Oren Shemtov, CEO of Israel’s Academy of Security and Investigation, noted that attacks typically happen in a matter of minutes, and said gun-toting teachers could, at the very least, buy time for kids to escape while police race to the scene.
Shemtov, a veteran of Israel’s security services who has been teaching security methods for 22 years, praised the Newtown teachers who gave their lives trying to protect children, but lamented the fact that they weren’t able to shoot back when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults before shooting himself in the head as police converged on Sand Hook Elementary School.
“We need to give them the tools to be heroes,” Shemtov said. “No one wants to be a hero. They did what they had to do.”
Security consultant Dov Zwerling, an Israeli counter-terror police veteran, believes armed guards are crucial for school security.
“From what I know of almost all of the active shooter events in the U.S., almost all of them conclude with the shooter taking his own life the moment he is challenged by the first officer on the scene,” Zwerling said. “Why not challenge him earlier?”
Shemtov said the two most critical keys to protecting schools are armed guards and armed teacher response teams. But, as in the U.S., the idea of teachers carrying guns raised some objections in Israel, he said.
“At one point the Interior Ministry mandated that a certain percentage of teachers be armed but because, over time, fewer teachers carried weapons, for a number of reasons, including philosophical objections, and due to increased terror attacks, private guards were mandated at all schools," he said.
School security in Israel is an extension of the comprehensive approach authorities there take to protecting all public places.
According to National Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, police work with the Israeli Defense Force and the private security companies that protect such places as malls, bus stations, schools and universities.
A centralized command system allows for quick dissemination of intelligence to every police officer and private guard in the field, he said.