The King Soopers shooting in Boulder is a tragedy. True. But, why is it a tragedy? What, exactly, is tragic about the event?
Yes, senseless loss of life at the hands of a lunatic is bad. There’s no denying that. And, the result is, indeed, tragic.
That said, there are a series of elements in this event that are much more tragic, in my opinion.
The fact that not a single employee or patron in that store moved to stop the attack is “tragic”.
The fact that the first cop on scene wanted to be a drone pilot to avoid job related hazards – after having made a fully adult, 40 year old decision to become a police officer (a job with inherent risk, as the gun requirement would make reasonably clear) – is “tragic”.
The fact that grown-ass men have a need and desire to tell the world/press how “frightened” they were as though they completely lack the necessary biological requirements to be men, is “tragic”.
The fact that King Soopers/Kroger chose an ineffective, “no guns” policy as a defense against a violent act is “tragic”.
The fact that the police didn’t control the scene well and mostly stood around with their heads firmly implanted in their collective fourth point of contact is “tragic”.
The fact that the only “solution” anyone can muster is related to more, dumb-ass, gun control laws (which criminals will ignore – hence, the title, “criminal”), is “tragic”.
The fact that anyone cares what Major League Baseball thinks about the event is… well, “tragic”.
Enough ranting… some facts and some sober questions:
2020 was a record year for gun sales. Best estimates now put 400 million guns in the hands of private US citizens. Presumably a couple of those gun owners were in King Soopers during the shooting. Why were they not carrying? If they were, why were they not properly trained to use the one tool that would have leveled the playing field and saved innocent life?
Why did King Soopers not defend their enterprise, their employees, or their patrons with anything more effective than an HR policy and a fucking sign?
The police most often looked to be standing around like they were in a park waiting for someone to serve a burger or a brat at some family gathering. Why? Is their training insufficient? Are they incompetent?
There are apparently police officers who would rather be flying kites… er… drones than being law enforcers or protectors. Why are they on the job? Has HR failed the cops as well?
In the interest of not simply kvetching about a problem and not offering any constructive advice, I present the following steps to remedy the “tragedies” above:
Buy a gun. Get trained. Real training. Not NRA “safety” training taught by a lobbying organization. Or, some crappo, State mandated concealed carry permission.
Carry your gun. It’s useless unless it’s deployable in a crisis.
Stop patronizing stores with “no gun” policies. They are kill-zones.
If you own or manage an enterprise, arm and train your employees to effectively respond to a violent threat.
If you’re a cop… get your shit together.
The world is not, has never been, and will never be a safe-space. If you are a man, you have an obligation to act as a protector, if not a warrior. Not to out-source that to civil servants. Acquire the tools and training to be able to accept that responsibility. Stop being a pussy. Stop being a victim. You can delegate authority. You may not delegate responsibility.
Ignore politicians who would dis-arm you and infringe upon your natural right of self-defense. Back to that delegation thing… when bad things happen to good people, the politicians will not be there. No matter how many laws they sign or how many tax dollars they spend, no one is coming to save you.
In the end, this event and the result is a direct reflection on who we are as a society and a complete abrogation of responsibility for one’s own safety and personal defense. Distributed Security has the training and tools necessary to prevent this in the future… created by guys with careers’ worth of real-world experience training and operating in environments and circumstances much more deadly than King Soopers on a Monday afternoon. In other words, professionals and warriors. You need those resources. Get them.
Bad enough that Harris panders to the antigun movement – no surprise there – but the egregious inaccuracies in this story illustrate that her prejudice, and theirs, is supported by “News Light” aka “McPaper”:
1) It is untrue that “online gun sales” are completed without background checks. No firearm can be shipped directly to an online buyer: all must be shipped from a federally licensed firearms dealer, to a federally licensed firearms dealer in the buyer’s state, who completes the transfer to the buyer just as he would if he were selling the firearm himself – that includes the background check.
2) State “red flag laws” do not result in orders “typically issued for two or three weeks”, nor are they “temporary” by any sane definition, as claimed several times in this story. They are enforceable immediately following a hearing in front of a judge where the accused has no right to speak for himself or through counsel; and their usual duration is at least a year, and in almost every case, the accused has to request termination of the order through another court hearing, at his own expense, where the burden of proof is on him. Hardly due process. Hardly “innocent until proven guilty.” Shall we treat all Constitutional rights this way?
3) Harris and her fellow travelers speak repeatedly about using a federal “red flag law” to remove weapons from “suspected” (!) “domestic terrorists” (!!) and “white nationalists” (!!!) while the closest thing to a reasonable commentator in this story is the former NCTC Director who cautions that such action could not be taken on the basis of someone’s exercise of First Amendment rights. But there is no statute, and no crime, titled “domestic terrorism” or “white nationalism,” so labeling someone as such is nothing but a chilling threat against free expression. To whom would you grant authority to determine which citizens fell into either category, and deserved to be stripped of a Constitutional right? I’m sure Kamala Harris has an answer, and most Americans won’t like it.
And those who do like the idea, because after all who cares about “domestic terrorists” or “white nationalists,” should remember Martin Niemoller, the German Lutheran minister who said of the Nazis:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Here’s some ‘continuing education’ on the topic of revolutionary leftists in modern America. This time it’s “Redneck Revolt” – a cute name that “puts the RED back in REDNECK.” They’re talking about the historical connotation of red – communism – not the recent media reversal into ‘red state/blue state’ in America.
They operate more than 45 “John Brown Gun Clubs” around the country, named after the man who led the raid that captured the federal armory in Harpers Ferry Virginia in 1860, hoping to incite a slave revolt.
Sherrie Smith of Fountain, Colorado, recently arrested for threatening citizens with a rifle, is a member; note her red bandanna in the picture below, which is an identifying mark they adopt.
Oddly, the backdrop for each page on their website is… a forest fire. Check them out at redneckrevolt(dot)org.
“Redneck Revolt was founded in 2016 as an anti-racist, anti-fascist community defense formation.”
Let’s get this straight, first: 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse performed as well in the circumstances as most adults 2-4 times his age, and with far more training and experience, could hope to do. Once he found himself isolated and under attack, his decisions to retreat, his discretion in engaging only those that physically assaulted him, and his shooting leave little to criticize.
Of course, the Monday morning quarterbacks are going to work on him. He may have missed with several rounds he fired at his first assailant – except we’re still sorting out who all the other shooters were on the street that night – but in any case, he got good hits and stopped that assailant, in the first lethal force encounter of his life, in the midst of a huge adrenaline dump and Sympathetic Nervous System storm. He tripped and fell in the street while running from a pursuing mob (which could never happen given the cat-like reflexes and superior gym-rat conditioning of true operators, right?). He hesitated until the last second to fire on the third assailant, who was charging him with a pistol (perhaps confused by the stupidity of that assault, but in hindsight, a remarkable display of restraint). And so on. All in all, I’ll say it again, he did as well as most bad-ass “opr8rs” would have done, who have never before found themselves in the midst of an angry mob, fronted by at least three crazed felons, yelling “get the m-f!”
But that takes us to the real point: how did Kyle find himself in that situation? We do not know the details yet, as there is a gap in the video footage between the “tame” situation of several armed defenders on private property, and Kyle fleeing on his own across a lot with the now-deceased felonious pedophile hot on his trail. There is only one witness statement available which may shed some light on what happened in between, but we’re neither trying nor defending the case, nor trying to fill in the gaps in the second-by-second narrative. The truth will out.
All of this might have been avoided had the folks associated with that car dealership under siege in Kenosha exercised more foresight, planning, and preparation, and ensured a higher level of training and teamwork. In fact, we saw a demonstration of how it could have gone, in video footage from the night before that showed several rifle-armed men standing in front of a Kenosha business as a large mob flowed past. One at least of them verbalizes to the “protestors” who throw some harsh language back as is their wont, but quite rationally they “just keep moving,” while the defenders keep muzzles depressed, fingers straight, heads on a swivel – and in clear line of sight and mutual supporting distance, something Kyle missed terribly, the following night. Mission accomplished, that first night: that’s a good picture of how the protection of private property in a civil disturbance could go. The next night, not so much.
Distributed Security, Inc. (DSI) offers a well-developed
model of how an enterprise (i.e. private business), institution (i.e. church or
school), community, or a network of any or all of these can protect lives and
property in the midst of a violent civil disturbance. Here are the basic tenets of the DSI approach
– all of which were absent (or inadequate) in the Kenosha example we’re looking
Analysis, comprising a threat assessment, area study, site survey(s), and an evaluation of outside assets that may contribute to safety and security, such as police, fire, and emergency medical, and response times and capabilities for each. Understand the law, and its constraints (what you must do) and restraints (what you cannot do). Take a realistic look at the political, social, and legal environment. What have the local authorities said (and done!) about maintaining order, and protecting lives and property? What is their attitude about citizens doing so? This kind of information collection and analysis can’t be done overnight.
Establish full, open, and sustained communications with local law enforcement, ensuring that you operate within the law and are prepared for safe and effective linkup with responding officers. If you can’t get law enforcement concurrence and support for your efforts, you should probably consider voting with your feet – relocating – rather than trying to defend under conditions that will put you at odds with local government and the legal system.
Organize your private security force, so you don’t face a crisis with a last-minute pickup crew. Neighbors and friends pitching in on the spur of the moment may be better than nothing – but it’s a lot worse than what you can accomplish with some prior organization. One of the most important elements of this is to insist upon teamwork and “battle buddies” so that no one finds themself left alone facing a lethal threat. That alone could have changed the outcomes in Kenosha.
Develop plans and procedures, for both ‘normal’ day-to-day conditions and for facing the threats you have identified. Make sure everyone understands their role. Test your plans and procedures with validation exercises that can vary from a BOGSAT discussion (Bunch of Guys Sitting Around a Table) to formal war gaming, walk-throughs, and performance testing. Fix the errors, fill the gaps. Leave as little as possible to native wit and improvisation.
Develop leaders, an organizational structure with shared understandings about discipline and the chain of command, IFF, and redundant communications.
Make sure that everyone involved clearly understands their rights and responsibilities under the law, to include the crucial distinction between defensive actions wholly within private property versus engaging in melees, or projecting force, into public areas.
And finally, neither last nor least, is training: both individual and team training, in firearms and in tactical and decision-making skills. We see many examples like Kyle Rittenhouse, of gifted amateurs, or individuals with little or no formal training who manage to come through in a crisis – but relying on hope, luck, or divine intervention in a life or death crisis is not a good strategy.
DSI offers training and guidance
in all these areas. We train individuals
and enterprises to defend life and property. We pioneered distributed
security networks which enable businesses, churches and schools to coordinate an
active defense of their premises and their immediate community.
Our offerings range from $19/month on-line memberships for individuals to $1 million plus turnkey enterprise packages, all built on resources and programs including on-range training leveraged by on-line resources in 27 course formats, 6 enterprise service offerings, 114 online learning modules, 150 videos, manuals, training plans, a mobile app, and more. All this is designed to assist individuals, enterprises, organizations and communities avoid the pitfalls of standing up a security capability to protect lives and property at the last minute in a crisis, as happened in Kenosha a few nights ago. These are dangerous times; best to do the thing well.
On 5 AUG 19, in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton active shooter events, Sean Hannity recommended a volunteer initiative of former military and law enforcement officers deployed to schools and other vulnerable public areas to defend against future violent threats.
While that thinking is a step forward on the conventional thought spectrum, the team at Distributed Security, Inc (DSI) is actively training school staff and other civilians for the necessary and immediate response to threats in the critical gap between the onset of an attack and effective intervention by police.
We want to correct the fallacy that only law enforcement or ex-military can perform this task. As trainers, who have trained the highest level military, contracting and law enforcement, we can definitively state that private citizens can be trained to be safe and effective defenders of business, school, church and community. In fact, in most cases, private citizens who go through our training are better prepared to deal with an active threat than most police and military veterans. Any smart, fit, dedicated citizen can be trained to the necessary standard for the defense of innocent life. Prior military or law enforcement experience is not a requirement, and is not a guarantee of success.
In a world that is increasingly fractured and unpredictable, DSI draws heavily from the strategic ideas of William Lind’s 4th Generation Warfare theory and the OODA Loop methodology of John Boyd in our efforts to assist individuals, communities, enterprises, churches, and schools defend themselves in the event of violent threat.
In short, we begin training where many other organizations leave off. And, we train our clients to best practice, SWAT-level proficiencies in handgun, rifle, shotgun, tactical communications and tactical medicine. Our offerings are tactical and holistic. And, we actively engage and manage the necessary consistent, follow-on training beyond initial certification.
We do not believe that having had training at some point in the past is enough. Simply possessing a prior military or law enforcement credential does not keep one sharp. Threats evolve, tactics develop, and technologies advance after one leaves the training and operational world. The active shooter environment is a dynamic and asymmetric one, and those who would respond should have the benefit of appropriately dynamic and asymmetric training to meet the challenge.
In all, the most effective public safety strategy is for community organizations to insource their security capabilities as “quick reaction force” to manage emerging threats, real time. There is certainly a law enforcement role in an active shooter scenario, but as Hannity noted in his monologue, the police cannot be in all places at all times.
commend Mr Hannity for his forward thinking comments and for raising
awareness that there is a better way. Meanwhile, Distributed
Security, Inc has developed and is executing a plan that exceeds his
suggestion in breadth, depth, and effectiveness.
When I was a younger man, still in the Army, I had the opportunity to participate in the annual Nijmegen March. Nijmegen happens as a commemoration of the US’s role liberating the Netherlands in World War 2’s Operation Market Garden and was immortalized in the movie “A Bridge Too Far”.
The annual event is
a 100 mile march (25 miles a day) in and around the town of Nijmegen,
Holland. Troops are invited from around the world to participate,
but the vast majority of marchers are from US Army units.
Each morning, around
4 am, our team would get up, ruck-up, and begin the daily walk. We’d
finish and get back to our sleeping accommodations late morning,
shower, sleep for a couple hours, and then we’d hit the town to
party with the locals until, 1 or 2 am, ready to rinse and repeat.
Each morning, the roads we marched were lined with locals. Predominantly, young women. And, they would cheer and make a hell of a spectacle of themselves. Throwing flowers, paper slips with phone numbers and addresses, and various pieces of clothing at the American Paratroopers. You see… we had a reputation. While Operation Market Garden was not a complete success, the Nijmegen operation was. We were the direct descendants of those paratroopers from WWII who had walked in, smacked the Nazis in the mouth, rescued the damsel in distress… and, bedded her.
We were Kings. We
were Rockstars. We were Men among men. And, we were desired.
Around the world,
many American men had that sort of reputation and aura about them at
one time. Not so much any more.
I’m looking for a
word… Bland. No. Vanilla… mmmm… Ice Cream… Milquetoast?
Too British. Neutered? Close…
the word I’m looking for. Eunuch.
a castrated man, especially one formerly employed by rulers in the Middle East and Asia as a harem guard or palace official.
Why am I kicking this word around? Because, the vast majority of supposed 2nd Amendment “advocates” I speak to (you know… the guys who talk about being citizens as opposed to subjects) seem to be Eunuchs. Every one of them seems to have had his daddy-tackle removed.
Sure, there’s lots of tough talk. There are promises that eventually “We” (you know, the royal we) are going to cross some notional Rubicon regarding our rights and these nutless wonders are going to spring into action, locked and loaded. But… are they? Really?
Because, entire revolutions have occurred, blood in the streets, kings toppled, governments converted, borders changed, for far less than the infringements we’re currently watching occur before our very eyes. And, when you start to talk nuts and bolts with the 2A crowd, when you really start to press them about the plan, or the training, or where that line in the sand really is… it all falls apart. We’ll just rely on voting the bastards out and pay lobbyists to tell the gov’t that we’re really upset.
In a country with a God given, Constitutionally affirmed right to arms (the 2nd Amendment for the new guys), we rely on the lobbyists, lawyers, and politicians to do what men should be doing. There are a number of implications in that last sentence, and I want you to consider all of them.
By delegating our responsibility to actively preserve our rights, we are abdicating them. It is not necessary, and certainly not desirable, to lobby (i.e. beg) for our rights to be observed, honored, and respected by the Crown. They are not the Crown’s to give, much less to take away. The rightful remedy to government over-reach is to exercise our rights, forcefully if necessary. Not to grovel and whine.
Why is it, then, in the United States
of America, a country founded on the premise that Citizens possess
the right to be armed and to be able to respond violently if a
government were to attempt to deprive them of that right… Why is
it, that we are actively losing the 2A war? Why is there a battle?
Why even a debate?
Because we American (formerly) men, have traded our balls and guns for loafers and ballots. Because we’ve decided that lawyers should do the heavy lifting. Because all that training and preparing shit is hard and expensive. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that being “civilized” and soft is a good thing. Because, American men act like neutered, flaccid house cats. We act like eunuchs. As a culture, we are kept men.
Rights, particularly gun rights are maintained by unapologetically training and exercising those rights. Lobbying for them is the equivalent of sitting in a drum circle, contemplating our collective navel, and hoping for the best.
We don’t lack for good, historic role models. We American men were pioneers, mountain men, gunslingers, and war heroes. Now, we won’t even exercise our own rights, seemingly for fear of breaking a nail or offending some blue haired, female soccer player.
How’s that going for you? And, what are you willing to do about it? What’s your birthright? When will we reach our “Bridge too Far”?
In a political and economic environment where Law Enforcement training funds are in short supply, the Minneapolis Police Dept has banned, what they are calling, “Warrior”-style training. Officers are now prohibited from partaking of such training on their own time and dime. I don’t know, exactly, how Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is defining “Warrior” training but, I have a couple ideas.
In an April 19, 2019 press conference, Frey pressed all the emotional hot-buttons by using terminology like “fear-based” training, “warrior-style”, and “Killology” (a theory popularized by LTC (Ret) Dave Grossman). Further, he went on to say that, “Fear-based trainings violate the values at the very heart of community policing. When you’re conditioned to believe that every person encountered poses a threat to your existence, you simply cannot be expected to build meaningful relationships with those same people.”
Very nice, Mr Mayor.
You have mastered pandering and anti-intellectual, political
posturing. And, at the same time emphasized an “us vs them”
attitude between your police and the citizenry.
Minneapolis (and it’s sister, St Paul) is a town where violent crime is on the rise, traditional demographics are being noticeably shifted, and Law Enforcement training funds are slim. Under those circumstances, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Police Officers to feel like they may need a training edge. Be it in terms of physical/technical skills or psychological preparation for worst case scenarios. Further, the fact that some officers take it upon themselves to seek such advantage, outside the bureaucracy, displays admirable initiative.
As I see it, Police
Depts are being increasingly tasked with what are arguably tactical,
“paramilitary” roles as opposed to the romanticized (possibly
antiquated) version of community policing. And, when you start to
cross that line, the psychology has to change.
So, in essence, the
mayor can’t have it both ways. None of us live in Mayberry, USA
any longer, and politics are amplifying the shift away from that
piece of Americana. And, since he created his narrative using words,
for the most part, that aren’t defined, let’s look at the one
specific example he cited. “Killology”.
mentioned above, is a theory and field of study invented by LTC (Ret)
Dave Grossman. Per Grossman, Killology “is the study of the
psychological and physiological effects of killing and combat on the
human psyche; and the factors that enable and restrain a combatant’s
killing of others in these situations.” The theory was introduced
in Grossman’s 1996 book, “On
Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and
The problem (yes, I said problem and didn’t sugarcoat the term for modern, politically-correct readers who prefer the use of the word “challenge”) is that Grossman’s writings are focused on “combatants”. Traditionally known as “soldiers”. Not, police specifically. However, due to the evolving nature and paramilitarization of police work… we are asking our police to engage in situations where that sort of mindset can be necessary. And, in my opinion, the circumstances driving those evolving and overlapping professional scopes is (drumroll, please), politics. Further politicizing the problem is not the answer. Einstein’s old mantra comes to mind…
No matter how you feel about it, the face of “America” is changing. And, not for the better. There is a cultural assault being mounted on what, only 15 or 20 years ago, would have been considered normalcy. And, that assault is increasingly violent and in some cases, borderline military. So, to cling to Rules of Engagement from a time and situation past, while politically promoting and amplifying change and “progress, is a non-starter.
don’t like, at all, that police are being forced into a militarized
situation and mindset. I think it’s unhealthy. For the police and
their communities. In that, I agree with the Mayor. He and I part
ways on the practical reality of the thing.
To my mind, the answer isn’t telling police officers what training they can and cannot partake of on their own time and with their own money. The answer is to stop promoting the cultural changes that necessitate a militarized response (and a need to survive), stop creating a divide between your constituents and your police depts, and fund police training they need to do the job we’re asking them to do in the way we’re asking them to do it.
And, maybe that training balance is achieved by educating the Administrators and Bureaucrats (those who hold the purse strings) about the training options offered by professional companies, like Distributed Security, Inc and not simply leaving our police officers to be consumers of (at best) battlefield psychology training and (at worst) the former-knucklegdragger, “Bro culture” training industry.
Today we launched Defender 300, an elite group of highly-experienced gun owners defending their communities from violent threat.
Defender 300s (D300s) are trained and commissioned representatives, certified to present Distributed Security, Inc. offerings within their local communities. Prior military service or law enforcement experience is desired. There is a rigorous application process and 20 hours of on-line training and testing required to become a D300. As a certified representative, the D300 is compensated via a sales commission for business that results from their representation.
Commission off the sale of DSI enterprise services.
33% discount off of DSI Combative Firearms (T4), Individual Tactics (T3),
Tactical Medical, and Tactical Communications training programs.
3. Access to all on-line Defense Academy content – manuals, videos, courses, training plans, etc.
4. Opportunity to qualify as a DSI certified instructor.
The D300 program requires dedication and commitment. We do not require any sort of an upfront payment from our D300 candidates or those who eventually certify.
Marc Benioff’s ban includes “any semiautomatic firearms that have the capacity to accept a detachable magazine” which basically bans all handgun sellers too. I’m actually ok with Benioff doing this. First, it further exposes him as a hypocritical twinkie (hey Marc, going to ban your security detail from carrying AR’s and Glocks?), and, second, this is a huge opening for real Americans to develop competing platforms. Get to work America!
Business-software giant Salesforce instituted a new policy barring its retail customers from selling semiautomatic weapons and some other firearms.
It is about to get a lot more dangerous to be a cop in California. A new standard for using lethal force will be approved by the state legislature this week. The standard is:
“officers will only be able to use lethal force when it is necessary and if there are no other options.”
Now, wrap your brains around the fact that most DA’s in California are off-the-chart raving social justice idiots and consider all of the creative ways they can define “necessary” and “no other options”.
Like I said, it’s going to get a lot more dangerous to be a cop in California.
Under the agreement, officers will only be able to use lethal force when it is “necessary” and if there are no other options. That’s widely viewed as higher than the existing legal standard.
A week from today, Europeans may be able to gauge how high the tide of populism and nationalism has risen within their countries and on their continent.
For all the returns will be in from three days of elections in the 28 nations represented in the European Parliament.
Expectation: Nationalists and populists will turn in their strongest performance since the EU was established, and their parliamentary group — Europe of Nations and Freedom — could sweep a fourth of the seats in Strasbourg.
Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party is predicted to run first in the British elections, winning two to three times the votes of the ruling Tory Party of Prime Minister Theresa May.
In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is running even with the party of President Emmanuel Macron, who pleads for “more Europe.”
Matteo Salvini, interior minister and leader of the League, predicts his party will finish first in Italy and first in Europe.
At Salvini’s invitation, a dozen nationalist parties gathered in Milan this weekend. A week from now, they could be the third-largest bloc in the European Parliament. If so, their gains will come at the expense of the center-left and center-right parties that have dominated European politics since World War II.
Speaking before tens of thousands in front of Duomo Cathedral in Milan, Salvini threw back in the faces of his enemies the taunt that these new parties are rooted in the old ugly politics of the 1930s.
“In this piazza, there are no extremists. There are no racists. There are no fascists. … In Italy and in Europe, the difference is between … those who speak of the future instead of making trials of the past.”
Tomorrow versus yesterday, says Salvini.
While the European establishment draws parallels between the populist parties of the present and what happened in the 1930s, it fails to recognize its own indispensable role in generating the mass defections to the populist right that now imperil its political hegemony.
The populist-nationalist parties are energized and united by both what they detest and what the EU has produced.
And what is that?
They resent the inequities of the new economy, where the wages of the working and middle class, the core of the nation, have fallen far behind the managerial class and the corporate and financial elites.
People who work with their hands, tools and machines have seen their wages arrested and jobs disappear, as salaries have surged for those who move numbers on computers.
The disparities have grown too great, as has the distance between national capitals and national heartlands.
Then there is immigration. Native-born Europeans do not welcome the new ethnic groups that have come uninvited in considerable numbers in recent decades, failed to assimilate and created enclaves that replicate the Third World places whence they came.
If one could identify a cry common to populists, it might be: “We want our country back!”
Whatever may be said of populists and nationalists, they are people of the heart. They love their countries. They cherish the cultures in which they grew up. They want to retain their own unique national identities.
What is wrong with that?
Patriotism is central to nationalist and populist movements. Globalism is alien to them. They believe in De Gaulle’s Europe of nation-states “from the Atlantic to the Urals,” not in the abstract Europe of Jean Monnet, and surely not in the Brussels bureaucracy of today.
The nation, the patria, is the largest entity to which one can give loyalty and love. Who would march into no man’s land for the EU?
Europe’s nationalists are not all the same. The ruling Polish Law and Justice Party disagrees on Putin’s Russia with the ruling Fidesz Party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary.
While the EU Parliament does not possess great power, these elections are not without great meaning.
Consider Farage. Should his Brexit Party run first in Britain, how can the Tory Party not carry through on the 2016 vote to withdraw from the EU, without betraying its most loyal constituency on its most critical issue?
Nationalism in Europe is spreading, even deepening rifts between the premier powers in the NATO alliance.
Germany will not be reaching the promised 2 percent of GDP for defense President Donald Trump has demanded. And Berlin is going ahead with a second natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany from Russia, Nord Stream 2.
Turkey is taking possession of a Russian-built S-400 air defense system this summer, despite a U.S. warning that our sale of 100 F-35s will not go through if the Turks go forward with the Russian system.
Have the nationalists of Europe caught the wave of the future?
Or will the future see the revival of the idea of One Europe, a political and economic union that inspired the dreamers of yesteryear?
There is a disproportionate buzz about the newly signed Florida legislation that allows its school districts (each at its own discretion) to authorize concealed carry of firearms by teachers in their schools.
Why disproportionate? Because the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, signed into law in March 2018 soon after the Parkland mass shooting, had already established the “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program” named after the coach who gave his life attempting to shield students with his body during that shooting. That program gave school boards the option of allowing school staff members to carry firearms, excluding most classroom teachers who were not JROTC teachers, or current service members, or current or former law enforcement officers.
Last year’s bill established a tough training standard, and left the decision to local school boards, both very good things. And since school staff who are not classroom teachers often comprise as high as 50% of the total, this approach was rational, if overly cautious, as school boards would still have the authority to approve or disapprove any applicant, without the no-teacher provision imposed by law.
The only change with the new law is that now all classroom teachers are also eligible to volunteer for the Guardian program. Note “eligible” and “volunteer” and you will understand why so much of the near-hysterical opposition to this law is baseless.
Of course, no one is actually “arming” any teachers – there is no arms room where they will line up to be issued weapons before filing into the trenches – much less “all” teachers, which is how the opposition likes to frame its strawman argument. They will arm themselves, if their school board votes to implement the Guardian program, and if they individually volunteer, pass rigorous screening and selection, and complete the legally mandated 132 hours of training. No one is guaranteed approval, and the standards they must meet are high.
The Miami New Times, not known for smart or principled positions on any firearms issue, is one of the media outlets appalled that the legislature and governor, elected by citizens to legislate and govern, have not allowed themselves to be ruled by teachers’ unions, high school students, and some school boards and administrators. All those folks display their statist leanings by wanting to impose their own fears of positive protective measures on everyone. Under Florida law, if they (and, pointedly, the voters in their school districts) do not want to implement the Guardian program, they don’t have to. They can keep the Gun Free Zone signs over their doors and hope for the best. But that’s not enough for them; they think they know better than anyone else what is best for every school district in Florida.
Local control on this issue is a sound and sensible approach, in line with the rule of subsidiarity, the concept that decision-making should occur at the lowest level appropriate to its purpose. Local control is often preferable to decision making by officials far-removed from the affected population, less responsive to their local and regional preferences, and more likely to impose one-size-fits-all solutions. Voters can more easily influence or replace an unresponsive local elected official than his state or federal counterparts. Here it means what Florida and many other states have ruled: let the school districts decide for themselves.
Beyond that repugnant statist attitude, opponents of “arming” school staff try to bolster their argument with unsupportable claims and sloppy ‘research’ – textbook examples of confirmation bias, the tendency to only consider evidence that supports one’s preconceived notions. The Miami New Times cites an analysis by Gabrielle Giffords’ anti-gun organization that purports to show how dangerous introducing “more guns” to schools will be. It is such a sloppy piece of research and reasoning that we cannot let it go unanswered.
This long piece cites 67 “incidents of mishandled guns in schools” from all over America, from 2014 to the present, to support their opposition to concealed carry of firearms by school staff who meet the requirements of Florida’s Guardian program. But here’s the rub: only one of these 67 incidents involved a school staffer carrying a firearm under similar requirements. That one involved a Texas superintendent who left her authorized firearm locked in a district vehicle when she and her staff visited another district where she was not authorized to carry it – and then forgot to recover the weapon and left it in the van overnight, to be found in the morning.
Every other incident on this list actually supports the premises behind Florida’s Guardian program, and similar programs in the many other states with similar laws on the books. Not one carefully vetted armed staff member carrying a concealed firearm with knowledge and approval of their school board, in accordance with strict standards, in well over 1,000 schools around the country, was involved in any of the other 66 incidents cited.
Fifteen of the incidents on this list involved subjects who were not staff members at all; some of these were commissioned officers, while others were merely family members or other visitors carrying firearms on school property in violation of the law. Another incident involved two coaches, but occurred off school property. Desperate to plump up the numbers, are we?
What this list actually does is to demolish the assertion often made by opponents of armed school staff, that guns in school should be left to the “armed professionals.” While the Miami New Times quotes some who seem to believe that armed officers make schools safer, Giffords does not think so, and on this point at least, we can at least understand the sentiment. Fully 27 of the 67 incidents in the Giffords study involve “armed professionals” – commissioned police officers or deputies assigned to a school, officers responding to a call for assistance or visiting for other reasons, or other uniformed security guards or school resource officers employed on site. These “armed professionals” had unintentional discharges (several of which injured themselves or others), left their weapons in restrooms or elsewhere unattended, and in two egregious cases, failed to stop a child from pulling the trigger of their holstered weapon.
So much for ‘armed professionals’ – we who are armed professionals know how little sustained, realistic, demanding training most officers undergo, and how easily complacency creeps in. Uniformed guards – commissioned or not – are not ten feet tall. They are unfortunately sometimes less dedicated and often less proficient than educators who understand their responsibilities “in loco parentis” and undergo rigorous and frequent training required by law and school district policy. Who has not heard educators saying, “we would sacrifice our lives to protect the kids in our care”? Give the tools and the skills to those who are willing, and they can do better than just sacrifice themselves like Coach Feis did at Parkland.
This is not to say that officers are all deficient in their skills and judgment – far from it – or that they cannot train to a high standard; but we who are trainers know without a shadow of a doubt that motivated civilians can do just as well, with the proper training. In the schools as on the streets, they are not volunteering to act as law enforcement officers, which is a very broad skill set indeed, but only to protect innocents against lethal threats – a very narrow skill set that comprises only a small slice of a police officer’s responsibilities.
In fact, what we do know is that responding police – even when they do not have unintentional discharges like several in this list – do not protect schools against active shooters, because they almost always arrive too late; and that uniformed officers on site have a very spotty record. The uncertainty in a potential aggressor’s mind that is created by the prospect of an unknown number of trained staff members carrying concealed weapons at various but unpredictable locations throughout a school, appears to be a better deterrent than one uniformed officer, as evidenced by the complete absence of active shooter incidents in such schools. Arguably, if one is swayed by logic, they will prove to be a more effective and flexible defense as well, if that unprecedented day does arrive when a shooting happens in their school.
Again, with the exception of that Texas superintendent, none of these incidents involved an approved, trained, school staff member carrying a concealed weapon. The closest thing to it is the anomalous case of a teacher in Utah in 2014. State law there allows any resident with a concealed carry permit to carry in the schools. There is no requirement to even notify the school board or administration, much less be vetted or approved, or to be trained to any standard beyond the 8 hours of mostly classroom training required for a permit. This teacher dropped her weapon in a toilet stall (before school, with no students in the building); it discharged, shattering the bowl and cutting her calf with a flying shard. That’s not a laughing matter, or not only a laughing matter, but should be taken in context. Utah’s law has been in place for 20 years, and out of 700,000 citizens with concealed carry permits (14 million person-years?), this is the only reported occasion in which anyone has been injured by a legal concealed carrier’s firearm in a Utah school. And she doesn’t work there any more. It may also be significant that Utah has had no mass shootings in its schools, but we can only speculate. Pretty safe state, Utah, for all that their statute is far less prescriptive than Florida’s or many other states.
So Giffords, although it titles its piece “Every Incident of Mishandled Guns in Schools” and assures us that theirs is a “systematic analysis,” and that this list of 67 incidents is “comprehensive” for the its date range, has absolutely failed to make a case against armed school staff members in districts that opt in, under authorizing state law, with well-drafted programs and requirements.
Opponents of protecting our schools and children with armed staff on site will have to do better than this, to make a case worth listening to.
Below is a tabulation of the incidents the Giffords piece cites, upon which these conclusions are based. The “Disqualifiers” column notes specific conditions which render the example irrelevant to the argument. “Illegal firearm” indicates that the weapon was on school property in violation of federal and/or state law. The only exceptions to this disqualifier are the 27 cases involving law enforcement officers and paid security guards, and the afore-mentioned cases of the Texas superintendent and Utah teacher. Those who violate the law or handle firearms incompetently are precisely the sort who are unlikely to volunteer in the first place, or to pass a careful vetting and selection process, or a demanding, standards-based training program, all characteristics of Florida’s Guardian program and those of many other states. As in so many firearms discussions, the actions of criminals and incompetents do not form a rational basis for critiquing the vast majority of actual or potential armed citizens in any venue, including schools.
This report by Alex Parker at redstate.com reports on Texas’s efforts to legislate armed staff and teachers in schools. In his article he raises a couple of questions that Distributed Security’s Bill Tallen answers below:
What do you think? Are we safer with more guns in school? Or is it best to limit the number of armed staff, therefore hopefully more effectively relegating the privilege to the very most-equipped staff to handle such an immense responsibility?
First, Texas both before and after the reported legislation is in no way
unique. Over half the states in the
nation have provisions that allow armed staff – in some cases any legally armed
citizen – on school property. And here’s
the first and perhaps the most important question: Alex asks, “What is the balance of lives saved due to the deterrent versus
harm done via accidents or improper use of force?”
The historical record of armed “good guys” on
school property since the passage of the federal Gun Free School Zones Act in
its final form in 1996 makes this answer an easy one.
There has been one – exactly one – documented
accident, which occurred in Utah early one morning (before any students were
present), when an armed teacher dropped her drawers in a bathroom, and a
presumably substandard handgun fell out of a clearly substandard holster, hit
the floor and discharged, demolishing the toilet bowl and wounding the hapless
teacher, whose leg was struck by a ceramic shard. Context is important: Utah’s law (still in
place) allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry on school property.
The school’s administration need not be informed or aware; there are no standards
or for acceptable firearms, holsters, or ammunition; and there is no training
standard beyond the minimal one required to obtain a permit. Since this has not
happened again in any Utah school, we might (since we have no access to
confidential personnel files) infer that the teacher involved is no longer
employed or received a solid education in how to carry and handle a firearm
safely; and others took her inadvertent lesson to heart. It is hard to argue
with Utah’s record of success with its law over the last twenty years, but a
case can be made that there are better ways to provide armed security in our
There has been, across the country, not a
single case of improper use of force involving a legally carried firearm in a
school. Students do not take away
teacher’s guns; teachers who carry do not “go off the deep end” and shoot
people. Opponents of “guns in schools”
can’t stop expressing their fear of these events, but there’s no evidence to
support their angst.
So there you are: on one end of the scale,
only one minor accident nationwide in the last twenty years, and no improper
use of force. Against that, we weigh the
interesting datum that there appears to have been no shooting – zip, zero, none
– in any school in America that has had school staff – or citizens, as in Utah
– legally carrying concealed weapons.
Note this does NOT include schools with “school resource officers” or
other uniformed, armed security personnel, because schools “defended” by those
have been attacked, with a very mixed record. At Columbine, and in Parkland,
Florida, school resource officers failed to stop the shootings; in a few other
cases, they have been successful. But the key thing is that when a potential
attacker does not know how many people may be armed in their target location,
or who they are, or where they will be at any given moment – they simply don’t come,
because they cannot be confident of how long they will have to work their evil
intentions before someone steps forward to stop them; they do understand that
it would be within the first few minutes, long before police arrive on scene. That is deterrence.
So the simple answer to Alex’s question is
this: concealed carry by school staff appears to have deterred attack (saving
lives from potential threats), while there has been essentially no down side to
balance against that sterling record.
Local control is key to the success of this
approach. State legislation must
establish the legal authority for armed school staff, because they must
“license” individuals to carry as an exception to the federal Gun Free School
Zones Act. But once that authorization is in place in state law, local school
boards – the lowest level elected officials in the nation, presumably
responsive to the wishes of their community – must establish policy, and
approve armed individuals in their schools.
Where a community strongly supports this approach, the school board
trustees should ensure that it happens, and provide for careful vetting of
volunteers, as Texas does, and establish specific requirements for initial and
ongoing training and for the safety and effectiveness of firearms, ammunition,
and ancillary equipment.
There is no logical reason for a legislature
to limit the number of staff members who can be armed in a school; their job,
and the school boards’ job, is to set a high bar of qualifications and
training, and then support, encourage, and approve every individual who
volunteers and meets those standards. The Texas legislature has shown that they
understand this simple principle.
I have yet to meet a proponent of arming
school staff who does not understand the importance of detection and
intervention programs to prevent school shootings from occurring. But rather
obviously, these shootings do occur, and each time they do, it’s because those
programs have failed. Innocent lives
must be protected if and when that day comes.
Alex quotes one opponent of armed school staff who gets it exactly wrong. Guns in the hands of carefully screened volunteers, who train to a rigorous standard, are precisely that last line of defense, and will deter armed attack or – if deterrence fails – defend innocent lives. “Adding guns to the problem” in the hands of dedicated, well-trained persons is most definitely the solution.
Bill Tallen is Executive Vice President – Tactical Operations for Distributed Security. Prior to joining the enterprise he had a 20 year career with the Department of Energy, where he served as a Federal Agent, team leader, unit commander, training instructor, and manager in the agency which provides secure transportation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials within CONUS. He helped to found DOE’s Special Response Force program, developing and teaching urban and close quarter battle techniques to Federal Agents charged with recovery of lost assets. He has designed and conducted a variety of wargaming efforts in support of vulnerability assessments, security system design, and leadership training, and has taught a variety of crisis decision making models. Bill holds the degree of Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.