Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Defending Our Kids

Murdered former SEAL Chris Kyle had been working on setting up a program to help educate and train Texas teachers. The famed sniper sought to assist teachers in acquiring Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs) as well as offer them special training that would help them offer students the best protection possible in the case of an "active shooter" scenario.

Since his death, several such classes have been conducted. They started small, but some of the latest classes neared 1,000 teachers.

The Texas 83rd Legislature passed a law that would allow teachers to carry concealed handguns in schools. There are several key provisions that must be met. First and foremost, a candidate for the special license must already have a valid CHL. The CHL application process includes criminal background checks and a course that covers the "Section H" laws, safety, and marksmanship.

To use the special license, the teacher must work in an Independent School District (ISD) or school that does not have a full-time armed security professional or police officer on site whenever children are present. Currently, only a handful of ISDs in Texas have applied for and met that criterion. However, many ISDs and schools have a listed position or a program in place, but do not, in reality, have that full-time position actively manned. In many ISDs, the enforcement officers assigned that duty are also doing truancy investigations and other duties.

The special license also requires some additional training that is just common sense. Teachers need to know how to best protect the children, first. In many cases, that would preclude the teacher from using the firearm without endangering the students. They need to know and practice possible scenarios so they can make that hard choice, should the situation warrant such. They need to know how to insure they have a clear shot. They need to know how to control the students to keep them out of harm's way. Sometimes, guiding the students to a safe location will take precedence. The safety of the kids is the paramount goal. Playing "Dirty Harry" or "John McClane" should be avoided. This requires training and practice.

In the late Chris Kyle's name, associates of Craft International and the Chris Kyle Memorial Fund have started rolling that ball. Dalworthington Gardens Police Chief Bill Waybourn worked with Chris to develop the program. Now it is an active course offered through Firearms Training Fort Worth.

The program and course need not be limited to teachers in those ISDs that qualify. It is a good class for every teacher, teacher's aid, school counselor, and principal in Texas. The course isn't just about guns and shooting guns. It's first priority is the protection of the students, keeping them from being harmed. Even if a teacher isn't armed in the classroom, the class will grant important insight.

Take a scenario in which there is an armed guard at the school. Say an active shooter still manages to gain entry and terrorize the school. The course will enable teachers to keep the children safe(r) and out of the way so the armed guard can do his job in reducing the threat. The class teaches basic ballistics and tactics that will give teachers advantages in avoiding such a gunman (or other terrorist criminal). Knowing basic tactics will aid counselors in dealing with the potential fallout, particularly in regards to "at risk" youth. In addition, the courses will assist teachers in gaining their CHLs for off duty time. The course creates options.

The class costs $500 per student. That includes range fees, administrative fees, and other costs. The course has been offered for free in the past. This is a cause worthy of support.

It's for the kids.