate shot? According to a recent article in The Atlantic, police officers more often miss their targets in real-life shooting situations. And these officers receive training for such scenarios. Your armed staff does not.  

Arming facility personnel won’t make the building safer and only put more guns in schools. As Bo told our group, if schools want armed personnel at their facilities, hire a police officer.  

Guns aren't always the answer. As demonstrated by Mount Horeb, safety protocols can also work. The active shooter was thwarted by the school's locked entrances, bullet-resistant glass and security cameras inside and outside the facility. 

Dan Weltin is the editor-in-chief for the facility market. He has 20 years of experience covering the facility management and commercial cleaning industries. 

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  posted on 6/4/2024   Article Use Policy

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