Finn: Shooting leaves schools wondering how to protect themselves


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Gun Control Protest

Taylor Finn

It is a sad day when something as catastrophic as a school shooting goes unnoticed by so many individuals. Mass shootings are becoming so prevalent that on Jan. 15, CNN spent more time reporting on Jennifer Lawrence’s fashion mishap than talking about Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, N.M., that was shot up by a twelve-year-old kid earlier that same day. I will save the issue of the relevancy of today’s news for a different column. What I think is a more important topic to discuss is the brave history teacher, John Masterson, who was able to stop the shooter from causing even more damage in the New Mexico middle school. He was able to accomplish this due to training he and the rest of the Berrendo staff had previously received.

The question of how we as a society should deal with mass shootings is a debate that has been hashed out over and over again, and will continue to be on the forefront of many political agendas for years to come. Some will argue that the best solution is to give everyone a gun and let the best shot survive. I think that is an insane idea, but I probably shouldn’t be so judgmental. Another theory is to improve the mental health in America and attack the problem at the root. Now, this makes sense and sounds like a great place to start, but unfortunately it is impossible to take care of every mentally ill individual in this country and people are bound to slip through the cracks.

A solution that is more effective and practical than those previously mentioned is accepting the fact that these shootings are possibilities. Instead of hoping we are never involved in something as horrific as a mass shooting, we become realists and learn how to react to these types of situations.

Perhaps I have a slight bias towards the issue because my dad currently makes a living by training hospitals, schools and other companies on the proper procedure people should follow if a shooter, or any violent individual for that matter, enters the building. His company is called Safe Zone and they provide on-site training that strengthens the participants’ ability to plan and respond to an emergency, better positioning themselves to handle the unimaginable.

Apparently my dad and his coworkers are not the only people who share this thought process. The staff at the Berrendo Middle School had previously been trained by a company called Defense Tactics Solutions in order to learn how to take on an attacker. This company trained the faculty to defend themselves, escape dangerous situations, fight and disarm an attacker and protect the children. Teachers of all ages were receptive of this training, and although most would agree that it is devastating to think about a shooter in a building full of unarmed students, the training they received made them feel much more prepared should a tragic event, like a shooting, occur.

The training obviously paid off because the staff at Berrendo responded just as they should, with bravery, confidence and the determination to keep the students safe. Masterson was a prime example of how effective defense trainings can be. He stared down the barrel of a gun, held by a mentally unstable 12-year-old boy, and was able to talk him down and get him to put down the weapon. After that, he put the shooter into a hold against the wall until police arrived. His bravery, combined with the knowledge he gained from the defense trainings, saved many lives.

With results like these, I think it is time that we toss the idea of arming everyone who is physically able to hold a gun. We should start taking the necessary, precautionary measures to defend ourselves and protect those around us, without having to carry a firearm. I am not of the opinion that all guns are bad. However, I do believe that increasing the number of guns being carried is not a way to solve the mass shooting epidemic that we are currently witnessing. Carrying a gun is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Before the government decides to grant the right for everyone to publicly carry a firearm, I think it would be wisest for them to research alternatives, such as the trainings received by Berrendo staff.

It is my hope that schools across the nation realize the value of these defense courses and start investing in their students’ safety by giving faculty members proper training. I am optimistic that the mindset will change, and people will see the power behind arming individuals with knowledge and confidence rather than deadly weapons when dealing with these dangerous situations.