When Seconds Count The Police Are Only Two Minutes Away

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Gun control advocates argue that the key to lowering gun crime is a combination of gun control (prevention) and the police (intervention). Gun rights advocates say that gun control doesn’t prevent bad guys from getting guns (ipso facto) and the police mostly mop-up after gun crime. The bumper sticker version of the pro-gun position: when seconds count the police are only minutes away. Here’s the thing: it’s true. Even when highly trained police response teams are ready to rock and roll, they can’t intervene fast enough to stop the killing. To wit: the recent University of Pittsburgh (a.k.a., Pitt) hospital shooting [via cfnews13.com] . . .

Six Pitt officers had responded to the clinic within two minutes of the first emergency call, Pitt campus police Chief Tim Delaney said. They were trained to split into two groups of three to outflank the gunman and draw his attention . . .

“We practice this,” Delaney said. “A lot of these (law enforcement techniques) came out of Virginia Tech. They engaged in gunfire as soon as they entered the front door.”

The first three officers returned fire and killed [John] Shick. So many shots were fired in the brief gunbattle that smoke hung in the lobby afterward, Delaney said.

Brave men. Great job. Only Shick managed to murder one worker and wound six others before the campus cops made the scene.

Did the police—armed and trained to respond to an active shooter—prevent Shick from shooting other innocents? Perhaps. The account above indicates that he was attempting to flee the hospital when the campus cops cornered him.

Could an armed civilian have shot Shick before the cops arrived? Perhaps. Wait. No. Here’s the 411 on Pitt’s policy from the university’s website (safety.pitt.edu):

Q: Can I carry a gun on campus as a means of self-protection? 
A: No. The carrying or possession of firearms and/or other weapons on campus by anyone other than authorized law enforcement officers, such as Pitt police or city of Pittsburgh police, is absolutely prohibited.

I guess Shick forgot to read that bit.

Gun control advocates believe that Pitt’s anti-gun regulation–and others like it—help protect the population from gun violence. They believe that the reg’s obvious and catastrophic failure in this and other instances is an enforcement problem. In other words, outlawing guns could work. When, clearly, it can’t.

Fortunately, Americans are endowed with an attribute which gun control advocates like to claim as their own: common sense. Common sense says that when push comes to shove, you will have to defend yourself and your loved ones and (if you choose) other innocent life.

It’s a grim prospect, but you don’t really have a choice. Never have had. Never will do. Not if you value your freedom. Or your life.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

20 Responses to When Seconds Count The Police Are Only Two Minutes Away

  1. avatarTom says:

    A: No. The carrying or possession of firearms and/or other weapons on campus by anyone other than authorized law enforcement officers, such as Pitt police or city of Pittsburgh police, is absolutely prohibited.

    …but it would work if only we could ban all guns nation wide! We need even more absolute gun and government control, then everything would be great in the land of rainbows and unicorns.
    On a serious note, this was the gist of an actual Anti I used to work with.
    He always said that if they banned guns, he was going to turn me in and put me in a prison.

  2. avatarcaffeinated says:

    Two minutes would be a stellar LEO response time, but an eternity for someone on an active killing spree be it with a knife or gun.

    • avatarMichael says:

      And response times will only get worse as agencies across the country continue to cut funding for their departments. That’s the double edge sword of Law Enforcement.. the better job they do… and the less crime that occurs the less the public thinks they need law enforcement, because.. “nothing ever happens here.”

  3. avatarST says:

    I am of the thought that we are not so much arguing political perspective as it is an awareness of the human fact that personal defense is a personal responsibility;indeed,it always has been.

    The fly in the ointment is that people in America are blessed to live in a nation where unprovoked violence against the person is an uncommon event. The thought among a lot of the anti-rights members is that they personally have never been mugged & don’t know anyone who has been savagely attacked,so thus there is no need to go about one’s day armed.Thus the “paranoid” labels. The idea of being a target for crime to these people doesn’t even enter their minds.To the antis,being a target for violent attack is less likely than winning the lottery.In point of proven fact,more people die in Washington D.C. from homicide than in Kabul Afghanistan.When I was in uniform my military squadron never lost a man in the AOR,but my personnel NCO was a victim of a murder.When seconds count,the only law is survival.

  4. avatarLevi B says:

    Schools that are a killing field by policy boggle the mind.

  5. avatarJoseph says:

    Almost forty years in law enforcement tells me that you are better off at a gun range in full ‘range is hot’ mode than you are in a ‘gun free zone’. “When seconds count” is not only true, it’s ……………….too late!

  6. avatarBen Eli says:

    I’m a Pitt Student. I know Western Psych, I used to go there several times a week for smoking studies. But there is one little asterisk I need to add to the the weapons policy at Pitt.
    I had a wonderful conversation with a Pitt officer about a week ago about concealed carry on campus. The section of the city that the university is in is called Oakland and I’m free to carry anywhere in Oakland unless otherwise posted. The places that one cannot carry is in the university buildings. However, as many of the buildings are shared by the university and private storefronts, one can carry in those storefronts. For example, there is a New Balance store in the same building as the PSY department. I can’t carry in the PSY Dept. but I can carry while buying some shoes.
    Also keeping a firearm in my car, even while in University garages is allowed-ish. The officer informed me that police don’t patrol the garages looking for guns in cars so out of sight, out of mind and locked in the glove compartment is the best way to do it. So the weapons policy isn’t great, but it is better than a lot of places.
    Lastly, when I get my permit I may try and work some type of deal with the University Police (great guys) about storing a weapon in a lock box in one of their building. A LEO buddy told me this may be possible. I’ll keep y’all updated.

    But now in light of the fact that I called the UPitt PD, I really hope I won’t get any calls to stop by their office when I get back.

    • avatarTed says:

      I was wondering about this. Oakland is a big mix up of private buildings, public streets, and multiple universities’ buildings. Western Psych is part of UPMC Healthcare, which, while it has University of Pittsburgh in the name, is not run by the university, they are only affiliated through the medical school. Pitt’s PD is getting the press here, because they engaged first, but the incident was responded to by City Police, County Sheriffs, and even the Port Authority Police. Lots of authorities to worry about – I’m not sure that the school’s weapons policy applies because “campus” there is so nebulous.

      I hear on the news that there are metal detectors going into patient areas, but never having been to Western Psych, are there signs denying carry on the entrances?

      • avatarBen Eli says:

        The no weapons policy applies to all Pitt owned buildings, including UPMC buildings. Western Psych is a treatment and research institution and I do know students (graduate and undergraduate) who do clinical rotations there. All U Pitt policies apply there. The weapons policy applies here 100%.
        As far as responding, all departments will respond to emergency calls to the University regardless of incident. Generally, the small stuff gets handed over to University police. But for big stuff, shootings, Supebowls, rioting, etc. it is all hands on decks.
        I haven’t heard anything about metal detectors in all the UPMC facilities, but I’m not involved with any of the facilites. I have seen metal detectors in Western Psych, but not everyone goes through them. I believe patients that get committed go through them and some visitors will. I’ve never gone through them to go to the research floors. But I have been there during lockdowns. It is serious business there.

  7. avatarMrCrispy says:

    Here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about in cases like this.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the assumption, both legal and practical, is that the cops are not solely and primarily responsible for your protection. That’s why we have the 2nd amendment. Because of the right to defend myself and so on and so forth.

    In situations like this or in businesses that are supposed “gun free zones” where we are denied the ability to protect ourselves, the burden logically falls on the school or the business to provide for our protection, is it not? If they’re saying “you’re not allowed to protect yourself” then someone has to and, considering they’re the ones that put up the signs, they are assuming said responsibility.

    So if they fail in that responsibility, why not sue them into oblivion?

    The precedent has been set, of course, where people haven’t been able to successfully sue police departments for not saving someone but that was all based on the premise that we can protect ourselves. Remove that premise and, logically, they should be open to suit.

    I’m more than willing to admit that my logic could be flawed somewhere along the lines. If it isn’t, however, I would think that one or two successful lawsuits like that and some people would start rethinking their policies, wouldn’t you?

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      The police have no obligation to protect us. Click here to read about the 2005 Supreme Court ruling to that effect. That said, it’s worth a shot. So to speak.

      • avatarMrCrispy says:

        That’s what I mean. They have no obligation to because we can protect ourselves. My question is what if someone has removed our ability be it a legal reason (no carry on campus) or a private citizen (no guns allowed). By saying “you can’t protect yourself here” they’re essentially taking responsibility for your safety.

        Heck, the place I work not only doesn’t allow guns but it’s company policy that you’re supposed to huddle under your desk if something bad happens.

  8. avatarslowermonkey says:

    At my work we are supposed to leave the injured behind then hide.

  9. avatarGS650G says:

    I bet college students at Pitt will start packing anyway. Better to be thrown out of college after a DGU than have the PSP visit your parents with worse news.

    • avatarBen Eli says:

      The problem with that is that have a gun related charge on ones record means very few colleges of reputable standing would take you after getting the boot from Pitt.

  10. avatarJohn E> says:

    I have been to WPIC many times (as a professiona, not a guest). In my mind one of the least safe psych hospitals around. Ask the unarmed security guard there. And there are parts of Oakland that are downright unsafe. Having lived in Oakland when I first came to Pittsburgh I have alsways carried, but a previous poster is correct; the campus is so nebulous you have a hard time distinguishing between University property and prvate property. Compound that by the Univ. owning, then leasing much of the peoperty to private business, that muddies the water even more. Anectdotaly, I work about 3 miles from WPIC, and two blocks from where the Garda armored car was hit 2 weeks ago and 2.3 mil was stolen by the guard (the driver being shot in the back of the head by his partner.) My wife, ever wishy washy about my carrying concealed finally said perhaps I was right and should carry. You think?

  11. avatarLaika the Space Dog says:

    I know this will all come as a shock to you (sarcasm) but the ATF just claimed the guns were clean and not stolen. I smell Holder and the DOJ. I smell “Fast & Furious”. The Pittsburgh Police are not that stupid to make the “stolen from Texas” claim and be mistaken.

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