I’ve been hearing it from pundits all week: gun control was the only thing that could have stopped Las Vegas spree killer Stephen Paddock. Ban bump fire stocks! “Assault rifles!” “High-capacity magazines”! Restrict the number of gun sales per month! None of that would have prevented the Mandalay Bay slaughter. None of that would stop the next mass shooter. Writing as a firearms and Krav Maga instructor and a former Israeli Special Forces Sniper, here are three things we can do to prevent mass shootings.
In Israel, security staff at airports and other sensitive locations use “profiling” to identify potential terrorists. No, it’s not based on racial or ethnic identity. Trained agents scan crowds for anyone displaying behavioral signs indicating they may be about to engage in violence: fidgeting, whistling, sweaty palms, a cold penetrating stare, rigid posture and more.
Security staff trained in profiling identify, monitor, approach and question a “person of interest.” They ask simple questions and observe both verbal and nonverbal responses. If they establish probable cause, they can detain the person for further questioning and investigation.
I know many Americans consider this kind of proactive security intrusive. Unconstitutional, even. Show us your papers! What constitutes probable cause for further questioning? But Israeli security and police using profiling can and have spotted and stopped violent actors at hotels, bus stops, events and other public places — before they attacked.
2. Armed and properly trained security
The security guard who knocked on Mandalay Bay spree killer Stephen Paddock’s door was unarmed. He was greeted with 200 rounds fired through the door and down the hallway. Luckily, only one round hit the guard, and Paddock shot himself immediately afterwards.
Even so, there’s no way security staff should not have had access to the most effective personal self-defense weapon made: a gun. While I teach students in the brutally effective unarmed self-defense techniques known as Krav Maga, I would not choose to approach a potential terrorist or mass shooter unarmed.
Maybe the hotel thought its large security staff wasn’t competent enough to be armed. Maybe the hotel didn’t want to pay for regular, professional, rigorous, regular firearms training.
I don’t know the quality of the Mandalay Bay hotel staff security, nor their training regime. But it’s high time America stopped deploying overweight, under-trained, unprofessional, unarmed people to protect the public. It’s time they took the threat of deranged killers/terrorist seriously enough to spend the time and money to train and equip effective security.
3. Better security at public events
Who could have guessed that someone would fire on the country music crowd from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel? The Secret Service for one.
There’s no way The President of the United States would have been allowed to be in that crowd on that fateful night. At the very least, counter-snipers would have been scanning the surrounding area for long-range ballistic threats.
In addition to armed, well-trained security at large public gatherings, it’s time to consider adding a counter-sniper to large events with “over-watch” challenges. As most SWAT teams have at least one designated marksman, this is neither impossible nor impractical.
For the past decade, both the Israeli Defense Force and the U.S. military have been using Rafael’s SpotLite system. The technology can detect gunfire and pinpoint its source in seconds. Aside from cost, which is suddenly less of a consideration, there’s no reason this system couldn’t be deployed at large U.S. events.
This is not a question of choosing one from column A, one from Column B. These recommendations constitute a multi-layered security approach — combining several rings of security, on the ground, technologically and through old school techniques. Taken as a whole, they can help detect, prevent and stop future massacres.