Op-Ed: This Columbine Survivor Wants Teachers to Be Armed - Why Won't We Try It?


When a former student opened fire on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, he murdered 17 people and wounded 17 others.

David Hogg, one of the surviving students, turned the incident to his benefit and became an outspoken anti-gun advocate. Nowadays, whenever there is a shooting, particularly in a school, someone puts a microphone in front of Hogg to let him call for more gun control.

Why don’t they rush to Patrick Neville for a comment? He is a Columbine High School shooting survivor. Just to recap, in 1999, two students at the school used pipe bombs and firearms (some that they got illegally) to kill 13 people and wound 24 others. They also tried to kill more people with propane tanks.

Neville was a 15-year-old sophomore at Columbine when the massacre happened. Thankfully, he was outside when the shooting began.

“I consider myself one of the lucky ones as I had walked by the propane tank bombs that never exploded at Columbine High School. My friends weren’t as lucky,” he wrote for the Daily Caller.

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“As parents gathered at my old elementary school to pick up their children, I will never forget the look of worry and desperation as my friend’s dad asked me, ‘Pat, have you seen him?’ This father coached my soccer team growing up. He was always calm, direct and confident. He wasn’t that day, and he would never see his son alive again.”

Neville seems like a natural person to get a comment from since he survived the grandfather of school shootings. The problem is that he is also a gun rights activist in the Colorado Legislature.

He said he cried when the recent shootings happened. “Haven’t we learned anything since that tragic day at Columbine?” he asked.

Apparently not, because we continue to turn to the same answers after every shooting: Ban guns. Raise taxes on firearms. Confiscate weapons that people own legally.

Should teachers be armed in the classroom?

Neville points out that Columbine happened after “assault weapons” had been banned. Neither the assault weapons ban nor other gun control laws saved the Columbine students. The other thing that didn’t work was the “gun-free zone” signs around school property.

Neville’s solution to the mass shooting problem is to empower citizens, teachers and parents by adopting policies that would allow them to be armed. Schools are prime targets for mass shooters because they know that no one will shoot back at them.

“If they know they’re going to go in there and face opposition and they don’t know where that opposition’s going to come from, they’ll probably think twice about doing it in the first place,” he told NPR in 2019.

Neville doesn’t believe that teachers should be forced to arm themselves, but there should be training and salary incentives available to those who are willing. In other words, teachers and staff would have freedom of choice.

He has no problem with other defensive measures such as locked doors, tempered glass in windows, site assessments, communication systems and training. They are not controversial, but they aren’t always enacted in each school.

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Politicians are quick to ban weapons when there’s a shooting, despite the fact that such bans haven’t worked yet. Why won’t they take the opposite approach? What might happen if it is made law? If the laws didn’t work, they wouldn’t be any different than current gun control laws, and they could always be repealed.

What we are doing isn’t working. It’s time to try something different.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Michael Letts is the founder and CEO of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship and fundraising programs.