Ran across this editorial by Brandon Friedman in the NY Daily News:

Arming teachers in the classroom will cost kids' lives


There were armed guards at Columbine, the Pulse nightclub and in Las Vegas at the time of the massacre. At Parkland too. Time and again, armed civilians or security guards are out-maneuvered, out-gunned and too inexperienced. It’s difficult for a rational person to reach a state where they can go toe-to-toe with an armed psychopath who has nothing to lose. I was professionally trained and still almost blew it at the moment of truth.

Ignoring the rest of the claims, were there indeed armed guards (in any real sense) at Columbine High School in April 1999?

1 Answer 1


There was one person assigned to the school from the Sheriff's department: Neil Gardner.

Source: Investor's Business Daily

Gardner was joined by motorcycle patrolman Paul Smoker, who had been writing a traffic ticket nearby.

Source: Wikipedia

By my definition, that is one armed guard at the school. Smoker was not in any way assigned to the school. He was simply the closest regular police officer to respond. You may of course count things differently.

Just to clarify things in context in which this claim is often being made (that armed guards were present, ergo, the idea of having armed guards or teaches is not helpful), the linked IBD article explicitly states:

One thing is certain — the armed resistance of Gardner and his backup bought time and saved lives.

  • 1
    It should also be noted that there is a difference between armed guards and armed teachers
    – Joe W
    Mar 13, 2020 at 16:36
  • My high school of 1500 had a dedicated police officer. My observation was that he was occasionally present, but seemed absent enough that any "guard" sense was not there. I think he probably had duties off campus. Either way, there was no management of comers and goers, investigations without there first being complaints, nor patrolling of any meaningful level. Was he a guard? To me, no. IMO, that campus would need 4 full time patrollers for thre to be a guard feeling.
    – user11643
    Mar 14, 2020 at 1:40

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