Mass Shootings and Something to Think About
On Saturday December 15th not even 21 hours after the massive school shooting I got to my desk and went to Facebook and Twitter. I do not usually post each day about the days ups and downs but that day I posted “ I can’t believe I have to say this, Thank God it is Saturday , SCHOOLS OUT let us still pray for them all” Schools out , will this mean there will be no kids getting killed by some lone gunman? I pray and hope so.
There is just no excuse for something to happen like this other than the forces that exist with the so called “bad Guy” makes him the Devil himself or the son of Satan. As I heard the news I could only imagine what if it was my grandkids or my brother’s kids. I began to feel so sad, that it went so deep I only could stop and pray for the parents, the families, the siblings and the school. How could I not. Then I thought of the kids and them not knowing what was going on and how their last seconds felt. I prayed for them as well. The teachers who got their kids to safety I prayed for them.
I am sure I do not have to explain to you the readers because I know you felt the same things I felt .. for how could you not. I asked Jesus to put His arms around those families and let them feel His presence and let them know that their kids are with Him and they are Ok. Please Lord let them know that now.
So after the initial shock I called my mom and dad and we discussed how sad this was , especially this upcoming Christmas where these lovely parents should be seeing their little ones with smiles on their faces as they open up Santa’s presents. I said to the people in the office some of these families will be homeless in the future for they will never recover from what this killer did to them. This incident will cause so many issues for the families who lost their little one and some of families who did not lose a child will have some of the same stressors that will cause some of them to be dysfunctional. It won’t matter how much money they have no matter what, some will never recover.
As most of you know I am a crisis kind of guy and being that way allows me to do my job serving the people we serve. I have to respond fast because I am the guy who has to keep the peace in the shelter. I remember when we had “Active Shooter Training” at the shelter last year. By the way here is the link we used for our training.
I belong to a Homeland Security Task force where we have meetings trying to secure the nation’s infrastructure. This active shooter policy was given to us a year or so ago.
A little bit after I digested the loss of those little kids I went into my crisis management mode. I began to think what could have been done to prevent this and what else needed to be done to prevent these things from happening in the first place. No matter how you look at this , this is a form of terrorism. There was so much terror present and with that being said what can be done to stop it. Most experts agree when it comes to terrorism it is hard to stop it all together. As we try to prevent it the terrorist develop new targets.
I think the first thing we need to do is to pay attention to the people we know, the people we see, and the people who do strange things that many of us do not do. Gun shops who are selling lots of ammo to a kid, can you just stop for a moment and think about it. Do you not have a child of your own? Why not stall or delay the sale if the state law does not require it. Ask some questions to the buyer and a simple “ is everything ok” statement made to the buyer. If you are suspicious call your local police department.
When dealing with an active shooter stalling them and delaying them is essential for this will allow more time for the first responding officers to arrive on scene. The more time the bad guy spends trying to get to his target the less he will actually kill. Reason being, hopefully the responding officers may get their before the first shot. Having automatic barriers or stalling devices or systems in place to also stall them will also allow more time for those responding officers to get into position to take the active shooter down by force or by other means. These systems should be designed to limit the person from gaining entry or if they get in to slow them up while inside. A system that could incorporate parents who do not work who may want to assist with a school based crime watch. These parents could be on the outside perimeter or the inside parking lot looking at people who arrive and to be able to communicate with police officers who are assigned to the school. This way if they saw someone come out of their car with a rifle or bullet proof vest they can alert the school or officer and the school could go to a lock down mode. Having doors that locked automatically would help the teacher who may be a little slower moving to get their kids to safety. Perhaps having a security system that is observed at the home of parents who do not work where they can sit and watch the parking lot or outside perimeter looking for someone who may jump the fence. Again all these things allow for a system that alerts first responders faster and alerts the schools to get ready for an attack. In turn this will allow a stall where the bad guy kills less people. In the state of Texas they use a security video system on the border where they have their citizens watch these cameras to report people who come in to the country illegally.
Making sure that the school is prepared at all times and to teach our kids that when there is an emergency that they need to do as their teachers tell them what to do. Students should know how to respond. Should they run or should they barricade themselves in a room, or should they hit the floor. These are things that should be told to them for common sense reasons. Teachers are the most important part of this plan. They all need to know what to do. Teachers should know all parts of their school and every place there is to hide. You can have all this in place but none of it will work if you do not pay attention to what is going on around you. This is the most important thing an adult or even a student can do…. Pay attention to what is going on around you. When you enter a large place with lots of doors know your escape route if something should happen. Look at the people and ask yourself does this person belong here and if not react fast by calling security.
There are two other areas of concern that I would like to address and the first one is a touchy situation. I have spoken to members of SWAT teams some of them have been retired for over 20 years and some are still on the police force. In about 40 percent of them, they stated they agreed to this upcoming question. The remaining 60 percent said they did not agree to this statement. And the question / statement is….. Should teachers be armed? Should some of the staff be armed? Should there be other forms of protection, such as taser guns, bean bag guns, and others forms like tear gas guns or tear gas grenades used in conjunction with auto locking doors leading to the classrooms and the only place the tear gas would go is the hallways. I will not respond to all those but rather give a little insight to a possible plan like the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program used to protect our airliners.
Basically this plan was activated after 911 where the plan would allow certain people who flew the planes to be armed as well as being sworn Federal Sky Marshals. Basically the flight crew was allowed to be armed in the aircraft and while in the air they were the sky marshal. They had to take a short class with firearms safety. A lot of the pilots were in the armed forces and already had firearms and combat type of training so giving them some safety tips in how to handle a critical incident as well as special ammo for airplanes made their cockpits safer. So would putting armed teachers be a way to deter these types of shooting. I do not think they would deter anything based on the anger that is present in the mind of the active shooter and if a mental health consumer is involved these armed teachers may not be a deterrent. However would them being armed stall the subject or give them time to take down the active shooter and the answer maybe yes. However, not everyone can shoot to kill , but then on the other hand people want to protect our children and their posture may firm up to say “ yes I can do it “ .
If we are not going to have police officers or armed security officers at every school then we need to think that there may be a time for us to arm teachers who want to take the time to get certified to carry a firearm and to be trained in critical incident techniques. I feel that the minimal hours used for the Federal Flight Deck Officers did not offer adequate training but if an 80 hour course could be developed with continuing education where they must qualify each and every year and take a refresher course of about 24 hours every year a valid program could be designed.
A lot of schools have unarmed security and no police officers on site and that is not good. Especially where a town may be large and not that many police officers working at the same time. If this is the case the response time may be longer than what we would want. Remember the response time is so important when it comes to the active shooter. If this is the case then we really need to think about using teachers or maybe the town should start a reserve police officer program where we can take some teachers and give them the powers of a volunteer police officer where they can teach or even coach Physical Education but to be able to react in a situation as a reserve police officer. The cost would be about $3500 in training and another $1500 in equipment. This can be done. This would make the first responding officers there in a matter of seconds. Each second the shooter is busy trying to defend himself gives him less children to kill. Having a system in place like this is a workable plan and the first part of a plan like this would be for the current police who know the demographics of their jurisdiction to explore to see if it can work. It is a mixed feeling among law enforcement.
The second area of concern is the use of smart systems in place like the applications on our smart phones used routinely by us. The use of Gunshot Location Systems is used by public safety agencies. The police refer to them as “gunshot location systems,” and have been used in dispatch centers for fast reaction to gunfire incidents. Basically they are used in towns where there are lots of shootings. These smart systems help the police to get to areas before someone even calls 911. The system locates where a gun went off by acquiring all forms of data and then the police respond to that area. If we could get these systems fine tuned where they could be installed in schools would the police get to the shooter faster? These systems can identify what type of guns have been shot off, count the number of rounds that were fired, locate the shooter and tell the direction of fire.
If a system was in place like this and shots started on the outside of the school would the system them lock the doors to the classroom automatically and alert the school to a lockdown at the same time automatically moving the video security camera systems where the gunshot came from and to be shown in real time to the police dispatch center and also in real time to the responding officers car. The system could alert the police who are assigned to the school so that officer may go to the exact area of the gun shots containing the shooter therefore less death. Again the faster we get to the active shooter then less death occurs. This system could move the rest of the children away from the shooters locations. If no police were assigned to the school then the teacher or staff member of the school who was a reserve officer would be on scene in seconds by sending the real time video of the shooter to his or her smart phone. We have that now for our homes with alarm systems where we can check on our pets or know our child is home from school and just entered the house. We see that in real time.
Some of you reading this story may say to yourself we cannot make schools like prisons and this kind of stuff is going to happen from time to time and no matter what we cannot stop it. Some may say all we need to do is to make classrooms like panic rooms or secure them like we did for our cockpits making them impossible to shoot through. You all may be correct, like terrorism no matter what you do we will always have it no matter what. Some of you may say Sean this is good but still we need to do more and you may be correct. Some of you may say ok we protect the schools, so the bad guys will now just go to a park or playground where nothing major can be done to keep the kids safe and this may be very true.
Like terrorism these incidents are being done because of hate or because of whatever crisis they are now going through in their lives that would cause them to want to hurt a little innocent child. The whole thing does not make sense. We did not have this type of incidents in the past like we have now until the last 20 to 30 years and now they seem to be happening in epidemic proportions. So what has gone wrong, what has now prompted these things to occur? What is different now than in the past where the violence was more fine tuned to a “one on one” type incident. I think this is where we need to focus on , we need to implement more warning signs, more help to recognize someone in crisis and to ask the almighty questions “ is everything Ok young man, why do you need all these guns and ammunition” When we see kids who are out casted we need to make programs for them where they can find love, learn love where they would respect human life. Putting God back into the schools may be against the law by policy but kids can have their own prayer groups and reach out to others and the school system cannot regulate it because it is our right to pray anytime. They can have their after school clubs with the theme of God and pray at lunch time. That future shooter may find what he is looking for by joining up with other kids and simply praying on and off at school may fill the emptiness. A friendly hug can let the confused feel the love in a hug. This alone may be more of a deterrent because then they feel compassion for others.
No matter what systems we now have in place for the safety of our children we need to do more. The time has come to sit down and protect the most precious resource in our world, our children. We no longer can tolerate the mass numbers of school shootings. We just owe it to the ones who have already died in their honor. Put money where we need to put it and that is to our little ones so at the end of the day parents can see their smiling children sitting at the table enjoying that after school snack.
Let’s start the year by praying for these families and for these things not to happen anymore. Mass Shootings , now that we thought about it, lets do something about it.