Deliberative Debates

Should Parker Security Be Armed?


Jack – YES: 

The question of whether Parker should employ armed security guards comes down to the safety of the children of Parker, not to our feelings, not to our irrational fears, and not to our politics regarding gun control.

Armed guards save lives. It’s as simple as that. For those desiring to harm school children, armed guards serve first and, most importantly, as a deterrent. Secondly, should a nightmare scenario occur, they are immediately on the scene and able to employ the force required to subdue a potential threat.

Sadie points to a study of 133 school shootings or possible shootings in which the presence of armed officers did not deter attacks and another survey of 100 school shootings that found no shootings ended by returning fire against the shooter. Yet a quick search of incidents in just the last five years shows neither study grounded in reality. Just a few weeks after the Parkland shooting in 2018, an armed resource officer at Green Hills High School in Maryland shot and killed a school shooter before any loss of innocent life. A few months later, an armed resource officer at Dixon High School in Dixon, Illinois, chased an active shooter from the school, exchanging fire and wounding the gunman before taking him into custody. These are only a few examples that make it clear that armed security personnel have saved countless lives.

More importantly, “a good guy with a gun” can be a significant deterrent to someone wishing to do harm. Notably, the gunman in a mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012 passed numerous theaters before arriving at his intended target, a self-proclaimed “gun-free zone,” which he rightfully saw as a softer target.

But the evidence is far from merely anecdotal. A 2019 study from the Crime Prevention Research Center, relying on 20 years of comprehensive data from the National School Safety Centers and the Washington Post’s database of school shootings, concluded that not one single shooting-related death or injury has occurred on the property of a school at which school staff is armed. Not one.

It’s not a question of whether a school shooter will be confronted with deadly force; it’s simply a question of timing. “Gun-free zones” are natural targets for shooters because shooters know that they can cause greater carnage in those zones before they are inevitably confronted by good guys (police) with guns.

We can’t wish away the problems of gun violence in America. We can’t wish away guns. We can’t wish away the Second Amendment (there is a clear and easy process to amend or abolish it). Most importantly, we can’t wish away evil. But we can protect the children of Parker without letting gun politics cloud our vision.


Sadie – NO:

When it comes to the nationwide fear of violence in schools, is the proposed solution implementing equal force to counter the opposer? 

We all know the saying “to fight fire with fire,” as said to us by an overwhelmed and overworked parent who attempts to stop two siblings from bickering. But I urge you to think of the simple saying in a more widespread way. Fighting fire with fire leads to a spiral of violence, compelling each side to respond with force to protect themselves. 

Think about it like this: countless nations worldwide have nuclear weapons but have not recently or ever used them because of the concept of mutually assured destruction. If one country uses nuclear weapons, the other country will respond in kind, causing unacceptable levels of destruction for both sides.

And while the globe understands the threat of fighting fire with fire, many American citizens and politicians support the National Rifle Association’s position that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”, Just hours after the Robb Elementary School shooting on May 31, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blamed Democrats for politicizing the horrific incident to advance discussions about gun access. To Cruz, the answer is simple. “We know from past experiences that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus.” 

Is it true that schools will be safer if they turn their fears into a solution? No. 

Whether it’s anecdotal evidence or broad-based research, there is little to support Cruz’s claim. The presence of security hasn’t definitively deterred attacks in the first place. “We don’t have any rigorous causal evidence that says armed guards reduce school shootings or school violence,” said Matthew Mayer, a professor at Rutgers University who studies violence in educational settings. Another 2021 JAMA Network study conducted by researchers at Hamline University and Metropolitan State University in Minnesota examined 133 school shootings and attempted school shootings from 1980 to 2019. No studies or research were found that conclusively showed that the presence of armed officers deterred attacks on schools.

I also must address the obvious: in the case of a school shooting, it’s undeniable that more shots will be fired, likely injuring more innocent people, especially if someone is engaging the shooter. And, it’s more likely for active shooters to stop firing on their own. As prior research from the ALERRT study suggests, many school shooters are actively suicidal, intending to die in the act so that an armed officer may be an incentive rather than a deterrent. But, if that doesn’t sway you, ALERRT also found that, in the 100 school shootings they studied, none were brought to an end by armed staff, guards, or police officers returning fire. These shootings most commonly ended when the shooters were restrained by unarmed staff.

So, while arming school security personnel has been proposed as a solution to the problem of school violence, the approach is misguided and ultimately ineffective. Aside from the presence of firearms in schools, which can create a culture of fear and mistrust, if schools nationwide armed their security, it would escalate violence rather than resolve it. 

As a country, we cannot arm our way out of tragedy. Instead, we should focus on implementing stricter gun control and regulation, mainly because the United States stands out for its high levels of gun violence. Firearm homicide rates in the US are 13 times greater than in France and 22 times greater than in the European Union. And despite the hue and cry for stricter firearm laws, lawmakers that tried to limit access to guns have met with criticism for violating the rights of citizens protected by the Second Amendment. So, while Jack argues that “there is a clear and easy process to amend or abolish it,” according to Newsweek, the United States Constitution, written in 1787, has only had 27 official changes, although there have been more than 10,000 proposed over the decades. So no, I wouldn’t say anything about the amendment process being “simple.” 

But, while we fight against the violence guns bring to our nation, let us, at least, not fall to the level of those who terrorize students, educators, and everyday civilians. Adding guns to schools wouldn’t increase the feeling of safety — it would do the opposite.