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In Newtown Connecticut, a madman entered a school shooting six adults and twenty children. At least three adults were face to face with the spree killer, and at least two did the best they could to deter the killer from doing his awful work. Pause for a moment to consider the heroic actions of Dawn Hochsprung. A witness said she and two others ran to investigate the gunshots. Hochsprung is credited with switching on the intercom, warning other teachers by broadcasting the sounds of fear and panic . . .

Place yourself in that moment. She rounds a corner and sees a figure in black. He is pointing a rifle. She realizes the full horror of what is happening. In that terrifying moment she chooses to go on the offensive. Did turning on the intercom seal her fate? Did she get close enough to grapple with him or was she murdered at a distance?

Hochsprung had children, she had friends. She had dedicated her life to being an educator. She hurled her body into combat unarmed because her love for the children and friends at the school was greater than the love for her own life. The Savior of us all says there is no greater love.

Imagine the feeling of hopelessness she must have felt in those final moments before she passed on to her reward. Imagine how helpless she must have felt. Did she know she failed to stop the man? Did she live long enough to hear gunshots in the distance? Could she hear the cries of children in her last moments on earth? Think about the monumental wall of grief that might have crushed her noble spirit just before passing away.

Ms. Hochsprung had the key component of a warrior in a crisis – the willingness to take dramatic action. With that willingness, all she needed was the right tool. First rule of a gunfight – bring a gun.

For less than $700, a snub-nose .38 revolver with a laser aiming aid would have allowed her to place five powerful shots on the target, likely neutralizing the threat altogether. Easily concealed, super-reliable, sufficiently deadly and more than accurate enough, especially with a laser. If any of the women who confronted the shooter had carried this inexpensive and highly effective weapon, there would have been multiple opportunities to stop him.

History shows us that spree shooters stop when a good guy with a gun shows up. How many innocent lives ended that day because the good guys with guns were 20 minutes away?

It’s understandable that many have a negative visceral response to the idea of guns in  schools. But those who do ought to consider the horrifying final moments of the people who died for want of any kind of weapon and ask themselves if gun-free zones are worth the price of murdered children. There is ample evidence that a gun would have changed the equation and saved lives at Sandy Hook. Dawn Hochsprung sure could have used one.

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  1. I admire the tribute to this courageous woman, but I question the utility of “what-ifs”, particularly because even if this was not a gun free zone we have no idea if Dawn, or any of the teachers, would have used a gun.

    I’m sure others will disagree, and perhaps a few will flame, but hindsight is always 20 20, and could have beens have no place in debate.

    • No flame, just don’t agree with your “what ifs” statement. What if, IS pertinent, for it is quite obvious that without a firearm she was defenseless. But I would imagine someone this brave and determined to stop this coward, would not have thought twice about taking him out to protect her “kids”. Just my what ifs!

      • Disagreeing is not flaming, and you’re more than welcome to. I am not against arming teachers, I just don’t think it’s in good taste to put a gun in this woman’s hands in a posthumous what if scenario when we don’t know if she would have taken said gun. She could have detested them for all we know.

        To each his or her own though, and again, I found the tribute to her to be touching.

      • I also have to agree, running towards gun fire when you have no weapon means she was ready to act. Now having said that I think if she had been armed this whole thing would have been different. That is just my opinion on what i think would have happened.

        • She had the mindset, she just didn’t have the tools.

          No, scratch that, she wasn’t allowed to have the tools.

    • ‘Could have beens’ absolutely have a place in debate. And while I agree we don’t know what might have been had teachers been armed we sure as hell know the outcome when they’re not.

    • Unfortunately, we only have hindsight with which to infer how things might have been different. Without knowing Ms. Hochsprung, I have no idea if she would have in good conscience carried a firearm. My point is that what she would or would not carry was decided for her.

  2. There is no debate. She showed extraordinary courage, and looking at her picture I see a gentle woman who should be alive, not dead at the hands of a madman.

  3. “History shows us that spree shooters stop when a good guy with a gun shows up. ”

    Are there any statistics that show how many mass shootings have stopped when the active shooter killed them self after he faced resistance, either in the form of an armed civilian or cop?

      • Fort hood would be an exception. There was one a while back, I’d have to research it, but a guy armed with an SKS traded fire with, and eventually killed a CC holder with a six shooter. He did save the life of a potential victim and gave time for the cops to move in – they eventually killed him.

        I’d venture that 90% or more of these cowards choose surrender or suicide in the face of police or armed citizens. I also recall seeing some statistic saying casualties are lower when armed resistance involved, but I don’t recall where I saw it.

        • I can’t remember where I read it but I seem to remember that shootings that were stopped by a civilian or plain clothes cop on the scene had an average of 2.5 deaths.

          Shootings where the shooter was ultimately stopped by the police or committed suicide when the police showed had an average of 14 deaths.

          The difference was attributed to the length of time that the shooter had to operate without forceful opposition.

        • Fort Hood wasn’t an exception. It was a gun free zone. They had to wait for the cops to arrive and take down Akmed.

  4. Yeah, she looks like a nice sweet lady, probably one of the ones responsible for killing the kids though. I forget if she was the principal or maybe just partly responsible for the crappy security system. If this lady pushed for armed guards in the school I grieve for her & her family. It would be nice if the brady types could get past the Kamakazi mentality, I know the Sikh’s have at least partly seen the light. Nice sweet ladies KILL KIDS, Randy

    • Dawn didn’t create the gun free zones, and had no power to change that. Your characterization of her as a nice sweet lady who is “probably one of the ones responsible for killing the kids” is way off base.
      Don’t disrespect her this way. You know as well as anyone it’s going to take a major change in attitude to provide armed security in schools, especially in states which severely restrict firearms already.

    • Randy,

      Dawn pushed for and oversaw increases in the school’s security. Realistically, she probably did what she could do under the limits imposed by the school board and district, and state laws. Unarmed, she attacked the shooter in a brave attempt to save the children. Your comments are vulgar and ignorant.

    • As loathe as I am to even hont that Randy the Troll might be onto something, the reality is that the education unions are uniformly anti-gun. Any given educator may not be inclined to carry a firearm. My point is that there was not choice in the matter for any of these ladies murdered in Newtown and we need to change that. Choosing to be unarmed is different than compelled to be.

  5. My wife is a teacher, she shoots a sub compact 9mm better than me. She would without a doubt defend the lives of her kids with everything she has. Yet while she has the right to defend herself in and outside of the home; the Government denies her the right to defend her children and her classroom.

    Why should that be? Let teachers who are willing be that last line of defence.

    • I’m hoping that SHE has contacted all of your senators, reps (state and federal) and the White House. As someone said on an earlier post, women need to start speaking up and writing their elected officials, especially a CC permit holder!

    • My wife is lethal at self-defense range with her Smith Airweight snubbie. The Crimson Trace is Da Bomb, but she is center of mass with the built-in sights.

      It would be almost the worst day of her life having to shoot someone in self-defense, but a lot easier to live with than letting a lunatic kill children in her school for want of a firearm.

  6. RIP. This is all so sad. The love Dawn felt for those children gave her the courage to master the natural human instinct to flee an overwhelmingly dangerous and terrifying situation. Dawn was a very authentic person in touch with and true to her inner self.

    Ban Gun Free Zones Now. Anyone who supports keeping adult school teachers and staff from being armed to protect children is a supporter of fascists.

  7. Too bad Dawn didn’t have a Glock in her desk with .45 hollow points, she could have solved Adams mental problems real quick. I think it high time we allow teachers to CCW and use tax money for on site security. We seem to find funds for all kinds of shit we don’t need, let’s fund this.
    A school teacher friend of mine went from being totally uncaring about guns to asking me what to buy and getting involved in the discussion about arming teachers at schools. He told me a number of men at his school would be willing to go to training, buy their own tools, and be part of an internal defense squad for the school. I was very surprised to hear this but encouraged that the anti’s are not winning many converts, people don’t have faith in “the authorities” to provide security. I suggested he discuss this with his administration but doubt he wants to be seen as a “gun nut”.
    If it took 20 min for cops to show up at this scene, how long to your kids school? Or your house for that matter?

  8. Quote: “It’s understandable that many have a negative visceral response to the idea of guns in schools.

    No – it is not understandable.
    I recall as a schoolkid it was no more unusual for one of the boys to bring a .22 rifle into the classroom for show-and-tell than it was for another kid to bring in a rock collection or a crystal radio.

    • Context, Carl, all this booshwa is against a cultural context that we cannot ignore.

      Millions of gun owners are not even registered to vote. Into that vacuum has come the progressives who in turn make up stupid rules.

  9. Awesome tribute. The courage needed to run towards gun fire un- armed is immeasurable. When it goes down some act, some watch, and most shrink. She is proof that warriors come in all shapes and sizes. May God bless her, her family, and everyone who is suffering as a result of this terrible tragedy.

  10. It’s a shame that no one had taught this brave lady to grab a pair of scissors and/or a Fire Extinguisher and how to use them. Not as good as a gun, but better than nothing.

    • Greygrandpa said “It’s a shame that no one had taught this brave lady to grab a pair of scissors and/or a Fire Extinguisher and how to use them. Not as good as a gun, but better than nothing.”

      This is a good point. Improvising a weapon is a difficult thing under pressure – probably even harder than using a firearm under the same circumstances. The difference is that the firearm is purpose-built for self defense against lethal force. A CCW holder is likely familiar with what their carry piece can do, but will have never fired a fire extinguisher at a range…

  11. This woman is a warrior, and I respect her actions. However, I’d take an armed good guy over an unarmed good guy any day. The sad fact is that Lanza was greatly assisted by the fact that he was in a “Gun Free Zone.” Is there a more dangerous place in the world than facing an armed madman than in a Gun Free Zone?

    Can politicians be any more stupid in that they don’t understand that fact?

  12. “Honor Newtown’s Heroes-Ban Gun Free Zones”
    How about honoring all teachers? Nothing says I don’t value you and what you do more than stripping you of your fundamental human right of self-defense!

  13. I read through all of the various comments here and the debate about whether a teacher should or should note allowed to carry a gun and I am left scratching my head a bit. Unless you, yourself are a teacher you will never understand the total implications of arming school personnel or not. It is easy to say let the teachers arm themselves if they wish, but it can’t be that easy. That would be like saying we should be our own police and those that want to be responsible for the community should be able to strap on a holster and start walking the neighborhood beat. I support having additional armed individuals in schools and specifically in my school. I would be willing to be one of those people, but this can’t be done without a great deal of thoughtfulness and planning. It is not as simple as me being allowed to arm myself and come to school, it has to be part of a comprehensive plan, integrated with the extensive response plan already in place.

    Every school is filled with people like Dawn Hochsprung, who would put their life on the line for the kids. As a teacher I am acting ‘in loco parentis’ when kids are under my supervision and I would protect them like my own. It is just in the blood of most educators I know. While we may tend to be more laid back and emotional than other sectors of the population, we will fight to the death for our students.

    • So, do you prefer to be ordered to fight empty handed to the death or would you like the option to not have empty hands? The bugs could be worked out of a system allowing school staff and community volunteers to work together and secure the schools.

      If, and this is the big IF, the anti’s would admit that we needed to arm our school personnel and the parent or community volunteers. I don’t see that happening nationwide. Instead the anti’s will waste time and effort trying to enact illegal and draconian gun laws and we People of the Gun will have to waste time and effort fighting them.

      The end results will be that for the most part our schools will be mostly no better off than they were before Sandy Hook and Columbine.

      • No, I would prefer to be armed, without out a doubt. There is just no simple way to enact a change such as this.

        Unfortuately you are right that change nationwide is very unlikely to happen. Too many will fail to see that arming additional school personnel is in the best interest of our students.

        • I think it’s going to take a bottom-up effort to get adequate security measures in schools. Education in America is largely run by localized school boards to fit the needs of students in their particular community. School safety needs to be revised on their agendas to include the Newtown scenario. They must be made accountable for both successes and failures.

          Recently there was a proposal in Staten Island to provide for armed guards (retired LEOs) in the schools. Parents proposed this. In NYC.

          This is where the gun-ban crowd will falter: At the intersection of politicized and pointless gun-control legislation and the actual safety of neighborhood children.

  14. I don’t question Dawn Hochsprung’s courage or her dedication to the children in her care. However, I’m not so sure about her mindset. There is a difference between protecting the victims and attacking the shooter. The former was demonstrated by the teacher in Dunblane, Scotland who died shielding her pupils with her own body. The latter requires a deliberate decision to subordinate the welfare of the shooter to that of the children and staff, employing whatever means necessary. The educational establishment is too invested in nonviolence for such a decision. There is no point in offering firearms and training to a teacher who believes it is heroic to die along with her charges but morally indefensible to save them and herself by shooting down their attacker. Fortunately, not all the rank and file are so paralyzed. In Utah, more than 200 teachers took advantage of free training by the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

    • Bullshit. Eliminate “Gun Free Zones” around schools, or at least allow concealed carry amongst teachers and school staff. If I can open carry in a school, there is no reason why a principal could not concealed carry. There is no tactical advantage whatsoever – none – to being completely disarmed. Anyone who understands that, and is otherwise qualified, would make a good armed teacher.

      What’s the alternative? Waiting for 10 minutes for police? Waiting for the bad guy’s gun to jam? We’ve already seen how that plays out.

      • Accur81: I think you missed my point.

        I agree that “gun free zones” are the epitome of stupidity. The only exceptions should be places with less than airport level security backed up by on-site armed guards. There is no way we can afford to do that with all the schools in the country. Therefore, the sensible alternative is to encourage (not just allow) volunteers among the school staff to carry on the job and train them to respond to active shooters until the professionals arrive.

        The problem, as I said, is that the educational establishment is too invested in nonviolence to accept this. Suppose an armed school resource police officer, wounded by a future shooter, were to offer his weapon to staff members to go after and stop the shooter. It wouldn’t surprise me if they refused, saying that they didn’t believe in violence. To them, guns are a physical expression of a concept they abhor, which is to strike back at someone trying to hurt you. Until they learn better, offering them the tools to protect themselves and their charges will accomplish nothing.

        The only good news is that some of them already know better. Examles are the school district in Harrold Texas and the Utah teachers who took advantage of free training.

        • I screwed up paragaph two and the editing function wouldn’t let me make a correction. What I meant to say was that permit holders should be able to carry any place not protected by airport level security backed up by armed guards.

  15. Mr. McNabb….a very thoughtful, well-written piece. If she didn’t lose consciousness immediately, I shudder to think what her final moments were like. As a parent of a first grader, I could barely get my mind around the horror of those parents who lost a child and had to view pictures taken by the Medical Examiner to help in the identification of the deceased. Thank you for your article.

  16. My only issue is that there were NO so called “Assault Weapons” used, and the Liberal Agenda against them is ridiculous. We Trust our educators with the lives of out children EVERY DAY. How about a TRULY rounded education where we have the people who care for our children (often more time daily than their parents) teach them GUN SAFETY in the classroom, where they can also keep them SAFE from ALL threats.


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