To whom shall we entrust our safety?


Brandt Siegfried , Online Editor

In the wake of the school shooting that claimed 17 lives in Parkland, Fla., school security has thrust itself to the top of policy agenda. The knee-jerk calls for gun control from liberal reactionaries dominate the headlines as talking heads on cable news jabber. The usual suspects in Congress staged publicity stunts and lawmakers in Illinois even scheduled gun control votes.

This time, however, the shooting is personal for LT students. Previous generations never had to contemplate the best way to protect our schools from people who wanted to enter with the sole purpose of taking lives. Even as our nation falls along its usual dividing lines on the gun issue, we, as high school students, have an important question to consider: to whom shall we entrust our safety?

For the victims in Parkland and the participants at LT’s Feb. 22 walkout protest, the answer is simple: more government. Their supposition is that by enacting stronger regulations on guns, we will somehow have less violence. The passion from student activists is admirable, but it reflects their misunderstanding of school shootings.

If we allow the activists the assumption that gun regulations would indeed decrease violence (studies conducted by University of Chicago academic John R. Lott Jr. and the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy prove that the presence of legally owned firearms actually decreases violence), there is still a flaw in the logic: government.

Time and time again, the government fails to stop school shootings from occurring. If we address Parkland specifically, we see that the FBI failed to investigate the shooter. The shooter also demonstrated numerous warning signs that should have contributed to the urgency of the tip. Tips involving the Parkland shooter should have been passed to the Miami FBI field office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, but “these protocols were not followed.” Why?

Additionally, we have learned that at least one member of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s student resource officer, waited outside until the end of the shooting. He failed in his duty to protect the students.

While well intentioned, the students that wish to entrust their safety to the government are failed by history. While gun control and a student resource officer seem to protect us, Parkland is proof that the government cannot and should not be trusted to protect your life. In fact, Parkland is an example of government failing at its worst. Not only was the FBI warned about the attack, but an armed police officer was present at the school. A designated staff member dedicated to the safety of the students was present, and he waited outside the building until the conclusion of the shooting.

If you’re still not convinced of the flaws of government, look at the Nov. 5 Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting that claimed 26 lives. The shooter was convicted of domestic violence while a member of the Air Force, and his conviction should have barred him from buying guns. The Air Force failed to complete the proper paperwork, which allowed the shooter to buy the weapons to carry out the shooting.

You can craft the best law, but without enforcement, it’s useless. When the government has repeatedly failed to execute the law, I do not understand how a reasonable person could believe the government will do so in the future. I would love to have confidence in my government, but history simply tells me I cannot be so optimistic. Lives are on the line, after all.

Even if we pass stronger gun control measures, the existing track record say the government will continue to fail in their enforcement. That means more shootings will happen, and we’ll lose more lives. I’m open to every idea, but the status quo is not working; I see no indication that our government’s effectiveness will drastically improve with new regulations. Rather than bet on the government to magically reverse its record, I want to entrust my safety in a new option that does not rely on a failed institution of enforcement: armed resistance.

While student resource officers offer a great security blanket for a school, Parkland proves that even having an armed police officer at the sight of a shooting will not always stop it. I know that President Donald Trump’s call to arm teachers is unpopular, but it absolutely has merit.

Only a fool would believe that teachers would show up to school tomorrow morning and be handed a loaded handgun without any instructions; that’s an illogical excuse made by those who see gun control as the only option. Trump’s proposal, at its face, may sound dangerous to the casual observer, but policy to allow armed teachers would be crafted carefully. Utah actually already permits its teachers to carry firearms in school.

Staff members who wish to carry are not only required to obtain their concealed carry license (Illinois requires a 16 hour class and a challenging range exam by a certified instructor), but also complete an additional firearms safety class. LT would know which teachers carry and what type of gun they possess. The guns would be stored securely on the person without student knowledge. The district would have the ability to halt a teacher’s ability to carry without reason. Teachers who carry guns would be teachers who want to carry.

They would be well trained, and possess a background of firearms knowledge. They would be our veterans, former police officers and those whom I trust more than myself to handle a gun. In over five years since Utah teachers were allowed to carry guns to school, I can only find evidence online of one gun accident: a teacher accidentally shot herself in the leg (she was hospitalized and treated). For all the fear the left has created over armed teachers, the Utah program has an excellent track record—a much better record than the government, I should note.

I fully understand the fear behind allowing guns in our schools, but our current solution to entrust the government with safety is failing. It failed the 17 students in Florida. Armed resistance is the only solution I can see that eliminates the need to rely on the government bureaucracy for our lives.

Armed teachers create a situation for a shooter where every teacher is an ungauged threat; anybody could be the one to end their murderous rampage. Currently, LT is a “gun-free zone” where there is no armed resistance. Our school is an easy target, and this is the reason those who wish to kill choose our schools. Armed teachers would make LT similar to any other public location, where law-abiding citizens are allowed to conceal carry guns for self-defense. I genuinely wish this were not the reality of America today, but I cannot think of a viable option to protect us that bypasses the demonstrated failure of government.

Our government fails; that’s obvious. It’s as imperfect as the people that operate it. Student resource officers cannot always be trusted to fulfill their duties. My teachers, the people I trust most in my life, should be allowed to defend my life. When the unthinkable happens, we need a way to fight back; we are completely vulnerable now. The question I have for you is this: to whom shall you entrust your safety?