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Florida School Proves Arguments Against Armed Teachers are Off Target

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When Eddie and Claire Speir founded Inspiration Academy 11 years ago, not arming teachers wasn’t even a consideration.

“It was because of Columbine. We were in a spiritual war – we still are – and some people were crazy. We knew it was our duty to protect our students. Columbine changed a lot of things for educators,” Speir told the Second Amendment Foundation Tuesday.

Speir and his wife retired and moved to Florida in 2013 after selling their Colorado-based software firm. “But God had other plans,” Speir said. The couple – with no formal background in education – launched Inspiration Academy, which began with just one paid employee.

Today, Speir has more than 200 students and dozens of teachers, coaches and other professionals. His staff is armed and dedicated to protecting their students.

“We, by God’s grace, look for and develop teachers with high character who would be honored and are prepared to give their lives for our students,” Speir said. “It’s shameful that every superintendent doesn’t feel the same way and develop a culture that reflects this attitude.”

The gun-ban industry has strong opinions about armed teachers, but they have no facts or data to support their arguments and certainly no actual experience. Speir has worked with an armed teaching staff for more than a decade, which makes him one of the country’s leading subject matter experts.

 

Inspiration Academy’s sprawling 30-acre campus, which is located in Manatee County, Florida, includes state-of-the-art classrooms and elite sports facilities. (Photo courtesy Inspiration Academy).

 Inspirational

Inspiration Academy is a private Christian school (grades 6-12 and post-graduate), which is “dedicated to fostering the joy of academic discovery, discipline in sports and mentorship, wrapped around a community of family, care and love.”

It accepts no federal dollars and Speir, 55, serves as the Academy’s superintendent.

“We reflect the community we are in. We have an eclectic blend of world-class athletes, scholars and at-risk students,” Speir said. “By God’s grace we’ve got some ridiculously talented baseball, softball and tennis players. We have five state records in powerlifting, and one American powerlifting record. We also have a large percentage of socioeconomically challenged and second-chance kids that we take risks on.”

Inspiration Academy student-athletes have been recruited by major D1 schools, including Florida State, Florida, Kentucky, Yale University, Seton Hall, Oklahoma State, West Point and more. Other graduates have enlisted in the military.

Inspiration Academy is incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, which made it easier for Speir to arm his staff.

Florida law recognizes the right of heads of schools to authorize armed personnel in support of school safety, said Jacksonville attorney, Eric Friday, one of the most experienced Second Amendment litigators in the state.

“For a private school, any government regulation of who can or cannot be armed on their property is a violation of their property rights,” Friday said.

Debunking propaganda

Speir grew up hunting in Montana with his father. His first handgun purchase was a Star 9mm, which he said, “jammed a bit.” Today he carries a Dan Wesson revolver.

Speir made quick work of Everytown for Gun Safety’s key findings, which the Bloomberg-funded group touts as proof teachers should not be armed. He also disproved similar arguments from other anti-rights groups.

  1. Students will access teachers’ guns.

“No. Absolutely not. This has never happened – not once – not even an attempt. This is just plain dumb,” Speir said.

  1. The risk of shootings increases.

“This argument is intellectually lazy, ignores all empirical evidence and just plays off people’s emotions and fears. It doesn’t make any sense. Evidence has shown that cities that have strict gun laws have the most crime. You have to look at the empirical evidence. What causes shootings is weakness. Reagan said we need to project strength. Our school is not a soft target, and we want everyone to know that. It’s criminals who cause shootings, not law-abiding citizens. People should be armed and equipped to fight against criminals,” Speir said.

  1. Arming teachers introduces new liability risks.

“(Laughter) In 11 years, the only problem I have ever had is people creating ridiculous scenarios based on some notion that guns are bad and therefore only the government should have guns,” Speir said. “It’s a ridiculous notion.”

  1. An armed teacher cannot, in a moment of extreme duress and confusion, be expected to transform into a specially trained law enforcement officer.

“I completely disagree,” Speir said. “Our teachers will protect our students. I reject this statement at face value.”

  1. An armed teacher is much more likely to shoot a student bystander or be shot by responding law enforcement than to be an effective solution to an active shooter in a school.

“I absolutely reject that. Anyone with any kind of awareness would want weapons in the hands of good people during a difficult situation,” Speir said. “When weak-minded people create in the public’s mind this notion – this Hollywood notion of an incompetent person with a gun – they endanger everyone. Even if it is an extremely scary and dangerous situation, good people will react appropriately, not firing indiscriminately as in some kind of Hollywood movie.”

  1. Armed staff wouldn’t have mattered at Uvalde.

“We all know that if teachers at Uvalde were armed, the death count would have been reduced,” Speir said. “It would have been a praiseworthy story about the hero. However, these kinds of praiseworthy stories are usually quashed because of the mindset that only the government can protect us. Logically and logistically, it’s stupid to rely on the government to protect us. Any honest sheriff would say the same thing. Any honest combat veteran would say the same thing.”

 

Eddie Speir is running for Congress. For more information go to eddiespeirforcongress.com.

This story is courtesy of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support pro-gun stories like this.

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