Repeatedly pointing out the weaknesses in these arguments makes one wonder why authors like Mr. Petersen don’t do some research before playing Polly the Parrot. Alas, it appears the repetitions must continue so that hopefully more readers will have the opportunity even though Polly seems to be either intellectually or ethically challenged.
First, armed teachers are not a “what if” possibility. They are a reality in several states. It seems that the controversy over armed teachers got an injection of new life when it was reported that Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education were considering using a bit of sleight-of-hand to get around prohibitions on using federal funds to purchase firearms for teachers.
Incidentally, that was a really bad idea. There are too many better uses for federal dollars. All that really needs to happen is for gunmakers to offer armed teachers the same discounts they offer to law enforcement officers. These discounts are typically less than wholesale price.
Texas has had armed teachers and staff members since 2007, following the Virginia Tech killings. To date, there has not been a school shooting in any Texas school with armed staff members. There has also never been an accidental discharge of a teacher firearm, a case in which a student or other person has been able to gain access to a teacher firearm or an incident involving a teacher “going postal” and shooting up the school.
The mass shooting that took place at Santa Fe High School in May did not involve armed staff. The Santa Fe Independent School District has its own police department consisting of certified and sworn officers with full police powers. Two officers responded to the shooting arriving within four minutes. The shooter opened fire on the officers, critically injuring one. The other officer returned fire, injuring the shooter, and was able to take the shooter into custody. In this case, a good guy with a gun was able to end the shooting.
But there is a huge difference between ending an active shooter incident and being able to prevent any casualties. Of the 94 school shootings reported by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS), only two lasted longer than a minute: Parkland and Santa Fe. Nikolas Cruz’s murder spree lasted about seven minutes. Dimitrios Pagourtzis’ took 32 minutes but that was from the time the shooting began to the time that Pagourtzis was taken into custody and it included the Santa Fe ISD officers’ response.
In the incident at Columbine High School, there was a Jefferson County deputy sheriff at the school. He was eating lunch in a remote part of the campus and it took him five minutes to arrive at the scene of the shootings where he exchanged fire with Eric Harris. In that five minutes, Harris and Dylan Klebold had already shot 12 people, killing two.
By the time Newtown police arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the killing was over. Officers said they heard a single gunshot, which was Adam Lanza committing suicide. The Newtown Police received the report almost immediately after the shooting began and officers were dispatched immediately and reached the school as quickly as possible.
This is where the whole “good guy” mantra runs into trouble with people like Mr. Petersen. It almost never happens that a mass shooting takes place where there is an armed responder, either a law enforcement officer or a citizen on the scene. There is a certain amount of time required to respond, even with emergency lights, sirens and a blatant disregard for the safety of other motorists.
Stephen Willeford was criticized because he couldn’t stop Devin Kelley before he killed all those people inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Willeford didn’t even hear the shots; he was watching TV. His daughter heard the shots, had to figure out that they were gunshots, determine where they were coming from, inform her father who immediately went to his gun safe, retrieved his rifle, loaded the rifle and rushed out the door. He didn’t even put his shoes on. By the time Willeford made it out to his front yard, Kelley was already emerging from the church. Willeford and Kelley exchanged shots and Willeford was able to hit Kelley twice, causing him to drop his rifle and flee.
The congregation of the church, the people of Sutherland Springs and the people of Texas regard Stephen Willeford as a hero for ending Kelley’s shooting spree.
The NRA wasn’t alone in being critical of the response of deputies with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Despite the pass given by David Hogg and others, apparently including Mr. Petersen, most real law enforcement officers consider the conduct of the BCSO deputies during the Parkland incident to be disgraceful. Putting themselves in harm’s way is part of the officer’s job. The agency quickly became known as the “Coward” County Sheriff on LEO message boards even before the NRA made any comments.
Peterson has now been charged with multiple felonies, arrested and booked. The always-malleable David Hogg quickly changed his tune.
Contrary to what appears to be commonly shared myth, a firearm is not a magic shield, even for a police officer. There is no guarantee of success — ever. This is why officers are trained; wear ballistic armor and have more latitude in the use of force than private citizens. The idea is to provide the officer with the best odds of being successful.
Firefight are hectic. They are also dangerous. I am not sure why an adult can’t comprehend this.
The recent mistaken shootings of security guards is tragic. But until the facts are known about the circumstances, it’s impossible to make a valid judgement on what went wrong. That is not a cop-out, it’s reality. It may well be that there was a breakdown in discipline or other factor; it may also be that there was some action of which we are unaware. But blaming these deaths on Wayne LaPierre or the NRA is ludicrous.
What continues to be overlooked in the aftermath of the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill is the fact that all those “common sense” gun control laws, including red flag laws, were in effect in California at the time. The killer had acquired his Glock pistol legally. Most of them were also in effect when Kevin Neal went on his spree through Rancho Tehama Reserve in November 2017. In fact, Neal had been ordered to surrender his firearms the previous April because he was under indictment for a violent crime.
Laws on universal background checks, assault weapon bans, state restrictions on magazine capacity, limits on the number of guns that can be purchased in a certain period of time, waiting periods, state approval for guns that can be legally sold in the state and more were also in effect when Elliot Rodger began murdering people in Isla Vista with his three legally purchased pistols.
According to the Gun Violence Archives, California has the second-highest number of mass shootings through December 1, 2018. It had the largest number of homicides and the highest overall body count. California was tied with Texas and Florida in the number of actual school shooting incidents reported by the CHDS.
I am a member of the NRA but I am not a big Wayne LaPierre fan. On the other hand, it appears that “good guys with guns” worked out better than “common sense” gun control. It’s not perfect by any means but it does show results, something that has eluded not only common sense gun control but those who promote it.