by Jeff Knox
As the new year dawns, just over a year after the atrocity at Sandy Hook, it's time to look at what's been done since that horror to add to the protection and defense of our children.
First, t’s important to recognize the fact that mass murder attacks on school children are extremely uncommon, and the odds of your or my children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews being directly involved are incredible small – probably in the neighborhood of 1 in 100 million in any given year – so you're more likely to win the PowerBall and MegaMillions lotteries – simultaneously – than to have a child involved in an attack like Sandy Hook or Columbine. Of course that's no comfort when tragedy does strike, and it's the possibility – regardless of how unlikely – which demands that steps be taken to reduce the odds even further.
It's clear that institutional lethargy, myopia, and political correctness have schools and their administrators virtually incapable of change. In the wake of the worst school massacre in decades, the response of school administrators around the country was to double-down on the same emergency response strategy that failed at Sandy Hook; the Hide and Hope strategy.
Teachers are instructed to close their classroom doors, gather children in a corner, and hold them there until the "lockdown" ends. Unfortunately, that's where the planning ends. There is rarely any planning for what exactly to do if the "bad guy" actually enters the room and starts hurting people.
Editor's Note: The following letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch was published on December 28, 2013 in response to a letter written by Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence founder Toby Hoover, in which she attempted to dismiss the importance of Buckeye Firearms Association's survey which revealed that dozens of Ohio schools are now authorizing concealed carry for certain people.
In last Saturday's letter, "Arming staff endangers students," Toby Hoover made many incorrect statements leading to the wrong conclusion about school safety. Looking at actual events, we see that an armed response is the only reliable way to stop an active killer.
On Dec. 13, a lone attacker walked into Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., intent on doing harm. He carried a shotgun, 125 rounds of ammunition, a machete and Molotov cocktails.
He intended to kill many people but failed. His lone casualty was 17-year-old senior Claire Davis.
Colorado's new gun-control laws failed to stop the killer from acquiring his gun. The ban on standard-capacity magazines had no effect on the shotgun or bandolier full of shells he wore.
Any steps taken to identify the killer and intervene failed. Controlling the entry point to the school, keeping the killer outside and partitioning off the building failed. Every preventive measure failed.
That is not to say they are not important, but in this particular event, they all failed. The same was true in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The critical difference between Sandy Hook and Centennial was an armed responder inside the building. This is precisely what security experts have suggested for years.
by Jim Irvine
While we still don't know all the details, it is possible to learn from early reports on a school shooting near Denver. We can look at what worked and what did not. Those who care to make schools safer will choose to copy aspects that worked. Unfortunately our recent survey shows that many school officials have chosen to ignore the life-saving lessons and leave untold thousands of children at risk.
On Friday, December 13, 2013, a lone attacker walked into Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado, intent on doing great harm. He reportedly carried a shotgun, a machete and a backpack containing three Molotov cocktails. He clearly intended to kill many people, but failed in his mission. His only casualty is Claire Davis, a 17-year-old senior who, as of later December, remained in critical condition with severe head trauma. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Claire, her family and friends.
Before we get into why he was unable to carry out his mission, let us look at all the things that didn't help to stop him.
Editor's Note: The following op-ed was originally published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Republished with permission of the author.
by Kevin O'Brien
Karl Pierson didn't fit the profile.
He wasn't a certified loser. He wasn't a wallflower. He didn't spend 18 hours a day locked in his room battering his brain with death metal.
He was a Boy Scout. He was a member of the Arapahoe High School debate team. He was an athlete.
But friends say he took a sudden turn away from normal. And on Friday, he showed up at the high school, in Centennial, Colo., with a shotgun, plenty of shells, a machete and a backpack full of firebombs, apparently intending to settle his differences with the debate team coach while doing as much collateral damage as possible.
His terror spree lasted a little more than a minute before his plans changed and he hastily retreated into the afterlife, turning the shotgun on himself in an unimpeachable closing statement.
Karl Pierson's effort to become the latest school shooting celebrity failed utterly.
To achieve celebrity status, a shooter needs five minutes or so, left to his own nefarious devices while his victims cower, plead and die.
Only then can the campaigners for "gun safety" ramp up the emotional argument for more regulations that will feel good, but that will lead only to more cowering, pleading and dying at the hands of people who are quite sure that because they feel angry or misunderstood or disrespected, the regulations don't apply to them.
Karl Pierson didn't get the five minutes of murder and mayhem that lead to a fortnight of headlines, permanent enshrinement on the school shootings wiki page and special remembrances at legislative hearings for years to come.
Karl Pierson, as it turned out, had less than a minute and a half to do evil. And quite frankly, the kid just wasn't up to the challenge.
The challenge came in the person of a Arapahoe County Deputy Sheriff James Englert, who ran toward the smoke from one of Pierson's incendiaries and the noise of the several shotgun blasts he'd fired — one of which critically wounded 17-year-old Claire Davis, who was not his primary target. As Englert neared the library, where Pierson had set fire to shelves of books, he was bellowing that he was a deputy sheriff and ordering the innocents in the area to get down.
The mere voice of undaunted authority was enough to persuade Pierson that he'd done as much damage as he was going to be permitted to do. The last round he fired had his own name on it, which is not atypical in mass-shooter situations. Trials are tedious; prison even more so.
by Jim Irvine
Saturday, December 14, 2013 marks the one year anniversary since a coward murdered his mother, stole her gun and her car, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where he brutally murdered his mother, six school employees and 20 innocent children before committing suicide.
Buckeye Firearms Foundation recently surveyed school employees to find out what has changed in the year since the Newtown killings. As we have already reported, our survey found that nearly two dozen Ohio schools have authorized individuals such as teachers, administrators and parents to carry firearms in schools. There has been enormous progress toward protecting our kids from mass killings at schools, but not all districts are taking your kids safety and security seriously.
The following information is taken from a survey with over 300 responses. This is not scientific, as the pool questioned is not random. They are all people who applied to be trained to carry firearms in schools. Still, their answers give reason to not only to rejoice at the progress in the past year, but also frustration at how reckless some districts are with your kids lives.