My heart aches for the families of the 20 children and six adults killed last week in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, and I am frustrated over our failure in America to protect our school children and teachers from future attacks.
Instead of responding to the latest mass murder with calls for more gun control, the real issue should be ensuring the protection of our children and educators from armed psychopaths. Currently, when a killer begins his rampage, the only armed person in the school for at least five minutes after the sound of the first gunshot is the mass murderer.
Training in classroom lock-down techniques is valuable, but passive. Classroom lock-down procedures alone fail to protect the children and adults who continue to be murdered before the police arrive. A police officer in every school is not the answer; a police officer would be the first target of a shooter and the cost would be prohibitive for most school districts.
Lives would be saved by stopping the shooter. Seconds count when the police are five minutes away. It would be simple, inexpensive and enable immediate response after the first gunshot was fired in a school if two or three volunteers in every school (administrators, staff members or teachers), were encouraged to obtain additional training and practice in the use of firearms and were encouraged to have a firearm concealed on their person or locked in their desks. School district employees with prior military or law enforcement experience would be the initial candidates for this voluntary assignment. No one outside of school and district administration would know the identity of these volunteers.
In short, having armed and trained personnel in every school would enable immediate response with lethal force if and when the lives of our children and teachers were endangered by a mass murderer.
If this procedure had been implemented, the number of children killed in every school massacre from Columbine to Sandy Hook would have been greatly reduced. (The same would be true if it were implemented by shopkeepers and mall personnel.) In Israel and Thailand, armed school personnel save the lives of their children. In America, the slaughter of our schoolchildren continues.
This is a call for our school superintendents, board members and principals to face and address the reality that mass murderers are armed with guns, knives, explosives and, as we saw last year in China, even hammers. In 1998 students were killed in Oregon's own Thurston High School. In Sandy Hook Elementary, 26 are dead. The passivist approach of school administrators for the past 14 years has failed to adequately protect our children and teachers.
Candidly, if I were a school administrator or board member and, knowing how these mass murders continue to occur, if I failed to promote preparation for immediate, lethal response in case an attack were to occur in my school, the blood of multiple innocent victims would be on my hands.
The time for passive hand-wringing is past; the time for parents, teachers and other concerned citizens to demand protection for our children and educators is now.
Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, represents District 4 in the Oregon House.