As students and teachers across the country head back to school, we must always consider all options to keep everyone safe. Our leaders in government should be doing everything possible to protect our children, and that includes allowing and supporting, trained, licensed teachers and administrators to protect themselves and others.
Violence is a sad reality in the world in which we live, but we must take every precaution to protect our children from it. People who are intent on committing evil acts are going to pick easy targets on which to inflict harm and we know that because it’s happened far too often. Just about anywhere without maximum security protocols in place can be vulnerable to an attack.
As we saw recently in Jacksonville, a day of fun and friendly competition turned into a bloodbath leaving two dead and 10 injured. The Jacksonville shooting took place in a so-called “gun free zone” where law-abiding citizens were not allowed to protect themselves.
We can no longer take our safety for granted in public places, so it is imperative we find ways to protect ourselves and our families.
Responsibly armed Americans with concealed-carry permits have been the front lines of defense against evildoers because they have the necessary knowledge, training and experience to protect those around them. In an emergency situation, seconds matter, and a well-trained, responsible gun owner can save lives in an active-shooter situation.
Most of all, a criminal is less likely to go after a population that can and will defend themselves. We need these responsible citizens to be the first line of defense and should allocate appropriate resources to ensure they are ready and able to protect our children.
A number of school districts across the country in states like Colorado, South Dakota, and Texas are already allowing trained school officials with concealed carry permits to bring their personal firearm to campus in an effort to ramp up school security. The federal government should be supporting those efforts and ensuring every possible option is being considered to keep our children safe.
Our president has said that he supports policies that allow trained teachers to carry firearms on school property, for the purpose of defending students if the school should come under attack. He also expressed his support during a meeting at the White House with survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
Currently, the Department of Education is considering policies that would award grant money for firearms training programs for teachers. This would be a huge step forward for school safety, especially if it were implemented nationwide. Many teachers and school administrators already have concealed carry permits and are ready and able to respond to threats.
Some of these teachers may be former military or law enforcement, or simply citizens with an interest in personal protection. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should see that school districts have access to these funds and can put real defense initiatives into practice immediately before tragedy strikes again.
Congress should also act to strengthen school safety policies. Their help is needed in clarifying federal law to explicitly allow federal money to go to these programs.
Too many lives have been lost because schools are soft targets where those inside don’t have the ability to protect themselves. Time and time again, we have seen the failure of policies like “gun free zones” that have left too many people harmed or dead, making real change more important now than ever.
There needs to be an honest conversation not only about what causes these mass shootings, but what steps we can take to save as many lives as possible.
Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, and may be contacted at Press@USCCA.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.