Ohio School Board Votes to Arm Janitors, Who Are Not Exactly Armed Guards

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The White House may be signaling to gun-rights advocates that it will offer funding for police in schools, and more teachers may be signing up for gun training, but this could not be what anyone had in mind, could it? The school board in charge of a large K-12 school in northwestern Ohio has voted unanimously to allow its four custodians to carry firearms. As Montpelier superintendent Jamie Grime told The Toledo Blade, the board sees the move as a way to prevent incidents like the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut: "Sitting back and doing nothing and hoping it doesn't happen to you is just not good policy anymore. There is a need for schools to beef up their security measures," Grimes said. "Having guns in the hands of the right people are not a hindrance. They are a means to protect."

But are custodians "the right people," the kinds of "good guy with a gun" pushed by the NRA in its plan to put armed guards in every school in America? In nearby Lima, Ohio — about two hours away — an editorial letter pushing the idea of arming custodians ran in The Lima News on Tuesday. Loyd Harnishfeger pointed out the idea: 

Why the custodian? The choice is obvious. First, they do not have a classroom full of children as their first responsibility as teachers do. Secondly, they are free to roam the halls and have the keys necessary should the need arise to enter a locked down room or area. Thirdly, unlike the administrators, they are not needed for quick decisions regarding evacuation, coordination with first responders, etc.

In a story in The Washington Post today suggesting that the Obama administration may support putting more police in schools, Sen. Barbara Boxer says schools should hire "officers" if they want to. But armed guards, of course, don't always magically make school violence go away: Columbine had an armed guard, and the shootings at Fort Hood occurred on an American military base. Just yesterday, at a school in Taft, California, the on-duty armed guard was "snowed-in" on the day of a shooting on campus, as a classroom supervisor and a teacher talked the gunman down.

Multiple reports suggest that training "average citizens" to defend shootings can prove disastrous:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.