Indiana Schools Establishing "Armed Response Teams" Amidst Controversy


In the wake of deadly school shootings across the United States, ranging from Colorado to Texas to Florida, a sobering truth has emerged: a delay in an armed response, even if just for minutes, can make the difference between averting a tragedy and facing mass casualties.

This realization has prompted a growing number of Indiana school districts to form covert "armed response teams" composed of teachers and other staff members. With the backing of lawmakers, who approved state funding to assist with costs, at least seven school districts are currently in the process of training staff on how to employ deadly force within their classrooms, corridors, and gymnasiums.

Randolph Central School Corp.'s Superintendent, Rolland Abraham, emphasized the urgency of the matter, stating, "The reality is, if you've got somebody who's entered your facility with the intent to do harm, or even kill, as heavy as that is, we want to make sure that they're met with resistance. Because that's what it takes to secure lives — and in these scenarios, you're dealing with seconds."

Indiana is among 28 states that permit teachers to carry firearms in K-12 schools, as reported by the Giffords Law Center, an organization focused on preventing gun violence. In the majority of these states, employees need explicit permission from the school districts.

The concept remains divisive and tends to align with political ideologies. Advocates argue that having "a good guy with a gun" is one solution to America's school-shooting crisis, as it fulfills the need for immediate intervention. Opponents, on the other hand, contend that arming teachers only increases access to firearms and places an additional, overwhelming burden on already overstressed educators.

While the allowance for teachers to carry guns in Indiana schools isn't new, it wasn't until this year that Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law state-funded firearm training for teachers. This financial commitment spurred some schools to give the idea more serious consideration. The state allocated $101,979 for teacher firearm training.

Randolph Central's school board recently voted unanimously to adopt their new plan, which involves organizing teachers and staff into "armed response teams." These teams will have access to loaded handguns stored in biometric safes strategically placed within the schools. The identities of team members will be kept confidential, meaning parents and students won't know which teachers are part of the program.

"Team members are explicitly authorized to use deadly force to protect students, staff members, or others from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury due to violence," the policy states.

While the state does not mandate training for teachers before arming them, grant recipients must commit to a minimum of 40 hours of training. This includes instruction on various topics, such as tactical movement and maneuvering while armed, as well as dynamic gun drills for high-stress and densely populated environments.

Additionally, Randolph Central's policy stipulates that members of the armed response teams must achieve a handgun accuracy score of 90% or higher — a standard surpassing the 80% requirement for police officers.