Thursday, February 20, 2014

Packed house hears pitch for arming NKY teachers

This from
A standing room-only crowd filled the Boone County Public Library Wednesday night to hear a proposal to arm teachers to prevent school shootings.

Boone County Constable Joe Kalil pitched his proposal to train teachers to carry concealed firearms. The sheriffs of Campbell, Kenton, Boone and Grant counties joined Kalil on stage in support.

“Once the gunman is in the school, the one thing that counts more than anything else is time,” Kalil said.
Kalil, an airline pilot and firearms trainer, has proposed the Protecting Our Students and Teachers (POST) program to train teachers and school staff to carry a concealed firearm on school grounds.

Kentucky law allows school boards to decide who, if anybody, carries a firearm on campus. So far, officials are not aware of any school allowing this. Some school boards and education associations have expressed reluctance and have safety concerns.

Kalil and POST program supporters are hoping for a first school board to step up. They plan on presenting the program to local school boards.

“We use guns to protect the president, Congressmen, sporting events, banks, office buildings, courts and airports,” Kalil said. “And your children get a ‘No guns’ sign.”

Kalil envisions about 5 percent of a school’s teachers would be armed. The teachers would be volunteers and schools that participate would have a sign alerting people that teachers and staff are trained and armed.

“By putting a sign on door teachers and staff on this campus are trained and armed, we believe that a shooting will not occur,” Kalil said.

The law gives school boards discretion on how they would structure the program. The program devised by Kalil in cooperation with the Boone County Sheriff would offer polygraph tests, drug tests, background checks in addition to the training.

Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn spoke on stage in defense of the program and said it will increase response time in a shooting.

“The first minute or so, there’s one person with students, whether it’s a maintenance worker or teacher, if there was at least one of them armed, it is a considerable deterrent,” Korzenborn said

A large portion of the 400 people who showed up seemed to support the program based on applause Kalil received when he estimated 20 percent of the people had guns.

“We are in a room right now with 20-25 percent of the people carrying guns, and you should not feel threatened,” Kalil said.

Dakota Richter, a senior at Dixie Heights High School in Kenton County, stood up on stage and said she’d feel safer with armed teachers.

“I’m also heading into the military,” Richter said. “I want to serve my country, but I can’t do that if I don’t survive high school.”

Mark Johnson, a sixth grade teacher at Ockerman Middle School in Boone County, left the meeting with the hope that school districts would implement it. Johnson, an Army veteran who has a concealed carry license, said it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“If we are waiting three minutes or five minutes for 15 cops to show up and you have five teachers that are armed out of 100, you have a much better chance of doing something of stopping and preventing someone from shooting,” Johnson said.

Some left the meeting undecided.

Joe Hamelin, who drives a van for special needs children for Boone County Schools, said the program has merit, but he wants to know how it would affect liability coverage.

“We’re in a situation fiscally now where we can’t even afford to buy our children books,” Hamelin said. “By the same token, they’re right, the only person who’s going to stop a person with a gun is a person with a gun.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm pretty sure that Sheriff Charles "Chuck" Korzenborn was a student of mine at Kenton County's R. C. Hinsdale Elementary School in the 1970s.


Anonymous said...

I personally am not against having someone armed at a school in order to protect students. I am also somewhat aquainted with what carry and conceal training, having had family members complete a process which is much more about filling out various stages of forms over an extended period of time than it is about any real training which would prepare a person for dealing with a shooter.

Just like all things which seem to be being dumped on teachers in the absence of trained personnel to address the need, what is the liability when something goes wrong? If I am a teacher with a gun, am I suppose to leave my students unattended and start running toward the sound of gun shots and leave my students unsupervised during a shooting event? Worse yet, do I really want to be running around the building with a gun in my hand when police are converging on the building looking for an active shooter?

Richard Day said...

Following Columbine in the spring of 1999, the Fayette County Public School Administrators met to discuss security protocols for various kinds of imagined armed intrusions. John Toye had been our district law enforcement division head honcho for a while. He asked if anyone was armed, but he also reminded us that it would be a violation of policy if we were. Jack Lyons the Principal of Morton Junior High and my next-door-neighbor was a concealed carry instructor. Others had permits. For a moment folks just kinda looked around the room. …waitin’ to see who might be carrying, I guess. We reviewed our protocols, and then went on with our administrative agenda. But it was not long before Toye surprised us when approximately 15 police officers in swat gear executed a full breach. I’m not sure everyone’s well suited for that kind of charged environment, and I’m not anxious to encourage friendly fire. If there are a bunch of guns in the building - unless I’m the guy carrying the gun - I’m not sure how much safer I should really feel.