‘We’re Not a Soft Target’: Ohio School Superintendent Arms Teachers
As violence continues to surge amongst America’s youth and both politicians and civilians hotly debate gun control, an Ohio school superintendent has decided to start arming his teachers.
John Scheu, superintendent of the Benjamin Logan Local School District, has trained and armed nearly 20 faculty and staff members in his district in order to respond to active shooter incidents and protect students. Scheu had implemented a similar program in the nearby Sidney City Schools district 10 years ago. In a recent interview, he explained why he decided to arm teachers, even though he says he’s “not a gun person.”
According to Scheu, the idea originated in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Scheu worked closely with his county sheriff to bolster campus security across the district, upgrading security cameras and reinforcing doors and locks. “But the Sandy Hook situation showed us that we can have the most secure buildings in the country,” he said, “and if an active shooter wants to come in and do that kind of carnage to students, they can, so that’s when we sat down and came up with the plan that had an armed presence trained by the sheriff’s department.” Scheu explained that school board members were told by the sheriff that it could take up to 15 minutes before a deputy was able to arrive on the scene in the event of a shooting, and agreed that “time is of paramount importance” and greenlit the formation of armed response teams.
“The policy we came up with is one to train volunteers — secretaries, custodians, teachers’ aides, principals — to either conceal carry or have an assigned firearm that’s securely stored and available to them in the event of an active shooter,” Scheu explained. “They go through intense training and are the first line of defense if there’s a shooter. They don’t help the police once they arrive — they’re instructed to put the threat out as soon as possible and retreat as soon as law enforcement identifies themselves.”
Scheu also noted that, while teachers have had mixed reactions to the programs, parents have almost unanimously supported it. He said that “the parents overwhelmingly have supported the armed response team, so we feel pretty confident that the community in general is supportive of having a trained and qualified armed response team to back up our school resource officers and the police.”
Many teachers, according to Scheu, expressed concern over the program, insisting they’re trained to educate children, not to serve as law enforcement. The superintendent responded, “I understand that, but what I go back to is no one is being forced to do this, and every one of these people are very, very committed to protecting their fellow teachers and students in the unlikely event of an active shooter.”
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council commented to The Washington Stand, “School children should enjoy the same level of protection we require for our most precious assets. As a country we have watched the disappointing responses to active shooter situations in Parkland, Florida, and Uvalde, Texas in contrast to the heroic response of the police in the Nashville, Tennessee, massacre. Allowing willing and trained teachers and staff to serve on an armed response team is a reasonable and praiseworthy endeavor.”
Although Scheu admitted that the chances of a school shooting occurring are relatively low, he added that having trained, armed adults on campuses acts as a deterrent. Schools in his district now have signs warning that active shooters will be met by an armed response team. He explained, “By putting up signs telling people, it’s not that we’re bragging. It’s just a matter of telling people we’re not a soft target. Do not pick us to do your carnage.”
Kilgannon agreed. “The ‘school shooter’ is a result of the breakdown of the family and the rejection of God,” she told TWS. “The disturbed coward who would attack school children is looking for a ‘soft target,’ making ‘gun free zones’ in schools very attractive. Armed response teams will be a deterrent, and if worst comes to worst, they can respond immediately to an attack. Parents want their children to learn safely in excellent schools.”
Armed response teams on school campuses are growing in popularity across the U.S. For example, the Mad River school district, also in Ohio, is reinstating a once-active armed response team, and several school districts in Indiana are in the process of training teachers to participate in armed response teams in the near future.
State legislators are also funding the effort, at least in part. As of June, there are 33 states that legally permit teachers to carry firearms on campus and in the classroom. The armed response team program in Ohio’s Benjamin Logan Local School District went into effect at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.