As media narratives and gun control debates rage on, it appears the debate’s landscape is shifting in the wake of recent school shootings. Out of that debate, come local organizations that are actually doing something to solve the school shooting problem.
Following the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting, public opinion on gun control shifted away from the typical narrative that civilian ownership of rifles like the AR-15 is the reason for mass shootings and that large-scale gun control measures, like banning all “semi-automatic weapons” is the solution.
Long-term polling trends indicate support for gun control nearly always spikes after a mass shooting, and then fades. But post-Santa Fe, the response was vastly different. According to a poll conducted by Quinnipiac in Texas directly after the shooting, support for gun control actually decreased six percentage points from 55 percent to 49 percent. While this is within the margin of error, it is an entirely different response and is somewhat counterintuitive, as one would expect local support to rise if a shooting occurred in your own backyard.
Could the reason behind the shift in opinion be the weapon used? In the shooting in Santa Fe, ten were killed and many more injured by a gunman who didn’t use an AR-15, but rather a shotgun and a revolver. These are the very weapons former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenOvernight Defense: Trump says ‘no reason’ for South Korea war games right now | Mattis tries to clear confusion | Arizona begins remembrances for McCain | Inhofe poised to take Armed Services gavel Arizona highway signs honor McCain Palin not invited to McCain’s funeral: report MORE encouraged Americans to buy in 2013 while he was campaigning for gun control.
Members of the media have reported on specific shootings differently. After the Parkland, Florida, shooting, coverage of the shooting and advocates of gun control took up large amounts of media coverage. The Santa Fe shooting had a far shorter media response. Is it because the Parkland shooting fit the media’s narrative?
In Parkland, the massacre was committed by a killer with an AR-15, followed by a large number of the students advocating for gun control. In Santa Fe, the shooting was not committed by the weapon so often vilified by gun control proponents. It also happened in a much more conservative area, where there is likely a higher percentage of households that own firearms, resulting in far fewer parents and students allowing the media to use them to push a narrative with which they don’t align.
A shift in opinions on gun control based on the type of gun used and school demographic is undoubtedly interesting, but by itself, doesn’t do anything to solve the school shooting problem.
Children deserve the same protection as our celebrities, politicians, and elites. Given massive political gridlock and unorganized spending priorities, it’s unlikely we’ll see government at any level budgeting large amounts of money for school security. That’s where programs like FASTER Colorado and FasterSavesLives in Ohio come in.
FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. It’s an intensive three-day class that prepares authorized, armed school staff members to stop an active shooter and save lives using advanced medical techniques. Fifteen years ago, Colorado passed a law that allows school districts to choose if they want to let their staff carry, and over 30 school districts have.
The goal is to stop the killing and keep people alive until law enforcement, and paramedics arrive.
Through long, vigorous, and exhausting coursework, school personnel learn firearm techniques and safety measures from active-duty law enforcement officers, including SWAT trainers. They learn methods to use a concealed firearm to stop an active shooter and defend children. Paramedics educate class members on skills like tourniquet application, chest seals, compression bandages, and other techniques. The average response time for paramedics is seven minutes, while it only takes a ruptured artery three to five minutes to completely bleed out and kill an adult.
The people with the best chance to save somebody suffering from massive bleeding are the people on site at the time of injury. In the case of school shootings, that is school personnel.
There are other improvements schools can make to reduce the likelihood of a school shooting, such as an emphasis on mental health and better record keeping. In the Parkland, FL shooting, failure by the Broward Police Department to document threats made by the killer and take action, certainly made the situation worse. Immediately, schools must protect children, and that begins with competent adults who are able and willing to conceal carry to stop the killer, and to provide medical treatment on site.
Local organizations devoted to that goal, like FASTER, are changing the narrative in Colorado and across the country amid a volatile policy debate. When we can’t stop evil actions in advance, a trained staffer can and will save lives.
Elijah Pardo is a research associate at the Independence Institute (@i2idotorg), a free market think tank in Denver, where he works with the FASTER Colorado project, a collaborative effort between the Institute and Coloradans for Civil Liberties.