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Look in the dictionary as of October 25, 2014 under “courage,” and should find a photo of Megan Silberberger. I include no photo of Silberberger out of respect for her dedication to her students and her selflessness, and to spare her unnecessary harassment.  Silberberger is a first-year social studies teacher at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. When a freshman student–who would like his name to be mentioned here–shot and killed one student and badly wounded four others, on Friday, October 24, 2014, he stopped to reload. A student witness described her actions:

“Erick Cervantes, a student who called 911 during the attack, told KIRO-TV he thought Ms Silberberger was the ‘real hero.’

He said: ‘She’s the one that intercepted him with the gun. He tried either reloading or tried aiming at her. She tried moving his hand away and he tried shooting and shot himself in the neck.

‘It started off with an argument, but then I looked back and there was just gunshots and just people falling down. She heard the gunshots first and she came in running through the door, right next to it.’

‘It wasn’t [a] wrestle. She just grabbed his arm, and it lasted like two seconds, and I heard another shot,’ Cervantes said.”

Silberberger’s actions are as unusual in this case as the known details of this shooting are common:

The identity of the shooter–a freshman boy–was surprising to the community.

There were apparently no clear warning signs from the shooter.

If there was a school resource officer–an armed law enforcement officer assigned to the school–they played no role in ending the shooting.

The attack, and the end of the attack, were enacted on the shooter’s timetable.

The police had no role in ending the shooting.

The school was a victim disarmament zone: no staff members were armed.

The good news remains that as often as such things happen and as much publicity as they garner, school shootings remain very uncommon. For the overwhelming majority of American students, school is a safe place; the odds against any individual child being shot in a school attack remain very great.

The bad news is that there is nothing preventing an attack from taking place at virtually any American school. Most remain victim disarmament zones where the only protection given children are small “gun-free school zone” signs. Indeed, some schools have security features such as video cameras, remotely controlled locks and perhaps even hardened doors and windows. For the intelligent, determined attacker, though, those measures might buy his targets only a few seconds, not minutes. For attacks carried out by students who attend a given school–this was the case in Washington–most such measures are meaningless.

When I was recently summoned for jury duty, I discovered that our judges and the attorneys practicing in the criminal justice system are well-protected indeed. No one entered the courthouse without passing through a metal detector, and many were subjected to more thorough searches with hand-held detectors, and even pat downs. Even the tiniest and least dangerous pocketknife was seized. There were more than enough armed deputies at the entry security checkpoint, more who constantly roved the halls, and several banks of TV monitors receiving the feeds from a plethora of video cameras throughout the building. In addition, there was at least one deputy–armed of course–in every occupied courtroom.

If one judged the value society places on various classes of people by the resources devoted to protect them, the conclusion would be inescapable: American society places far more value on the lives of judges and lawyers than school children. Judges and lawyers do not rely for a second on signs and feel good measures. They live in the real world where bad things happen to good people, and they spare no expense to ensure they are protected by men and women with guns, people who will run to the sound of gunfire. No cowering behind flimsy locked doors for them. And don’t kid yourself — more than a few of those judges and lawyers are armed.

Megan Silberberger is an admirable woman. I don’t know if she had given serious thought to what she would do if confronted by a gunman in her school–most teachers haven’t. I have, and so has my principal, a former professional football player, with the size and strength that profession demands. Should, God forbid, an attack ever occur in our school, we will run to the sound of gunfire and do our best to stop the killer. Unfortunately, we, like most educators, are disarmed.

We understand that time and distance are the factors determining our potential success. If we can get close enough to a killer before he can bring his weapon to bear on us, we can incapacitate him. If we can’t surprise him, if we can’t get close enough, if there is more than one killer, we’re probably dead. We know that. But we’re going to try. We owe that to our kids, the kids we are sworn to nurture and protect. Most of all, we owe it to ourselves.

The danger, for Silberberger and every teacher, is not restricted to active shooters. Every day, across the nation, teachers–usually women–are brutally assaulted, even killed. A year ago, Coleen Ritzer, a 24-year old math teacher at Danvers, Massachusetts high school was, slashed, raped, mutilated and murdered in a school bathroom by a 14-year old student. She was–of course–unarmed. Also a year ago at Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nevada, math teacher and former Marine Michael Landsberry was killed by a student shooter. For Landsberry, there was no choice. Unarmed, he approached the killer, but couldn’t get close enough before he was shot and killed. In that case, as in virtually every other, the police played no role in ultimately stopping the killer.

Because of my police background, because of my interest in the martial arts, I have actually studied and practiced methods of neutralizing armed attackers while disarmed. I am a large and strong man, but unfortunately, all of these methods require hand-to-hand engagement with the attacker. If I can’t do that, my size, strength and skill mean little. For female teachers and untrained male teachers, the odds are even worse.

A confrontation like that is nothing like what’s depicted on TV or in the movies. If I could get close enough, I wouldn’t send the killer flying with a beautifully choreographed, slow-motion kick that would separate him from his gun and knock him out. I would have to be close enough to actually put both hands on his gun, and once gaining some control of it, I’d have to strike him–as quickly and brutally as possible–in vital areas to incapacitate him. Probably in ways that would kill him. All of this would happen in mere seconds. In such close combat, I would expect to absorb at least one and probably more bullets, but once committed, I couldn’t stop until I succeeded or was killed. This isn’t an abstract hypothetical scenario, but cold, hard, bloody reality.

My school is built like virtually all of them: long, straight hallways with no cover (protection from bullets and explosives), not even any concealment (the ability to stay out of sight and out of mind of an attacker). No provision for instantaneous communication between staff members–no radios. Classroom doors are easily locked, but nearly as easily breached in seconds. We practice drills that consist mostly of locking kids in classrooms, making them easy and convenient targets.

If I were killed, perhaps I’d be fondly remembered. Perhaps a blogger somewhere would write kind words about my sacrifice. Perhaps they’d even remember John 10:11:

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

I’d prefer not to die, but to live by the words of George Patton, who said, and I paraphrase:

“No one won a war by dying for his country, but by making the other poor bastard die for his.”

When a school shooter is present, only one question matters: what are the adults in that school prepared to do, then and there, to protect their lives and the lives of the children entrusted to them?

Do we truly value our children and their teachers so little that our best efforts to protect their lives end with locks, small metal signs, run and hide drills, and as a last, desperate measure, sending children at armed madmen in a suicidal attack, throwing pencils, pens, rulers and staplers at them as they charge? This is the state of the art in expensive “training” taught by “school security experts.” Have we learned nothing from the experiences of armed teachers?

In Pearl, Mississippi on October 01, 1997, a child armed with a rifle shot nine students, killing two and wounding seven.  Assistant Principal Joel Myrick ran a quarter of a mile to his car, which was parked off school property to comply with the federal law then in force (but since overturned) prohibiting firearms within 1000 feet of a school. Retrieving his handgun, he ran back to the school and confronted the shooter, disarming him and holding him for police. That shooter intended to go to another school and kill even more. Myrick unquestionably saved lives, but because he was initially disarmed, could not save them all.

A January 25, 2008 attack on an Israeli High School by two armed terrorists ended with several injured students and only slight wounds to the two school counselors who used their handguns to quickly kill the terrorists.

Let us honor teachers like Meagan Silberberger and Joel Myrick and remember Michael Landsberry and Coleen Ritzer. But for their sake, the sake of all teachers, and above all, the sake of our children, let’s give them protection analogous to what we give our judges, lawyers and politicians.

Allow every willing teacher in America to carry a concealed weapon. Just as the Supreme Court has ruled that students do not surrender their fundamental rights at the schoolhouse gate, let us not force teachers to surrender their right to protect their own lives and the lives of the children dear to them. Let us not force any teacher to approach an armed killer knowing their lives depend upon the whim and the marksmanship of a madman.

You’ll hear, “But no teacher has to approach a killer. They should hide and hope the killer doesn’t find them.” We should be disgusted that people that say such things have anything to do with children, and thankful for people like Meagan Silberberger and Michael Landsberry who have greater love and who act on it.  But more, we must ensure they don’t have to give their lives to protect the lives of others.

What are the lives of children–and teachers–worth in 2014 America?

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63 Responses to School Shootings: The Patton Ethos

  1. “There were apparently no clear warning signs from the shooter.” – only if you discount a plethora of his Facebook posts that indicate an emotional decline.

      • This was a popular kid, too – not someone who was marginalized or bullied.

        I think it’s time to have the real discussion we need to have. The “give everyone a trophy” mentality creates kids (and young adults) who are completely unprepared to deal with real adversity.

        When they face a setback they don’t bend – they snap.

        • I think you’re on to something, DJ.

          This special snowflake, everyone is a winner stuff is ridiculous because NOT everyone IS a winner.

          Hell, just saying that these days is considered controversial which boggled my mind. As a society, we absolutely refuse to admit that some people are simply born with more tools and talent than others.

          The flip side is that those who are born without get major respect if they still succeed or surpass those with God-given talent. The special snowflake school of thought really does an injustice to those who work hard for what they get too.

  2. There is another fairly simple, and much superior answer…

    Don’t send your children into the government indoctrination, gun free zones.

    They may never be threatened with a gun, but they are daily exposed to every kind of tryanny and lie. There are many better options. Take personal responsibility for the eductaion AND safety of your children.

    • The reason we have a socialized public school system to begin with is because the vast majority of parents are dreadfully unqualified to do that. Very few parents have the financial resources to send their children to private school, or the knowledge required to home-school their kids.

      However, we have local school boards – people we elect to manage all aspects of the school district from curriculum to teacher compensation to student safety. Our job as citizens is to elect the right people, and perhaps to step up and run for the office ourselves if the need arises.

      • The “vast majority” of the parents and their choices are simply none of your busines… or that of anyone else.

        Did you know that the literacy rate for the general population in the 1700s approached 95%? They did not have “socialized” education then, only individual responsibility.

        What has your “socialized” education to compare with that? What is the literacy rate now?

        • The “general” population?

          In the 1700s the term “general population” often referred to anything but what we would consider a general population now.

        • The standard where I grew up was that the parent must have 2 more years of education than the level they are teaching the child. So to get a child to 12th grade they needed 2 years of college (or equivalent credit). My youngest brother was home-schooled all the way through.

          Now let’s look at it this way. What is the purpose of an education? Is it just to train kids with a bunch of stuff out of a pile of books? Or is it meant to train them to deal with life. Life experiences, getting work, having the tools to be a successful adult.

          Now ask yourself who is best to teach that. A 20-something person just out of school with an education degree, or the child’s parent that has obviously had some success and life experience?

          Granted, there are some great teachers out there, and there are some really bad parents, but in an ideal world, I think they should be one in the same.

      • We had local school boards up until 1980 when the federal department of education became a reality. We still have local school boards, but they better comply with the edicts from DC. Nothing will get better in our schools til that agency goes away.

        • Unfortunately, the same is true (at least to 90%) for “private” schools. Even if “no gov’t $” still have Uncle thug as a partner in the lunchroom, nurses’s office, title this/that.

      • True local control of schools ended with the founding of the Department of Education signed into law in 1979 by Mr. Peanut. Today, local school boards spend much of their time, energy, and a good percentage of money making sure they’re following the latest federal rules and regulations. The schools can be zoos, but the paperwork better damned well be in order.

        (JWM) above was posting his comment while I was still typing.

      • “Very few parents have the financial resources to send their children to private school”

        Not true. I and my two siblings attended private catholic schools from kindergarten through high school graduation. This despite my family being SOLIDLY under the poverty line for the vast majority of that timeframe. We lived in Overtown in Miami. Lived off gov’t cheese and stale bread from the day-old discount bakery, with occasional treats in the form of cold thrown-out McDonald’s my mom would sneak back from her part-time shift at the drive-thru (our only source of income for almost a year). My parents were able to afford quality education for us through hard work and sacrifice. When he was able my dad was working 2 or 3 jobs, 80-100 hours a week, plus going to night school. My mother raised us, cleaned houses for a living, and took whatever other jobs she had time for. They pinched pennies with a fervor. Never indulged in anything for themselves that wasn’t a necessity. I’m not saying it was easy, but it is certainly possible for damn near any family for which it is a priority to afford a quality education for their children.

      • As are the majority of teachers and the majority of politicians are unqualified to dictate a curriculum revolving around bending over to the state. Socialized education came about because of child labor laws that effectively banned youth from work (instead of protecting them while there) and was modeled after the Prussian school model, which is based on indoctrination and helped lead to Nazi Germany.

        Now with the internet and ease of travel, parents can easily educate their kids at home. Just most people choose to spend money on superfluous objects and need to work for them or live in high cost areas.

      • No, simply have a choice in your children’s education. There is a big difference between choice and isolation. And yes, you are totally responsible for whatever education your child recieves. Good or bad.

      • False dichotomy and a clear indication that the progressive/statist indoctrination is working on some.

        My children, and the hundreds of other home schooled children we know, are as much part of society as the public schooled children in our community.

        Really. That nonsense should die the death of all other propagandist stupidity.

      • Randall is an example of what comes out of our Leftist universities today. More stupid after 4 years than when they started. If they get a graduate degree…. then that are stupid AND dangerous.

        • It’s true. I majored in psych for my bachelors, I did presentations on homeschooling (natural learning variety as opposed to curriculum based) and most people couldn’t fathom wanting to avoid public school indoctrination and thought homeschooled kids became anti-social loners.

          I mean, how can one say “der withdraw from society” when we have had society for the thousands of years there was no socialized compulsory schooling? Only a fool (or progressive leftist) can say that with a straight face.

      • Randall that is a strawman. There is an intelligent discussion of the problems with public schools and you respond with a strawman?

  3. The most cost effective answer is armed teachers. Period. How hard is this solution…apparently it asked to much from school districts to formulate a plan, bring to the county or city and ask for legislation to get it done. We in fact could save lives in weeks instead of waiting for some other government entity to create guidelines.

    • The bullet proof locks, sirens, blankets, back packs, drawing boards, and other worthless devices liberals come up with are so funny if lives were not in the balance.

      • Actually and factually, these bulletproof items are right on target for backstop protection of kids. Put them in and arm teachers. Do both. Its not a binary decision.

        • What is fascinating is that the LEFT and in fact Bloomberg, have supported exemption cops from such requirements, and in fact this gun does look to be a cops gun

  4. Just remember kids, you will be safe when you duck and cover like our friend Bert the Turtle. Duck and cover now children!

  5. I’m not questioning the bravery of this yeacher in confronting the shooter, but this story makes no sense to me. I keep hearing/reading that she intercepted him while reloading, in which case how did he still fire the gun? Or I read that he was “trying” to point the gun at her and fired, striking himself. Neither of these scenarios makes any sense to me. The simplest explanation that I can come up with from the information at hand is that she forcibly turned the gun on him and pulled the trigger, and that the press is scared to glorify her for decisively ending the life of a teenager, regardless of his present actions. I could be way off base, but I just keep hearing that same blurb repeated and can’t wrap my head around it

    • A great deal would depend on the pistol being used. If he was doing a tactical reload of a semi-automatic there would still be a round in the chamber. If her aggression took him by surprise and she pushed his arm upwards it is quite possible poor trigger finger discipline could result in that round being fired into his chin.

    • This was my first though when I read the story. I would applaud the teacher even more if she did in fact shove the barrel of the gun under the shooters chin and force him to pull the trigger.

  6. “…many were subjected to more thorough searches with hand-held detectors, and even pat downs. Even the tiniest and least dangerous pocketknife was seized.”

    A few years ago when entering the Customs and Immigration building in Seattle to process some routine paperwork for my wife and stepson the security search included confiscating the military “P-38” miniature can opening device used to open C-ration cans. I had one on my key chain because they tend to be useful for a variety of other purposes. Since the portion of the P-38 that actually opens cans is pointed and moderately sharp, even though it is only 1/4 inch long, it was determined to be a potential weapon and so was not allowed in the building where they were holding people awaiting immigration and deportation trials.

    I figure you’ve got to be some kind of desperate to try to make an escape with only a P-38 as your weapon and some kind of incompetent guard to have it work.

    • I once had to return a “weapon” confiscated from an airline passenger by the guardians of our safety in the air. He was going to visit his brother, and got a gift for his sister-in-law at the airport gift shop.
      The weapon was a small, dull, wedge-shaped pie server. If anyone threatened you with such a weapon, your greatest danger would be to die of laughter.

    • I’ve had an empty .308 brass casing key ring confiscated at the Airport one time…and I was Active Duty military at the time.

  7. There needs to be a general underlying shift in the way people think about personal safety and their lives generally. It’s all about mindset. Right now, it’s all about “what will be done,” which is a passive construction leaving the doer out of the discussion. Instead it needs to be, “what will I do?”

    Back on 9/11, the chief weapons were not boxcutters; they were set expectations and a passive mindset. Once those were eliminated that very same day, the passengers on Flight 93 overcame the terrorists and prevented further mayhem.

    In the same way, if regular people had that same mindset, there would be very few mass shootings. If the moment a whackjob pulled a weapon, he were dogpiled by the nearest five people, then high casualties would be almost impossible.

    • I had a similar reaction when watching the video this week of the nut job who attacked the Canadian Parliament. As he exited the car, several men were in close proximity. Instead of dogpiling him, each to a man ran away as fast as he could. I might have done so as well, but I still find their reaction incredulous.

  8. FINALLY! A poster who has figured out NOT to mention the name of the attacker/shooter. Good for you. If we could enact legislation on this subject, it should be for any media who publishes the name(s) of assailants be prosecutable on criminal charges. Then, civilly liable for causing increased risk to future persons. If your name never gets mentioned, you won’t have your moment of fame.

    • +100 One of the best things about bearingarms.com(ironically I learned of it through the TTAG comments section iirc) is that their editorial policy to refuse to name or display pictures of any of the people who would commit these horrible acts. Granted, I kind of get the feeling this kid was more interested in revenge than recognition, but that doesnt change the fact that damn near every national news outlet has his picture up within a day or so.

    • I seem to recall that there was a sort of gentlemen’s agreement among journalists back in the day not to name John Lennon’s shooter, who was of course after fame. Then again, Lennon was a leftist hero, and journalists protect their own.

  9. One “gun-free” school zones law was overturned by the Supremes. Our friends in Congress then turned around and passed one that looks, for the purposes of you and me, absolutely identical to the one that was overturned, which remains in effect today.

    The only difference is that the first law applied to all firearms, whereas the second law says, “It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.”

    Good luck finding a gun that a court doesn’t think “affects” interstate commerce.

    • I forget the exact time and other details, but the courts once found that a man growing grain for his own personal use affected interstate commerce in that his self-sufficiency did not require him to purchase grain from other states and therefore had an effect on the interstate transportation of grain, reducing it by the amount he no longer needed to purchase.

      True story.

      • Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942). Exactly as you posted. I know at least four Justices — led by Thomas — who would love to overturn that piece of statist bvllsh!t.

      • What hope can we have in a court that looks at the “interstate commerce clause” and determines it to to apply to things that are neither interstate nor even commerce?

  10. “What are the lives of children–and teachers–worth in 2014 America?”

    Depends who you ask, I would imagine politicians would answer: for use as props during Press conferences, tools for agitprop and a great source of bloody shirts to wave.

  11. American society places far more value on the lives of judges and lawyers than school children.

    Not at all. As you correctly pointed out, judges and lawyers don’t live in a fairytale world. They know that bad things happen, so they have armed guards and carry guns.

    If you want to find someone to blame for the woeful lack of security in schools, look no further than the parents. They do live in a fairytale world. If they wanted security, they’d get it. They don’t. They would rather remain sheep, and then they act surprised when they are sheared.

  12. “You’ll hear, ‘But no teacher has to approach a killer….'”

    For that matter, neither do police officers. They aren’t bodyguards, and nobody’s cracking a whip and forcing them into deadly encounters. Only the selfless will do so, and thank God for them…this teacher masterfully fits that category. Just think of the potential effectiveness of one or more similarly disposed AND armed educators in every school across the nation.

  13. Soooo……were the antis correct, that magazine capacity limitations would force spree shooters to pause, allowing opportunity for bystanders to tackle him? Unarmed bystanders appear to have taken down the Tucson shooter and this one, after all.

    If that is not the case, then what argument would counter that stance? I know, I know, 2A, RKBA, “because guns”, and the whole nine yards. Still, these antis are people who pride themselves on rational thinking. They consider themselves in tune with inline reasoning.

    Now, they’re infuriatingly prone to link two distant and disparate dots, oblivious to the known obstacles in between, and then claim a solid connection. Still, this is how they operate and they do have two apparent data points now.

    • If the argument is that it’s okay to pass a law as long as it might theoretically make it more difficult to commit a criminal act then we might as well toss most of the Bill of Rights in the bin right now.

      You know…more so.

    • There are multiple reasons why magazine limitations are wrong:

      1) They are arbitrary. “High-capacity” magazine is whatever the government deems it as

      2) You might need significantly more than one or two shots to stop an attacker. There are multiple instances of police shooting attackers up to fifteen times who were still able to walk over to the ambulance afterwards. This could be due to the attacker being high on a drug, enraged, etc…there was a woman in Georgia who was protecting herself and her children with a six shot revolver who had broken into her home. She fired all six shots, missed once and hit the guy five times. He decided he’d had enough and ran out of the house, but he didn’t drop dead or anything. What if he’d had a partner who broke in via a side window? And then she is defenseless at that point.

      3) There might be multiple attackers

      4) You might miss, as how you shoot when your life is on the line is not how you shoot when relaxed and shooting at a fixed target at a range.

      5) Police carry standard capacity magazines for a reason

  14. I disagree with Mike McDaniel about disabling a shooter with a karate kick. Your legs contain the strongest muscles in your body. A side kick, which does require training to execute effectively, is the most powerful blow you can deliver. The only alternative I can think of is to grab the shooter’s hair from behind and yank his head back with all your strength and weight. By comparison, grappling with the shooter over his firearm is a losing proposition unless you are far bigger and stronger. The tricky part, as Mike points out, is getting within range.

    • I think he just means you need to ensure you won’t be mowed down immediately before disabling the attacker, ya dig? Get the gun muzzle off you, then throat punch or w/e. (I need some training obviously, but I follow his main point I think)

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