The mass shooting that took place at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School on February 14 of this year sparked a fierce debate among liberals and conservatives with regard to the best way of protecting American schools. Another attempted mass shooting at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland may have just ended that debate.
Early Tuesday morning, March 20, 2018, shots rang out within the halls of Great Mills High School. An armed student was able to shoot two classmates before being confronted, engaged, and neutralized by the school’s armed resource officer. The alleged shooter, a 14 year-old male, was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. One female victim is listed in critical condition while a male victim is listed in stable condition.
Great Mills High School was placed on lockdown while students were transported to nearby Leonardtown High School in order to be reunified with their parents and/or guardians.
Both Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School and the Great Mills High School had armed resource officers however, there is a stark difference in how these two scenarios ended up with such drastically different outcomes.
Great Mills’ resource officer was on the scene when the shooting began and appears not to have hesitated for an instant in executing his duty to confront the shooter. At the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School, the armed resource officer was not on the scene when the shooting began and decided to hold a position outside of the school while listening to the gun shots ring out from inside.
The resource officer in Parkland, Florida decided to wait for backup even though he was trained to confront the shooter immediately, as it is clearly stated in the Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s training manuals. Excerpts from Broward County’s training manuals are posted below:
“History shows that when a suspect is confronted by any armed individual (police, security, concealed carry person) they either shoot it out with that person or kill themselves,” the materials state. “Either way, the shooting of innocent bystanders must stop.”
“Now, the first officer or two officers on scene will immediately go to confront the shooter. Military tactics work well in this situation. The two man ‘bounding overwatch’ is our response.”
The difference is distinct and hard to overlook. Great Mills High School was staffed with an adequate armed resource officer while Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School was not. This is precisely why many conservatives have been arguing for retired police officers or military veterans, those with extensive firearms training as well as those who have engaged a live shooter in their past, to start being employed as armed resource officers for America’s schools. This way when a similar situation arises they immediately fall back onto their training, which is confronting and neutralizing any immediate threat to human life.
The armed resource officer at the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School was not prepared to confront the shooter, which was possibly a major contributing factor in the staggering loss of 17 students.
President Trump has called for a “hardening” of American schools in an effort to protect America’s schoolchildren and prevent the next potential Columbine-like event from ever happening again. Liberal Democrats have reignited their war against the Second Amendment and have even been mulling over gun confiscations as a means to prevent the next school shooting, as misguided as that maybe.
Formal guidelines for armed resource officers must be drafted in order to maintain uniformity for those schools that choose to do so. Those guidelines must include that the armed school resource officer remain on campus until all students have left the school.
As we saw at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School, a shooter could very well attack after the last bell has rung however, often times students remain inside for extracurricular activities among other things. All students should feel protected at all times while inside their school. If a student is inside of the school, the armed resource officer should be as well. That should be their primary duty and no other calls should take precedent over the constant protection of the school.
We use guns to protect our money in transport, but not our children. We use guns to protect our money while as it sits inside of a bank vault constructed of 12 inches of steel, but not our children. We use guns to protect our politicians, but not our children. We use guns to protect ourselves, but not our children while they attend school.
As we have just learned in Great Mills, Maryland, a good guy trained with a gun is the best remedy for a bad guy with a gun. Making schools “gun-free zones” will only turn them into targets for those whom wish harm upon our children. It is time to take the President up on his suggestion to harden American schools.
When a live shooter situation occurs, seconds matter. It could take up to ten minutes for officers at a police station to be dispatched to a school. When seconds matter, waiting minutes is out of the question. When a live shooter situation occurs, someone must immediately be on the scene in order to properly engage the shooter and neutralize the threat. Not in ten minutes, not in three minutes, but now.