- - Monday, August 26, 2013

The Arkansas Christian Academy in Bryant, Ark., is making national headlines after it announced that some staff members will be armed with guns. It’s about time we have an institution that is finally standing up and protecting our children and, hopefully, it won’t be the last. In fact, every schoolteacher in America should be armed in the classroom.

How many more times are we going to hear about a crazed gunman walking into a school armed and ready to kill? How many more innocent children need to die before we wake up and prepare our teachers to fight back? The only solution is self-responsibility: Arm school officials, and give them a fighting chance. Besides, a gunman is less likely to target a school where its staff can defend it and fight back.

Every second counts in a school shooting. Calling 911 and waiting for police to arrive isn’t good enough. Sheriff Chuck Wright of Spartanburg, S.C., says, “Don’t be so naive to believe the police can be everywhere.” Then there was Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., who recently created a national uproar for urging citizens to learn how to handle firearms so they can defend themselves. He says, “Simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.”

Arming our teachers and training them how to use a firearm properly will translate to fewer heinous acts taking place. Tragedy happened at Columbine High School, it happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and it almost happened at a Georgia elementary school last week. The one place you can bet it will never happen: Arkansas Christian Academy.

If we look back at Sandy Hook last year, first-grade teacher and hero Victoria Soto, who was fatally shot after hiding her kids in a closet and telling the gunman the kids were in the gym, might still be alive had she been armed and able to defend herself. So could a lot of other children and teachers who tragically died that day.

Then there was the Pearl High School shooting in 1997, where a student killed two classmates and injured seven others. An assistant principal who was armed intervened and held the shooter at gunpoint until police arrived. Most probably, he prevented more people from being killed.

Just last week outside Atlanta, Michael Brandon Hill allegedly walked into Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy with an AK-47 and enough ammunition to take out half the school. Luckily, Antoinette Tuff, who works in the front office of the school, was able to talk him down. What if she hadn’t been able to? This had the potential to be one of the worst school massacres in history.

I think that very shortly, carrying a firearm will become more common among teachers and school administrators. If teachers aren’t comfortable with that, they may need to find a new profession.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to take such measures. In the meantime, though, critical thinking suggests that we all exercise our Second Amendment rights, arm our teachers and school officials to ensure the safety of our children, voice our support and keep a close eye on anti-gun crusaders who want to make our decisions for us. A school should be a safe haven where children can learn and grow. Right now, arming teachers is the only practical solution.

Steve Siebold is author of “Sex, Politics and Religion: How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America” (London House Press).