Sanford Speaks Out is the latest blog sensation written, edited and produced by Sanford D. Horn, a writer and educator. Sanford will write about issues of the day covering a myriad subjects: politics, education, culture, sports, religion and even food.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Better a Fortress than a Funeral
Better a Fortress than a Funeral Commentary by Sanford D. Horn April 4, 2013
As a strong proponent of armed security in America’s
public, private, and charter schools, the juxtaposition of the news article
written by Eric Weddle and Mary Beth Schneider, “School gun bill raises
concerns,” and the letter to the editor penned by Charles Murray of Carmel “Proposal
to arm school staff members has flaws,” both appearing in the April 4 Indianapolis Star, raises good points
and questions that can be resolved forthwith.
Addressing Mr. Murray’s last question regarding the
consultation of educators in the composition of the proposal for Indiana to
mandate that one in-house staff member be required to carry a firearm, while I
cannot answer his question, as someone who has taught in suburban and
inner-city public and charter schools in New Jersey, Baltimore, and Washington,
DC, my experience dictates that such a proposal is a step in the right
I would offer an amendment to the mandate portion of SB-1,
which was initially designed to “provide grant incentives for school districts
to hire resource officers,” (The
Indianapolis Star, p. 8, 04/04/13). The amendment, offered by State Rep.
Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) mandating the armed in-house employee, should allow for
such action to be taken, but the decision should be left to the individual local
Should such a mandate pass, Indiana would be the first
state in the union to have such a requirement, should Gov. Mike Pence sign the
bill into law. As an aforementioned supporter of firearm toting security on
school campuses, I am not squeamish about a mandate. Giving the option to the local
school districts presents a greater opportunity for such a bill to pass with
To alleviate some of Mr. Murray’s legitimate concerns
pertaining to who should be the school employee to carry a firearm, what about
that person’s absence or eventual retirement, and what about that person’s
close proximity to students in a classroom, I envision security personnel being
an off duty police officer, retired military personnel, or a member of the
Reserves. This is a cadre of available human resources.
As for the cost, another legitimate issue raised by Mr.
Murray, police and Reserve personnel are already paid for by their respective
employers and this would be seen as an extension or continuation of their
duties. The salary of retired military personnel could very easily be absorbed
by eliminating a mid-level administrator.
This is a feasible plan that within SB-1 would set the parameters
of training requirements and the certification of the armed personnel just as
teachers and other educational staff have their certification requirements.
While a rush to judgment to pass any bill simply for the sake of enactment
would be irresponsible by the legislature, so to would not adopting a law that
would provide for the safety of Hoosier children.
While no plan is perfect, nor can one armed security
staff member be in all places at all times, this plan is certainly better than
no plan at all. We are not going to curse the darkness when we are able to at
least offer a flicker of light.
Another point in favor of armed security would be the
potential to reduce home grown or in school violence such as bullying or worse.
Mr. Murray indicated that Columbine had an armed guard and that did not prevent
the heinous mass shooting that occurred there on April 20, 1999. While Mr.
Murray is correct, that should not rule out passage of an amended SB-1. One
failure should not dismiss the potential for myriad successes in preventing
bullying and/or a home grown catastrophe especially with prior disasters as
examples from which to learn and be better prepared.
Securing all entrances and exits along with increased
camera presence will also help prevent another Newtown, CT.
For those who object to passage of SB-1, remember, banks
have armed security guards. Why not where our most precious of resources spend
the majority of their days? Parents should not have to worry whether or not
their child will return home safely at the end of the day.
And for those who object to seeing schools resemble an
armed fortress, better a fortress than a place where memorial gardens are
Sanford D. Horn is
a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.