Guest Commentary

False school shooter alarm in Missouri shows it’s time to arm teachers

Willard, Mo., High School freshman Bradley Cooper (left) and Sen. Josh Hawley
Willard, Mo., High School freshman Bradley Cooper (left) and Sen. Josh Hawley Submitted photo

When I was in high school, we had a fire alarm, and that was the only alarm. There were millions of guns in America back then and of course we had the Second Amendment — but mass school shootings were virtually unheard of.

The active shooter alarm recently went off at Willard High School in Willard, Mo., near Springfield. “Hard lockdown — this is not a drill! Hard lockdown — this is not a drill!” repeated over the school PA system, sending students and teachers into complete chaos.

Sixteen-year-old Willard junior Raelyn Schapeler described the experience: “The school has false alarms of different kinds all the time. This time the teachers took it a lot more seriously, but instead of following any sort of organized protocol, they started yelling and freaking out. Everyone was in a total panic. Kids were banging on doors and trying to get into rooms that wouldn’t let them in. Everyone was so scared and panicked, and this feeling continued throughout the day even after the apologies from the office.”

“A hard lockdown shakes people, especially when we see firsthand that our teachers and administrators don’t really have a plan for those kinds of situations,” she said. “If a real intruder had been in our school that day, with kids walking in and out of the building, people running around and teachers falling apart, someone would’ve been hurt.”

The alarm went off before school hours, but Willard has conducted drills only for what to do during classes — not before or after, or during lunch. Even while the alert was sounding, students continued to come into the school, potentially putting more lives at risk.

Another Willard student is 15-year-old freshman Bradley Cooper. Bradley worked on Josh Hawley’s campaign for U.S. Senate, and at age 12 volunteered over 100 hours to Donald Trump’s campaign for president. He hopes to be a U.S. senator one day. Until then, he wants to take action to ensure the people we elect work for us and represent us in our government. After witnessing the alarm at his school and the ensuing havoc, Bradley wants to do everything he can to bring awareness to this issue.

“When you see kids banging on doors in tears trying to get into their class and teachers covering students coming off the bus, you have to do everything you can to try and fix the problems,” he said. “This is a big issue you don’t really fully understand until you’re running in the school parking lot wondering if you’ll ever come home and see your family again. I want to help push for teachers to be able to conceal carry and for schools to be prepared for potential attacks at all times throughout the day.”

I completely agree with Bradley that all of our teachers should have the option to train and conceal carry at school. Numerous times we have heard stories such as that of Scott Beigel, who died shielding students from bullets at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman High School last year. These are heroic but tragic events. So let’s give our teachers a chance to stop the killers rather than just sacrifice their lives.

The National Rifle Association’s School Shield is an outstanding program offered free of charge to schools to help them with school security, including best practices in security infrastructure, technology, personnel, training and policy. It’s absurd that some school administrators and teachers put their students at greater risk and decline this free help from the NRA because of their own personal political opinions.

Criminals do not respect gun-free zones and criminals do not obey gun laws. The NRA School Shield program is focused on real solutions that will protect America’s children.

Bradley continued: “I’m thankful my school administration is open to working with me to make sure next time we are prepared. I feel it is my duty as a student to do everything I can to make sure schools across the nation are prepared. Teachers should be able to get the proper training and have the ability to carry on campus. We can solve these problems all while protecting our freedoms secured by the Second Amendment.”

Ryan Moore is a writer, social media strategist, songwriter and lifetime NRA member.