This was certainly not my initial topic for this month, but Sandy Hook has changed me forever. As most of you know, I try to keep abreast and keep you all informed on trends in such incidents. The difference about the days following Sandy Hook has been the direction of my research. Usually I look at the details of an incident and try to find a way in which we can improve our tactics or thinking to address such issues when we encounter them. With Sandy Hook, I most inadvertently started looking at the history of school shootings not only in the United States but globally as well. I am not sure I have had a good nights sleep since.
Not one child has died as a result of a fire in a school in the last twenty five years, yet parents, officials and the law requires fire extinguishers and smoke alarms in our schools.
Yet, not counting any of this years tragedies, and just between the period of 1992-2010, 433 of our children were murdered AT SCHOOL, on school property and at school events. That is 24 children a year as an average murdered in our schools. Numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statics, 2011. U.S. Department of Justice, Indicators off School Crime and Safety Report. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/iscs11.pdf
I have studied, analyzed and tracked ninety active shooter/bomber/killer cases back through 1982, 124 school specific incidents back to 1927, 114 of which have occurred since 1982. Let me be clear, 114 school shootings since 1992. There were 157 deaths, mostly our children, as a specific result of School House Active Shooters in this period. There were another 27 active shooters at universities with an additional 89 deaths attributed to them; again mostly our children. You may not hear about some of these as often, if the shooter is stopped before killing or injuring someone, it is deemed not newsworthy. Thus far I have only been able to locate two instances where a murderer entered a location with prior knowledge of armed security or police and both are out side of the school house active shooter profile. One was the U.S. Capital shooting in 1998 and the other being the Kirkwood City Hall shooting in 2008, both revenge shootings by older males not fitting the school shooter profile or targeting children; this research is on going.
I have not located ANY Active Shooter/Murderers with the School House Shooter Profile that occurred with armed security or police assigned to that location. And there are plenty of schools with such security or resident officers in place. Further, in places such as Texas and Oklahoma, just to name the big two, properly credential staff is permitted to carry concealed weapons and this is made publicly known. They have not had any Active Shooter incidents at any of these locations either; ever.
Many school active shooters commit suicide or surrender when challenged by authority, or are physically subdued. My research indicates that only about 10% of active shooter cases involve any resistance toward law enforcement or other intervention and this is nearly non-existent with the school house active shooter profiles.
When we talk about the School House Active Shooter/Killer Profile, in very simple terms, it is a combination of traits and circumstances that generally exist within these incidents. The shooter is most often a caucasian male, fourteen to seventeen years old with several incidents having them as young as eleven to thirteen and an occasional anomaly of a female. They typically have documented behavioral problems and are currently or previously been on drugs for such problems. In all cases the weapons are illegally possessed and in all but one case that I have found, illegally obtained. This profile also indicates that the classic Active School House Shooter is non-confrontational. This means they will not enter or engage targets in a location that presents armed resistance. These shooters specifically target children with adults in the school being collateral or secondary targets. They seek maximum child body count. They seek the “softest” or easiest target available, our children. They are exclusively students or past students at the location of the school shooting providing them legitimate access to the location. What this means in nearly every one of the 433 deaths, locked doors, security cameras or the like in no way could prevent the shootings. The classic profile also finds the offenders exposed to violence in video games, movies and real life violence prior to the Concrete Operational Stage of cognitive development, typically seven to eleven years of age. NOTE: For great detail and insight on this dynamic and particularly if you are a parent, see “Stop Teaching our Kids to Kill by COL Dave Grossman.
Simply put, the profile of the active school shooter will not even attempt to go into a school if he knows armed security is in place. The evil murderers who pray on our children and the defenseless are NON-CONFRONTATIONAL and cowards by mental predisposition. They feed on fear, the weak and defenseless and particularly those who run and/or hide and cower. This is how they feel their power. They will kill themselves, as is often the case, rather than be confronted by an armed adversary.
This is not a gun control issue or a mental health care issue. This is a school security issue and transcends locked doors and “stranger” drills; all good additions, but not the solution as we clearly see by these numbers. The Israeli Model for school security or that implemented by Russian school authorities after the attack in Beslan targets a different adversary than we face here, but the tactics and lessons learned with deaths of thousands of children are the same.
We protect our boarders, with armed professionals; we protect our money, banks and armored cars with armed officers. We protect our legal system and judges in court houses with police and armed security. That is why we do not have 433 dead judges in the same time period. We protect our government building with police and armed security which is why we do not have 433 dead representatives, senators, and congress people in the same period. We are beginning to protect our college campuses with armed officers. We protect many of our hospitals with armed officers. Why do we not protect our most valuable thing in this world, our defenseless innocent children to the same degree and commitment? As we have seen, police can not prevent something when they are summoned after it occurs, they must be there before to prevent it.
If there were 433 people murdered in your neighborhood, what would you want done? Yet you accept it in your schools with your children. Denial and hope is not a tactical defensive strategy. With the evil in this world, are you really ok with leaving your child unprotected. One gun in the hands of a trained professional would have not only ended the horrific event in Sandy Hook, but based on history and research, prevented it from ever occurring at Sandy Hook.
Here, let me make you as uncomfortable as I can. Do you believe this will happen again? Then, as you put your child on the bus, what is your thought? Are you praying and hoping it is someone else’s child that gets murdered next time? When you saw the news on Sandy Hook did you say “thank God that was not my child”? Because you understand what you are saying is that you are glad another child died and not yours. The time for denial is over; it is time for action to protect every child in this country.
Adding armed police or security of some type to schools is the ONLY way to stop this GROWING trend and it is growing exponentially. Each one of these offenders feeds off of the previous and seeks a higher body count and recognition. Gun control simply removes guns from those who legally attain them which, in a school shooter profile will rarely if ever be the case.
Each and every one of us must start demanding and continue demanding that our most valuable asset to our lives and the future of our country be defended and protected to the same degree our judges, government officials and money is protected.
Send this to everyone you know, particularly non-law enforcement people and do not rest until our children are defended and protected every day
Comments or questions, drop me a line. All research data is readily available.
Sgt. Bill Kiphart