A couple months ago I wrote a piece supporting the maligned Superintendent of a Pennsylvania school district when he ordered buckets of rocks placed in his district’s classrooms. His logic, which as a high school teacher I wholeheartedly agreed with, was that while no one in their right mind wants kids to have to resort to self-defense against an armed intruder, it is better to have something to pelt an assailant with rather than just screams.
I was actually surprised by the negative responses to my defense of Dr. Helsel, mainly because the majority of them were arguing against something I wasn’t saying. I hate it when I can’t or don’t communicate my point well.
No one thinks a kid with a rock is in the superior position to an intruder with a gun.
No one thinks our school security plan should center around kids playing David against a would-be Goliath.
No one thinks that rocks in kids’ hands is a solid substitute for more armed security.
No one thinks that a bucket of stones beats having trained school personnel with access to a gun to neutralize an attacker.
What Dr. Helsel thought, and what I think, is that as a last resort, kids should be equipped to have a fighting chance. Kids throwing textbooks, rocks, desks, staplers, glass shards, whatever they have access to, at the head of an active shooter will provide both resistance (something that every school shooter has avoided), and an opportunity to subdue. Of course it’s not ideal, but it has a better chance of working than cowering in a corner.
Yesterday provided evidence to support this line of reasoning. In the latest edition of what has become a sick fad in America, a young man at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana asked his teacher, Mr. Jason Seaman, if he could be excused. He came back into the classroom with two handguns and opened fire.
According to witnesses, he first targeted a girl in the class who fell to the floor after being shot. Mr. Seaman grabbed a basketball and threw it hard at the young man’s forehead. The shooter’s flinching allowed Seaman an opportunity to lunge at the shooter, tackling him through a storage door. The attacker was able to get three shots off – one striking Seaman in the hip, one through his abdomen, and the other in the forearm. The teacher has survived those injuries.
Seaman’s quick thinking undoubtedly saved a classroom full of students and he deserves every accolade he receives. But think a minute about the basketball (of course in Indiana, it had to be a basketball).
In a fight, gun beats basketball every time, right? Of course it does. But that’s not the point. Without that object flying at the assailant’s head, there is a high degree of likelihood that he would have been able to stop Mr. Seaman’s lunge. The ball flying at his head was unexpected and provoked an instinctual flinch that momentarily shifted the odds of survival for all the innocents in the room. This is the point of having rocks in the classroom.
Other students at Noblesville West Middle School say that they were barricaded in their rooms when Code Red was announced, and had armed themselves with rakes, shovels, and scissors. That’s precisely what they should do, but obviously rocks are more manageable, maneuverable, and able to be thrown with greater velocity and accuracy.
Again, no one would say, “Hey let’s fill the hallways with security guards packing basketballs and rakes to take on an active shooter.” But since you can’t arm kids in the classrooms, shouldn’t they and their teachers have access to something that could give them that split-second chance to neutralize their attacker?
There’s a school in central Indiana that is very grateful Jason Seaman did.