February 21, 2018

If you've ever read any of my other articles, you might be aware that I am a former federal agent. And though I do not speak well of my former employment, there are a few things that the U.S. Border Patrol did do well. Firearms training in the patrol was by far one of the best.

I base this off of my observations as a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) graduate. While at FLETC, I was able to see firearms training from a multitude of other agencies (Marshalls, Immigration Inspectors, Bureau of Prisons, Customs, Capital Police, etc.) and compare. This is not to say that others were not adequate or even excellent, but the level, variety and amount of time spent training on firearms was immense in the patrol's academy.

We practiced outdoors, in the rain, in the heat, in the cold, in the dark, in the sun...any and all conditions. We purposefully trained as if our dominant hand was injured, as if our gun jammed and as if we had to switch to a long arm. We trained on revolvers, semi-auto handguns, shotguns, M-16's and M-4's. We trained shooting from the hip, fully extended, one handed, two handed, kneeling, standing and everything in between. We even trained using those video simulators with good guys and bad guys jumping out at us.

By far, the best training was obstacle shooting. We started by sitting in a car when the buzzer rang. The course required we shoot so many shots from the vehicle, then kneeling behind the door we simulated a jam and had to clear it and shoot more rounds, then sprint to a mailbox and pick up a shot gun and fire, then to another obstacle and another gun and so on. Those with the best times continued to compete until the best was found. Out of 35 agents, I won. Both times.

But for all those hours we officially trained, I trained more on my own. I worked with expert instructors in my off time and made sure I that maintained that after the academy during my career. For the record, the patrol requires agents qualify every quarter whereas others agencies only require semiannual or annual training refreshers. Our training lasted the full day and always included those "what if" scenarios.

But regardless of the amount of training I had or how well I did, I never thought I was an expert or that I would be the one to survive a shootout. Why? Because with all that training, I obviously never had to train while being shot at. It was training, pretend. I knew I was not in danger. So how could I ever be 100% sure that I would survive much less be the hero. I couldn't, and neither can anyone else.

During my time as an agent, I witnessed agents who were excellent with firearms and some that were even instructors for years who made mistakes. Just so we are clear, a mistake with a gun is not simply a mistake. It is often deadly. I've known agents who shot themselves in their own hands, their legs, had their weapons taken from them and even fired what they thought was an empty weapon only to be mortified to find out it wasn't. I lost many friends who I knew to be excellent with firearms. Some had been shot by their own weapons.

This idea to arm teachers to protect students would require that level of consistent, thorough scenario based training. Teachers would have to carry those weapons on their persons and not in their purses or briefcases. They would have to be aware of that gun at all times, not allowing students or other teachers near it should they hug them. They would have identify the shooter and be able to decide whether or not to shoot when innocent students and others are around. What if their gun jams? What if they themselves are injured? What will they do if their gun gets taken away? What will they do when they empty their clip and they failed to stop the shooter? What happens when the police arrive and cannot identify the shooter? Will the teachers be shot? What happens when the shooter buys protective gear and the bullets don't stop him?

I can always tell when someone has little to no firearms training. Like Trump, they say stupid things like, "Just arm the teachers with guns to stop the shooter." People like this have watched too many movies. It is not that simple. It is not that easy. Most rounds that cops fire in a shootout fail to stop the perpetrators. And those cops are trained. A defensive shooting class doesn't make you an sharpshooter. If you think does, you are woefully mistaken.

This administration and the republican lawmakers won't spend money for education, but they want to train teachers to become police. Really? Do they know how much the guns will cost, the bullets, the training, the gear required to carry the weapons? Do they actually intend to spend taxpayer dollars on weapons in our schools as opposed to education? How much time do they think teachers have? If teachers wanted to be sharpshooters, would they not have been cops in the first place? Do they actually intend to spend taxpayer dollars on weapons in our schools as opposed to education? Of course they do, because the NRA pays them to do so.

It is the government's responsibility to protect its citizens from physical harm, not the responsibility of educators. Even Paul Ryan's obnoxious heroine, Ayn Rand, has stated so, "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence." If our government is unwilling to do this, it is no longer a just government "of the People, by the People, for the People."

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