I ought to be doing about a gazillion other things, but people are being stupid on the internet. I must answer! Mustn’t I?
Anyway. So the NRA, which really ought to know better, claims to think that armed guards in schools are the answer.
Do me a favor, any rational human being reading this. Think of the schools you went to. Think how each was laid out, how long it took to get from one end to the other.
Let me offer a visualization. This is a K-8 here in Tucson. Nearly nine hundred kids, and at a guess, two hundred adults.
Now imagine a security guy patrolling in that building by the school bus (bottom left). He’s–oh, let’s be generous, he’s on the first floor. He’s armed because that’s what the NRA suggested.
Is he carrying a rifle? Not blinking likely. His weapon is almost certainly a pistol.
For reference, this.
That’s a Glock 22 .40 caliber. It’s an excellent weapon, and it’s not cheap. Over $600 new, and we all know security guards are not highly paid, but hey. We’re being generous. Maybe our security guy is an off-duty police officer, picking up extra Christmas money because we don’t pay them well either. So he’s better trained than most security guards too.
So security guy has himself a nice Glock, which most experts will cite as one of the best makers out there. Reliable, well made, holds 15 rounds and one in the chamber, which only an idiot keeps one in the chamber unless he believes he’s about to be defending himself. So no, he doesn’t have one in the chamber. Fifteen shots and a back-up magazine. So thirty shots.
Security guard, off-duty cop, is on the far side of campus when a gunman walks in the front door.
Gunman’s got his own Glock, just like Newtown and Aurora, but he’s also got this.
(If you follow the link the video presents, you’ll hear about how politicians love dead kids. I wouldn’t, but it’s your choice.)
Let’s say our gunman isn’t really prepared. He hasn’t practiced, so he can only fire at half that rate. He doesn’t remember when he was in school 5-10 years ago, so he comes when kids are all in classrooms rather than passing period. He walks in the front door and an office lady (say, five-foot-me) tries to stop him. He bashes her with his rifle and keeps going. Comes to a classroom door, walks in and starts shooting.
At :40 in that video, the man has fired 240 rounds (standard is thirty rounds in the magazine, so it might be more bullets fired, but it’s not likely LESS). At half that rate, our gunman has fired 120. In forty seconds.
Office lady managed to stagger into the office and tell someone. The call goes out for a lockdown, and the security guy comes running. He’s lucky (we’re being generous!) and the classroom windows are open, gunman has his back to the window, no students in the way–security guy is able to shoot the gunman through the window (a helluva feat with a handgun, but we’re being generous and he’s just that good) an incredible forty seconds after the gunman entered the classroom.
Hey, security guy is an Olympic-qualified sprinter.
We’ve still got up to 36 dead kids in that classroom.
Let’s go a little farther.
The teacher is armed. Take a moment to shudder in horror at some of the teachers you’ve known being armed, then imagine Mr. Smith writing history notes on the board when someone starts shooting his students behind his back. He lunges for his desk, where his gun is in a locked drawer.
Bang. He’s dead. 20-30 students quickly follow, before the security guy shoots the gunman.
One more. Mrs. Nelson is a little more paranoid–her gun is in a holster on her hip. She’s standing at a student’s desk, helping him with something.
She’s the heroic sort, as many teachers are. Rather than using the student as cover while she unsnaps her holster and brings her gun up, she tries to shield the eleven-year-old.
Bang. The kids are unprotected.
What if the gunman comes during passing period? 900 students in the halls. He could easily kill a hundred before they got away. And then the security guard is struggling through all those terrified kids trying to get to where he’s needed.
What if the shooter is wearing body armor like the Aurora shooter, and an easily-obtainable helmet as well? Security guy has to get a lot closer to that luckily-open classroom window. Time enough for the shooter to leave the room in search of more victims.
There is precisely one scenario where I see an armed guard preventing any deaths–if he sees the gunman come onto campus and is close enough to stop him.
How freaking likely is that?
“Okay, but he could keep the shooter from killing a second classroom-ful of kids!” Well, yes, if he gets there fast enough. But what else could happen?
What if security guy is less than professional and leaves his damn gun in a student bathroom? What if a teacher does? My principal is awesome in many ways, but she has so much on her mind she is always losing her keys, her radio, her cell phone… I mean, at least once a day.
What if security guy is a volunteer with an automatic weapon (hold the trigger down and it keeps shooting till out of bullets) and a history of violence and/or child molesting?
“But the gunman won’t go there at all, because he knows he’ll be shot!” Columbine, Virginia Tech, Oak Creek, Newtown…Aurora is the exception here, with a perpetrator left to face whatever measly justice we can impart. These guys aren’t looking for a long life.
“But he wants body count! He doesn’t just want to die!” It’s a man with a handgun who doesn’t know when or where trouble will come versus a shooter carrying an AR 15, with a plan for how to kill all he can. Where are you going to place your bet?
“But Mrs. Nelson is a fast draw! She’ll get him!” Has she been spending hours a week at the firing range, practicing ‘quick draw to perfect first shot,’ on top of grading papers, writing lesson plans to reach 150 very different learners, holding parent-teacher conferences, attending IEP meetings, and continuing her education?
Has she really? When does she sleep?
What really pisses me off here is that the people insisting that “just arm everyone!” is what we need to do are supposedly people who know about guns. Then why don’t they know how hard it is to shoot a handgun through body armor? Or how difficult a head-shot is? How unsafe it is to have a gun carried by someone who doesn’t want it in the first place and won’t take proper care?
That holding a gun doesn’t make you and everyone around you bullet-proof?
I’m a writer, damn it. My gun experience is firing a couple hunting rifles twenty years ago. If I know these things, why don’t they?
And if they do know this, how the fuck to they justify putting their weekend toys above the lives of children?
“But we need our guns to protect us from the fascist socialist black man!” Really? REALLY?
Fine. You need your guns to protect you from the government.
You need this
to protect you from this.
Let me know how that works out for you.