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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

‘Fight for our lives’

If an armed intruder breaks into a classroom in rural Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain district, he “will face classroom full of students armed with rocks,” Superintendent David Helsel told state lawmakers. Every classroom has a five-gallon bucket of river stones. Students have been told to defend themselves, if necessary.

The idea of kids fighting a gunman with rocks has met with mockery. Cheryl Magness, writing in The Federalist, thinks preparing students to defend themselves is a great idea.

The bucket of rocks delivers a message: “You are strong. You are capable. You have power, and we believe in you and your ability to act.”

Oregon teachers practiced trying to disarm an attacker at Run, Hide, Fight training last year. Photo: Brittany Allen/Post/Sandy Post

Run, hide, fight is Homeland Security’s advice to teachers and students, reports Deborah Sullivan Brennan in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

A stack of two-inch-thick textbooks near the door of Cati Garcia’s classroom are more than educational tools; they’re potential weapons. In the event a school shooter penetrates the classroom, students should look for ordinary objects to defend themselves, Garcia told her class during an active-shooter drill last week. “If there were 20 of us throwing books at him, chances are we would be able to take him,” Garcia said, adding, “I would spray the fire extinguisher at him.”

Garcia’s students practiced barricading the door and taking cover. Then she asked them what they’d do if a shooter made it in.

Fight, some kids answered. Throw a chair. Staplers, scissors and the flagpole are other classroom objects that could double for self-defense, students added. Those items aren’t a match for gunfire, but could disorient or distract the shooter, or even knock him out. . . . “My option, to save our lives, would be to fight for our lives,” said Jose Armenta, 18. “My first option would be to throw a chair or a book. If we hit him he might drop. Then he would be without his weapon.”

School shootings have become less — not more — common since the ’90s, despite the horrors of Columbine, Sandy Hook and Parkland. Security measures are scaring students without making them any safer, says James Alan Fox, a Northeastern professor who’s studied the issue.

Gun violence and crime is the greatest fear of the “Columbine generation,” especially those under 18, according to a USA Today poll. Nineteen percent don’t feel safe at school, 25 percent think it’s very or somewhat likely that a classmate will bring a gun to school and 15 percent say it’s likely there will be a shooting at their school.

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