A little long but well worth the read.
A little long but well worth the read.
Cowards, Mass Murders And The American Public 17dec12
Let’s be honest; we’re not surprised anymore. We’re no longer surprised when some pathetic, pitiful coward attacks a school or mall full of innocent men, women and children. Maybe we were shocked this time, but only because the victims were so young. These incidents have become so commonplace that when we see a headline or breaking news alert about the most recent mass shooting, we just shake our heads and say, “Jesus Christ, not again.” And then we wait for the next one.
This time the murderer outdid most others, and his victims were younger than usual. But all the other factors were depressingly predictable: an unstable man, semiautomatic weapons, helpless victims with no defense other than hope. As is often the case, the murderer committed suicide rather than fight the police or face legal punishment. As usual, we see gut-wrenching video of parents crying out in unimaginable grief, police officers with heavy body armor and assault rifles maneuvering around a school as if it were an enemy blockhouse, and crime scene tape roping off areas where hidden dead lay.
And we see, in every case, calls from well-meaning people for something to be done, anything, to protect the innocent. They demand new security measures: mandatory visitor sign-ins at schools, cameras, metal detectors, “gun free zones”, and of course, restrictions on firearms. These ideas and measures aren’t new, and they’re not effective (we’ve now learned that the Newtown shooter simply shot his way through Sandy Hook Elementary’s locked doors). After a mass murder, students or patrons are made to feel safer with expensive but empty displays of improved security. Those warning signs, cameras, new laws or metal detectors rarely improve safety.
Now I’ll ask you to put yourself in the shoes of an intended victim of an active shooter.
You’re having lunch with your family at a mall food court. It’s a pleasant afternoon, no different than any other day you’ve visited the mall. Bored, unarmed security guards on Segways patrol the walkways. You barely notice them as your family discusses your son’s upcoming school play.
Suddenly you hear a scream. You look toward the sound and see a woman running in terror. At first you’re just curious; you aren’t sure what’s happening. Then you hear gunshots. Rapid gunshots, six or seven in a row. Dozens of people are suddenly on their feet, running and screaming.
You follow your first instinct and drop to the floor with your family. The gunshots keep coming. You hear the high-pitched crash of tables and chairs being knocked over by fleeing shoppers. Looking under tables, you see motionless bodies strewn about the floor. Everyone you see who’s still on their feet is running. Everyone, except one person.
One pair of legs is walking slowly, with determination, turning back and forth. You can’t see the upper body above the tables, but with every gunshot, a shell drops by the pair of legs. You’re looking at the shooter. Your breath catches in your throat as you have a sick realization: he’s moving toward you. Toward your family.
Adrenaline saturates your blood. You force yourself not to panic because you know your family needs you now, more than ever. You grab your children and pull them close. A desperate thought crosses your mind, and you know it’s fantasy even as you think it.Is someone making a movie or something?
Ten feet away, a woman and child are huddled under their table. The woman screams, “We’ve got to get out of here! Oh my God, we’ve got to get out of here!”
You look toward the shooter’s legs. They’re closer now, maybe thirty feet away. You stay silent, not sure if the woman is right. Should you get up and run, or stay where you are?
Near the shooter, a shrill voice shrieks, “No, please! Don’t shoot me!” The man answers with gunshots. Another body falls to the floor.
The woman ten feet away grabs her child’s hand, lurches to her feet and runs. A voice yells “Bitch!” and more shots are fired, four or five in no more than two seconds. You hear something heavy and soft slam to the linoleum floor. A child’s voice screams in terror. Another shot is fired, and the scream is silenced.
You look to the shooter. Less than twenty feet away. He takes another step in your direction. You don’t know if he’s seen your family yet, but if he hasn’t, he will soon. You close your eyes, say a prayer to your God, and make your decision.
I’d like you to ask yourself a question about the situation I just described: what measures could have protected you and your family?
Cameras? No, video just helps with the investigation after the fact. Metal detectors? Maybe they would have deterred the man from choosing that mall, but let’s be realistic. Malls aren’t going to put metal detectors at every entrance, they’re not going to become mini-airports with customers waiting an hour in line to get in. They’d lose all their business.
What about the “gun free zone” sign on the wall? That obviously didn’t work. People who plan on committing mass murder followed by suicide could care less about getting in trouble for illegally carrying a gun. Unarmed mall cops? They can call the police, but that’s about it. Gun control? As I heard a wise man say recently, “That genie is already out of the bottle”. Making new laws won’t eliminate guns already out there.
What about calling the police yourself? As a cop, I can tell you the phrase, “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”, isn’t a joke. Unless one of us happens to be right there when the shooting starts, the first officers will arrive several minutes later to find many citizens murdered and one coward dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
So what is the only realistic defense available to you and your family? Armed, trained citizens. Hopefully, many armed, trained citizens. Armed citizens who can be anywhere, unlike the limited supply of police and security guards.
Much of the American public will have a knee-jerk reaction against this idea. People will say, “How can you expect a civilian to go up against some heavily armed, psychotic killer? Civilians aren’t trained for that.”
Maybe they’re not, but they’re there, with a gun. A half-trained guy with a weapon who is on scene and ready to take action immediately is worth more than a highly-trained SWAT team that arrives thirty minutes later. If you’re under the food court table watching as a murderer approaches your family, would you prefer to wait five minutes for the first patrol officer to arrive? Or would you rather have some fifty year old used car salesman with a concealed handgun license attack the murderer before he reaches you? I’ll take the car salesman over the cop, because the car salesman is there when I need him.
Aside from that, we should keep in mind that most active shooters aren’t well trained. No special training is needed to shoot defenseless people. We’ve seen evidence in many shootings that the murderers really didn’t know how to handle weapons. In Aurora, Colorado and Portland, Oregon, the shooters opened fire with military-style weapons and then had no idea what to do when the weapons malfunctioned. In both of those cases, they just dropped the rifles. One of the Columbine shooters used his very cool-looking, sawed off, pistol grip shotgun to kill one victim. When he fired it, the weapon recoiled, hit him in the face and broke his nose. This isn’t the mark of a skilled shooter. We shouldn’t act like active shooters are Delta Force ninjas. Many can barely operate a weapon, and all are cowards.
I’ve used the term “coward” several times, and I don’t think the importance of this fact can be overstated. These people are the epitome of cowardice. They don’t want to fight anyone; they want to murder people who can’t fight back. Shooting a bunch of unarmed people might take nerve but not bravery.
Typically, these murderers commit suicide as soon as they’re confronted. Saturday we heard media reports that the Newtown shooter fled into a room as soon as he saw police, quickly shot several more children and then shot himself. One of the Columbine shooters traded shots with a police officer outside the school, then ran away; both shooters shot themselves before police made entry. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech murderer, shot himself as soon as he heard police officers enter the building. What is the likelihood that the typical active shooter will fold as soon as an armed citizen opens fire on him? My gut reaction is that it’s pretty high.
But people will still object to the idea of armed citizens responding to active shooters. Another issue that will be raised is, “If private citizens try to fight back against an active shooter, they might accidentally shoot an innocent person. So they shouldn’t try it.”
They’re partly correct. There is a chance a civilian could shoot an innocent person in the confusion of an active shooter incident. A highly trained police officer might make that mistake too (remember the recent New York City shooting?). However, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that’s worse than allowing a murderer to fire dozens of rounds into a mass of innocent people.
Let’s invent a series of seven hypothetical active shooter situations. In each situation, ten people are murdered. That’s seventy victims. Now, let’s inject an armed citizen into each situation. The armed citizens manage to stop the killing after three people are murdered. That’s twenty-one victims. Now let’s say the armed citizens accidentally kill an innocent person in every situation. That’s twenty-one victims killed by the murderer, plus seven killed accidentally by the armed citizens. Twenty-eight victims total, versus seventy.
What are your thoughts?Quote:
Granted, this is a hypothetical. But I think it illustrates my point well enough. Even with a possible additional risk of friendly fire, it’s still better for armed citizens to respond to active shooters.
We recently heard a public sports figure claim that had he been in the Aurora, Colorado theater during that shooting, he would have preferred to have been unarmed rather than shoot back. This is because “fighting back would have just added to the carnage”. I cannot even begin to understand this thinking. A man walks into a theater and opens fire into the crowd with an assault rifle, and shooting back would somehow make things worse? Is it better to just allow the murderer to keep shooting innocents until the police show up, or he runs out of ammo, or gets bored and stops firing? What about the basic right we all have to defend ourselves, and our families? What about doing what any real, brave man or woman would do, stepping up to defend the defenseless?
Next objection: “We can’t tell civilians to fight back against active shooters. If there are two guys with guns running around, how are the police supposed to know who the bad guy is when they arrive?”
Fair point. We cops won’t know who the bad guy is when we arrive. But we do know not to assume that everyone with a gun is a bad guy. We train for that. We understand that we may encounter off-duty cops in plain clothes, armed civilians, security guards, even people carrying illegally but still trying to help. We may make a mistake and engage the wrong person. That’s the reality of lethal, armed encounters, and there’s no way to eliminate that risk. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take action to defend themselves, their families and innocent people around them.
I’ve attended several Law Enforcement Active Shooter training courses, and was an assistant instructor for a few years. In addition to helping teach many classes, I also had the opportunity to participate in advanced training scenarios, and to play the role of an active shooter in numerous training exercises. I’m no expert on how to deal with an active shooter, and there are police officers who will disagree with me; however, in all the training I attended and instructed, I never saw a single reason why armed citizens can’t effectively respond to an active shooter.
This subject requires a 500 page research paper to fully explore, and I won’t inflict that on you. However, I’d like to leave you with some final thoughts.
We see pathetic cowardice from murderers in every active shooter incident. We don’t need to see cowardice disguised as virtue from the intended victims. Refusing to take action against a brutal murderer isn’t “exercising good sense”; it’s relying on nothing more than hope. We’ve seen that hope fail in tragedy after tragedy.
Someone once said, “Violence is rarely the answer, but when it is, it’s the only answer.” When a coward opens fire on a crowd of innocent people, new laws and passive measures have failed; immediate, massive violence returned toward that coward is the only answer. The only people who can inflict that violence are those right there, in his path.
My dream is that committing mass murder becomes too dangerous of a proposition for anyone to even consider it. My dream is that the American public stops putting responsibility for their own lives into someone else’s hands. My dream is that every useless loser who thinks he’ll “be somebody” by carrying out a massacre changes his mind, because he knows he’ll be shot down like a rabid dog within seconds of trying it. My dream is to see multiple armed citizens mow down every sorry excuse for a human being who tries to commit a mass murder. In the end, this righteous response is the only thing that will end the threat from these cowards.
I think you make a valid point but the whole "death by cop" issue comes to mind. Guns and the people that use them will continue to be blamed for the exceptions while ignoring the norm.
Right close to your home, Russ.
A tiny Texas school district may have been the first in the nation to pass a law specifically allowing teachers and staff to pack heat — in 2008.
Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change in 2007 so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.
Superintendent David Thweatt told FOXNews.com the policy was initiated because of safety concerns.
“We have had employees assaulted before by people in the last several years,” Thweatt said. “I think that safety is big concern. We are seeing a lot of anger in society.”
He wouldn’t comment further on the nature of the assaults.
The Texas superintendent linked gun-free zones with the uprising of school shootings in recent years.
“When you make schools gun-free zones, it’s like inviting people to come in and take advantage,” Thweatt told FOXNews.com.
In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.
Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff’s office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district’s lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target.
The kindergarten through 12th grade school district is home to 110 students.
Thweatt said officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change. He said the district also has various other security measures in place to prevent a school shooting.
“The naysayers think [a shooting] won’t happen here,” Thweatt said. “If something were to happen here, I’d much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them.”
He told FOXNews.com he doesn’t think students will think twice about the new policy.
“I hope they forget all about it,” he said. “We want them to pay attention [to their school work].”
Texas law outlaws firearms on school campuses “unless pursuant to the written regulations or written authorization of the institution.”
While the district’s plan shot them into the national spotlight, carrying guns to school is nothing new some states. In Utah, the law allows anyone with a permit to carry a gun in public schools and state institutions of higher education.
It was unclear how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members are armed because Thweatt did not disclose that information, to keep it from students or potential attackers.
Wilbarger County Sheriff Larry Lee did not immediately return a call placed to his office by FOXNews.com.
Barbara Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards, said her organization did not know of another district with such a policy. Ken Trump, a Cleveland-based school security expert who advises districts nationwide, including in Texas, said Harrold is the first district with such a policy.
The district is 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth on the eastern end of Wilbarger County, near the Oklahoma border.
I think he is spot on! I would rather die trying to save lives and protect my family than be curled up on the floor next to my family waiting to be shot!
Why Can't Schools Secure Themselves?
Dear Laissez Faire Today Reader,
My inbox has been slammed with notes concerning the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Given the accessibility of information, and the pace at which it travels, people have treated this event as not just a case of a ghastly local crime, but much more than that, a signal and a wake-up call to the culture at large.
There is no harm in such reflections. The 500-year-old trend toward ever less violent societies -- a trend that continues to go in the right direction in our time -- should be pushed further in the right direction through education and cultural change.
Still, it might be beneficial to ask more focused questions about the problem of security at schools in particular.
In the days that followed the killing, my browser kept taking me back to a Wikipedia link about the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. The law, still intact after many challenges and rewrites, reads: "It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone."
Guns of all sorts are banned anywhere near schools. If the government's laws had worked, this killer would have realized that his plan was unachievable. After all, the world's most powerful government had banned the whole idea of guns at school.
But the law did not work, at least not as intended. On the contrary. The killer could be pretty sure going into this that he would be the only one at the school with a gun.
Think of this: Schools in particular have been singled out as a place without the ability to defend against violence. The law has been challenged and revised and debated ever since, but the bottom line stands. Have school shootings declined? Most major shootings now occur in gun-free zones, and nearly twice as many since the act passed than in the 20 years prior. (See the full list.)
People have wrongly tended to reduce the debate to more gun ownership or more gun control. It's clear where the Obama administration wants to take this: toward more centralized control and fewer gun rights. The right responds by pointing to the example of Israel where teachers are heavily armed. That's the choice the mainstream gives us.
Actually, the framing of the whole debate is wrong. It is not about whether teachers should be armed or whether guns should be banned for everyone but state-employed cops. The real issue is whether any institution in society is going to be in charge of its own security, and not be forced to obey the government's plan.
Schools face a problem not different in kind from any other issue of security affecting banks, convenience stores, jewelry stores, theaters, homes, or churches. All these institutions are constantly threatened with violence from random sources. They must all make judgments about the risk of violence and how best to deal with it. There is no one aggregate solution that applies in every case. Each institution needs to determine security for itself.
Just days after Sandy Hook, a shooter attempted to gun down people at the Mayan Palace Theatre in San Antonio, Texas. An off-duty deputy whipped out her own gun and blasted him before the killer could reenact the rampage at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. This is probably the first you have heard about this precisely because the tragedy was averted. The institution will learn from the event and respond in a way that is rational and not injurious of human rights and liberties.
Because school killings engender special social outrage, legislators made them an exception, and this was before airports and airlines received similarly treatment 11 years later with the creation of the Transportation Security Administration. Guns of any sort, unless carried by a cop, were not permitted to be part of anyone's security solution. The federal government knew best, even to the point at which the federal law trumped state laws on guns.
Does this figure into the calculation that would-be killers make as they plot their malicious acts? Certainly. Advertising a place as gun-free by law is an invitation to killers. The law says to them that if they can get in, they will have a monopoly on violence. No efforts at defense will be available on the premises to protect the teachers and the kids. I don't see how it could be controversial to suggest that this law is a very bad idea.
To be sure, these killings might have happened anyway. Dealing with violence was the last thing on anyone's mind in this quiet and prosperous community school. All the events might have transpired as they did regardless. The point is that the law removes viable options for the school in dealing with security concerns. It says: We, the government, know what is best, and our way is the only way.
This is a terrible way to deal with any issue of security.
I am not saying that the school in question should have armed the teachers, the principal, or the students. What matters is who is in charge of security. What kind of incentives does the surety of the absence of effective security grant would-be murders?
Think of this in the case of your home. Let's say your community passed a Gun-Free Home Act. Is such a law going to be something taken note of by would-be intruders? Is a criminal going to be more or less likely to enter a home knowing with certainty that all law-abiding citizens will not have the means to protect themselves?
Some people might respond that they don't want to live in a society in which school administrators have to carry weapons. I completely agree. But wishing does nothing to deal with the problem of anti-social behavior on the part of a tiny minority. A tiny group is capable of ruining the social order for the rest of us, which is why we need mechanisms in place to deal with them.
It's true in every aspect of life, whether our homes or online forums or banks or schools. Ownership is what allows the security calculation to be rational. Without private property, the destructive element rules.
In the online world, these people are known as trolls. In the online world, they can't be violent, but they can wreck a good thing. A forum that cannot control them or kick them off is not long for this world. If the federal government had pass the No-Troll Act as a way of securing online communities against them, the forums would be all destroyed by now.
It is right and proper to wish for a society of perfect peace. But it is also very smart to have institutions in place that deal with those who do not want peace. Traditionally, people have relied on government to provide this service. This is a grave mistake. Security is inseparable from private property and the institutions of the market economy.
The reason violent crime has fallen by 65% since 1993 has not been government. It has been the private sector's creation of advanced technology in the hands of private enterprise: surveillance cameras, private security, alarm systems, increasingly sophisticated systems of screening, and so on. Guns in the hands of private owners have been part of that solution.
The best path forward for schools in particular is to get out from under the protection of government and be put on the same status as regular commercial establishments. Private establishments that own and control their own space provide better security.
Whenever any institution is singled out for special protection by government and called too important to manage itself, that institution needs to worry about its future. That's why the ultimate solution to public school violence is the full privatization of security and of the schools themselves.
At the very least, we need a repeal of the laws that make it impossible for schools to find their own solutions to the threat of violence. In the name of human rights, security needs to be privatized, whether government likes it or not.
The Laissez Faire Club
On teachers, I'm not sure if arming them is the answer or not, especially if they haven't ever handled one and aren't comfortable with them but I darn sure don't think we should DISarm the ones that have or want a carry permit.
Couldn't agree more. Without question, when the school boards see fit to approve of teachers being 'armed', they would require plenty of proof that the teacher was capable of using a firearm. I doubt even the Israeli teachers that carry a slinged rifle, are anything but 'capable' using that weapon; but then that teacher had also spent time in their military, so what they already learned about weaponry was just being put to continued usage.
Coulter: We know how to stop school shootings
By: Ann Coulter
In the wake of a monstrous crime like a madman’s mass murder of defenseless women and children at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the nation’s attention is riveted on what could have been done to prevent such a massacre.
Luckily, some years ago, two famed economists, William Landes at the University of Chicago and John Lott at Yale, conducted a massive study of multiple victim public shootings in the United States between 1977 and 1995 to see how various legal changes affected their frequency and death toll.
Landes and Lott examined many of the very policies being proposed right now in response to the Connecticut massacre: waiting periods and background checks for guns, the death penalty and increased penalties for committing a crime with a gun.
None of these policies had any effect on the frequency of, or carnage from, multiple-victim shootings. (I note that they did not look at reforming our lax mental health laws, presumably because the ACLU is working to keep dangerous nuts on the street in all 50 states.)
Only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.
The effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally.
Someone planning to commit a single murder in a concealed-carry state only has to weigh the odds of one person being armed. But a criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that anyone in the entire area might have a gun.
You will notice that most multiple-victim shootings occur in “gun-free zones” — even within states that have concealed-carry laws: public schools, churches, Sikh temples, post offices, the movie theater where James Holmes committed mass murder, and the Portland, Ore., mall where a nut starting gunning down shoppers a few weeks ago.
Guns were banned in all these places. Mass killers may be crazy, but they’re not stupid.
If the deterrent effect of concealed-carry laws seems surprising to you, that’s because the media hide stories of armed citizens stopping mass shooters. At the Portland shooting, for example, no explanation was given for the amazing fact that the assailant managed to kill only two people in the mall during the busy Christmas season.
It turns out, concealed-carry-holder Nick Meli hadn’t noticed that the mall was a gun-free zone. He pointed his (otherwise legal) gun at the shooter as he paused to reload, and the next shot was the attempted mass murderer killing himself. (Meli aimed, but didn’t shoot, because there were bystanders behind the shooter.)
In a nonsense “study” going around the Internet right now, Mother Jones magazine claims to have produced its own study of all public shootings in the last 30 years and concludes: “In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.”
This will come as a shock to people who know something about the subject.
The magazine reaches its conclusion by simply excluding all cases where an armed civilian stopped the shooter: They looked only at public shootings where four or more people were killed, i.e., the ones where the shooter wasn’t stopped.
If we care about reducing the number of people killed in mass shootings, shouldn’t we pay particular attention to the cases where the aspiring mass murderer was prevented from getting off more than a couple rounds?
It would be like testing the effectiveness of weed killers, but refusing to consider any cases where the weeds died.
In addition to the Portland mall case, here are a few more examples excluded by the Mother Jones methodology:
– Mayan Palace Theater, San Antonio, Texas, this week: Jesus Manuel Garcia shoots at a movie theater, a police car and bystanders from the nearby China Garden restaurant; as he enters the movie theater, guns blazing, an armed off-duty cop shoots Garcia four times, stopping the attack. Total dead: Zero.
– Winnemucca, Nev., 2008: Ernesto Villagomez opens fire in a crowded restaurant; concealed carry permit-holder shoots him dead. Total dead: Two. (I’m excluding the shooters’ deaths in these examples.)
– Appalachian School of Law, 2002: Crazed immigrant shoots the dean and a professor, then begins shooting students; as he goes for more ammunition, two armed students point their guns at him, allowing a third to tackle him. Total dead: Three.
– Santee, Calif., 2001: Student begins shooting his classmates — as well as the “trained campus supervisor”; an off-duty cop who happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day points his gun at the shooter, holding him until more police arrive. Total dead: Two.
– Pearl High School, Mississippi, 1997: After shooting several people at his high school, student heads for the junior high school; assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieves a .45 pistol from his car and points it at the gunman’s head, ending the murder spree. Total dead: Two.
– Edinboro, Pa., 1998: A student shoots up a junior high school dance being held at a restaurant; restaurant owner pulls out his shotgun and stops the gunman. Total dead: One.
By contrast, the shootings in gun-free zones invariably result in far higher casualty figures — Sikh temple, Oak Creek, Wis. (six dead); Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. (32 dead); Columbine High School, Columbine, Colo. (12 dead); Amish school, Lancaster County, Pa. (five little girls killed); public school, Craighead County, Ark. (five killed, including four little girls).
All these took place in gun-free zones, resulting in lots of people getting killed — and thereby warranting inclusion in the Mother Jones study.
If what we care about is saving the lives of innocent human beings by reducing the number of mass public shootings and the deaths they cause, only one policy has ever been shown to work: concealed-carry laws. On the other hand, if what we care about is self-indulgent grandstanding, and to hell with dozens of innocent children being murdered in cold blood, try the other policies.