Is gun control the answer? Many are divided in a debate that sparked after the Sandy Hook school shooting where almost thirty people were killed. Most agree something has to be done. One man who travels the U.S. conducting training seminars says he has a solution.
What do you think? Can something you learn in a class keep a gunman from walking into a school and taking as many lives as he pleases? This course isn't English Lit. or American History. This is something brand new. It's called Intruderology, teaching teachers how to keep themselves and their kids from being easy prey. So what should a teacher do when she knows a gunman is seconds from finding her and her students unarmed and helpless in a classroom with no way out?
"What we see in these mass killing events, police are responding very rapidly but these killers are moving quickly. So if you can delay the attacker you have the opportunity to save lives," explains the teacher of the course, Brad Spicer. Spicer is a former state trooper and SWAT team member.
He says one of the biggest mistakes is putting kids under desks and hoping the gunman won't come in. "We see an extraordinarily high fatality rate because it's no resistance."
Spicer says teachers should run, evacuate to safety, even if that means escaping with the kids through a window. If that isn't possible he says hide behind a locked door. No lock? Create one with a belt, computer cable, flag rope or telephone cord. "You can loop it around the handle or look at this hinge at the top of the door. Another option is you tie it off up here (at the elbow hinge) and then you also loop it down here (on the door handle)," explains Spicer.
Tying off the door handle and pulling the belt or cord tight worked every time in Spicer's demonstration. The training seminar, put on by Harris County Department of Education, also teaches administrators how to deal with a killer who comes to their school.
"Just monitoring who's coming in and out of the building on a regular basis. We do that every day but to make sure we do it at the highest level we can," explains Tomball ISD Assistant Superintendent Chris Trotter.
Spicer stresses once a gunman is inside the building fighting should be a staff member's last resort. He says chairs, trash cans, fire extinguishers and even throwing heavy books, all make good weapons when you would otherwise be empty handed. "The shooter is not expecting that," says Spicer. He says school shooters are expecting to be the hunter finding easy prey. Spicer suggests teachers turn the tables. Barricade the door or doorway with everything you can except yourself. "If you use your body to support a barricade they're going to shoot at the barricade," says Spicer.
If you classroom door has a lock Spicer suggests you keep it locked and use a specially made magnetic strip on the door so kids can come in and out. That way in an emergency you just rip off the magnetic strip and the door is locked, instead of fumbling around with a key trying to lock the door with shaky hands and a racing heart when a gunman is seconds away from your classroom.
"Don't get me wrong he's got the gun you don't. It's still a really bad day but you've mitigated his ability to come in," Spicer explains.
A school shooting is a tragedy most don't even want to think about. Doing that Spicer says is dangerous and is a luxury we just don't have anymore. "Like when I walk in this room now I count the number of exits that I see to get out. That's what I learned here today," says Calvin Singleton, principal at High Point North alternative school.
Spicer says seconds matter and the longer the gunman can be delayed, the more lives will be saved. He says being prepared mentally is a big part of the battle. So teachers should visualize their safety plan then carry it out, if necessary.