It's with a sad heart that I write this note tonight. Every American within ear shot of the media today took notice. Every parent hugged their kids and will maybe watch them sleep. I know I have and I will.
To think that our kids could have their innocence shattered by two mass murder events in elementary schools today is unconscionable. As I picked my own daughter up from Girl Scouts tonight, I heard an eleven year old say to her father "Dad, I've been scared a lot today because of what happened in Connecticut." It's just not fair. I feel anger and sadness that our children were violated in this way.
Tonight, the President of the United States came on TV and wiped tears from his eyes as he addressed the nation. As he speaks, it is clear that he feels the pain we all do - that he understands the magnitude of the violation that happened in our elementary schools today. Not only in Connecticut and China, but in every elementary school and elementary school-aged home in this country.
What do you think the role of leadership is in times of crisis?
I believe the role of leadership in times of crisis is to help us face the truth, to focus, to mourn, and to find hope again in tomorrow.
I think our gov't leaders (and President Obama, in particular) should specifically define the "meaningful action" that they propose would eliminate terrorists attacks on our schools and other unprotected public areas. I need them to state what they mean, and identify the measures they aim to legislate and enforce. The rest of us need to know their plans as well...
My thoughts? The solution can't be about raising the level of federal and state gun control, or turning our schools into security fortresses. No, the solution has to deter the perpetrator and protect innocent victims... No matter what controls are imposed, these killers have and will have no problem obtaining their weapons and ammo. And, in looking for potential targets of opportunity, why would they even mess with beefed-up security areas? No, they just target those people and places least likely to fight back or resist. They will always choose an un-armed target or public facility over one that has a trained/armed response plan.
So, my proposal is (and you might have heard it elsewhere in media coverage recently), to provide weapons and situational awareness/reaction training to all teachers and school personnel (without a criminal record) so that their armed presence will deter armed attacks. Even a crazy person would not risk a prepared armed response to their attacks and would most likely select another less-capable target. Even if terrorists do attack a school, the teacher or principal with their weapon in-hand can at least "go down fighting", most likely protecting students as they did in Connecticut and every previous attack...
To support my theory, pretend you are a social deviant planning to shoot ten or twenty strangers while avoiding immediate return gunfire. Is it more likely that you'd open fire at the local police station, the front gate of a military base, or a multi-access public area that uses metal detectors to prevent armed protection anywhere on its grounds? We must take easy "targets of opportunity" off the terrorist's list. Arming and training every adult school employee, who is willing & able to provide an armed response, would definitely solve this issue. Not one killer, not even the crazed terrorist who expects to eventually die in their efforts, would risk starting their killing spree shooting at people who are going to shoot back.
Much like Mutually Assured Destruction (cold war theory that prevented nuclear war), by publicly arming and training all school personnel, those underpaid, dedicated public servants will scare-off killers and prevent school terror-shootings without firing a single shot!
Your thoughts on this?
My thoughts are "If only human nature, and reaction time, worked as straightforwardly as that".
It doesn't. I encourage people to read about the shooting in New York earlier this year in which innocents were struck by police bullets, from people trained to respond to such situations ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444812704577611553836... ). If those highly trained in strategic wounding, and responding to violent incidents can make errors like that, regular citizens will surely have a worse record, and likely provoke more than they prevent.
There is simply nothing about tragic incidents like the Sandy Hook shooting that permits anyone other than those who arrive after the fact to act in a planful and methodical way. People only behave like first responders when called on to fulfill that role. Folks in the thick of things don't automatically take on that role. I credit the brave and caring teachers who managed to keep most of the children out of harm's way by their own thoughtful and heroic actions, but you can't focus on the kids and the shooter and where yuor bullets might go, all at once. Maybe in the movies, but not in real life. You're either doing one or the other, but not both. Just try and carry on a phone conversation while steering out of a skid on black ice.
While I concur that President Obama did not articulate any specific plan or legislation in his very moving address to the parents in the room, and across the nation, more firepower was likely the very last thing on his list. We have to do better than that. We can.
Thanks for the great insight and feedback. I also agree that we (the US public) have to do better than arming our teachers, but we need a solution that already works everywhere else... I should have reinforced my last line about deterence...
They'll never need to fire a shot; just the fact that everyone knows these teachers are trained and armed will provide the deterent protection and safety we require.
Anyone else out there have time to reply?
I agree with this, whole heartedly. In Israel where teachers and staff are often armed, school shootings have resulted in something like 30 deaths in the last 10 years, while in America it is more like >300 in that same timeframe. Add to that, in Israel, where there is a preponderance of weapons in mainstream society, mass rampage killings like this are very rare because they are well trained and disciplined in the use of these weapons, and the fact that nearly everyone has one is a deterent to those who would be considering an attack.
Historically, if you look at the locations in the US where mass shooting have occurred, they tend to happen in areas where guns have been banned (school campus, movie theatre, etc) or in states where concealed carry is not permitted or promoted. Look at the number of mass shootings that occur in states where most everyone is likely to have a gun, and compare. The threat of being shot him/herself causes the shooter most times to re-think their plan. I also think that if the news would highlight and focus as much attention on those crimes that are delayed, stopped, or halted during the process by a private person with a gun, folks would have a better idea of the power of just the sight of another weapon in this type of situation. We focus all our energy in the media on making the shooter infamous, which is not a deterent to others. We need to focus the media energy on focusing on those heros who safely use a weapon to stop these type of happenings. And I definitely believe that knowing a place is well defended makes it less of a target, not more of one.
My thoughts: Crisis management is a multi-step process. In a cases as overwhelmingly horrific as what happened in Connecticut and China were, people need time to come to terms with what happened. They need to get past the phases of grief (see the Kuber-Ross five phase model or the 7 Stages of Grief discussed on recover-from-grief.com). Initial leadership reaction, in my opinion, should be to help people to deal with their grief and get to the "Acceptance / Hope" phase as quickly as possible.
A public display like the one President Obama provided in the video above does a few things: 1. It helps to make what happened real for America. This happened. It was important enough for the President to acknowledge. We can not deny it. 2. It gives everyone permission to feel grief. The President wiped away tears and spoke as any parent in America would - from a place of pain. 3. It tells us that resources will be provided and we will get through this. 4. It gives us a specific action step we can do right now - hug our children and tell them we love them, and reach out to those who need our support. As difficult as it is emotionally for him to do, he stood up with a broken heart and expressed what we all needed to have expressed.
At the time this video was published, I think this is the best anyone could hope for from a leader. A specific, more comprehensive plan of action is something that comes once people have had time to process.
As it's been said, real leadership means leading people where they don't want to go. This concept applies especially during times of crisis. However, at the end of the day, leadership should be based on effective results achieved. We need effective results via real leadership right now to ensure greater gun safety, especially for the most vulnerable among us -- which includes children.
Curious to hear govies thoughts on the role and responsibility of government regarding guns. Weigh in here. Thanks.