Time to Reconsider School Security

Letter to the Editor by Representative Tony Wisniewski of Post Falls

These comments are in response to the Kootenai Journal Facebook post, “Large Scale Active Shooter Drill,” dated June 12.

Recently, two law enforcement officers in Uvalde, TX, were charged with multiple counts of abandoning or endangering a child, which placed students “in imminent danger” of injury or death. During that incident officers waited in hallways for over an hour before action was taken against the armed intruder who murdered nineteen students and two adults. This event further highlighted the need for emergency response teams to switch from the “wait for backup” model to “neutralize the intruder ASAP.”

I recently attended a presentation from the National Threat Assessment Center, an agency of the U.S. Secret Service. Of the dozens of school shootings that they have studied in detail, 83% of the shootings lasted less than five minutes. Sadly, this is less time than the average police response time. There are two possible solutions to this predicament. The first is to have School Resource Officers (SROs) at every school, which is a costly endeavor and is not sustainable for most schools. The other is to have highly trained staff at the schools that carry concealed weapons. Idaho Code allows staff to carry firearms in schools at the discretion of the school district. There are several districts that are located far from law enforcement that currently permit certain staff members to discretely possess firearms on school premises.

House Bill 415 was proposed this year in the Legislature but failed in the Senate; it would have allowed school staff members to carry concealed if they had completed an enhanced concealed weapon training course. The law would also require the “Gun Free Zone” signs removed from all K-12 public schools. One of the major objections to the bill was that these individuals do not have active shooter training.

It is time to reconsider options that provide the necessary school security without the risk of causing more harm than good.