Todd Lamb is a political conservative, former law enforcement official and parent of young children. So the state's lieutenant governor is a good choice to chair the new Oklahoma Commission on School Security. Lamb brings much to the debate over arming school personnel.
“I've exercised the Second Amendment, NRA member, the whole deal,” Lamb recently told The Oklahoman's editorial board. “But when you start putting guns in classrooms, it's more than just saying, ‘Well, are you qualified to carry a weapon?'”
As a member of the Secret Service, Lamb was originally issued a 9 mm. Two years later, agents were issued .357-caliber revolvers. He said the change was made because with the 9 mm “you could hit your bad guy, it goes through the bad guy, through the Sheetrock and hits an innocent bystander in the next room.”
He notes this issue involves more than firearms proficiency.
“You've got to have a really deep understanding, not just training and qualification, but pretty in-depth training on speed, velocity and calibration, what bullets can and can't do inside buildings, inside rooms,” Lamb said.
Legislation allowing the arming of school personnel who complete police-style training has gained committee approval. Such programs typically involve about 240 hours of training on firearms and other issues, far more than what's required for a concealed carry permit.
Several school administrators oppose the bill, but hundreds of teachers and other school personnel have reportedly signed up for free firearms courses.
One size won't fit all schools dealing with security challenges. And without funding for training, this particular discussion may be moot. We've cautioned against knee-jerk reactions, pro-gun or con, in the school security debate. We recognize that the issue raised by Lamb would also apply to armed guards.
What's most important is for lawmakers to be just as thoughtful in developing policies to protect children and bystanders as the Secret Service is protecting the president.