Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guns in America - Protecting Our Schools...or not

After the shootings at schools, particularly Columbine, school boards and Departments of Education in both Canada and the United States have taken steps to ensure the safety of their students.  One procedure used is called "lockdown".  As a person that has been involved in the education system for many years, I have seen lockdown practices in action.  Classroom doors are locked, lights are turned off, curtains are closed, door windows are covered and students "hide" in the corners of their classrooms in an attempt to prevent a potentially violent offender from attacking them.

Back in 2010, Greg Crane, owner of Response Options, promoted his theory on how schools should protect students in a presentation to the Ohio School Boards Association entitled "Enhancing lockdown strategies".  The 2007 booklet intended for school staff members opens with the line "....We create second chances - Surviving the Active Shooter".

After citing statistics from several school shootings, here is a direct quote (errors included) from the booklet:

"Almost all of these victims died either acting passively, or while complying with bad guy's demands.  Yet in today's mainstream school safety procedures, we tell our staffs and students to stay behind the locked door until help arrives, and/or comply with demands and that's as far as the training goes.  But what if there is no locked door and compliance is just getting people shot?  What's the mainstream advice now?  Silence."

Mr. Crane's booklet then goes on to state that researchers estimate that between 100,000 and 250,000 guns come into United States schools every day and that there were 515 victims of life-threatening attacks in schools between 1992 and 2004.

Mr. Crane states that lockdowns do not work, largely because there are many targets that offer no resistance to a shooter because they are told to be "static" (i.e. cower in the corner of a classroom).

What solution does Mr. Crane offer?

He proposes the A.L.i.C.E. plan, an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.  Let's take a closer look at the Counter part of the proposed solution as quoted from his booklet:

"The Bad Guy has come to your school with a plan: To hurt as many people as possible in the time afforded him.  He is under the belief that either everyone is going to do nothing to counter his plan, or they will do exactly as he instructs because today he is in-charge.  By engaging in ACTIONS, that do not fall into line with his expectations, we will cause hi to commit mental functions to this new dynamic he's facing.  This will cause hesitation, which equates to time."

What ACTIONS does Mr. Crane suggest?

"Our goal is to cause sensory overload on behalf of the Bad Guy.  We want him to see things he did not plan to see, hear things he did not plan to hear, and feel things he did not plan to feel.  The simple act of throwing any object at a person's face causes an instinctual reaction- protect the head.  Shooting is a physical skill.  It requires certain acts to done competently...Distractions are proven tactics used to gain the element of surprise or confuse the opponent, both good things for staff and students encountering an attack."

That's an interesting concept.  The classrooms that I have spent thousands of hours in are loaded with a plethora of "missiles" that could be used against a "Bad Guy"; pencils, erasers, crayons, smart board markers and erasers, staplers etcetera ad infinitum.

Ask yourself, if you were facing this in a confined space...

...would you be willing to defend yourself by distracting the shooter with classroom supplies?

Perhaps there is another solution that doesn't involve teachers and students having to defend themselves with pens and pencils.


  1. In theory, a class of thirty rushing an armed gunman would mean that only a finite number of students would be shot. But that's in theory. None of us are trained for starters and as for an instinctual reaction, point a gun at me and my first reaction might not be to throw my pencil. We can theorize all we want but in looking at your video, I have to ask why such guns are for sale. Hunting? Defence? Geesh.

  2. Because we are free American citizens, dickweed.

  3. Dickweed? Hmmm, methinks he doth protest too much. With over 30,000 deaths each year in the United States related to firearms, any normal person would ask what the correlation is. I may be going out on a limb here but maybe, just maybe, those deaths are somehow related to a gun. Or at least an attitude about guns. The United States, despite being a supposed advanced civilized country, has one of the highest rates of gun related deaths. Yes, American citizens are free. Even free to shoot themselves in the foot. Dickweed, indeed.

    Guns: As American as Apple Pie

    1. I won't call you any names, but the best answer to give to the question "Why does anyone need one of those?" is "Because."
      Because this is America and we were founded on Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (so long as that is not infringing on another's rights or liberties).
      30K deaths a year, huh? So you're now lumping legal and law abiding gun owners into the criminal acts committed with firearms by criminals.
      Is the intent here to save lives? Then lets address that. Why do we allow motor vehicles to be produced and sold that will double the highest posted speed limits in America when the number of people killed by excessive speed FAR outnumbers those killed by firearms even including intentional homicides? How does your "doth protest too much" argument fall in this comparison?
      If saving lives is your intent, then regulators on vehicles and lowering speed limits to 25mph would have a much higher impact in lowering fatalities.
      Taking law abiding citizens rights to own firearms away would be similar to me taking your car keys away because some people decide to drive drunk.

    2. Bob G. from FloridaApril 5, 2013 at 4:02 AM

      See, Mr. Greene, the problem that you have is you are trying to confuse the issue with a classic debate technique known as "assumption of equality." Here, you are trying to equate gun abuse and deaths to that of motor vehicles. (By the way, you also have a false set of facts regarding motor vehicles. There are not nearly as many deaths as you think on our highways, and about half of them are caused by drunk drivers or drivers otherwise impaired).

      So, back to the main argument: cars serve a purpose. According to the latest surveys, the average American will travel 33.4 miles, EVERY day. This is the entire population of the country. Every... single... day. It is absolutely essential that this distance is traveled. Every single aspect of our lives in one way or another depends on motor vehicle travel. Education, work, food, health, farming, construction, recreation, social activities, etc, etc, etc. Cars are absolutely, irrefutably essential in our very existence.

      Therefore, it is impossible for you to equate guns to cars. Guns are *NOT* essential to our lives, but they are essential to make people like you happy. Therefore, we should assume because cars kill people, they are on the same page as guns? If cars killed 20 times more people as guns did, they would still be "better" than guns, because once again, THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL.

      Do you see the difference? Do you understand the difference? Whenever I hear arguments from the pro-gun group trying to equate two vastly incomparable things, it always makes me chuckle. You need to come up with a better argument, because not everyone is blinded by false assumptions and lots of hand waving.

    3. Not only are they not comparable for the reasons Bob listed, they also aren't comparable because there aren't 240,000,000 people sprinting up and down highways and city streets firing guns every day. If that were they case, I think gun deaths would far outweigh vehicle deaths.

    4. @Bob, just because guns are not essential to you does not mean they aren't essential. Guns are a tool, just as cars, knives, and machinery are tools that people depend on every day to live our civil lives. Robert's example of cars that are sold that go twice as fast as the posted speed limit is an example of having the freedom to choose, not to have something decided for you by other people. The standard by which a free people can exercise thier choice in selecting what they decide they need in their lives is an aspect of liberty.

      As a resonsible gun owner, I use my guns as tools for defense and to maintain our sovereighty as a people, and in that respect they are _absolutely_ essential.

    5. @Bob,
      Driving cars is not constitutionally guaranteed right. Owning guns on the other hand is.

      If you want to make the distinction between military grade weapons you should know that 1. military grade weapons are not permitted in private hands without extensive abdication of rights and a tax stamp. and 2. do your homework, where did the "US Military" get its weapons (including cannons) during the revolution?

  4. ^Nice Bill & Ted reference. Anyway has anyone given thought to if we the common citizen of the USA was not able to arm themselves with at least semi-quasi-military weapons, the government at some point would have just ran rampant and destroyed the constitution for a “greater good” at the given time in the past or future and that the USA as we know it would not exist.

    1. umm, aside from the Civil War, when did citizens feel the need to take up arms against the government? And are you actually suggesting that elected officials are performing, voting in a certain fashion because they believe that the population they represent is armed and might "defend" themselves against their decisions? That's not a democracy - that's hostage taking.

    2. Can you name one instance of armed rebellion against the U.S. Federal, or a state or local, government, in our 230+ year national history, in which the rebellion had a positive outcome for the armed rebel or rebels?

      We have other means of rebellion. We call this means "an election". We have an electoral revolution every 15-20 years or so. Seems to be a far more effective means of revolt than shooting a firearm. Safer, too, for the rebels and for everyone else.

    3. ^^ Your looking at it the wrong way you are thinking about the "rebel or guy with the gun" Think about it from the perspective of those in power. Obviously there has never been a time in the last 100 years that there was any need for the common citizen to stand up to the government. But the US has also never had a military coup or a dictatorship or even an extremely unpopular law forced upon them. Its possible certain moves have not been made because of the chance armed resistance?

    4. As for resisting the gov't - I'd like to remind everyone of Waco and Ruby Ridge. IF the gov't wants to arrest you - you will ALWAYS be far outgunned. The argument that somehow a bunch of good 'ole boys are going to overthrow the gov't that goes too far on some pet topic is a pipe dream.

      The only thing a US citizen needs a gun for is the ~10 mins between the time some drug crazed nut knocks down your front door and the time when the cops arrive. Frankly - I expect the cops not to need to do anything but the paperwork and carry off the body were that to happen at my house - but all the same - I won't pretend that I need a gun for any other purpose. And the chances of that happening are pretty darn small - I choose to live in a safe area where crime is mostly limited to those same good 'ole boys stealing lawnmowers and utility trailers b/c they want a bit of extra $$$ to party with and a real job and real work just makes them too tired to party.

  5. "freedom". So you can handle a simple two-syllable word.

    But not a multi-syllable word such as:


    No right is absolute; which means every right is inextricably entwined with responsibility; which further means that rights are limited by resitrictions established in law.

    Show me a law regulating self-defnse that leaves out the rights of the person allegedly being "defended" against and I'll show you a law that either (a) doesn't exist, or (b) was written by the NRA/gun industry based upon the criminal rationales it has fed gun-nuts who are, in a word, either stupid or criminal.

    Add in the fact that it is not always responsible to exercise one's freedoms. One has the freedom to sooot one's gun. But there are limits on that which are imposed by responsibility. Those who refuse to accept that fact that rights are not absolute, and not unlimited by the rights of others, are by definition not qualified to possess dangerous weapons.

  6. FWIW - nothing will change in the USA regardless of which gun control laws are enacted until our culture changes. We have a very confrontational culture that has spread from the street gangs to the suburbanites. It's in response to an exaggerated notion that we are all under siege just like Bruce Willis or Rambo.

    We need to chill out. Our politicians need to chill out too. We need to go back to enjoying a beer on the beach and enjoying the scenery (opposite sex) walking by. We need to return to our workshops and build something. We need to enjoy some concert tunes. We need to enjoy a walk in the woods or water-skiing.

    Most of all we need jobs - decent paying jobs - and end the American focus on the inverstors' returns i.e. what the stock market is doing rather than how well the average employee is doing like we should be. CEOs don't need to be making 500 times more than the janitor and some guy shuffling papers (investments) back and forth without contributing something to the corporate profits personally needs to cut out of the picture. Why should a corporating making $50B in profits need to have any debt whatsoever? Why should they be paying investors anything? That the money paid to the investors and reinvest that directly into the company's employees - all of them - and into the business itself.

    Eliminate Americans' insecurities about their jobs and their future. Pay them enough that they are more interested in buying a new car than guarding their single wide with an assault rifle that little Johnny has the potential to steal and take to school to settle differences with the school bully and the 20-30 bystanders nearest the bully.

    As the economy staggers along with the wealthy getting wealthier while the work-a-day employee worries more each day about 30 years of stagnant paycheck growth and how they'll ever retire - - - we witness 52% of marriages failing, children being brought up in divided homes (parents separated/remarried/loss of the united parental efforts/lack of adult role models demonstrating mutual cooperation and love), and angry people who blame everyone for their problems.

    Let's get back to fair pay for a fair day's work. Let's get back to a functioning gov't who worries about everyone equally rather than turning a blind eye to the wealthy. Let's get back to churches who aren't scapegoating the homosexuals for the failure of heterosexual marriages. Let's focus more on trashy public behavior and more about trashy TV/radio.

    The guns topic is just one more symptom of our society's larger problems.

  7. Typical 21st century American politics. Get everybody riled upt o the point where people separate into camps at opposite ends of the political spectrum and then ridicule the other side until people are shamed into switching teams.

    In other words divide and conquer. Beware of this b/c it often leads to ignoring some sort of centrist solution that can be based on logic and good sense. What a shame.

  8. Unlike most of the commenters here, I want to stick closely to the topic. I also fear that the lockdown response being mandated is sub-optimal. According to this source, the best thing to do is flee the screen straight outside, not through hallways. However, school staff can't manage that kind of evacuation well, especially you have to smash windows to get outside. There is certainly a much higher chance of accidental injury though the kids are trying to save themselves from much more harm.

    But I also want to step back and scream that THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH OUR COUNTRY THAT WE HAVE TO TEACH OUR KIDS THESE PROCEDURES. We have too many guns and too many crazies targeting schools, making lockdown practice is now advisable. What the hell is wrong with us?

  9. @Warren in NC: Athens tennessee 1946 (aka "The Mcminn county war).

    Don't think our government CAN'T act very dangerously, and fairly quickly against us.
    1942, the internment of over 100,000 American citizens of Japanese descent. Would YOU go into a us government detention camp willingly, sir?
    Stuff happens, don't give up your life preserver!
    The approximately 100,000,000 killed by governments during the 20th century should not be forgotten. To believe "it can't happen here" is to" "whistle past the graveyard of history".
    Paranoid? No. Wary? yes, of course (think blanket NSA spying, secret laws and courts, the suspension of "due process", for starters). I don't want my children to grow up in a totalitarian state, do you?
    Bear in mind that our republic (if we can keep it)depends on all of us PARTICIPATING.
    Thank you, and good evening.

  10. the only armed rebellion would be the rich protesting taxes, but sending the poor to do their rebelling

  11. Application of the 2nd amendment evaporated over a century ago. The authors could not envision the armed society we have become. Our mental health system is currently inadequate to manage this situation, but that's got to be the answer. This is crazy.