“Was Scot Peterson (above), the sheriff’s deputy who didn’t storm into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the midst of a mass shooting that claimed the lives of 17 teachers and students, a ‘coward,’ as Donald Trump described him?” Joshua Holland asks at The Nation. Apparently not . . .
A Former SWAT Operator Says the Cop Who Stood Outside Is Another Victim of the Parkland Massacre puts forth a different interpretation.
Before we get to an explanation of how hard maybe even impossible it is for a trained law enforcement officer — like former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson — to go toe-to-toe on a spree killer murdering high school students let’s think carefully about the person making the case.
That would be “David Chipman (above), a 25-year veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) [who] served on one of its Special Response Teams—the agency’s equivalent of SWAT—and is now a senior policy adviser to former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s campaign to curb gun violence.”
Yes, the Peterson apologist is a former employee of a federal agency that supplied Mexican drug thugs with AR-15s, interviewed by a writer who feels obliged to end his article by revealing “I believe that we should ban military-style weapons with high-capacity magazines that result in greater body counts.”
Here’s Mr. Chipman’s opening salvo:
“We rightfully applaud heroes. People who disregard their own personal safety for another. But it is a rare act. We hope that when the chips are down, we will exercise our duty, but you never know until that day comes. I’d like to say I would have rushed into a building with only a handgun to confront an active shooter armed with a military-style assault rifle, knowing I was outgunned, knowing that I would likely die, but I don’t know.”
And I’d like to say that anyone who becomes a police officer would confront a rifle-toting child killer in the midst of his homicidal fury, whether the cop was armed with a handgun or a rifle or a potato peeler. But I can’t. Because Scot Peterson. And three fellow deputies.
I can say that a police officer armed with “only” a handgun should confront a rifle-toting child killer in the midst of his homicidal fury, whether the cop is armed with a handgun or a rifle or a potato peeler.
To make this personal, if I was the cop who didn’t go in — because of a perfectly normal and understandable fear for my life — you could rightly call me a coward. Otherwise, what does that word mean? And it wouldn’t matter what I did before that moment . . .
By all accounts, Scot Peterson had been a model cop until he became a national disgrace. “His personnel record is filled with commendations,” reported the Sun-Sentinel. “Four years ago, he was named school resource officer of the year. A year ago, a supervisor nominated him for Parkland deputy of the year.” But like most of us, he had never faced a situation like he did on the day that Nikolas Cruz shot 33 of his former classmates, teachers, and coaches with an AR-15.
The criticism Peterson’s received is understandable. He took a risky job. Since the school shooting at Columbine, police officers have been trained to enter a building in such circumstances, even if it might cost them their lives.
But Chipman says that the reality is that, even though they undergo extensive training designed to inoculate them against natural human stress reactions, it’s not uncommon for soldiers to freeze up the first time they experience combat. It’s not a sign of cowardice. In most cases, those same troops perform well—or even heroically—after that first exposure to real-life combat. We can’t expect police officers to behave any differently.
TTAG’s resident war hero Jon Wayne Taylor had the appropriate response to this line of thinking in today’s Question of the Day: when it comes to an active shooter, if trained law enforcement officers paid to protect the general public won’t intervene, who will?
The gun lobby’s heroic-gunslinger fantasy also animates Donald Trump’s repeated calls for arming school teachers. It’s a distraction from the real issue—mass shootings, on and off campus, accounted for fewer than 4 percent of gun murders last year. Still, I asked Chipman: What’s wrong with the NRA’s idea that “good guys with guns” could stop people like Cruz? How realistic is it to expect a teacher, administrator, or other bystander to intervene in such a situation?
“I think that unless you are trained—and you’re trained over and over again, and you practice like you play, which means you’re training in simulated life or death environments—the likelihood of you even firing your gun is small. And then the likelihood that you would actually hit a moving target surrounded by other moving targets—any trained operator knows the fallacy in that. It’s highly unlikely that it would turn out well.”
Common sense tells us that “high unlikely” does not equal impossible — a point TTAG proved in its school shooting simulation.
And over 1m defensive gun uses a year tell us that former ATF SRT member David Chipman is FOS. Not to mention the fact that return fire will, at the very least, distract or delay a mass shooter. Or shooters.
There are different kinds of people. Some people are wired to fight, some to freeze and some to flee. Can those whose natural instinct is to freeze overcome that propensity through sheer force of will? Yes. But don’t get me wrong: I fully understand and appreciate the admonition” judge not lest ye be judged.”
So I’ll just shake my head and sigh at the Broward County Sheriff’s Department for their officers’ lethal lack of intestinal fortitude, and reserve my ire for the intellectual cowardice shown by Mr. Holland, Mr. Chipman and the legions of disarmists plaguing this great nation, promoting a cult of impotence that’s guaranteed to put more defenseless children in the line of fire.