Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

“That’s not a plan.” Arkansas school district trains armed faculty and staff to confront active shooters, refuses the “hide and die” mantra of those cowardly districts that won’t protect students

Written By: Bob - Jul• 30•13


“The plan we’ve been given in the past is ‘Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'” Superintendent David Hopkins said. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, “That’s not a plan.”

Home to an annual peach festival, the town isn’t known for having dangerous schools. But Hopkins said he faced a flood of calls from parents worried about safety after the attack last year at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Hopkins said he and other school leaders didn’t see why the district couldn’t rely on its own staff and teachers to protect students rather than hire someone.

“We’re not tying our money up in a guard 24/7 that we won’t have to have unless something happens. We’ve got these people who are already hired and using them in other areas,” Hopkins said. “Hopefully we’ll never have to use them as a security guard.”

Participants in the program are given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster. Hopkins said the district is paying about $50,000 for ammunition and for training by Nighthawk Custom Training Academy, a private training facility in northwest Arkansas.

The Nighthawk training includes drills like the one Dougan participated in, with various role-playing scenarios involving shooters on campus. Dougan and other teachers in the program practiced using “airsoft” pellet guns, with students wearing protective facemasks and jackets.

“There’s pressure on you, because you’re shooting real bullets if this actually happened,” said Dougan, who has three children attending Clarksville schools. “I was nervous to start, but once it started and I was going through what they had taught us, it just took over.”

The training is narrowly tailored for teachers to respond to shooters on campus.

“That teacher is going to respond to one thing and one thing alone, and that’s someone is in the building either actively or attempting to kill people,” Jon Hodoway, director of training for Nighthawk. “That’s it. They’re not going to enforce the law. They’re not going to make traffic stops. If somebody is outside acting the fool, they’re going to call the police.”

Predictably, the education lobby and some parents are unhappy with Clarksville School District arming up, but I suspect they have little to worry about. Those faculty and staff members being trained are getting what sounds like solid training, and from what they indicate in the article, it is frankly more narrowly focused and realistic than what most police departments will ever train for regarding active shooter scenarios. Moreover, the article says that training will be on-going; it isn’t a one time seminar, which again puts this school district ahead of most law enforcement agencies.

No one is claiming that these educators will be the best defenders, but they’re going to have better situational training than most patrol officers, and they’ll be on-scene far faster.

Their greatest role, of course, is as a deterrent. While it might seem counter-intuitive to reasonable, sane people, the psychology of the kind of person that carries out a school shooting is that of someone that does not want to face the threat of violence themselves. That is the reason they typically commit suicide when police do arrive on-scene, and in most instances, they commit suicide or surrender without the first responders firing a shot.

Realistically, this sort of pro-active response by a school district works in three ways that I can see:

  1. It deters the attack from ever happening. The would-be shooter is dissuaded from attacking at all, because of fears his plan will be thwarted.
  2. It shifts target selection to another “soft” target. The shooter recognizes that this school district is armed, and may shift to another school district, or another type of target. This is what terrifies the citizen disarmament cult. They’re worried that if such programs¬† are successful, then their campaigns to demonize firearms will fail.
  3. It may reduce the total number of casualties. The faster there is a response, the less time an active shooter has to make victims.

Hiding in classrooms and cutting of lights isn’t a school response plan, it’s craven denial and the avoidance of responsibility by adults who refuse to take the lives of their students seriously.

The question for parents shouldn’t be, “why is Clarksville arming their staff?” It should be, “why doesn’t my child’s school district care enough about the kids to invest in the training that could save lives, when we know these kinds of attacks sometimes happen?”

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  1. Orion says:

    How long will it be until a neighboring district sues Clarksville for making their disarmed district a more attractive target?


  2. MollyP says:

    No better teacher or defender than a mama lioness. Keep the kids home.

  3. Mike says:

    And the plan is to arm them with airsoft? Seriously, should have picked a better pic.

  4. Brian says:

    I agree with the arming of school staff. In addition – arm the kids too. Not with firearms, but with baseballs.

    In each classroom there should be two large buckets of baseballs. The buckets should be in corners opposite the door. The buckets should be alarmed such that the kids don’t mess with them. If an armed threat enters the school, the kids get to the baseballs and wait either for help, or for the threat.

    Imagine how difficult it would be to cause mayhem on the face of a hail of baseballs!

  5. matt martinson says:

    i have read your responses. it seems the people that are responding are taking this seriously. ask a parent who has lost there child. i think you would back the supperintendant and his school. it sounds like the most cost effective way to make a school a safe place. they have looked at the facts and made a perfectly correct attack plan that fits in a decent bugget and is practicle. a person who kills innocent children is not looking for a conflict proven fact. if they were thinking that they are going to have a hard time or be stopped before anything escolates. that will make them leave and choose another site. well if everyone participated there would be no place/school to go wear there was a non confrontal area with innocent kids our children around. i have conceal and carry. i would love to take the coarse the school is offering and on going training, then help the school wear my kid is going. i have may own hand gun and time. this now saved money and i have a personal vestment to do things by the book untill the true police are able to get there and do there job. our job is not to hurt and engage or encourage a problem maybe just by being there by site it will stop one shooting or maybe if were lucky all.