I had a conversation with AVERY LIBRELLE. Avery is an associate professor of Victimization Studies at Saint Thomas, and still votes for Paul Wellstone every election.
LIBRELLE: So are you gun nuts really demanding that we arm all teachers?
ME: Well, no. Some conservatives merely want to allow teachers that qualify for carry permits – pass the background checks, take the training and so on – that wish to, to bring their legally-purchased firearms to school. Concealed, anonymous, no publicity.
LIBRELLE: That’s just madness. That just adds more guns to the situation.
ME: Well, yeah. Guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Which, the past 25 years of experience have shown, is at worst neutral and very likely a good thing, and which current police doctrine shows is the best way to deal with mass shooting situations.
LIBRELLE: What? That’s insane! Teachers are trained to teach! It’ll take years to train them to be soldiers!
ME: Soldiers? Huh? You don’t have to be a “soldier” to defend yourself. When a regular citizen is faced with a life-or-death situation, it’s usually pretty cut and dried; there is someone right in front of you providing an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm to you or the people around you. You pull a gun, you point, you shoot.
LIBRELLE: That’s so not how it works.
ME: Well, yeah. It is. The record is full of 14 year old kids and septuagenarians and elderly women and pregnant women, teenage single moms and just plain folks successfully defending themselves against violent – indeed, by definition, lethal – crime.
LIBRELLE: Well, mass shooters are different. They are white, young, male, and very, very smart. They plan their shootings out to a “T”. There is no way the regular citizen can stand up to them! Only the police can deal with freaks like this.
ME: Again, Avery, no. For starters, cops have their own problems; the policeman at Columbine wasn’t able to stop Klebold and Harris, although someone should tell David Gregory that the cop likely saved quite a few lives – and the SWAT team didn’t go into the building at all until hours after everyone including Klebold and Harris were dead. After that, cops changed their tactics, and we’ll come back to that.
In the meantime, we have several instances of armed citizens stopping mass-shooters in mid-shooting, including the guy in Portland Oregon two weeks ago, and Jeanne Assam in Colorado Springs a few years back.
LIBRELLE: Hah! Now I know you’re parroting NRA talking points! Both of those shooters killed themselves! The armed civilian Rambo-wannabees didn’t kill them!
ME: Now, hang on, Avery. No need to be so bloodthirsty. The goal isn’t necessarily to get a notch on one’s handgrip. It’s to end the shooting.
And that brings us to police tactics. Guess what they train police to do about mass shooters these days? Not wait for the SWAT team. but go in and get after the shooter as fast as they can – because since mass shooters do tend to be intelligent, but narcissistic and disturbed and and to live in fantasy worlds, once you disrupt the fantasy and derail the plan, they do tend to stop, re-assess, panic and kill themselves. The goal is to cause that derailing when the massacre has just started, rather than when they’re standing up to their waists in dead bodies and hearing the sirens coming, like Harris and Klebold and Seung-Hui Cho and Jeffrey Weise. And depending on the killer, that disruption can be pretty minor; in Portland last December 11, Nick Meli didn’t have to fire so much as a shot to get the Clackamas Mall shooter to slink away into a store and polish himself off. These people are narcissists and cowards; once their master plan gets off the rails, they almost always either kill themselves or, like the Aurora shooter, give up.
LIBRELLE: But the Brady Organization says arming teachers would only make things worse.
ME: Oh, you mean that if a teacher had shot back at Lanza, things might have gotten bad?
LIBRELLE: Well, yeah…that’s what Brady says! Anyway – Teachers are not soldiers. They spend their careers mastering pedagogy and nurturing, not soldiers!
ME: Wait – do you think the guy in Portland trained his whole life to get ready for that moment in that mall? Don’t be absurd! You’ll labor in vain to find a single civilian who shoots, successfully, in self-defense, that spent an entire working career preparing for the moment. But go ahead and try!
But let’s just say for argument’s sake that you’re right; that by the nature of a teacher’s job, they should never, ever be armed, even if their states of residence have duly issued them carry permits for which they’re qualified. That’s what we’re saying, right?
ME: Even if they have a carry permit, which according to nationwide statistics means they’re a couple of orders of magnitude more trustworthy with firearms than the general public?
LIBRELLE: Of course. No armed teachers. It’s just not right!
ME: Because being gentle-bred, lotus-eating teachers, the whole subject of killing in self-defense is beyond them?
LIBRELLE: No need to be so snide – but yes. Basically.
ME: So the schools then opt to follow current law-enforcement procedure, and follow President LaPierre’s idea of hiring guards to try to carry that out in our schools? To try to disrupt the shooters’ plans, just like law enforcement advises. Just as Israel has done for some time now against a real, constant threat.
LIBRELLE: Oh, no. The NEA has said that that’s insane!
ME: So let me get this straight: a union comprised of people that you just said were incompetent to see to their own and their childrens’ defense (notwithstanding potentially having carry permits that show they are competent) is nonetheless expert enough in self-defense tactics to reject current law-enforcement practice out of hand?
LIBRELLE: Why do you hate the children? And women?