The shooting in Connecticut was a terrible tragedy, which has driven our country into deeply divided debates regarding our constitutional rights on gun ownership. An Americans view on our constitutional right to bear arms is influenced by how we were raised by our parents, personal values & beliefs, political views and party affiliations. If every American were asked to give up their right to self-defense if attacked by another person bent on inflicting serious bodily injury or death, we would be hard pressed to find anyone of use who would do so for the greater good. Remember the second amendment is about personal defense, it is not about hunting or sporting purposes and did not limit what type of firearms our ancestors used or possessed when the bill of rights were first enacted.
As terrible as the events were on December 14th, it is not the first time America has seen mass killings at its public schools.
The Bath School Disaster of 1927
The Bath School Disaster of 1927 killed 44 people and injured 58 others. While just as tragic as the mass killing in Connecticut on December 14th, 2012 it also bears some similar characteristics. The killer was not a student, warning signs were not reported by those who witnessed them. The behavior of this killer made those who witnessed it believe he was getting ready to do something. The people who witnessed the signs did not notify law enforcement so they could investigate to find out what exactly the killer was planning to do. They later told law enforcement they thought he was going to kill himself, admitting they did not report their suspicions.
The school was not prepared for such an attack. The schools teachers, staff, and administrators were not taking school security seriously enough to have preventive measures in place to stop attacks on the school or students. In this case, observant teachers, staff, and administrators could have discovered the suspect was hiding explosives inside the school prior to the event and prevented it.
Sandy Hook Elementary School 2012
Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers, staff, and administrators, acted bravely when the killer began attempting to enter the school, later making entry through the locked glass doors by shooting out the glass panels. They activated the schools lock-down procedures in an attempt to protect the student’s lives till Law Enforcement arrived on scene. In their final acts of bravery and love for their students they put themselves in front of the students to stop the killer’s bullets.
What draws these two points in time so close together?
- An unforeseen killer no one predicted would act out against the schools students?
- People may have noticed warning signs and did not report them to law enforcement?
- Failed security measures or none in place to ensure the schools physical safety and the student’s safety while attending?
What could have been done to prevent this?
If those people who interacted with the killer and his family noticed the warning signs and contacted law enforcement it may have prevented or changed the outcome of this incident. Warning signs you ask? While some warning signs may vary from killer to killer they all have similarities.
The killer goes through stages each giving off warning signs:
- Fantasizing about the act of killing those who they are targeting
- Planning the act
- Preparing physically and mentally to kill
- Going to the location they intend on killing people
- Carrying out the killings
While the killer is going through the stages:
- They will say troubling things
- Demonstrate disturbed behaviors
- While they gather their weapons to kill
It is always noticed by someone! Law Enforcement and the media alike find these people and interview them after the terrible incident. Inevitably these witnesses all say in things like: “If I had only known I would have called the police”.
Stricter gun laws would not have prevented this incident.
If the firearms used by the killer had been properly locked up and secured from unauthorized persons, it is hard to say this would have stopped or only delayed him from trying to injure people or kill people. The reality is we will never know since it was during the process of accessing the firearms he took the life of his mother.
Why do I say this killer is an unauthorized person to possess firearms? Two main reasons: First under Federal and Connecticut state laws he could not posses these firearms due to being under 21 years of age. Second according to news reports he was a person suffering from a mental illness, and pending court actions on this. If this is true, he would have been prevented from possession or ownership of firearms by both state and federal laws as he would have been an unauthorized person.
“CRIMINALS DO NOT FOLLOW FIREARMS LAWS”
The killer was not following the Federal Firearms Laws or those of the State of Connecticut that were in place to prevent him from possessing firearms. I would like to point out he is not the first criminal to disregard the laws the rest of society chooses to follow.
The school building was not prepared for such an attacker. It was vulnerable through the glass doors which were locked, but not impenetrable. The attacker had to break through the glass to gain entry to the school. This is not to say the use of ballistic glass or installing security films such as 3M™ Safety & Security Window Films to non-ballistic glass doors would have stopped the attacker. However they may have slowed the killer down enough for law enforcement to stop him.
If the school had a School Resource Officer or Armed Security Personnel on site it would have added another layer of resistance to slow or stop such a killer(s) actions, while law enforcement was on the way to the school.
The school was a gun free zone, thus removing any chance a law abiding citizen with a concealed carry permit would be on site who could have taken actions in the event a school resource officer or armed security personnel were not available at the onset of this incident.
What should you do?
When I was a Law Enforcement Officer people would often ask questions about what they should do or should have done about different situations. This was my standard answer:
If the situation or someone’s actions do not look right, if it does not feel right, or sound right, then it is probably not right and some thing is wrong!
When should you call law enforcement? If the situation is one you feel warrants notifying law enforcement then you should call. Think of this, what is the worst that could happen is you were wrong? “Nothing” You acted on what you honestly believed needed a law enforcement response. Now think of this what is the worst that could happen if you failed to act and the situation needed a law enforcement response? These simple guidelines could be applied to any situation to anyone in their daily lives only requiring you to be aware of your surroundings and take action when necessary.