“I would bet that the four defenseless
teachers who were murdered in Newtown
while shielding their children from the killer
would take a stand today and argue that an
effective tool be made available to prevent
more deaths.” -Joe Kalil
Protecting our Students and Teachers
BY RICK SAPP
JANUARY 2014 WWW.USCCA.COM
JANUARY 2014 WWW.USCCA.COM
»ON DECEMBER 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza
murdered 20 children and six staff members and wounded
two others before committing suicide at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
On April 16, 2007, 23-year-old Seung-Hui
Cho murdered 32 people and wounded 17
others before committing suicide on the
campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.
On April 20, 1999, 17-year-old Dylan Klebold
and 18-year-old Eric Harris murdered
13 people and wounded 24 others before
committing suicide at Columbine High
School in Columbine, Colorado.
Everyone dies. Children die in automobile
accidents, from disease, sometimes from
neglect. But children should never die at
the hands of murderers who invade their
schools…and neither should the adults who
are teaching them.
Barring some wholesale change in society,
some enhanced system for detecting
the murderously mentally ill or just plain angry,
should teachers and administrators be
armed in order to prevent school shootings
such as those noted above
The NRA says the only way to stop a bad
guy with a gun is to have a trained good guy
with a gun present…two or three if possible.
“I call on Congress today to act immediately
to appropriate whatever is necessary
to put armed police officers in every
single school in this nation,” NRA
Executive Vice President Wayne
LaPierre said, in a well-publicized
public statement on December 21,
2012, a week after the Newtown
school shootings, “and to do it now
to make sure that blanket safety is
in place when our kids return to
school in January.”
But Americans are bogged
down, as they are on so many
issues, about the idea of guns
in schools. The National Education
Association, the NEA,
summarized a poll of its
members, saying that “educators
support stronger laws
to prevent gun violence
and resoundingly reject
the notion of arming
In other words,
want to put their
collective heads in
the sand…and keep
them there on this issue,
perhaps stopping violence
with a sign that says,
“No guns allowed.”
To put this in perspective,
bicyclists are protected
in a similar manner, by
sloshing paint on a highway
and calling it a “designated bicycle lane.”
In 2011, 677 cyclists were killed and 48,000
were injured by motor vehicles in the U.S.
A school is a confined area. Plenty of potential
(and if the NEA has its way, helpless)
victims are confined inside. Is there a model
for a self-defense program that works in such
a restricted environment
THE FEDERAL FLIGHT
DECK OFFICER PROGRAM
There’s no more confined environment
for most of us than a seat in the cabin of a
commercial airliner. After the 9/11 attacks,
the Federal Air Marshal Service began
operating the Federal Flight Deck Officer
Program, or FFDO, because on any given
day only two percent of U.S. flights have
armed marshals aboard and there are approximately
5,000 commercial planes in
the air over the U.S. at one time.
Under the FFDO program, commercial
pilots, flight engineers, and navigators
may carry firearms. (The stewardess ain’t
packin’.) They are sworn and deputized
Federal Law Enforcement Officers and are
authorized by the Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) to use firearms to
defend against acts of criminal violence
or air piracy undertaken to gain control
of their aircraft. (In other words, they are
not armed to settle disputes among drunk
and unruly passengers.) Their legal action
is, however, limited to defending the flight
deck of the airplane.
There are rules, restrictions, and training
requirements to the FFDO program.
Volunteers who serve without additional
pay or reimbursement.
Required to remain anonymous.
Issued credentials, badges, and firearms.
Federally trained in the use of firearms,
use of force, legal issues, defensive tactics,
the psychology of survival, and more.
Training lasts for a full week and is physically
Twice-a-year firearms requalification is
The Federal Government considers further
information about the FFDO program
“Sensitive Security Information” and not to
be disclosed publicly.
The legal issue is important, however,
and according to TSA: “A federal flight
deck officer shall not be liable for damag-
es in any action brought in a federal
or state court arising out of acts
or omissions of the officer defending
the flight deck of an aircraft
against acts of criminal violence
or air piracy unless the officer is
guilty of gross negligence and/or
So if the FFDO shoots at a terrorist
attempting to take over an
airplane and a bullet wounds a
passenger, the FFDO can’t be sued…unless
of course the FFDO was drunk or the
wounded passenger was an aggravating
ex-spouse (in which case all bets are off ).
The FFDO program has now been in effect
for ten years and has trained more than
15,000 flight officers.
Everyone dies. Children die
in automobile accidents, from
disease, sometimes from neglect.
But children should never die
at the hands of murderers who
invade their schools…and neither
should the adults who are
EXPANDING THE MODEL
Can the armed pilot model be successfully
translated to the school environment Many
people, among them two enthusiastic law
enforcement officials from Kentucky, Constable
Joe Kalil (who is also a pilot) and Sheriff
Michael Helmig, both of Boone County, believe
that it can. In fact, these two men have
taken what they know about the program
that helps protect commercial airliners and
developed an agenda for schools. They call it
POST, “Protecting our Students and Teachers.”
POST, like the armed pilot or FFDO program,
relies on volunteers and there would
certainly be no pressure to participate. Volunteers
would be school employees: teachers,
librarians, administrators, staff, school
nurses, bus drivers, or even custodians. The
volunteer first completes a written application
and passes an in-person interview.
They submit to a background
check and drug test, and must possess
a concealed carry permit prior to
attending a 5 ½-day (47-hour) training
course. (Screening volunteers in
the same manner as law enforcement
officers gives the program legitimacy,
Joe Kalil says.)
Professional training for POST consists
of several parts. Part one is a
four-hour introduction, an overview of what
will be taught, and why.
The core of the training is 43 hours in
length, says Kalil. It includes classroom and
range time covering matters such as use of
deadly force, mindset, fundamentals of
shooting, precision shooting, shooting on
the move, shooting from cover, multiple
target engagement, and more.
Training concludes with a qualification
course of fire, as well as a half day of FATS
(Firearms Training System) simulations and
a half day of scenario options using airsoft
guns in an actual school.
JANUARY 2014 WWW.USCCA.COM
THE ISRAELI CASE
Train for competence
Train for confidence
Combine the training
cartridge with one of our
elctronic targets for an
indoor range experience.
Many colibers available,
starting at $99.95
Available at your local dealer.
On May 15-16, 1974, three Arabs—Ali Ahmad Hasan al-Atmah (27), Ziyad
Abdar-Rahim Ka’ik (22), and Muhammad Muslih Salim Dardour (20)—murdered
22 children and three adults and wounded 68 others at a school in Ma’alot before
being killed by Israeli Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s special forces.
Following the 1974 massacre of children in Ma’alot by Muslim terrorists, Israel
beefed-up security in and around its schools. Today, schools are fenced. To enter,
one must show identification to an armed security guard at a locked gate. When
classes take field trips, armed security guards accompany them.
It is a popular misconception that many teachers carry firearms either openly
or concealed in Israeli classrooms.
Indeed, Israel has a more restrictive gun policy than the U.S. Only soldiers and
those with licenses may carry a gun, and rifles such as the AR-15 or AK-47 are
banned except in special security zones such as the West Bank.
Typically, only retired officers qualify to own a gun after serving in the army and
those who do have guns are taught to guard them carefully. Soldiers who take their
weapons home must have them on their persons or under lock and key at all times.
Losing a weapon may earn a jail sentence. An Internet commentator mentioned a
friend who left his gun in his car because he was “just running into a mini-mart.” By
the time he returned, the gun was gone. He spent six months in jail.
And self–defense, in what is arguably the most dangerous region on earth, is
not a sufficient reason for civilian firearms licensing. Neither is hunting popular
in Israel (perhaps because there is so little to hunt; the region is dangerous and
there are religious rules about killing in a kosher manner). Thus, it would be
extremely rare to find someone owning multiple firearms like in the U.S.
Volunteers are required to re-qualify
semi-annually and take a one-to-two-day
refresher course in the summer prior to the
beginning of each school year.
“We designed this program,” says Kalil, “to
serve as a starting point. I expect each independent
school district to take ownership,
and modify it to suit their philosophy and
need. We’ve gotten suggestions for training
that would last from three to ten days. We
designed POST based on 5 ½ days.”
Kalil believes that a 5 to 10 percent participation
rate would result in a highly successful
program. That level of participation
would provide deterrence with posted signs
on school doors that advertised, “This school
participates in the POST Program. Teachers
and staff may be armed on this campus.”
That, he believes, would deter most shooters
because they are seeking publicity with
a high body count—not a fight.
The second benefit of the program is immediate
armed response. “Imagine an assistant
principal, a school nurse or guidance
counselor as well as a couple teachers in
your local school carrying their concealed
weapons. They may very well be able to interdict
a shooter before he (or she) is able to
harm our children.”
Kalil argues the POST program will be effective
even if a school already has a School
Resource Officer. “Officers are not always
present on campus,” he notes. “They could
be sick, attending training, at lunch, conducting
a home visit with the principal or
on the other side of the campus when the
“And our county is probably typical. We
have 10 School Resource Officers to work in
24 schools…and that’s not counting private
institutions. We also have to consider that
the SRO may be the first person targeted
and, if the shooter is successful, he (or she)
now has at least one additional weapon.
“Since the identities of POST volunteers
would not be publicly known, except to
the school administration, the SRO, and the
local police or sheriff’s department, a shooter
would not know who is armed and from
what quarter to prepare his defense. You
have to remember that the 20 children and
six staff members in the Newtown shooting
were all shot within three minutes!
“POST is a team concept. Volunteers and
the SRO would be trained to work together
to provide a layered defense for the children.
In this way it is similar to airline security.
Plenty of checks, from before a person enters
the airport until after they are seated and fasten
the seat belt.”
For additional information on this program
and to complete a survey about the
topic, readers may visit www.POSTky.org.
For background on the operation and success
of the FFDO program, a number of Internet
sites give relatively accurate (though
highly opinionated) information such as
www.secure-skies.org which writes: “Broadly,
the TSA bureaucracy is built to obstruct
FFDO applicants, while the FLETC [Federal
Law Enforcement Training Center] tactical
program in Artesia [New Mexico] (which is
not operated by TSA) is designed to promote
JANUARY 2014 WWW.USCCA.COM