Guns in Schools: Arming the School Resource Officer
Despite the fact that the numbers of school shootings have steadily decreased over the last decades, the few shootings that occur are highly publicized, often to be used as ammunition in the gun control debate. Many people passionately oppose the idea of placing armed security inside of schools, claiming it will endanger students, despite the fact that we have armed security in our airports, malls, banks, federal buildings, courthouses, subways, sports arenas, and many other places where large numbers of people gather. If we look past the political debate, we have to recognize that there are now a number of school districts across the nation that have trained, armed teachers guarding the children, and the school resource officer programs have existed continually since the 1950s. Some school resource officers are local law enforcement officers assigned to a particular school, while others are trained employees of the school district, working as sworn law enforcement officers. They provide training and counseling for children, provide positive contact between the community and law enforcement, and provide security for the children. While mass shootings in schools are very rare, they do occasionally occur. The most critical advantage in dealing with an active shooter is speed of response. When an active shooter is shooting, people may be dying every second. A fifteen minute response time from off-site, considered very fast by most law enforcement standards, can still mean many more body bags. The presence of armed security on site can mean instant response times. For a law enforcement officer working in a school, there are specific considerations that are not encountered in other locations. One of these considerations is weaponry. Police are generally armed with pistols, and many also have carbines or shotguns. Because a SRO’s role is very specific, he or she may have very specific needs when it comes to weaponry.
All SROs should carry a pistol. The advantage to a pistol is that it is easily carried, so it will be on the body of the SRO at all times. Another consideration with a pistol is that in a school situation, by keeping the pistol in a holster on the body, the SRO ensures it is not left somewhere that an unauthorized person could gain access to. The disadvantage of the pistol is that it is a short-range weapon. While concealable and easy to carry, it is also not as stable when shooting, and harder to use when taking long or critically precise shots.
Shotguns would generally be considered unsuitable for use by SROs, unless kept in a locked safe or office for use as a breaching tool. There are other breaching tools available that might be considered more appropriate for use by school resource officers.
Carbines and Rifles
Carbines have some important advantages over pistols. Most are chambered in calibers more effective than pistol calibers. With the correct ammunition, many carbines will be less prone to overpenetration of a target than a pistol caliber will. Most importantly, a carbine allows the shooter stability and the option of mounting optics, which leads to increased probability of hots at extended ranges. Unfortunately, carbines are also larger and bulkier can cannot be carried as easily on the officer’s body. Current US society is unused to seeing officers carrying carbines in public, especially in a school, and due to movies and modern media, the presence of a carbine is often equated with a serious problem. So while all SRO’s really should have access to a carbine, many do not, and those that do generally keep it locked in an office or safe, where it is not readily available if needed. Remember that speed is the key to prevent deaths, and running to an office to retrieve a carbine is not something a good SRO is likely to do when someone is already shooting. So both pistols and carbines have important advantages, but both have serious tradeoffs for the school resource officer. The best option can be found in combining the two.
By basing a carbine on a pistol, the officer has the concealment and ease of carry of a pistol combined with the stability and accuracy of a carbine. This is ideal for a school resource officer. A pistol placed in a KPOS carbine conversion gives the SRO a very concealable, easily carried carbine that can have an optic mounted. Why is this an advantage over a pistol? If you think about how schools are laid out, you will immediately think about long hallways, large cafeterias, and gymnasiums. Outside the school building you will find wide parking lots, soccer and football fields, running tracks, and playgrounds. Every one of these areas presents the possibility that an SRO will be faced with an active shooter at distance, in many cases over 100 meters, with children between them or beyond the shooter. Very few officers are skilled enough with a pistol to take a 100 or 150 meter shot with complete confidence in a hit on a human-sized target. On the other hand, it is unlikely that a SRO, presented with such a situation, would return to an office somewhere, recover a carbine, and then go searching for the shooter again. A pistol installed in a KPOS system will give an SRO the ability to make shots at 150 meters with confidence. The combination of the stable firing stance the officer can achieve with a carbine and the use of an optic will make the officer both faster and more accurate, especially at ranges outside of practical pistol range.
The KPOS is an aluminum chassis in which a pistol is installed. The pistol is held securely by its front rail and by the back of the frame. The function of the pistol is unchanged, so the system builds on the already proven reliability of the pistol. All controls remain the same, except for charging, which is accomplished by a built-in AR-15-style charging handle in the Gen 2 KPOS or a side charging handle installed on the slide of the pistol in the Gen 1 KPOS. The KPOS has top, side, and bottom rails that can be used to install optics, sights, lights, lasers, or foregrips. The KPOS is the only pistol-to-carbine conversion system that supports the pistol by both the front and rear of the frame and that is designed for serious security use. The stock folds to the side for compactness when carried. The fore grip is designed so that when folded, it can be extended to cover the trigger for safety. Unfolding the grip exposes the trigger, or touching a button on both sides will retract the trigger shield instantly, allowing access to the trigger.
The entire system is very compact with its folding stock, and fits easily into a small discreet bag or backpack, which can be carried at all times. Extended magazines are available for many pistols, allowing a larger magazine capacity. If the pistol carried in the KPOS is the same model and caliber as the officer’s duty pistol, then magazines can be used interchangeably. This is recommended, since the officer will be familiar with the controls and ergonomics of the duty pistol, and reloads will be the same from the same magazine pouches.
The pistol installs easily and quickly into the KPOS without alteration to the pistol. While installation takes only seconds, and the KPOS can be carried separately from the pistol until needed, I recommend that the KPOS be used with a dedicated pistol that remains installed, so the the officer is not installing when she should be shooting. Installation requires the use of one pin and one quick-releasse lever. Both are captive, so no parts can be lost. It could be compared to assembling the upper half onto the lower half of an AR-15.
It looks cool, but does it work?
Absolutely. I have fired Glocks, SIGs and XDs in both Gen 1 and Gen 2 KPOS systems. I have allowed other shooters to try my KPOS systems. Shooters who could not come close to hitting a 75 meter target with a pistol could hit the same target at 125 meters with the same pistol mounted in a KPOS every shot. Controls, trigger manipulation, reloads, and malfunction drills are all familiar, since the system is built on an existing pistol. As an added bonus for law enforcement agencies, there are several programs through which law enforcement agencies can acquire surplus pistols from federal agencies at no cost, reducing the cost of arming SROs.
Will this system work for armed teachers?
This system is an excellent option for an armed teacher, with one important concern. A teacher is unlikely to be able to keep a bag with the KPOS on his person at all times. This means that the KPOS system would have to be stored securely in the classroom in some type of safe or lockable storage, to be accessed if needed, or would need to be stored separately from the pistol, which would be concealed on the teacher’s body. This means that there would be time required to either access the locked container or to install the KPOS, though the time required would be minimal. If the KPOS was stored in the classroom, a teacher would be more likely to have quick access to it than an SRO who kept a carbine locked in his office and would often be in a different part of the building.
What are the legal considerations for a LE agency?
Installing a pistol in the standard version of the KPOS requires either the pistol or the KPOS to be registered as a short-barreled rifle (SBR). This process is generally pretty easy and painless for a law enforcement agency, and does not require the tax levied on individuals for the same registration. Some LE agencies have policies prohibiting short-barrels rifles and other NFA firearms, while some locations prohibit the use of SBRs, even by law enforcement. For SROs in those locations, there is a version of the Gen 2 KPOS called the Pathfinder, that has a folding stabilization tube instead of a stock. When mounted in the KPOS Pathfinder, the pistol remains a pistol by legal definition. The KPOS Pathfinder can be stabilized by placing forward pressure against the sling, as designed, or by stabilizing the tube against the chest of the shooter.
Gen 1 KPOS vs. Gen 2 KPOS
There are two basic KPOS types, the Gen 1 and Gen 2. The Gen 2 comes in two versions; the standard version with the folding stock and the Pathfinder version with a folding stabilizer tube. Both generations are available. The Gen 1 KPOS is slightly more compact than the Gen 2. The top rail is broken into two sections by an opening over the ejection port. The Gen 1 KPOS requires a charging handle to be installed on the slide of the pistol. On the Glock pistols, the charging handle installs in the place of the back plate, and on other pistols installs around the rear sight. The carving handle can be removed and the pistol can be used as a pistol with the charging handle or just the charging handle base left in place. The pistol’s iron sights can be used while mounted in the KPOS if necessary. The Gen 2 KPOS is slightly larger and is more modular so that it is easily built for a wider variety of pistols. The Gen 2 KPOS does not require anything to be installed on the pistol and uses an AR-15-style charging handle. The pistol’s sights cannot be used through the KPOS. The top rail is continuous. This version protects the shooter against gas blowback when firing a suppressed pistol.
Gen 2 KPOS:
Glock 17, 17L, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 31, 32, 34, 35
FN Five seveN
SIG 226, 229, 2022 (SIG Pro)
Springfield XD®, XDm
Baby Eagle/Jericho Steel Frame, Polymer Frame
Advantages and Disadvantages of the KPOS system
• Uses common, already proven pistols.
• Compact and easily concealed and carried with the SRO.
• Magazine and ammunition compatibility with service pistol.
• Makes longer or precise shots possible.
• Allows the easy mounting of an optic.
• Controls, trigger, and ergonomics remain familiar.
• Increases shooter’s effective range.
• Increases shooter’s accuracy.
• Does not increase the effective range of the ammunition.
• Retains the terminal ballistics of the pistol cartridge.
• Does not offer the ballistic advantage of a rifle caliber.
• Allows the use of a suppressor or a longer barrel.
• Can stay with the SRO, instead of being left in an office or safe.
Testing and Use
I have been shooting the KPOS system since they first became available. I have used the KPOS Gen 1 with a Glock 17, Glock 31, Glock 19, Glock 21, and SIG 2022. I have used the KPOS Gen 2 with a Glock 17, 31, 21, 17L, and a Springfield XD®. I have fired and seen others fire several thousand rounds from these systems in 9mm, .40 S&W, 357 SIG, and .45 ACP. I have fired the KPOS in all conditions from hot, dusty desert conditions to -40º in the winter. I have allowed many others to shoot my KPOS systems and let shooters use them in competitions. I have run them hard in CQB training courses. The results have always been impressive. With the KPOS, I can shoot quicker and hit better and at longer ranges than with a pistol. I have never seen a malfunction induced by the KPOS (one of the disadvantages displayed by competing systems is a tendency to cause malfunctions).
I have carried the KPOS system in a small bag that looks completely normal, something difficult to do with even a short-barreled AR-15.
The KPOS is very user friendly, from installation to shooting, as long as installation is done correctly. The rail of the pistol must index correctly with the KPOS in order to lock solidly in place. When shooters complain of a loss of accuracy, the slide of the pistol impacting the inside of the KPOS, or movement of the pistol once mounted, it is because they simply put the front end of the pistol haphazardly into the front of the KPOS, instead of sliding the rail into its slot. When shooting, the KPOS is light and comfortable with excellent ergonomics. It points naturally and has the necessary weight to be stable in the hands while remaining quite light. Since the controls of the pistol remain the same, the shooter does not have to think about magazine changes, trigger manipulation, or malfunction drills – everything remains familiar.
I prefer the NFA version of the KPOS, but I also have a couple of the KPOS Pathfinders. The Pathfinder version is just slightly longer and slightly thicker when the tube is folded than the NFA version, but saves the hassle of registration, is allowable in locations where SBRs are not allowed by state or local law, and can be used by departments that have policies against, or are not willing to register, SBRs.
I like the size of the Gen 1 KPOS best, and would prefer this version when using it with a Glock. When using any other type of pistol, the Gen 2 version is preferred, with the AR-style charging handle.
The folding, trigger-safety foregrip works very well. It is easy and intuitive to use. It is not included with the KPOS Pathfinder, but can be purchased separately. The latch mechanism can be disassembled, the spring removed and replaced with a short piece of pipe, and some epoxy applied prior to installing the screw again, locking the trigger shield in the folded positions so that it cannot be used as a foregrip, but can be used as a safety on the Pathfinder. When shooting either the Gen 1 or Gen 2 versions (both standard and Pathfinder), I find them to be very comfortable and natural to aim and shoot, effective, and reliable. They are an excellent choice for school resource officers, or any other security personnel that need a discreet, easily carried carbine. The KPOS system is manufactured by FAB Defense in Israel and is imported to the US by The Mako Group. We recommend that LE agencies contact the Mako Group for law enforcement pricing. www.themakogroup.com