Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Dead Horse in the Living Room: School Shootings

We are loathe to discuss the dead horse on the living room floor because we don't want to contemplate the fact that we would have to do something tangible about it. So we simply tiptoe over it and try to ignore its presence. Similarly, that is how we treat school security and prohibiting guns on campus.

There's an old story about a couple who moved into a new neighborhood. When their next door neighbor invited them to dinner, they gladly accepted. When the big evening arrived, they donned their best social attire, grabbed a little gift for the host and hostess, and presented themselves at the neighbor's front door at the appointed time, hungry, and ready to cement their new friendship.

Once inside, they immediately became aware that there was a dead horse on the living room floor! The hosts made no mention, indeed they quietly stepped over it in offering hors doevres, wine and small talk. When moving from the living room to the dining room, they had to step over the poor thing, yet the hosts acted like nothing was amiss. Dinner was splendid except for the knowledge that there was a dead horse in the next room, yet no one seemed to find it the least bit odd. It was strange, but even after dinner, when they retreated from the dining room back to the living room, there was that huge dead horse in the living room floor. The hosts continued to step over it each time they moved about, and they paid absolutely no attention, yet it was still there, plain as life.

Finally, as the new couple made their way past the dead horse to take their leave, the wife couldn't take it anymore. She turned to the hostess and asked "are you aware that there is a dead horse on your living room floor?" The hostess replied "Of course, but we don't like to talk about it".

The dead horse on the living room floor. It's there all right and we are most certainly aware of its presence, yet we pretend that it doesn't exist. Why? Well, first of all, if we acknowledged its presence, then we'd have to do something about it. Second, it is unpleasant, and whilst we know we'd have to clean it up, the cleansing might challenge us. We hope by denying its presence, that we won't have to deal with it, to think about it, to speak it's name. We hide from the truth. It might belie our self opinion, our perception of the world around us, it might make us think, change our minds.

Well? There's a dead horse on the living room floor. At least when we think of school security, and the possibility of some nut case coming in and shooting up the place, and the people inside. We are loathe to discuss the dead horse because we don't want to contemplate the fact that we would have to do something tangible about it. So we simply tiptoe over it and try to ignore its presence. And we pray that others will do the same.

Like an alcoholic refusing to admit that they have a problem because then they'd have to do something about it, we all can see the dead horse, yet no one wants to do anything about it. Meanwhile, it continues to fester. What about future happenings? Future victims?

Well, there's a problem with this strategy, as Virginia Tech shows us. We can try to ignore dead horses, but they continue to make their presence known to us, and our avoidance of the topic becomes more and more silly and pathetic as time passes, and events illustrate the fallacy of our preconceived notions.

The read dead horse is, of course the sad fact that the VA Tech nutcase had time to chain the doors, reload, and perform many other tasks - including killing as many people as possible - simply because he had no viable opposition. The dead horse is the fact that when nutcases come to our schools looking to make names for themselves, they know that they face no effective opposition.

32 people dead in VA Tech. how many would be alive and walking around today had there been someone - anyone inside that building who could mount effective opposition? The dead horse I refer to is why wasn't anybody else armed? Why wasn't there an armed person inside that building who could provide effective protection for the victims, who could only be led like sheep (or horses) to slaughter?

We know that name of that dead horse - the college administration is afraid of guns and had banned them from campus - even by licensed permit holders. Not only that, but they had just successfully defended this policy against a licensed permit holder in court. And not only that, they crowed over their victory, claiming it would make the campus safer. Events have proved that this policy, far from making people safer, actually increased their vulnerability for when the nutcase came.

Guns are banned from public places out of ignorance and propaganda. Those who know the truth know that guns are used far more often to deter crime than to cause it. They know that passing laws, enacting policies, etc. only deter the `good guys', and do nothing to stop the `bad guys'. In fact, by publicizing the fact that yours is a `gun free' zone, you effectively invite every nutcase in the vicinity to use your facility, and your people, as targets in his shooting gallery. You guarantee him safety from opposition whilst he continues to kill more and more people. And you take the right to self defense away from the victims.

Study after study (Kleck and Lott to name two) have affirmed that when `good guys' carry guns, that `multiple victim' shooting decrease in number. Who can possibly NOT want the chance of a multiple victim shooting to decrease? And when they do occur, the number of victims is far fewer. That means less people killed. Guns in the hands of normal citizens, permit holders if you will, are lifesavers. Yet for decades we have been told that guns are dangerous and ought to be banned.

Another dead horse is the fact that gun bans do not work, never have. Place after place, country after country, society after society has seen violent crime rates jump after gun bans are put into place. History shows gun control a dismal failure when and wherever it is tried, yet some people persist, stepping over the dead horse of disarmed victims, and armed criminals. They actually make us less safe than before, yet continue down the spiral of violence that they increasingly enable. Another dead horse that we don't talk about.

The truth is just about the opposite: more guns means less crime, including school shootings. If you look at the events behind every school shooting in recent history, the only ones that ended before the shooters were satisfied involved armed intervention. With nothing to stop them, the armed people just keep killing until they are satiated. With armed opposition, they are thwarted.

And don't tell me about getting the police. The VA Tech nutcase managed to kill entire classrooms full of people before the police could even be called - let alone arrive, setup, and gain entry (remember: he chained the doors). You can kill a lot of people in a very short time -especially if they cannot escape, and help cannot arrive. Some schools hire armed guards to deal with the threat. But armed guards are often the first ones to die - remember the lottery shootings? And that guard wasn't even armed.

So how many of the 32 could be alive and among us today had just one person inside that building been armed? Certainly not all could have been saved, but some. Can you look at the pictures of the victims and know who is now dead because of the dead horse that was VA Tech's `gun free' policies? Can you tell who is no longer able to live and enjoy life because no one could save them? Can you look into each young, promising eye, and say that that future was denied precisely because the administration is proudly squeamish about reality? Another dead horse.

Will school shootings continue? You bet. As long as nut cases know that they can come in, face no opposition, and kill as many innocents as they desire, things like this will continue to occur. As long as our schools are virtually proclaimed to be `nutcase shooting galleries", and our children, our young, our future, held out as expendable targets for the evil among us, that evil will continue. As long as we continue to tiptoe around the dead horse, it will continue to fester and reek of folly.

Some people believe that security cameras will deter shootings. In Great Britain - the most monitored society on the planet - violent crime is on the rise. All the cameras can do is to record the event. They can do nothing to stop it, or bring it to an early conclusion. There is only one way of doing that - the dead horse - promote the presence of armed `good guys'.

Other people say that all one needs to do is to call the police. A call to the police takes time, time during which the caller can be shot. People who have had the necessity to call the police will substantiate the fact that the phone call takes time - time during which things are happening. One can empty a gun's magazine in less time than it takes to produce your cell phone, let alone punch in the digits for "911". Cell phone calls to the emergency line are often routed to the wrong department. I have had the need to call 9-1-1 twice during the past few years - and both times the call went to another police department. They had to switch my call to the other location, and I had to start the process all over again. Each time the phone call required over a full clock minute just to get the right person on the other end to pick up. Then I had to explain the situation, then I had to wait for the police to arrive. By the time an emergency phone call can be completed, the shooter has the opportunity to kill dozens of people. The dead horse is that when seconds count, not only does the caller become a target should they be noticed, but the arrival of help is measured in minutes. People die during that time.

So if we look at the dead horse in the living, talk about it, and take prudent, wise action, then we will eventually do the right thing. There are people among us who carry firearms every day. People we see in the grocery store, walking down the sidewalk, people who sit beside us in church, on the bus, on a park bench. Are they carrying? Perhaps so. Perhaps not. But if they are, and someone tries to commit a violent crime, you can rely upon them to stop it, perhaps to save lives. It should be more reassuring to know that these folks are around, than to believe in the dead horse that we can remove guns from bad people by passing laws or enacting policies. Should the unthinkable happen and someone stride into your facility shooting, wouldn't you want to have a friend who is armed beside you?

Which brings me to my final dead horse. The safety of gun holders is proven and unchallengeable. The statistics of concealed carry, for example, is unassailable, yet people continue to express fear of guns. You may very well be afraid of guns, but others aren't. others have learned about guns, and are not governed by ignorance, but by truth. Those very people - those `armed citizens' that you fear may be the only thing between you and a violent crime, perhaps even death. Will you take the time to learn the truth? Do you want to be really safe, or only `safe' in an illusory sense. My final question" Would you rather FEEL safe, or BE safe?


NC: Soldier kills home intruder: "A Fort Bragg soldier shot a 16-year-old intruder to death in his apartment early Wednesday, stopping an apparent home invasion. ... According to court documents, the four -- Geddie, Michael Fripp [above], Torrian Knowles and Kwuamae Keaton -- were at the apartment complex shortly after 5 a.m. Keaton, 17, reportedly stayed in the car while Fripp, 22, stood at the side of the building. They were acting as lookouts, police said. Geddie and Knowles, 18, went behind the apartment, court records said. Geddie kicked open the back door and went in. The occupants of the apartment -- soldier Brooks Boone and his wife -- were awakened by the noise, records said. Boone reportedly grabbed a gun from a nightstand beside the bed and fired several shots. Geddie was hit in the chest. The three who took him to the hospital have been charged with first-degree burglary and conspiracy...Buchkechio Geddie was a student at Hoke Christian Academy in Red Springs. He had attended South View High School but was expelled last year, his father said"

NC: Store owner holds burglar's accomplice at gunpoint: "Authorities said a man entered a Shell station on University Parkway at about 5:11 a.m. and demanded money. After he received an undisclosed amount of money, the culprit demanded money from the safe, police said. The owner, James William Overby, retrieved a handgun from a concealed location and pointed it at the culprit, according to Winston-Salem police. A short struggle ensued and the culprit fled on foot, police said. Overby then encountered a second culprit waiting in the suspect vehicle and ordered him to the ground, according to police. Overby detained that person until police arrived."

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