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Harden The Target – Keep Kids Safe at School

As a Virginia Tech alumnus and a Colorado resident, I am all too familiar with the devastating active shootings on both college and high school campuses. In 1999, Columbine High School was the tragic site of a mass shooting where 12 students and 1 teacher were murdered. In 2007, 27 VT students and 5 faculty were killed. Both tragedies garnered national attention, but for most kids in schools across the country, very little has changed.

The latest shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has extended the violence to Elementary Schools. Sadly, the aftermath follows the same pattern with finger pointing, blame placing, and still no solutions. We expect this tragedy to remain in the news cycle for about two weeks and then disappear. Everyday Americans are tired of placing their hope in politicians, with the expectation that they will take action to keep our kids safe in school, without real change. We’re disappointed with the same old rhetoric around gun control and the need for new laws on the books. Guns always seem to be the easiest target. Unfortunately, this doesn’t address the roots of the problem. If history is our guide, it also offers little hope of actually protecting our kids at school.


The States with the strictest gun laws, like California, also lead the nation in active shooter incidents. An FBI Report on “active shooter incidents” in 2021 shows that California ranked #1 with 6 tragedies (10% of all incidents). The organization Everytown for Gun Safety noted that California also ranked #1 for gun law strength. So, it would seem there is no correlation between the number of gun laws and the prevention of criminal gun activity.


FACTS MATTER


These Facts are even more revealing:


Over 94% of public mass shootings take place in “gun free zones” (CrimeResearch.org).

Over 60% of public mass shooters were diagnosed with a mental illness or had demonstrated signs of serious mental illness (Study on Mass Public shootings by Grant Duwe).

Over 75% of the school shooters since Columbine were raised in broken homes, with most experiencing an environment of child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, and severe neglect (Heritage Foundation).

Over 70% of school shootings were carried out by kids under 18 years of age.


It seems that the criminals aren’t paying attention to the laws, no matter how many we pass.

I was truly encouraged when I saw Matthew McConaughey visiting the White House this week. Not because I put any value in messaging coming out of Hollywood, but because I think he is a stand-up guy who loves America and wants us to be our best. Uvalde is his childhood home, and he cares deeply about the residents there. He expressed deep compassion for the victims and told their stories so their lives would not be lost in vain – that they would matter. I love that message. He even shared some ideas that nearly all of us agree with. He said “We need to invest in mental healthcare, we need safer schools… we need to restore our family values; we need to restore our American values.” But then he offered more of the same old failed strategies for gun control that have proven ineffective. In other words, they don’t work.


McConaughey also strongly stated that “responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals.” This statement resonates with law abiding citizens who take protecting themselves, their families, and their communities very seriously.


TURNING-POINT CONVERSATION


Twenty years ago, I had a “turning-point” conversation with my wife about gun ownership. She did not grow up with guns in the house, so she was understandably fearful of the idea. We had 3 little boys in the house, and she was concerned that they would be at risk. But when I asked her what I would do to protect the family in the event that a criminal with a gun broke into our house, that got her attention. I told her that while I would sacrifice my life for her and the boys, it would be unlikely that I could stop an armed intruder without a gun, allowing the criminal to do unspeakable things. Soon after that conversation, I bought my first firearm for home defense. Since then, I have become very proficient in how to handle it, secure it, and even conceal carry today. My wife and all four of our kids are also now very capable of handling a firearm for self-defense.


Responsible gun ownership is not the problem. And more gun laws are not the solution. In fact, pursuing more gun laws as the primary solution is simply adding to the insanity of doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.


HARDEN THE TARGET


The most obvious solution to keeping our kids and teachers safe in school is to “harden the target.” Hardening a target means you strengthen the security of a location to deter, prevent, or delay an attack and improve your ability to defend against and destroy a threat. It makes a location look more difficult and unattractive to the “bad guys.” Many schools are “soft targets”; in other words, criminals see schools as targets where they can do maximum damage with minimum resistance. Gun-Free School Zone signs almost attract criminals.


Alarmingly, the spokesperson for the President of the United States said that hardening schools is not a priority for his administration. In other words, he is unwilling to take decisive action to make our schools safer. Ironically, he and every other elected official is protected by the very guns he wants to ban Americans from owning. We think this is hypocritical at best.


WE PROTECT MOST WHAT WE LOVE MOST


The day we protect schools the way we protect stadiums is the day this ends. We provide multiple layers of security to harden “soft” targets that we care about. We have security plans and forces who protect travelers at airports, customers at banks, and fans in stadiums. Yet the Federal Government and many local governments still will not make this priority number one. We say we care about our kids the most, and yet we are leaving them vulnerable to violence when we drop them off at school.


BRING IN THE EXPERTS & SOLVE THE PROBLEM


There is no reason that we can’t solve this issue before schools reopen in the fall – IF we want to. To that end, our team of experts weighed in with some simple and effective steps that PARENTS can take right now to get school administrators, boards, and local elected officials to pay attention and find solutions to keep our kids safe.


Here’s the team:


Eli Crane – Retired Navy SEAL, Founder and CEO of Bottle Breacher

Mark Walker – Retired Navy Seal, Founder of Acumen Performance Group

Brian Stutes – Retired Marine, Owner TAC Response Solutions, Security Expert


STEP 1 – CONFRONT THE OFFICIALS


Violent school incidents are now foreseeable and that makes every school administrator, board member, and local official responsible, accountable, and liable. Download the Free “Take Action Now” School Safety Resource from our website, show up at the board meetings, and walk them through what we expect them to do.


STEP 2 – CONDUCT A THREAT ASSEMENT


Every single school must conduct a comprehensive Threat Assessment to expose vulnerabilities, develop solutions, and develop a plan to take action.


STEP 3 – HARDEN THE TARGET


Based upon the Threat Assessment and recommendations, specific actions must be implemented to harden every single school. The top 4 recommendations are typically:


1. PLAN - Create a detailed “Active Shooter Plan” and train extensively.


2. LIMIT ACCESS – Control access to a single point of entry.


3. ARMED GUARD – Post an armed police officer or school resource officer outside & inside the school.


4. INSTALL CAMERAS & CONNECTION – Install & monitor cameras and connect with local law enforcement.


Many schools across the country have already taken these steps, and more, and have secured the safety of their kids and teachers and improved their ability to prevent and respond to incidents if they arise. The comprehensive plan will result in a complete list of actions to take to prevent future tragedies. These steps serve to empower parents everywhere to make sure another tragedy at a school never happens again. Our kids and teachers do not have to be sitting ducks. We must solve this together, now!


*Note: Here are resources for school safety training courses and examples of schools taking action: FASTER Colorado; FASTER Saves Lives in Ohio; Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, IN; Laurens County Schools, GA; Clarksville School District, AR; and Manatee School for the Arts, Palmetto, FL.


Jimmy Page is the Founder of the Unstoppable Freedom Alliance and advocates for freedom, the revitalization of culture, and the fulfillment of the American promise. He is an author of several books, sought after speaker for companies, churches, ministries, conferences and events, man of God, and freedom fighter. He’s been married for nearly 30 years and has four adult kids. You can follow him on Instagram: @UnstoppableFreedomAlliance and find free resources online: UnstoppableFreedomAlliance.com. Join the movement and become a Freedom Fighter today.


  • school shootings

  • gun control

  • harden schools

  • arm teachers

  • Joe Biden

  • gun free zones

  • gun laws

  • mental healthcare

  • Second Amendment

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