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November 24, 2008

School Daze

News this past weekend of a school shooting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, served to remind me of a couple of misconceptions about the nature of gun violence in our nation’s school systems.

As I travel around the country, I often hear people say that our nation’s schools are inherently dangerous because of gun violence. The truth is that our schools are far safer than the world outside. The most recent data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) shows that youth are over 50 times more likely to be murdered—and over 150 times more likely to commit suicide—when they are away from school than at school. Another DOJ study found that 93% of violent crimes that victimize college students occur off campus.

Secondly, I hear the belief expressed that school gun violence is confined to schools in large inner cities. The sheer lunacy of this line of argument always makes me think of the Columbine High School shooting, which took place in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999. Two white students from this suburban school killed 15 students and a teacher and wounded 23 others before killing themselves.

This past year there have been major school shootings in Blacksburg, Virginia; Opelousas, Louisiana; Willoughby, Ohio; Phoenix , Arizona; Boca Raton, Florida; Omaha, Nebraska; Mobile, Alabama; and DeKalb, Illinois. A more complete listing of school shootings by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence illustrates the fact that the problem is not confined to major urban areas.

Despite that fact that our schools are some of the safest places in the country, we must continue to endeavor to keep them that way and improve existing security procedures. We must also be wary of a hard push by the gun lobby to put concealed handguns in our children’s classrooms. This disturbing development threatens to put our kids at greater risk and take the focus off the real problem—the incredibly easy access that children and the mentally unbalanced have to guns in our society.


  1. Mike,

    It's been several months now that Harrold Texas has allowed teachers and staff to carry firearms.

    Surely, in this time as dangerous as firearms are, something should have happened to prove it was a rash decision, right?

    Recently, the was a newspaper article talking about the changes in police tactics for a school shooter/mass murderer scenario. The story mentioned that now police are being trained to have the first person on the scene enter and attempt to neutralize the criminal.

    Doesn't this change show that Harrold Texas school district is taking the same type of precautions that the police are..having trained people ready and able to respond to a shooter?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Bob S. The teachers at Harrold Texas School District are not law enforcement officers, nor do their CCW permits require similar training.

    What police department(s) are you referring to that has changed its tactics to encourage concealed carry permit holders to respond individually to active shooter situations? - CSGV

  3. CSGV,

    The Concealed Carry permit is required and an additional training class is specified by the school district. For obvious reasons, the exact nature of the training is not being released.

    As far as your comment that the teachers aren't law enforcement, that is correct. Are you claiming that only law enforcement personnel should be able to engage a criminal, stop criminal activities with a firearm?
    Considering the statistics that show CCW holder are less likely to shoot an innocent bystander then the cops are, shouldn't we encourage law abiding people to carry?

    Here is link to an article that describes the changes in tactics.


  4. Thanks for your follow-up comment, Bob S. Can you please provide a citation for the statistics you’re referring to that “show CCW holder are less likely to shoot an innocent bystander then the cops”?

    We read the article you linked and it has nothing to do with concealed carry permit holders. In fact, it doesn’t even make mention of them.

    The article instead describes the effort of certain police departments to allow for “rapid deployment” of street officers to deal with active shooter situations. The article states that this concept “isn’t new” and began to receive more attention after the April 1999 shootings at Columbine High School. Only one specific police department that has implemented this model (Arvada, Colorado) is mentioned in the article.

    As for the armed teachers in the Harrold, Texas, school district, we don’t see the “obvious reasons” why details about their training have not been released. The parents sending their children to school in the district should certainly to be made aware of these details so they can make a well-informed decision about their safety.

    The training requirement for concealed carry permit holders in the United States is typically a day-class, if their state requires them to have training at all. This day-class covers none of the advanced tactical training that SWAT members (or officers who participate in “rapid deployment” teams) receive. - CSGV

  5. I would suspect the reason details of the training teachers are getting in Harrold isn't released is because they don't want criminals wishing to do harm to know about it. It's the same reason police tactics are usually not covered in great detail.

    Anyway, armed citizens HAVE proven capable of stopping rampage killers in schools. In 1997, the assistant principle of a high school in Pearl, Mississippi retrieved a gun from his car and used it to apprehend a deranged killer, saving many lives (perhaps he could have saved more if he had the gun on him instead of in his vehicle). While your organization may have be opposed to bringing a firearm to school, I have no doubt the students and faculty of that place are very grateful that he did.

    And consider the following:


    "The psychological profile of a mass murderer indicates he is looking to inflict the most casualties as quickly as possible. Also, the data show most active killers have no intention of surviving the event. They may select schools and shopping malls because of the large number of defenseless victims and the virtual guarantee no on the scene one is armed.

    As soon as they're confronted by any armed resistance, the shooters typically turn the gun on themselves."

    Notice they didn't say police in that last paragraph, just "armed resistance". Something to think about.

    Also, more facts to consider:


    • 98% of active killers act alone.

    • 80% have long guns, 75% have multiple weapons (about 3 per incident), and they sometimes bring hundreds of extra rounds of ammunition to the shooting site.

    • Despite such heavy armaments and an obsession with murder at close range, they have an average hit rate of less than 50%.

    • They strike “stunned, defenseless innocents via surprise ambush. On a level playing field, the typical active killer would be a no-contest against anyone reasonably capable of defending themselves.”

    • “They absolutely control life and death until they stop at their leisure or are stopped.” They do not take hostages, do not negotiate.

    • They generally try to avoid police, do not hide or lie in wait for officers and “typically fold quickly upon armed confrontation.”

    • 90% commit suicide on-site. “Surrender or escape attempts are unlikely.”

    As you can see, one does not need SWAT training to stop a rampage killer, because "on a level playing field, the typical active killer would be a no-contest against anyone reasonably capable of defending themselves", and they "typically fold quickly upon armed confrontation."

    Clearly, most rampage killers are not experts. They are untrained incompetent fanatics whose ability to kill en mass is primarily due to the lack of resistance they face, not their own skill.

    When you take all these facts into consideration, allowing trained lawful citizens the ability to carry on schools (as they do everywhere else) doesn't seem so "disturbing".

  6. thestaplegunkid9, I don’t think anyone is expecting the Harrold School District to release a video of their teachers being trained. But it is perfectly reasonable for the parents in that school district to know how many hours of training the teachers have undergone and in what specific disciplines (i.e., tactical training). Parents should also be informed if the teachers will undergo follow-up training at some kind of regular interval. That basic information is critical to the safety of their children. Nor would it tip off criminals.

    Regarding the 1997 Pearl, Mississippi, shooting, do you have any evidence that the students and faculty at Pearl High School want their teachers to be armed? Please provide a citation(s).

    As for the argument that many school shooters are suicidal, that is certainly true. But that also suggests that these shooters might not be deterred by the prospect of facing armed resistance. In the words of Students for Gun Free Schools, “To the extent that [school shooters] could provoke firefights with such individuals in crowded college classrooms and create additional mayhem, they might even seek out such confrontations.”

    The two articles you cited describe “single officer response” training programs being offered by two Ohio organizations, the SEALE Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute. This training is being provided to law enforcement officers serving in schools through the National School Resource Officer Organization. Only one city police department that has adopted these tactics is mentioned in the articles—in Blue Ash, Ohio.

    Regarding the statistics you cited about active shooters, they come from Ron Borsch of the SEALE Academy, who “analyzed more than 90 active-shooter incidents on the basis of data largely ferreted out from Internet reports.” This was not a scientific study, nor was it peer-reviewed. Furthermore, the Force Science Research Center clarified their release of Borsch’s analysis by stating, “We offer this report not necessarily as a tactical advisory but as an example of one trainer’s effort to give tactical instruction a research base.”

    In any case, neither Ron Borsch of the SEALE Academy nor John Benner of the Tactical Defense Institute advocate in either of the two articles you cited that concealed carry permit holders respond to active shooter situations without the assistance of law enforcement. Their programs are for law enforcement officers who receive extensive training in firearm safety and tactics before ever confronting an active shooter situation. As we noted before, the only training requirement for concealed carry permit holders in the United States is a single day-class (typically 2-4 hours long), if their state requires them to have training at all.

    Finally, regarding the notion that mass shootings occur only in “gun-free zones” in the United States, it can be quickly dispelled by reference to three recent and tragic high-profile shootings: Michael Kennedy’s attack on the Fairfax County Police Station in 2006, Jason Hamilton’s attack on the Latah County Courthouse in 2007, and Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton’s attack on Kirkwood City Hall in 2008. During the second incident, a concealed carry permit holder, Jason Hussman, biked to the courthouse with a .45-caliber handgun when he heard shots being fired. He never got off a shot and was shot four times by Hussman. Thankfully, he survived, but he endured two surgeries and extensive damage to his body. - CSGV

  7. No I don't have any citation that the people at the High School want faculty armed as a general policy, but if you read what I said, you can see that wasn't my point. My point was that on that particular day, I'm sure everyone was thankful that the brave assistant principal was armed. The killer had rounds left on him when he was apprehended. How many more lives would have been lost if the school was completely "gun free"?

    The statement you provided by SFGFS that "“To the extent that [school shooters] could provoke firefights with such individuals in crowded college classrooms and create additional mayhem, they might even seek out such confrontations.” is not based on any sound facts or studies. Based on what we know, in most cases, goal of rampage killers isn't to get into a shootout. It's to kill as many defenseless people as possible before commiting suicide. This was made clear in the articles I cited, which stated: "They generally try to avoid police, do not hide or lie in wait for officers and “typically fold quickly upon armed confrontation." In other words, they typically do everything they can to avoid those who can shoot back, thus explaining why they pick "gun free zones" most of the time.

    And while you are correct that the law enforcement studies made no comments about armed citizens, the statement that "On a level playing field, the typical active killer would be a no-contest against anyone reasonably capable of defending themselves" simply cannot be disregarded. Contrary to what you might think, law enforcement officers are not the only ones "reasonably capable of defending themselves," as we have seen in many cases involving armed citizens saving lives, such as the 1997 Pearl Mississippi rampage, the volunteer citizen security guard in the recent Colorado church shooting, and in this even more recent video of an armed citizen who saved an employee's life at a Wall-Mart:


    And if schools are concerned that CCW permit holders are not well trained enough, they can simply require them to take an additional course taught by law enforcement, which is exactly what the Harrold school district is doing. This would be even easier for colleges to do, since most of them have their own police departments who could provide the training themselves (the funding for the class could be covered by fees from those who attend).

    Finally, while anti-CCW groups love to point out that rampage killers do, on rare occasions, target places where police or armed security guards are present, they neglect to mention that the outcome of such cases is far less severe then when they take place in "gun free zones". In all the cases you cited, the death toll was very small (usually 0-3, with the highest being 5) compared to cases of rampage killers in "gun free zones", where the death toll often reaches high double digits, up to 32 in VT. Thus, far from making a valid anti-gun point, it actually CONFIRMS what the CCW advocates have been saying all along: That immediate armed resistance at the scene of the attack is the best method for stopping rampages and saving lives.

  8. thestaplegunkid9, the assistant principal at Pearl High School subdued Luke Woodham as we was about to drive off the campus, after the shooting at the school had concluded. It is possible that he saved additional lives (we will never know what Woodham might have done after leaving the school), but at that point the shooter was identified, his location was known, and he likely would have been apprehended by inbound authorities. Our point was, however, that you are speaking for the parents, students and faculty at Pearl High School with no evidence whatsoever as to their views regarding the arming of teachers.

    You are right about SGFS’ statement about active shooters not being based on “sound facts or studies,” but neither is the evidence you cite. Mr. Borsch’s analysis of “more than 90 active-shooter incidents on the basis of data largely ferreted out from Internet reports” was neither scientific nor was it reviewed by peers.

    Regarding concealed carry permit holders, their training requirements are minimal (if their state requires them to have any training at all). Nor are they accountable to the public, as law enforcement officers are. They are responsible only for their individual security. We agree that they should be required to receive more training to obtain their permits, but also feel that school security is best provided by highly trained law enforcement officers.

    Your assertion that our schools are dangerous places because they are gun-free zones is simply not supported by data. The fact is that America’s schools are some of the safest places in the country. As mentioned in this blog, the most recent data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) shows that youth are over 50 times more likely to be murdered—and over 150 times more likely to commit suicide—when they are away from school than at school. Another DOJ study found that 93% of violent crimes that victimize college students occur off campus. Finally, a 2001 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that the overall homicide rate at postsecondary
    education institutions was 0.07 per 100,000 of enrollment in 1999. By comparison, the criminal homicide rate in the United States was 5.7 per 100,000 persons overall in 1999.

    To put it simply, the gun-free policies at America’s schools have worked, and worked well.

    Finally, you stated that in rampage killings, “the death toll often reaches high double digits.” You then cite Virginia Tech, which was the single worst mass shooting in U.S. history. What other incidents are you referring to that had death totals reaching “high double digits”? Please list them.

    The fact is more than 80 people die every day in the United States from gun violence, many of them in communities that are filled with guns. We are the single most heavily armed nation on earth (with no other country a close second). If the presence of guns deterred shooters, we would not have a homicide rate and gun death rate that dwarfs that of other industrialized democracies. - CSGV

  9. While it is true that the assistant principle at the Pearl high school was unable to apprehend the shooter until he was in the process of fleeing the scene (though as you admitted, he might have been planning to take more lives somewhere else), it seems the main reason for this is the fact that the principle had to go all the way out to his car (which he parked off school grounds in order to comply with state law on firearms) in order to get his gun. If he had been able to reach his gun sooner, perhaps he could have stopped shooter before earlier before more lives were lost. Once again, you can see how an argument used against CCW is actually one in favor of it.

    The police study I cited may not have been scientific or peer reviewed, but still is it seems reasonable and is based on studying real events. It seems like a good thing to cite, at least until a similar study on the same topic which is more scientific is conducted (if you know of one already, please feel free to show it). Either way, I'm far more willing to believe a study from a trained police officer then a broad statement from an anti-CCW group that knows nothing of firearms and provides no citation at all.

    Weather or not you feel professional security guards or cops would be "better" then CCW holders at stopping rampage attacks isn't the issue. That notion is a false choice, because it assumes you have to pick one or the other, which is not the case. In nearly all cases, police or guards are not at the scene of the initial shooting, which leaves the victims to fend for themselves until they get there, resulting in many casualties. In reality, the choice is between enabling law abiding trained citizens to fight back against crazed killers, or allowing them to get slaughtered en mass until the police arrive. We have seen the results of that, at VT, Columbine, and elsewhere. The results of the second pick do not seem favorable.

    Again, any training concerns with regard to CCW holders at schools could be adressed with a special class taught campus law enforcement officers (and funded by the attendees), which is what the Harrold School district in Texas is doing.

    Your assertion that I said schools are dangerous is false. I said no such thing. I simply pointed out, that schools, as with all other gun free zones, attract rampage killers because they can rest assured they will not have to worry about anyone fighting back until the police arrive.

    In other words, the gun free policies of schools have cost many lives, at VT, NIU, and other places. This means they have clearly not "worked well". Perhaps you are okay with the assurance that people in these places will die in droves whenever a rampage killer visits them (the killers are certainly okay with it), but that doesn't mean the rest of us should resign ourselves to the notion the dozens of deaths are an inherent part of a mass shooting in all cases and nothing can be done about it.

    I'm surprised you are unaware of the many mass shootings in "gun free zones" that have resulted in deaths in the "high double digits". Besides VT, others include the McDonald's massacre (21 dead), Luby's massacre (24 dead), Columbine (13 dead), and University of Texas massacre (16 dead). Also, such massacres are not confined to America. "Gun free" areas, other nations have seen the Port Aurther Massacre (35 dead),Dunblane Massacre (17 dead), Hungford Massacre (17 dead), and École Polytechnique massacre (14 dead). Perhaps these numbers do not meet your definition of "high double digits", but they are still a lot worse then in the cases you cited where armed resistance was present at the scene and able to respond immediately.

    It is true that we are a heavily armed nation, but as you can see, the lack of arms in other nations did not prevent them from suffering through mass shootings. Also, while there are plenty of guns in America, there are still plenty of "gun free zones", such as schools, which keep mass murderers well supplied with defenseless victims. Rampage killers are well aware of this, which is why they almost always pick "gun free zones" as the sight for their rampages. After all when was the last time you heard of a mass murder at a gun show, gun shop, or shooting range?

  10. thestaplegunkid9, we still don’t see how the Pearl High School shooting is an argument for arming teachers in our schools. Had the assistant principal been armed inside the school and confronted Luke Woodham, many things could have gone wrong. He could have become a target as he reached for his gun and been shot by Woodham. He could have fired at Woodham and missed, striking an innocent student or faculty member. The situation was chaotic and conducive to panic—the data shows us that even experienced law enforcement officers rarely hit their targets in such situations.

    On a more basic level, we think we can do better as a society than arming and preparing our teachers to shoot and kill their students. There are far more positive and proactive steps that can be taken. We can do a much better job of detecting mental health issues in students and treating them. And we can do a much better job of denying mentally ill individuals access to firearms, a fact that has become patently obvious in the wake of Seung-Hui Cho, Steven Kazmierczak, and other school shooters with longstanding mental health problems.

    As for the Students for Gun Free Schools report we cited (“Why Our Campuses are Safer Without Concealed Handguns”), it was extensively researched and contains 25 citations in six pages (much of that primary source material). As for their specific statement, “To the extent that [campus shooters] could provoke firefights with [concealed carry permit holders] in crowded college classrooms and create additional mayhem, they might even seek out such confrontations,” the source for this statement was the same one used by Mr. Borsch—case studies of past school shootings. Neither party has expertise in clinical psychology, and both are speculating.

    Probably the single most exhaustive study ever conducted on a rampage shooting was the report of the Virginia Tech Review Panel. They interviewed more than 200 witnesses, reviewed more than 1,000 documents, and analyzed Cho's background in excruciating detail. Their recommendation was that "guns be banned on campus grounds and in buildings
    unless mandated by law

    You have yet to provide any actual data that “gun free zones attract rampage killers.” We have cited numerous examples where mass shooters targeted gun full zones. But more telling is data which shows that our schools are far safer than the country as a whole, in terms of their rate of homicide and violent crime. To state it again, our school’s gun-free policies have worked well. Our schools remain some of the safest places in the United States.

    As for the four rampage shootings you cited, we are familiar with all these tragedies, but none of them involve death tolls in the “high double digits.” Including Virginia Tech, these shootings took place from 1966-2007. During that 41-year period, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from gun homicide, the overwhelming majority outside of “gun free zones.” Put another way, Americans are being shot and killed in “gun full zones” as we write this. 32 Americans die from gun homicide every day, on average.

    The international rampage shootings you cited from England, Canada and Australia are extremely rare incidents in those countries, in large part because of the tough gun laws they have enacted. The data is striking:

    Total # of Homicides in 2004: Australia 305 (1.52), Canada 622 (1.93), England & Wales 853 (1.61), USA 16,148 (5.50).

    Total # of Gun Homicides in 2004: Australia 53 (0.26), Canada 172 (0.53), England & Wales 68 (0.13), USA 11,624 (3.96).

    Total # of Gun Deaths in 2004: Australia 289 (1.44), Canada 743 (2.30), England & Wales 191 (0.36), USA 29,569 (10.07).

    It’s yet more evidence that we can do a far better job in this country of denying criminals and the mentally ill access to guns. - CSGV

  11. What about Utah? They have let CHL holders carry on Utah college campuses and I haven't heard anything "bad" happen there? Unless I'm mistaken VT already HAD a ban on guns on their campus when Cho went on that shooting spree. It’s obvious that CSGV columnists don't get out enough and go shooting. IDPA is a shooting competition event where there are "no shoot" targets, civilians/non combatants, which a shooter must NOT hit while moving as well as targets that HAVE to be shot at least three times before moving to the next target while moving or shooting behind “cover”. The IDPA matches I go to have at least two courses of fire that involve "school"/active shooters with several "civilian" targets we CAN'T hit at ALL. All of the courses of fire are timed which adds stress making it more difficult to shoot.

    CSGV seems to think that if there is an active shooter going on in a school that CHL'ers will HUNT this person out when it’s NOT true. That is NOT how we were trained, in TX at least, we were taught to barricade ourselves in if we couldn’t get out and “ambush” the shooter if he/she tried to get to where I or others were or if we were not confined we were to retreat and provide protection for others in retreat in case the “shooter” comes our way. Our instructor “drilled” into us to be accountable for EVERY round we discharge whether we are at the range or not. If it’s not “safe” to return fire, i.e. civilians still BEHIND the shooter, then I’ll wait for them to get clear before I return fire, hopefully they get clear really fast!

  12. You state the things that "could have gone wrong" at the Pearl Mississippi case without mentioning the thing that actually did go right: An armed citizen got his gun and used to aprehend a crazed killer. There is no reason to believe the situation would have been worse if the brave principle had gotten his gun sooner and it is absurd to suggest otherwise.

    The fact that things can (and sometimes do) go wrong when police use guns is never used as an excuse to leave them disarmed and defenseless. Why should such hypothetical possibilities be used to disarm lawful trained citizens? Furthermore, you comparison of the hit percentage of the cops to armed citizens is misleading since the cops deal with situations under the most adverse conditions imaginable, situations that armed citizens will never face. Until a study is conducted on the accuracy of armed citizens, you have no grounds to say anything about it one way or the other.

    I understand you don't like the idea of "arming and preparing our teachers to shoot and kill their students", but that is not an issue since no one suggesting we do that. Pro-CCW supporters are simply saying that students (who are at least 21) and faculty who CHOOSE to be armed and undergo training should be allowed to do so in case the need occurs requiring deadly force to stop a deadly threat. Why is that so unreasonable? Why is an unhindered massacre of defenseless victims considered by you to be an acceptable alternative to this?

    It is true that much can be done to try to prevent rampage killers from getting guns, but what do you propose if all those checks fail and they still get them anyway, as has happened many times in places with strict gun laws? Again, you seem to think that a horrific massacre is simply the inevitable, perhaps even acceptable, outcome whenever a mass shooting occurs.

    It doesn't have to be that way. What you fail to realize is that a sound gun policy doesn't just involve keeping guns out of the wrong hands. It also involves keeping guns in the right hands! And the right hands doesn't just mean the police. Doing what we can to keep criminals from getting guns while making sure citizens have the proper means to defend themselves in case they do is what we should be striving for.

    Just recently, a small group consisting of between 10 to 25 people in India inflicted almost 500 deaths and injuries during a shooting rampage. We see the results yet again: Another mass shooting resulting in another mass murder in another "gun free zone", all because a nation's draconian gun restrictions failed to disarm terrorists while the victims had no means to defend themselves.

    The data and cases I cited in my other posts is clear. Gun free zones do attract rampage killers, and immediate armed resistance is the best way to stop them as fast as possible with the smallest loss of life. This is confirmed by your own citations of shootings that took place in "gun filled zones", which show that when armed resistance is present and swift, the death toll is much smaller.

  13. Thanks for your comment, Rudy. We have seen pro-gun groups claim that Utah’s colleges and universities have experienced no offenses involving concealed carry permit holders, but we have been unable to find any evidence to support this claim. Reports published by campus police at these schools do not break down offenses to indicate whether perpetrators are permit holders or not. Nor have we been able to find any public testimony from these law enforcement officials on the topic.

    As for CSGV staff going out and shooting, our director of communications recently did, firing a number of different firearms at a range in Washington. He blogged about his experience here. You clearly enjoy the shootings sports and take your firearms training seriously. It is notable (and disturbing) that you are the first pro-gun commentator on our blogs to acknowledge the possibility of collateral damage in an active shooter situation, to stress the necessity of showing restraint and discipline when innocents are exposed and there is no clear line of fire, and to state that retreat is sometimes the best option. We commend you for it.

    We’d make two points, however. The first is that concealed carry permit holders in Texas are not required to undergo any of the extensive training that you have. The only requirement in Texas for CCW holders is a single 10-hour course. That course does not involve any advanced training in tactical response, the likes of which SWAT members receive before responding to active shooter situations. Texas’ requirement, regrettably, is actually one of the toughest in the country. Many states require only a 2-4 hour class and several require no training whatsoever.

    Second, while we understand that the timing of International Defensive Pistol Association events might provide a source of stress for competitors, that is nothing compared to the stress that an individual would experience if he was under fire by an active shooter trying to take his life.

    To quote John C. Cerar, the former commander of the New York Police Department’s firearms training section, who was describing low hit ratios by their officers: “You take Olympic shooters, and they practice all the time, and they can hit a fly off a cow’s nose from 100 yards. But if you put a gun in that cow’s hand, you will get a different reaction from the Olympic shooter.” - CSGV

  14. thestaplegunkid9, we are baffled by your comment that armed citizens will never face “situations under the most adverse conditions imaginable” when you have been advocating to allow concealed carry permit holders to respond with lethal force in active shooter situations—incredibly challenging events even for highly trained law enforcement officers that are marked by chaos and unpredictability, and which lend to panic on the part of those involved.

    Your additional, mysterious certainty about how the Pearl High School shooting would have turned out had the assistant principal drawn (and possibly fired) his handgun inside the school leads us to believe that you have an inflated sense of confidence in your ability to respond to such situations which is not evidence-based. In reality, this assistant principal merely pointed a gun at Luke Woodham’s head after Woodham had left the school, gotten into his car, and crashed it into a nearby tree. Woodham wasn’t even holding his rifle at that time.

    You seem to ignore the incredible potential for collateral damage and unintended consequences in these scenarios. For us, this reinforces the conclusions of the Virginia Tech Review Panel that our nation’s campuses are far better served by trained law enforcement officers that have a duty to protect the public.

    Finally, we reviewed your comments in this thread and could not find any examples of primary source data that you cited. Your only actual citation of published research was contained in the article about the study produced by Ron Borsch, manager of the SEALE Regional Training Academy. Borsch “analyzed more than 90 active-shooter incidents on the basis of data largely ferreted out from Internet reports.” It is unclear whether he used any primary source material in his research. His study was neither scientific nor peer-reviewed. He did no comparative analysis with mass shootings in gun full zones to see if shooters were more or less likely to commit homicide in gun free zones.

    You yourself then selected a subset of five rampage shootings that occurred over a 41-year period (1966-2007) to provide “evidence” that shooters target gun free zones. You handpicked the five cases with the highest death totals possible (although none were in the “high double digits” as you stated). The total number of deaths in these five incidents (the worst mass shootings in U.S. history) was 106. During that same 41-year period, hundreds of thousands of Americans died from gun homicide. In academic terms, your “case study” contains a biased sample and has no statistical relevance.

    The actual facts on America’s schools are clear. They are some of the safest places in our country, and students are far less likely to be killed in school than they are in the communities outside their schools. Here, again, are the relevant facts, provided by primary source data:

    * The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice statistics has released data that shows that youth ages 5-18 are over 50 times more likely to be murdered—and over 150 times more likely to commit suicide—when they are away from school than at school.

    * A Department of Justice study found that 93% of violent crimes that victimize college students occur off campus.

    * A study by the U.S. Department of Education found that the overall homicide rate at postsecondary education institutions was 0.07 per 100,000 of enrollment in 1999. By comparison, the criminal homicide rate in the United States was 5.7 per 100,000 persons overall in 1999.

    Gun homicides are far more likely to occur off school grounds than on school grounds. Our schools’ gun free policies have helped make these institutions some of the safest places in America. - CSGV

  15. You can try to downplay the herioc actions of the Assistant Principle all you want, but the fact remains that his actions took a crazed killer off the streets and there is no basis for believing the outcome would be worse if he had gotten his gun sooner. Anyone who thinks so should tell the police to keep their guns in their patrol cars until they get shot at. I don't hear many calls for that.

    An armed citizen isn't going to deal with pulling over a gun toting drug dealer at 3 am. An armed citizen isn't going to have to chase armed suspects down dark allyways. An armed citizen isn't going to get into a prolonged gun battle with multiple armed suspects barricaded in buildings. Those are the situations that the police have to deal with and that is a key reason why their hit percentage is so low.

    In summery, the the effectiveness of an armed citizen cannot be determined by studies of police performance. You have provided NO evidence whatsoever that armed citizens have poor hit percentage or that they routinely shoot innocent bystanders when using guns in self defense situations. Until you provide some, you have no grounds for claiming they are ineffective at defending their lives.

    No one is ignoring the "Incredible potential for collateral damage and unintended consequences." On the contrary, the reason few people mention this is because the need to take precautions to avoid hitting the wrong target is self-evident. It is so obvious that it does not need to be mentioned. One of the four basic rules of gun safety is "be aware of your target, what's in line with it, and what's behind it."

    But what is particularly alarming is that you are ignoring the fact that NOT having guns present at the scene of shooting rampages is what is causing massive deaths and injuries, not armed citizens. It is truly astounding that you consider the mere "potential" of an innocent bystander getting hit an unacceptable risk, yet seem perfectly fine with an unhindered massacre, which as we have seen, is the only alternative. Look at what is really happening. It's not armed citizens shooting in self defense that sre causing dozens of deaths and injuries during shooting rampages. It's crazed killers who are doing this because no one can shoot back.

    As for your other statements, it seems we are talking about two different things. I am talking about shooting rampages, while you are talking about overall crime. Overall crime is a separate issue. The issue at hand is the fact that "gun free zones" clearly attract rampage killers and the inability to fight back all but ensures a horrific massacre.

    It is true that schools are by and large safe places (I have never said otherwise, nice strawman though), but only as long as criminals decide to stay away from them. What we have seen at VT, NIU, Columbine, and elsewhere, what happeneds when a crazed killer decides to go on a shooting spree in a "gun free zone". That many deaths and injuries will occur is indisputable. The difference between us is that you seem to be perfectly okay with that, while I do not accept that as an inherent outcome.

    Schools may be safe places most of the time, but that should not prevent us from trying to make them safer. Ending the "gun free" policies that attract rampage killers would help with that a great deal.

  16. thestaplegunkid9, there is not a single shred of evidence to prove that schools, as gun free zones, attract shooters. If they did, and if the “horrific massacres” you speak of were commonplace, schools would not have homicide and violent crime rates that are dramatically lower than the overall U.S. rate. The fact is that rampage shootings are rare, and our schools’ gun free policies help to prevent the shootings which are far more commonplace in our society, including gun suicides and gun homicides involving intimates.

    It is the outside world (where guns are plentiful), and not in schools, where thousands of gun homicides are taking place each year. In 2003, for example, there were 11,920 total gun homicides in the United States, but only 10 total murders on the nation’s college campuses. For the most recent year available, there were just 14 homicides of school-age youth ages 5–18 at school.

    As for police hit ratios, those ratios include all incidents during which police fire their weapons at a human target, not just the ones you mentioned. Those hit ratios remain low even at point blank range (0-6 feet). In any case, confronting a deranged active shooter who has opened fire is as challenging a situation as any of those you describe. In the words of Paul Howe, a 20-year veteran and former Special Operations soldier and owner of Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT), “Responding to an Active Shooter is the most difficult mission to perform of all the missions skills assigned to either patrol or tactical officers.” And it strains credibility to think that an individual who is only required to have a few hours of handgun safety training—if they are required by their state to have training at all—is going have a better hit ratio than professional law enforcement officers, who train extensively before they even join the service, and who are then required to demonstrate their proficiency with their sidearm on a regular basis. For the SWAT officers who respond to active shooter situations, the training is even more intensive.

    If you’re looking for disturbing and true accounts of concealed carry permit holders committing violent offenses, we’d refer you to our “Ordinary People” series at our Bullet Counter Points blog (all entries accessible on the left side toolbar). The most recent entry involves a concealed carry permit holder who drank five double shots of vodka and then shot his six year-old daughter in the head while cleaning his handgun.

    As for the difference between your position and ours, it is that we agree with the Virginia Tech Review Panel, law enforcement across the country, and the overwhelming majority of Americans that concealed handguns have no place in our nation’s schools. Many other steps are now being taken to improve security at our nation’s schools that will improve an already strong safety record without putting our children at additional risk. - CSGV