Hawkins: Practical Steps to Keep Schools, Students Safe

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 24: Germany Alech, a Miami-Dade Police officer, stands guard at the front entrance to the Kenwood K-8 Center on August 24, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho visited the school and were briefed by …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If this horrendous week has taught us anything it is that we are past due for a discussion on keeping schools and students safe.

Actually, we need more than just a discussion; we need serious thought and clear steps that can be taken to ensure what happened Tuesday in Uvalde will never happen again or, at the least, will never happen easily again.

At the outset let me note that gun control is not part of the solution, because gun control and “gun-free zone” policies only impact those who are inclined to follow laws and policies. (To put it plainly, gun control curtails the freedom of untold millions of Americans who have nothing to do with a given attack while setting in place rules which the next determined attacker will ignore when he is ready to strike.)

The brutal, unvarnished truth is that school shooters, like all mass shooters, seek out easy targets. So the goal is to make sure schools are not easy to strike anymore.

Four steps can be taken to achieve this goal:

  1. Single entry point for school building
  2. Armed guard (resource officer)
  3. Perimeter fencing
  4. Armed teachers / staff

The single point of entry is crucial, as it is the way that the school controls who comes in and who goes out at all times. That single point should be reinforced, ideally with bulletproof glass around the door. And just inside that single point entry there should be a partial wall, three to four feet in height, behind which the armed guard (or armed resource officer can be stationed).

As for the armed guard, two would be better than one, but the combination of a reinforced single entry point and even a single armed guard presents a strong obstacle to would-be attackers. (In the event that a school has two armed guards, one could be posted behind the partial wall and the single point of entry and the other could roam throughout the school, ensuring that no doors or windows were being opened or compromised in order to help an attacker enter.)

The perimeter fencing should be such that the idea of trying to climb it is unattractive. The fence is the first line of defense and as such, it should be constructed in a way that dissuades would-be attackers from scaling it.

An attacker with the proper determination and time may figure out a way to get over the fence and into a school, even when a single point of entry has been established. Moreover, he may find a way to sneak up on a guard and attack him, thus rendering the guard powerless to do his job. In such a scenario, a perfect storm scenario, the students’ only defense will be their teachers. Thus armed teachers and staff are a must. (Whereas the fence is the first line of defense, armed teachers/staff are the last line.)

We must understand that the attacker’s advantage in a school shooting is not so much the type of firearm he uses but the time he has without armed resistance and the degree of surprise that results from the launch of his attack. When a school or school district is less prepared, the attacker has more time. And when a lack of preparedness shows itself in multiple unguarded entrances, an attacker more easily seizes on the element of surprise.

The four safety measures listed above take away the attacker’s time–an armed guard (or two), combined with a single, well-monitored point of entry, means the attacker should face immediate or near-immediate armed resistance. And should the attacker make it past the armed guard(s), teachers will be the ones holding the surprises.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. Reach him at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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