School Shootings: Even the Fastest Response Can't Outrun Bullets
While Democrats and squishy Republicans in Congress debate various plans to infringe the natural rights guaranteed by the Constitution’s Second Amendment the Houston Chronicle (not a conservative outlet by any means) published an interesting and useful analysis of school shootings.
Eric Dexheimer and St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle Staff writers, report half of all active shooter events end before law enforcement arrives, according to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training — ALERRT — at Texas State University. Although a perfect police reaction may prevent some fatalities, “once it starts, it’s very difficult to stop with no loss of life,” said Jennifer Zeunik, director of Local Programs for the National Policing Institute, which produces after-incident reports on school shootings.
Despite the lessons learned and tactical tweaks, from Columbine in 1999 to Uvalde today, after-incident reviews show human error and equipment failures are still common. And school shootings continue. By some measures they are getting worse. According to Education Week, which tracks incidents, there have been 27 in 2022 so far and 119 since 2018. The highest number ever, 34, was recorded last year.
“Rather than trying to have a police response in a minute or two and trying to save lives, we need to be preventing” attacks before they occur, said Frank Straub, director of the National Policing Institute’s Center for Targeted Violence Prevention, according to reporting by Dexheimer and Barned-Smith.
The experts and officers interviewed by Dexheimer and Barned-Smith also report that while there is a cottage industry of risk assessment researchers and practitioners trying to identify the best way to intercept disturbed young people — mostly young men – even when there is legislation requiring it, such as there is in Texas, the system often fails because those who know of the threat don’t report it, or information is not acted upon by school authorities.
My key takeaways from this solid reporting were twofold: First, most school shootings are carried out by students or former students. School personnel, students and parents know who the troubled and violent kids are and more needs to be done to address their mental health problems; Second, once someone bent on murder gets in the school lives are going to be lost, meaning the surest way to stop school killings is to prevent an armed intruder from entering the school.
However, Dexheimer and Barned-Smith reported that while mental health clues can seem obvious in hindsight, experts caution that identifying dangerous people before they act remains an imprecise science, challenged by broadly defined behaviors and false-positives. “We can do a little bit better than chance,” Dewey Cornell, a University of Virginia professor considered a national authority on school threat assessment, told the Chronicle in 2019. “But it’s not nearly good enough for life and death decisions.”
It seems very strange that school administrators and counselors who claim the expertise and time to help children decide what “gender” they are, appear to be abject failures in the more established and rigorous science of identifying and diverting into counselling or other intervention violent psychopathic and sociopathic personalities among their students, but such appears to be the case, based on the Houston Chronicle’s reporting.
Likewise, Dexheimer and Barned-Smith reported a team of Minnesota researchers examining school shootings between 1980 and 2019 found even some preventative “hardening” measures had had modest success: “The majority of shooters who target schools are students of the school, calling into question the effectiveness of hardened security and active shooter drills.”
It seems strange that the most obvious means of successfully avoiding a school shooting – prohibiting the potential killer from entering the building – got such short shrift, especially in light of the success such “hardening” tactics have had in Israel, where Jewish schools are under constant threat of Muslim terror attacks.
Israeli law currently requires educational institutions with more than 100 students to post a guard. The principal of each school oversees the specific security arrangements and must appoint a designated security aide to assist with these arrangements.
And American policymakers are well aware of the Israeli model. For example, a bipartisan delegation of Florida legislators went to Israel after the Parkland school shooting. Democrat leader state Senator Lauren Book explained to A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics, that there is one point of entry at an Israeli school, with staffers reinforcing each other and ensuring that gaps aren’t present. “Two exits, but one point of entry. They are broken down into regions,” Book said, with someone at the gate and roving security as a backup.
In other words, treat schools the same way we treat other government buildings, such as our court houses and legislative offices.
It is hard to think of a faster, more effective and more cost-effective means of preventing school attacks than giving our children the same kind of point of access protection and roving security that Israeli students and our own legislators and elected officials enjoy.
We urge CHQ readers and friends to call their Senators and Representative (1-866-220-0044) and politely but firmly tell them you demand they vote NO on the Democrats’ unconstitutional gun bans and gun confiscation schemes and YES on hardening schools on the Israeli model.
CHQ Editor George Rasley is a certified rifle and pistol instructor, a Glock ® certified pistol armorer and a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant, or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. A member of American MENSA, he served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.
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