“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






»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

school employees.”

In other words,

America’s educators

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



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.

Participants are:

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

willful misconduct.”

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

teaching them.



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.



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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

shooting begins.

“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

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 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

their success.”



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