Is there a worse idea in the world than arming janitors in public schools?
I don’t think so, but a school board in Ohio had other ideas and voted unanimously to give guns to their custodians.
The Toledo Blade carried the story.
"Sitting back and doing nothing and hoping it doesn't happen to you is just not good policy anymore. There is a need for schools to beef up their security measures," Superintendent Jamie Grime told The Blade today. "Having guns in the hands of the right people are [sic] not a hindrance. They are a means to protect."
OK, so the right people are the schools’ janitors?
"Our main goal is to offer safety for our students while they are in the classrooms and in the building," Mr. [School board President Larry] Martin said. "We have to do something and this seems like the most logical, reasonable course to go with."
Do they have to “do something” and is this logical and reasonable?
I say “No.”
Other than being physically present in schools, what qualifications for carry guns do janitors have? The article says they will be sent to a two-day training course on handgun use given by the renowned Tactical Defense Institute of West Union, Ohio.
This strikes me as a typical “system error” type of response. I have written about this in the past. You can search my blog using the term “system errors” to see the other posts. An unusual event occurs and rather than chalking it up to bad luck or human factors, organizations attempt to correct a “one-off” occurrence with a system change.
Here’s why won’t arming janitors work.
1. Armed guards in schools don’t have a good track record (see: Columbine).
2. The janitor would have to be mighty alert at all times because the crazy guy hell-bent on killing someone has the element of surprise in his favor.
3. Even if an armed janitor serves as a deterrent, which I doubt, what is to stop a shooter from taking out the third grade while they’re outside at recess or getting off the school bus?
4. I assume the janitors will be packing pistols of some kind. Are they going to stand up to a shooter in full body armor carrying an AR-15 Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle?
Where does this end?
What if the next mass shooting is at on a field trip, at a basketball game in a high school gym or at football stadium? How can those very public areas be protected?
The answer is, they can’t.
Just as putting metal detectors in movie theaters won’t stop a determined psychopath, arming a janitor will not stop one from attacking a school. It’s much more likely that the janitor will shoot himself or an innocent person than a crazed attacker.
In addition, there will always be a place that does not have an armed guard. Use your imagination.