ANGLES: Safety or liability: should Augustana hire an armed officer on campus?

Yes, an armed officer would provide an extra layer of safety

klsprout16.jpgKELSEY SPROUT

Virginia Tech. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland.

We know the names.

We’ve seen the familiar breaking news reports announcing yet another tragedy. While gun control continues to be debated, many schools have taken measures to try to protect their students in the event of an active shooter.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 95 percent of schools have active shooter drills and about 93 percent of schools have controlled access to buildings. Some schools have even gone so far as to install metal detectors.

Having armed security officers on campus is just another step that schools are taking to protect their students.

This is not giving teachers guns or asking schools to be turned into prisons. Having armed officers at Augie is providing an extra measure of safety through trained and experienced personnel.

Currently, Augustana Campus Safety officers go through over 40 hours of training each year. The training includes annual certification in the use of an expandable baton, pepper spray and handcuffs.

Despite not every officer being armed, levels of training being required of all officers would increase with the introduction of armed staff.

Campus Safety officers can be adequately trained with the introduction of firearms, many already having experience handling firearms professionally. Augustana looks for Campus Safety officers with experience in other security or law enforcement fields.

“Almost everyone [at Campus Safety] has a background in some type of security operation,” said Rick Tupper, vice president of university affairs.

Right now employees of Campus Safety include one retired law enforcement officer, one retired highway patrol officer, two former sergeants and a former assistant chief of police.

What really makes me believe that Augustana should hire armed officers isn’t the level of training or expertise by Campus Safety officers, it is the precious minutes that tick by while waiting for help to come.

An article published by the Washington Post on March 9, 2018 reported that the devastating events of the Parkland shooting started and stopped within six minutes.

If something were to happen at Augustana, police might not even arrive in time. Frequently cited response times for the Sioux Falls Police Department are three to five minutes. However, it is Campus Safety officers that know Augie’s campus best.

Parents and students alike put their trust into the university and Campus Safety to protect us while we are here, and we should do everything we can to equip Campus Safety with the tools and resources available so that they can do their jobs effectively.

It’s not about turning your friendly Campus Safety guy into an intimidating police officer.

It is about providing ourselves with the best line of defense possible. It is about not having to look back on a tragedy and wish we had done something sooner.

Kelsey is a junior journalism and political science major from Sioux Falls, S.D. 


No, the presence of guns makes campus prone to tragedy


Hiring an armed guard on campus will not prevent violence. In fact, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting violence against civilians is three times as likely to occur in bank robberies where armed guards are present.

So what makes us believe that criminals won’t respond similarly to the presence of armed guards on campus?

Why are we willing to sacrifice student safety to maintain the appearance of a secure campus?

Another issue with an armed guard on campus is the increased odds that someone will be accidentally shot.

In comparison to our currently gun-free university, the probability of an accidental shooting skyrockets with every firearm on campus.

While they may be a trained armed guard, it’s clear to see that training doesn’t prevent human error.

We can also tell from the number of police shootings that training doesn’t mitigate bias.

We need to take a frank look at how authority figures are abusing firearms and consider if we want to go down that road.

Another potential issue with armed guards is the impact they will have on our campus’ culture.

Making our school feel more militarized will only disrupt the vibrant atmosphere that Augustana offers.

Since I’ve listed a plethora of reasons not to have an armed guard, let’s discuss why Augustana wants one. The biggest reason Augustana wants to institute an armed guard is to discourage school shooters from targeting us.

Unfortunately, armed guards are not a deterrent against school shooters. This is because many school shooters plan on committing suicide by their own hand or by police.

A suicidal shooter is not deterred by the inherent threat that an armed guard poses.

In fact, nearly half of the shooters from 1982 to 2018 killed themselves after carrying out the shooting, says the Washington Post.

Clearly, fear is not a good deterrent for someone who has already decided to carry out something that will surely end in their death. School shooters also have a desire to overcome those they see as against them.

An armed guard fuels this fantasy of getting “justice” over those who oppose them.

Armed guards won’t discourage school shooters, but some argue that they’ll stop them from injuring our students. The only problem with that assumption is the belief that an armed guard being able to shoot accurately.

A study conducted by RAND showed that in New York Police Department firefights the average hit rate was only 18 percent. It’s highly unlikely that an armed guard would even hit a school shooter.

Even trained police officers have trouble hitting their targets, so how do we expect an armed guard to do any better?

If armed guards aren’t going to stop or deter school shootings, why should we have one?

If our solution comes with more problems than solutions, we need to go back to the whiteboard and work something else out.

Catherine is a freshman exploring majors from Louisville, Neb. 

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