Calls for Arming Teachers and Principals Growing Stronger

In the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, gun advocates are turning up the heat to suggest if the school’s teachers or principal were armed, they would have been in a position to return fire and possibly prevent the large loss of life.  Local Orange County school districts have been dealing with a significant number of calls about security from concerned parents.

In Irvine Unified Schools, there’s a trained and armed police officer at each high school.  Due to the neighborhood school policy which places middle schools and elementary schools close to area high schools, these officers can response to trouble in a manner of minutes.   In Santa Ana, there are 24 sworn police officers and 38 district safety officers assigned district wide.  In Santa Ana, these officers have been responsible for taking away handguns brought to school by students, something that hasn’t happened in Irvine yet but does happen in districts throughout the state.  I’ll confess, I had no idea we had an armed police officer on campus.  But I’m glad those officers are there.

Some Irvine residents don’t think that’s enough and believe that because the Supreme Court has ruled that gun ownership is a constitutional right, that teachers and administrators ought to pack heat in school. And these Irvine residents are not alone.

Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, wants to lift gun-free zone restrictions on schools.  The Libertarian Party has taken the same stance.

“We’ve created a ‘gun-free zone,’ a killing zone, for the sickest criminals on the face of the Earth,” said R. Lee Wrights, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party. “We’ve given them an open killing field, and we’ve made the children of this country the victims.”

From the Libertarian Party’s press release: The Federal Gun Free Schools Zone Act prohibits carrying firearms on school grounds in most cases, effectively criminalizing the right to self-defense in places filled with the most vulnerable citizens. Without that federal prohibition, adults working at the school would have been free to defend themselves, very possibly saving the lives of many of the young children and adults who were slain in this horrific tragedy.

We think that placing more guns in schools’s a terrible idea for a number of reasons.  And we’re not alone.

“Our children are safe in school because we have highly competent skilled and vigilant staff collaboratively matched with equally vigilant, competent and practiced IPD staff,” said IUSD board president Gavin Huntley-Fenner. “We also have comprehensive emergency response and lockdown policy and procedures in place. As for the idea of more guns in schools, I think that a terrible idea. I don’t know of a single law enforcement leader in Irvine who would advocate such a deeply misguided and ignorant scheme.”

If you’re a parent of school aged children, think about their first grade and second grade teacher for a second.  My kid’s had the same second grade teacher who I know would jump in front of a bus to protect her students (and same ones who came back to see her every open house year after year).  But I don’t see her holding a gun much less firing one.  Especially as class sizes get bigger.  More kids mean more distractions and what if a 2nd grader somehow got access to the gun?

If parents want to expand the presence of trainer and armed school police, they should be prepared to pay for it.

The City of Irvine is going to host a town hall on school safety tomorrow night at Irvine High School.  You can find details on the IUSD website.


  1. Has anyone bothered to ask the teachers whether they would even carry a firearm if they were allowed to? I would bet 9 out of 10 would refuse if given the opportunity. Mandating that teachers carry firearms is a bad idea not just for the reasons you stated but because they could never be adequately trained in situations that would present themselves in a school setting. That is assuming they would even feel comfortable carrying firearms.

    What they should train for, and they still do not, is to get students out of the way. Locating clear pathways out of harms way and practicing getting their students to those places is something that would serve schools better, limit liability and would be more likely to save lives than guns in the hands of ill-trained teachers. But, you know what? They won’t do that either.

    Instead, our children will continue to be sitting ducks because all these folks say, “It will never happen here.”

    • “Has anyone bothered to ask the teachers whether they would even carry a firearm if they were allowed to?”

      Many wouldn’t carry – however, the bad guys would not know who does carry and that would be a deterrent.

  2. Officers are assigned to schools, but often must handle several campuses and are not always present during the full school day. The deterrent however, is that they are in and out at various hours and a person planning an attack would never know a set time schedule. Another deterrent in Irvine is our quick response time to emergency incidents. In active shooter cases, officers are trained and equipped to effect immediate entry and deal with the shooter instead of grouping or waiting for SWAT.

    From my dealings with the schools in Irvine, they are not physically constructed for security. Plans for schools do not have to undergo the same analysis and security requirements that all new residential and commerical construction in Irvine does. A proactive approach would be to utilize the Police Department expertise in Security Design/Target Hardening to conduct an analysis of each and every school in Irvine. This Analysis would include entry and egress, security hardware such as alarms/cameras, etc. and most important emergency procedures. Recommendations would be made for changes to harden the targets. The Police Department could work with the School District to find funding through grants and other resources to make the changes?

    While Mr. Huntly-Fenner thinks the District is amply prepared, I can tell him without hesitation that his lock down procedure might have a small impact on a random unorganized attacker, it would not slow down an organized person or terrorist group. Schools would also need to train with the Police Department in these procedures, much like they already do with fire drills. Staff would know exactly what to do and where to go should that emergency bell ring. This is called getting ahead of the curve and we are not there.

    On guns in the schools, on this Mr Huntly-Fenner and I agree. Never for teachers due to the intense training and retraining required. It would also be counter productive to have that many guns on campus? A more logical approach might be a handgun in a locked container in the office of the primcipal. That too, would require a lot of training to develop proficiency and reduce liability. Still there would be a number of principals who would never be able to fire a weapon at another human being, even if their own life depended on it. Guns on campus are not the solution to preparing for attacks.

    • After attending the meeting and discovering the degree to which the partnership between the Police and School district has progressed over the years since I left IPD, I stand corrected. Mr. Huntly-Fenner is correct in his analysis and our schools are light years ahead of other places around the United States when it comes to safety. Congratulations to Chief Maggard and his staff for continuing the outstanding proactive approach with this important stakeholder in the community.

        • There will be no dismantling of Public Safety and who knows, we might even see a few additional Officers on the street? There will however have to be a few cuts made to balance the budget and make up for the additional three million gift to the schools? With the fat in the City budget, it should be all that difficult. Mabye we could lop off a few empty busses from the Larry Agran Shuttle to everywhere?

            • With fish to fry at the Great Park, I doubt any of the conservative three will be missing any meetings. The former council majority will be wishing that they would.

  3. Call me simplistic, but wouldn’t it better if my kid’s school was a safe place to begin with? I’d take small comfort in telling my six year old he’ll be okay because Mrs. Smith is packing heat.

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