Random Thoughts About Nightmares and the Sandy Hook Shooting Simulation

 

One of the greatest joys in any parent’s life: being there for your child. Last night, it was nightmares. Lola woke up and called out. I stumbled out of bed and soothed her with gentle strokes and soft-spoken words. The third time Lola woke up she asked me a simple question, “Do you have your gun?” “Yes,” I answered. “You’re safe.” Lola fell asleep, exhausted . . .

As I lay in bed, I thought about the parents of the 20 children slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I tried not to imagine the horror of learning that my child had been shot and murdered—and that I hadn’t been able to prevent it.

It must be the worst feeling in the world: a bottomless pit of despair, guilt and self-recrimination.

Some people who lose their loved ones to gun-related violence focus their anger on the gun used to destroy their most precious possession and, by extension, all hope of happiness. That’s perfectly understandable.

In the interminable years of pain, fear and loss; bereaved fathers, mothers, siblings, relatives and friends run an endless loop of “what if.” It’s only natural to wonder “What if the killer didn’t have a gun?”

We shouldn’t criticize the parents of Adam Lanza’s victims who fail or refuse to contemplate an alternate possibility: “What if someone had a gun who could have protected them?”

As loving parents, we’re hard-wired to believe that it’s our job as parents to protect our children. After a child is murdered, any attempt to delegate responsibility to a theoretical defender, whether it’s a cop or an armed citizen, diminishes the guilt.

Forgiving yourself for not being there for your child in their time of need is, perhaps, the hardest thing any parent can do. It may be impossible. I don’t know. I pray to God I never find out.

“How would you feel about guns if your child was shot in a classroom?” an angry father demanded at my local watering hole, assuming that I’d want all firearms banned and wiped from the face of the earth.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I have no idea. How could I? But I know how I feel now. Right now I want to protect my child. And I want my child protected from madmen. I want someone in her school that’s as determined to save her life as I am. And I want them equipped for the job.”

That is, of course, an emotional reaction. How do I know an armed teacher or guard or administrator would be able to protect my daughter, or anyone’s child, from a spree killer? Like any violent confrontation, the outcome would depend on a huge number of variables: who, what, when, where and, not so importantly, why.

Back in May, I participated in SIG SAUER’s Active Shooter Instructor’s Course. I know how difficult it is for a team of trained cops to deal with a spree killer. And make no mistake: the Sandy Hook School shooting could have been a lot worse. There could have been multiple killers. Bombs. Fire. And more.

My take-away: hell happens. Mistakes happen. Life is a crap shoot. You can no more predict the impact of an armed civilian or civilians in a school invaded by a spree killer than you can predict which school the madman, or madmen, will attack.

Common sense says it’s better to have an armed civilian squaring-off against an active shooter than not. Even so, we need more than “common sense” to decide whether or not we should introduce defensive firearms to our schools, and how best to do that if we do.

Armed teachers? Armed guards? Both? How much training do they need? Will there be collateral damage?

Nick, myself, King33 training, a Simunitions safety specialist and 25 volunteers will be running a simulated school shooting this Sunday. Nick, a former risk analyst for the Department of Homeland Security, is working on creating the protocols for three basic scenarios for the experiment.

1. Teacher with concealed carry handgun, bad guy armed with AR-15, no warning. People walking into the classroom randomly.
2. Guard armed with open carry handgun at school entrance, bad guy armed with an AR-15, teacher armed with a concealed carry handgun
3. Unarmed teacher, bad guy armed with an AR-15, armed guard/civilian with open carry firearm 100 yards away from the classroom

Obviously, this will be an extremely rough simulation. If nothing else, there’s no “real” element of surprise; all of our volunteers will know they’re participating in an experiment. All of them will be wearing protective equipment.

Nick reckons the information gathered will be a lot closer to Myth Busters than a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Be that as it may, Nick and the team are determined to go into this experiment with open minds. We will see what we will see.

Meanwhile, I make no apologies for the location of this experiment (Connecticut) or its timing. As Lyndon Johnson said, a decision is only as good as the information it’s based on. If we are to protect our children, as we must, we need as much good quality information on armed self-defense as possible.

And we need it as soon as possible. We cannot let those who would disarm us control the debate over firearms in schools. We cannot let them spread so much fear, uncertainty and doubt that it clouds the minds of loving parents, muddles their judgement and puts (leaves?) our children at risk from those who would destroy them.

We will do what we can to help all parents be there for their children, whether they’re there or not. Just as I do for my daughter, as I promise you, our readers, I will tell the truth about guns, come what may.

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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.

56 Responses to Random Thoughts About Nightmares and the Sandy Hook Shooting Simulation

  1. avatarAccur81 says:

    Godspeed, gentlemen.

  2. avatarLoyd says:

    I am impatiently awaiting the results.

  3. avatarJohn F says:

    The WORLD has become more densely populated and there are ALWAYS disturbed individuals, just more of them with increase in population.
    Self defense has existed since the Cave Man, “don’t be caught with out your club”
    Should Teachers be permitted to Carry a Weapon, or Should they just stand there like a TARGET ?
    If you came home from work and found your Child was Killed because You Voted down the Teachers right to Defend your Childs Safety, how would that make you feel ?
    On the other hand If a Gun owner SAVED YOUR CHILD, how would that make you feel ?

  4. avatarKnowWhatIamTalkingAbout says:

    Good Luck with your Simulation.

    Just a random thought for this morning, can we please have a gun review put up to counteract all of this politics, rumors, and doom and gloom????

    I would even take a table top review of some gun, any gun. That is so you can conserve your ammo storage.

    I have not seen a “gun” review in awhile, and I would like to.

    Please. Thank you.

  5. avatarBobbicus says:

    You need to run a few more scenarios:

    4) bad guy with rifle, no armed good guys
    5) bad guy with rifle armed exclusively with neutered 10-round mags, no armed good guys.
    6) same as (5), but with good guys instructed to charge bad guy.

    See what difference it makes. I’m betting none.

    I do love how people scoff at the idea that an armed citizen could successfully intervene and then turn around and insist that those same people will charge an armed bad guy with improvised weapons if they only had a 2 second window of opportunity.

    • avatarBilly Wardlaw says:

      Seconded! After all, a collection of Controls would make this unscientific experiment a little more scientific.

      Love your last point.

    • avatarSanchanim says:

      Better yet a 10 round magazine with bullet button, you know just to scoff at California.

    • avatarW C says:

      Yes! The Tucson shooter was stopped when he dropped his magazine when he went to reload. Bystanders at that point hit him with a chair and tackled him. A CCW holder then showed up and almost shot the guy who’d just taken the gun away from the shooter.

  6. avatarBrad says:

    I don’t see the validity in the exercise. With all the variables known, what are you trying to discover? That by confronting a shooter with an armed response early in the spree you can disrupt the attack? The answer is yes, you can disrupt it. Always. You might even end it. You might fail trying and have no effect at all. You might even hit “Innocent bystanders”. Whatever your results, they AG’s will ignore the positive results and focus on the negatives. At this point in the debate, why pour more gas on their fire? Do you think think they are going to have a Newtonian moment and see the light at the results of this exercise?

    I feel your timing is indeed poor, and doesn’t view much different than Mr Yeager’s Santa Clause routine to the anti-gun community. In my line of work, we call it “optics”, how it looks to the public, regardless of its inteded or actual results.

    “OMG!! See the gun nuts are already making a mockery out of Sandy Hook and the funerals aren’t even done yet?! OMG!”

    Yeah, it’ll look that bad. Think your unapoligetic experiment can’t possibly fail? Let me ask the question then; what could possibly happen?

    • avatarRuben Navarro says:

      I would be more concerned if someone didn’t run through a variety of scenarios. What gas on the fire? The AGs are already running amock. Frankly, quality field simulations provide information not hysteria. I look forward to reading the results. And like any other test, presumably those involved will develop more questions/tests that need asked/answered.

    • avatarSanchanim says:

      Actually this will be done in taste, I assure you.

      Also the kids bodies weren’t even cold yet and the antis were screaming for banning just about anything and everything.

      So doing this experiment is done in good taste. It is also important. It might yield valuable data that can be used for or against certain tactics. It might help save a kid one day.

  7. avatarDon Curton says:

    As I mentioned in an article here some years back, armed teachers will never be supported by administration types. Simple statistics. Assume two school shootings per year, with almost 99,000 schools in the USA. That’s a 0.002% chance of “your” school being hit. Alternately, if there’s 3 armed teachers per school, and there’s two IGOTD per 1000 gun owners, then there’s roughly a 0.6% chance of that IGOTD being at your school. As an administrator locked into govt bureaucracy, your chances of explaining a dead child caused by an IGOTD is 300 times higher than explaining a spree killer.

    Add this to the fact that most teachers are products of EXTREMELY left wing liberal arts schools, then your dealing with people who are going to oppose this no matter what.

    You and I may think it’s a good idea, but good luck convincing the established teachers union of it.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      I agree with your statistics. However, a teacher negligently firing a single round into the floor or ceiling may result in a single injury. Maybe. It’s possible that even a single death could occur, and the IGOTD shooter would certainly be terminated. In the Sandy Hook incident, there were 27 deaths, counting the murder of the mother. In any other school shooting, or shooting in a “Gun Free Zone,” you will most certainly have multiple fatalities.

      So you have the remote possibility of a negligent discharge, and the remote possibility of a injury from that discharge, versus the certainty of multiple fatalities. I still support school staff having the freedom and choice to be armed.
      Granted, many schools are filled will liberals and hippies, who wouldn’t consider self defense until they are visited by the Grim Reaper. That’s where a supplement of a few armed guards would be most useful. There is no reason that schools should be on lockdown, but there is also no reason why they should have less security than the mall jewelry store.

      • avatarDon Curton says:

        You’re assuming the entrenched bureaucracy is actually concerned about the kids, right? I also have this bridge in Brooklyn for sale, if you’re interested.

        A negligent discharge means major headache for the school administrator. A school shooting means a major headache for someone else. It really simplifies the decision making process when you look at it that way.

  8. avatarLow Budget Dave says:

    If more guns made people safer, America would be the safest place on earth.

    As I understand it, there was another shooting this morning in a New Jersey Police station. I wonder why this website hasn’t already jumped on the bandwagon: “If only the police had been armed…”

  9. avatarMark D says:

    I think that police response time cannot be overstated. I would like to see schools make more use of the fact that, in a best cae scenario, they have a threat on the ground for 5-10-20 minutes before the clean-up crew arrives. With the wrong tools. And tries to look like they are doing something.
    Every school should and local LE Agency should drill without the responding officer knowing it was a drill. Just the chief at the school with a stopwatch and radio in hand. Make the data public. Have a local tv station there…. Ah heck.

    • avatarBrad says:

      Can’t do that Mark D. Liability. If something, anything goes wrong during this drill, that’s it, instant lawsuit. To include the responding officer running code to the scene getting into an accident. Not to mention that you have to tell the parents because heaven forbid one of their kids is traumatized by the drill and now needs permanent psychiatric care, and 10 million dollars. So much for the drill being a surprise once that word is passed.

      • avatarAccur81 says:

        Definitely. Your be amazed by how many dumbasses are oblivious to a 20′ long police cars lit up like a Christmas tree with a 120 DB siren. Most people walk, drive, and live life in Condition Clueless. One kid running out in front of a police cruiser absorbed in a Gangham Style YouTube video turns the drill into another massacre.

        I mean no specific offense by this, I just continue to be amazed by how many SoCal residents miss police cars rolling Code 3 hot. I also know, and have investigated, Emergency Vehicle crashes where the officer got caught up in the moment. Driving way too fast for conditions in a police car is a recipe for disaster, even if “hauling ass” is otherwise justified.

        Any school Active Shooter Drill I could imagine would only highlight the clear and present need to be armed.

        • avatarMark D says:

          That was kinda my point. In the real deal, Barnie is liable to hit a traffic jam, spill his coffee, or run over grandma.

    • avatarRuben Navarro says:

      Incredibly bad idea regardless of good intentions. As a law enforcement firearms instructor, we take numerous and redundant steps to avoid training casualties. Having an active shooter drill and sending a unit to the school without proper precautions = Good probability of en route collisions (already mentioned), as well as having an officer arrive with a real gun/real bullets and injecting that officer into a training scenario with role players… Nothing good comes from haphazard training exercises. Nothing.

  10. avatarO.E says:

    Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Friedrich Nietzsche

    I am reminded of the allegations made in the press and in social circles that Lanza was ‘monstrous’, you see they made him more than human, he became superhuman the moment people fashioned the young man into an insane man, like a werewolf he was transformed by the light of the liberal moonbats. And they do indeed wish for us to wrestle with monsters.

    As they say, practice makes perfect. Lets hope Judge Murphy stays in the drunk tank when or if the time comes.

    • avatarJohn says:

      I don’t think there are many better or more descriptive words to use in the case of this beast in human form than ‘monster.’ A ‘monster’ is not necessarily more than human or superhuman, it is more a misshapen, malformed, malevolent, defective creature that is repugnant to all that is good.
      Yep. ‘Monster’ it is.

    • avatarBugei says:

      What Nietzsche missed is that if you don’t battle monsters, you and your children end up as monster food. Someone must battle monsters. And yes, you’re going to get some abyss slime on you: that’s the price you pay for not letting your children become monster food.

  11. avatarJAS says:

    I’m also in the camp of not being sure if armed civilians (teachers) are a good idea.

    But I can suggest this:
    http://www.taser.com/products/law-enforcement/taser-x3-ecd#features
    Three shots, range up to 35-feet and with laser sight.

    And for perimeter defense – entry ways, halls etc.:
    http://www.taser.com/products/law-enforcement/taser-shockwave-ecd

    • avatarBrad says:

      JAS, that’s just what the AG’s want. Ban guns and use non-lethal devices to subdue a lethal attacker. Put your trust in modern, humane devices paid for by the State. Ask a cop what type of weapon he will pull when faced with an armed attacker. What you are suggesting is that we give teachers a Taser and hope they don’t miss. Or, that even works after sitting around for years and not being used (whoops, I forgot to rotate out the battery packs for that unit, sorry boss). That they depend on a static area denial device and hope the attacker goes through it or does not take countermeasures on their own to avoid the TASER prongs, vice using their Constitutional Right to defend themselves with lethal force using a firearm. I know which one I’d take and I am betting you’d do the same.

      Don’t get me wrong, these devices work and LE would not use them if they don’t. But they have the infrastructure set up to use and deploy them already. Schools don’t. In a perfect world, had we not squandered our national treasury or State budgets on entitlement and pork (TSA) projects, we would have put these systems in years ago when we first started identifying soft targets in the US like schools. So now, in these lean times, explain to me how you would justify high costs of deployment, maintenance, initial and refresher training as opposed to allowing the individual teachers to carry at their own expense. Both deter, but one will cost millions by the time it’s deployed, the other is free, will take a few weeks to enact, and is a Constitutional Right.

      • avatarJAS says:

        I’m just not sure about the teachers. I have no qualms about having armed LEOs in the schools. This said, one thing I am certain about: if someone really wants to get into a school and kill people they will find a way and a method, which will not necessarily be a gun. So short of turning schools into mini Fort Knoxes, some kind of arms is the best solution.

        AGs “chant” now is that “the gun people’s solution is more guns and that is bad!” Yes, they don’t know any better (sigh), so Tasers represent an easier “pill” for the AGs to swallow. That, so we can get past this thing and get them away from the “take away all the guns” mantra.

        Expensive? When did that ever stop the government?

        • avatarBrad says:

          True, they’ll cough up the money. I didn’t mean to imply they wouldn’t when push comes to shove. So why not cough up the money for a real solution like you mentioned – a police officer (or better yet, trained security professional) be in every school.

          My basic point is we have a low cost solution right now that we need to support. Offering alternative “non-lethal” solutions in an effort to appease the AG’s is no different than conceeding to magazine caps or banning certain weapons. It doesn’t address the problem of a madman’s gonna do what a madman’s gonna do.

        • avatarJAS says:

          We both agree on the all points. Just saying that, if we cannot realistically stop a determined mad person, and the AG’s don’t want guns, let them have the Tasers. They will feel good about it all around and we can move on.

    • avatarPhydeaux says:

      As someone who’s been tased, I know that as soon as the taser stops applying the electrical charge one is free to do whatever they want. There is virtually no recovery time required to take action after being tased.

      Consequently, unless the taser user or a partner is ready to restrain the tasee *before* the electrical charge stops, the assailant will simply continue their resistance/attack.

      In reality, the use of non-lethal force requires more training and skill than the use of deadly force.

  12. avatarjwm says:

    I’m of the opinion that if you have highly visible armed volunteers on the perimeter of the school 99.9% of the spree killers will back off and not engage. For the ones that actually engage the battle will be outside the school and not amongst a class room full of children.

  13. avatarAharon says:

    If only America protected common citizen’s children like the president’s children and the children of the elitist gun-grabbers are protected then those victimized children and their defenseless teachers at Sandy Hook would never have been harmed.

  14. avatarRalph says:

    We shouldn’t criticize the parents of Adam Lanza’s victims who fail or refuse to contemplate an alternate possibility

    Why not? Does the death of a loved one magically vault someone into a morally, ethically or intellectually superior status? Actually, I’ve found that the opposite is often true. Grief and loss can cause a person to become bitter, vengeful, mean and immoral. Some of the Newtown parents will be left wanting revenge, and since the actual perpetrator is dead, they will seek revenge on someone else. Like gun owners.

  15. avatarNickbnumbers says:

    What about a simulation with a teacher having an AR15 in a locker that can be opened when the school goes in “lockdown?”

    When someone punches the Big Red Button, the lockers are active and can be opened with an ID card or fingerprint. That would eliminate the chances of a kid pulling the guidance counselor’s sidearm out of its holster and would grant access only to staff members who have completed their training requirements. One gun locker per classroom.

  16. avatarPhydeaux says:

    You realize that you’re reinforcing the media’s big lie that a Bushmaster AR-15 was used in the Sandy Hook shooting. This is only true if by “used” you mean in the back of the shooters car sitting in the parking lot.

    • avatarLow Budget Dave says:

      Phydeaux, I don’t blame you for getting the facts wrong, since the media did such a terrible job. The fact is that Lanza used one of the handguns to take his own life, but used the Bushmaster to kill most of the victims, according to the CT state police.

      The official police report has not been made public yet, but it is clear that the video of the police taking the Bushmaster from the car is out-of-context.

  17. avatarrybred says:

    you forgot tohave at least 2 classrooms of victims.
    you need an armed teacher in ANOTHER classroom when the shooting starts!
    when a guy busts into a room, the teacher is the first person he seems and the first to go, crap shoot but it is what it is. What about a Virginia tech scenario wherethe shooter goes from classroom to classroom? you need a scenario where there are multiple classrooms and either every teacher is armed, or the armed teacher is not in the first classroom hit.

  18. avatarDarren says:

    I’d be curious to see if during the simulations the bystanders can track the number of shots fired. We know even “eyewitnesses” are of dubious veracity simply because of the limitations of human memory. I am curious if the bystanders or armed citizens can recall how many shots were fired and know when to launch a counter-attack to interrupt a reload cycle. It could be a post-exercise interview question.

    I wonder because I was recently on the golf course when I heard ten gunshots in a row, followed by an eleventh. I was nowhere near the gunfire, but I was able to identify it as such and count the rounds fired fairly quickly. My feeling is that in a true panic situation people who are not Gun People are not going to be counting rounds or waiting for a mag change, they are going to be ducking, running, sprinting and bleeding, but not counting. These are all reasonable reactions to incoming fire, but they all tend to argue against the utility of a magazine size limitation.

  19. avatarMr aNINNYmouse says:

    Two things:

    1. Recent reporting has it that Lanza used pistols only. Have you considered this scenario?

    2. You may not get many answers from this experiment, but I think you’ll find some better questions to ask.

    Good luck and be *safe*.

    • avatarBrad says:

      “1. Recent reporting has it that Lanza used pistols only. Have you considered this scenario?”

      What? Where did this come from – please cite the source(s).

      • avatarBrad says:

        Redacted – I see what you are talking about. He left his AR in the car outside. Only pistols were found inside.

        • avatarBrad says:

          Further redacted – it looks like they are unloading some sort of AK style rifle, possibly shotgun judging by the size of the shell that was ejected.

  20. avatarLow Budget Dave says:

    Thanks Ralph,

    I do not usually post my thoughts on anti-gun boards, because everyone tends to agree with me, even if I get my facts wrong. On this board, people keep me honest.

    Still, if you can’t tell that you lost this particular argument, then I can’t help you.

  21. avatarg says:

    [“I don’t know,” I answered. “I have no idea. How could I? But I know how I feel now. Right now I want to protect my child. And I want my child protected from madmen. I want someone in her school that’s as determined to save her life as I am. And I want them equipped for the job.”

    That is, of course, an emotional reaction. How do I know an armed teacher or guard or administrator would be able to protect my daughter, or anyone’s child, from a spree killer? Like any violent confrontation, the outcome would depend on a huge number of variables: who, what, when, where and, not so importantly, why.]

    Great words, RF, and ones that resonate me with me as a father and a teacher as well.

    Best of luck with the simulation you guys are running on Sunday. I hope it produces a wealth of data, from video to infographics. Another part of the simulation to consider: depending on the time of the day, the students maybe doing any of the following:

    1) In the classroom, at their own desks, doing deskwork.
    2) In the classroom, up front with their teacher, doing a group lesson.
    3) Outside on the playground (recess). Recess will usually be monitored by either 2-3 teachers while the rest are doing prep work inside.
    4) All in a cafeteria (lunchtime).

  22. avatarrybred says:

    please include a scenario where students are in class but the shooter opens fire on people in the hallway before entering the classroom.

  23. avatarJAS says:

    Even though I haven’t been sure that arming teachers is a good idea, I just read this on another blog and it makes sense. To paraphrase, if teachers are allowed to be armed, even if they are not armed, it will make the criminals think that they are indeed armed. This is a big deterrent in and of itself, so I might just change my mind about arming teachers.

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