CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's no question in Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's mind that students are safer in a school when someone armed with a gun and trained in its use is on the premises.
Whether that person is a teacher is a matter of discussion.
"First and foremost, the desire would be to have a cop. Second would be to have a well-trained, properly armed, designated guard. And then you kind of wander into that grey area that's become greatly controversial about arming educators," Grossman said.
Grossman, a retired U.S. Army Ranger and author of "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society," was the featured speaker Wednesday at a daylong summit on school safety coordinated by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
About 400 educators, law enforcement personnel and others packed the Culture Center Wednesday morning to hear Grossman speak.
The subject of armed personnel came up as Grossman discussed ways to prevent and react to acts of violence in schools.
The three easiest ways to make sure students are safer is to lock exterior and interior school doors and make sure teachers can secure classrooms against an attack, Grossman said. Having an armed, trained person in schools can both prevent people from committing acts of violence and mitigate the results of any attack, he said.
Grossman doesn't think anyone would mind devoting resources to placement of police officers in schools. It should be up to individual school systems to decide whether to let teachers carry guns, he said.
Texas and Utah allow teachers to carry guns, Grossman said, and educators in those states are confident their policies are a success, though trained police officers or armed guard are preferable.
Grossman thinks even one or two armed teachers might have helped prevent past tragedies.
"Who can deny that if there had been an armed educator in Sandy Hook, it might have been different? It might not, that's an honest answer," Grossman said.
"But it's a no-brainer that it could have been different. But whether or not it's the right thing to do or whether or not it's dynamic for your community or your community values is a different matter."
Education officials from across the state have expressed skepticism about arming teachers. State Superintendent Jim Phares has said he wasn't sure about an NRA proposal to place an armed guard in every school.
On Wednesday Phares said he agreed with Grossman about the potential negative impacts of video games on children.
Violent media could affect child behavior, said Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring. But he thinks other factors could play a role in a student's decision-making process.