After the latest school shooting horrified the nation, those with the power to enact change have been searching for answers. How can we secure our public spaces. Schools. Churches. Nightclubs. Even concerts. There is no simple fix, obviously, but one veteran has taken it upon himself to do what he can.
Mark Cowan, an Army veteran, has decided he will personally guard North Side High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Cowan stands guard outside of the school with his AR-15 ready.
Cowan isn’t technically on school grounds, but he is close enough to monitor the premises.
He explained to WANE “that he is there to protect the students and ward off anyone who would pose a threat to their safety.”
Cowan’s presence is public, and he’s spoken with the school, its resource officer, and the local police. They are all aware of his intentions.
The idea is hardly new. Many support the idea of using veterans as armed guards in schools. No program exists, currently, to make use of the vast network of veterans, many of whom are underemployed, so Cowan made the decision himself.
He plans to be there at the school until the school puts in effective measures of their own to ensure their protection.
Cowan is part of a group who takes these matters seriously. He’s an Oath Keeper.
The Oath Keepers describe themselves like this: “a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic’.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center see the group through a different lens. “The Oath Keepers, which claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, is one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today. While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.”
The Oath Keepers in Fort Wayne have been providing security for an armed forces recruiting center for more than a year as new security measures were implemented.
Opinions on the Oath Keepers seem to be split along partisan lines. Cowan’s presence at the school hasn’t made everyone happy, either.
Fort Wayne Community Schools spokesperson Krista Stockman issued the school’s official position:
“We take the security of our schools very seriously. We understand [Cowan] has a right to be out there, but we do not believe it adds to the safety of our students. At North Side, as at all of our schools, we have security procedures in place. In addition, at North Side, we have armed police officers in the building every day.”
Their opinion hasn’t swayed Cowan, who remains at his post.