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Sane Solutions in an Insane and Violent World

December 15, 2012

A mentally ill person shot women and children in a Connecticut school.  That is crazy.  It is painful enough to last a lifetime.  It is also avoidable.  We could easily keep our children safe if we were willing to recognize violence in our society.  In this case, we had a mentally ill person with a weapon in a gun free zone where he would not be challenged.  That is a failure at many levels and we can address each one.  The solutions are not new.  I hope we will stop ignoring the problem and push for real solutions.

First, stop the political posturing!  The biggest barriers to a solution are identity politics and media sound bites.  Liberal politicians and disarmament groups call for more gun control after every public shooting.  They do not promote armed defense every time an armed citizen stops a multiple victim murder.  Instead, these politicians and newscasters play to our pain as much as any prostitute appeals to a john’s vanity.  The first step towards safety is to turn off the political lies and take a serious look at public violence.  There are security professionals who know everything about public violence.  They have quietly advocated changes to our public security for years.  I’ve listened to a few of them and read a few more.   These security specialists are mostly ignored by the politicians because their solutions do not conform to the current political narrative.  We can have safety without sacrificing liberty and becoming a police state.

Security professionals know how to make schools much safer.  It is neither difficult nor expensive.  We have first aid kits in schools.  We have fire extinguishers and fire drills in schools.  Yet when it comes to school shootings, we can’t bear to look at realistic violence prevention and response even though our children are much more likely to be hurt in school violence than in a school fire.  Let’s extend the striking-matchanalogy(1) between fire and violence in schools. 

We decided to prevent school fires by outlawing matches at school while the campus is made of grass huts.  Then we chose an honor system to keep the matches off campus. 

That sounds like an absurd way to prevent fires, yet those are the exact measures we adopted to protect our children from violence with gun free zones.  We don’t ignore fire, and thank you to the fire marshal for that.  We don’t ignore heart attacks, and thank you to the EMTs who taught us civilian CPR.  If we want safety and liberty, then we must listen to the security professionals and follow their advice about school violence.

Public violence isn’t a new problem and we can learn from existing solutions.  Though society has grown more violent in the last hundred years, we’ve had multiple victim crimes for a very long time and the rate is stable.  Public violence isn’t new in the United States, but Israel faced similar problems to a much greater degree.  The problem is that an armed person can usually injure or kill an unarmed person.  That is why attackers arm themselves when they want to injure many others.  A good person with a weapon is the best agent to stop a bad person with a weapon.  Israel armed their teachers. Israel also closed and locked their school doors as they had their home and office doors.  That will not keep bad people out of their schools permanently any more than a locked door by itself keeps thieves from breaking into our homes.  A secure building buys time for the good guys to react.  It doesn’t take an army to react to a public shooting, but it does take someone nearby to react quickly.  That model works in Israel.

That model also works here in the United States.  We are a large country with a long history as an armed population.  We have clear evidence that local defense works well, and more evidence is listed here.

Reject more prohibition.  Instead, advocate for more freedom.  Some people suggested that guns should go away.  That approach failed miserably everywhere it was tried.  It led to both more crime and also the worst examples of public violence in history.  The Norway massacre and the Beslan massacre are only the most recent examples.  I don’t want to see massacres like that in the US, though I’m sure some politicians will propose the same solution that failed there.

Let school staff and teachers bring the tools they need onto campus.  Many of the adults on campus are already trained.  They are precluded from bringing a weapon on campus by local laws and school regulations.  We imposed that rule on ourselves in1990 and it made the situation worse rather than better.  Many training institutes have extended offers to teach self-defense to teachers and school staff for free and more here.  Armed staff are not a panacea.  Some domestic terrorist used bombs instead of guns.  Despite their imperfections, we should implement the security solutions that work rather than wait for politically perfect solutions as more children are hurt.

no_guns_allowed_4Gun free zones are a failure.  The claim of a gun free zone is that you will stop evil people with a laminated sign.  I understand the mindset that wants that to be true.  That feel-good and play-nice attitude leaves thousands of students injured from school violence every year.  That attitude has now left hundreds of our children murdered on campus.  Gun free zones fail everywhere they are tried; in schools, in churches, in shopping centers and in restaurants.  Gun free zones remind me of my young children as they played peek-a-boo and pretended they were invisible when they put a towel over their head.  We pretend that violence can’t find us at school or at church as we hide behind a plastic sign.  Magical thinking is cute in small children.  Magical thinking is deadly in public policy where we refuse to recognize the threat of public violence.

We must demand that our schools have a serious security policy rather than a fantasy policy.  You would not send your children to a school that turned off their fire sprinklers and their fire alarms.  Don’t allow your children into the care of a public institution that will not protect their physical safety!

Hold mental health professionals accountable for their diagnosis.  We would sue and strip the license from a doctor who misdiagnosed an illness and released a plague into the community.  We put engineers in jail for negligence when physical structures fail and injure the public.  We should hold mental health professionals accountable for their judgments in the same way.  I imagine that psychologists will claim the human psyche is too difficult to map and predict.  Is it really?  I was examined for a pilot’s license, for national security ratings and to purchase dangerous weapons.  Professionals make such judgments every day.  Doctor, you earned the liability when you took the client’s money and made a diagnosis.  Too often the doctor’s reports are so carefully phrased as to be meaningless.

Stop the media circus that promotes violence.  Mass violence is done for notoriety.  The rate of public violence drops dramatically when the murderer is denied the publicity that feeds the murderer’s ego.  Canada refuses to publish the name of young public murderers.  That single measure has been extremely effective in reducing the rate of public violence in Canada.  Violent video games are also a contributing cause to multiple victim public violence.  Like any dangerous substance, violent video games should be denied to children and the mentally ill.

Address mental illness.  Some people can not live on their own and care for themselves.  We deinstitutionalized the mentally ill so they are cared for in the minimum security setting of the home.  That has helped some and hurt many.  When compared to sane individuals, the mentally ill are both more violent and much more likely to be the victim of violence.   We are not helping the mentally ill by ignoring their illness.   They won’t and can’t disappear.  It is cruel and dangerous to expect them to suffer in invisible silence.

Do it now.  None of the factors influencing public violence are new.  They have been recognized for years and ignored for just as long.  That is a profound indictment.  We ignored public violence because we did not want to face it.  Well that kumbayah moment has killed enough of us.  I hope we will recognize the causes of violence and do the simple things that will drastically reduce it.  If not, then we have our own mental illness to examine.

Yes, the Connecticut murders are a tragedy.  It will be a larger tragedy if we let politicians divide us and let the news media sell us the next tragedy.  That serves their purposes, not ours.  If you read and understood this article, then you know more about public violence than most politicians and school administrators.  Tell your school officials what you know.  Tell your state and federal representatives too.  Boycott schools if they don’t respond.

None of us can do this alone.  I beg you.  Please help me change how we address public violence.

(1) I first heard the analogy between fire prevention and violence prevention from Colonel David Grossman.


Rob who thinks he is sane in a crazy world.

Please rate, share or comment.. or keep ignoring the problem.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Virginia permalink
    December 15, 2012 2:09 pm

    EXCELLENT post, Rob. I’ve Shared it already, hoping many will read it.

    Oh, and small thing….”Beslan,” not Beslyn. I know that because that massacre is always in the back of my mind whenever I hear of school shootings. I’m expecting we’ll have a Beslan here in America, given the direction official obtuseness is going.


  2. December 15, 2012 2:15 pm

    Thanks, Ginny. I thought I fixed that. Evidently not.
    Yes, Let’s avoid a Beslan here.


  3. Day permalink
    December 15, 2012 3:42 pm

    What a curse it must be, to be sane in a crazy world… -Day


  4. December 17, 2012 2:13 pm

    Good read, Rob! I think the point about “misdiagnosis” can be expanded, as it seems to be the heart of the issue. In other words, we must not, as a society, ever misdiagnose where violence actually begins…which is in the human heard and mind. Just as one example, Hollywood glorifies violence, and Hollywood is largely liberal. They seem to believe that it’s OK to glorify violence (planting seeds of violence in people’s hearts and minds through ideas and imagery), but then turn around and decry violence when it actually happens, simultaneously taking no responsibility whatsoever for contributing to it. Instead, they blame gun ownership. Using their logic, we should ban car ownership, since cars kill far more people in a single year than guns.


  5. Rob Rumbaugh permalink
    December 17, 2012 4:41 pm

    Thank you Rob!!!! Everyone I know will be reading this. We need to make it safe for our kid to live!


  6. J.D. permalink
    December 18, 2012 10:31 pm

    The mental health system has profoundly failed! I have sent many patients to ETS (Emergency Treatment Services) on a 5150 (72 hour hold against their will) only to have them released as soon as they hit the door!
    The system is overwhelmed and anyone they don’t deem as an immediate threat to themselves or others are released as soon as they can.
    This is the sad reality!


  7. December 21, 2012 10:16 am

    You missed one rather important factor, Rob. Most of the “mass shootings” of the last two decades, at least, have a common feature. Most of these young men were or had been drugged in “school.” Whether or not they had any true “mental illness,” the fact is that they were given dangerous prescription drugs with KNOWN side effects that made them much more likely to engage in harming themselves or others.

    We must end the emasculation of the men in this country, and especially their chemical castration starting almost in infancy.

    And, unfortunately, nobody – including the best psychiatrists – are truly able to predict the behavior of their patients with the kind of certainty you call for. This would result in the involuntary incarceration of millions for something they “might” do. Would you tolerate that for anything else? What would happen if the mere desire to own a gun was considered by these experts to be definitive proof of “mental illness?” Would that work for you?


  8. December 22, 2012 7:19 am

    The reason the left hates guns is that they need an excuse for the failure of their agenda. Today, we live in a world of the progressives creation. Their empowerment of the govt has created a society ruled by force rather than voluntary cooperation. This is a sick society. Rather than face that truth they advocate more force to disarm everyone. One day they may learn what the true causes of our problems are & stop trying to put out the fire with gasoline.

    Below is a speech that I gave on the subject of guns a few weeks before the killings at Sandy Hook. I stand by what I said, I actually think my points are more valid than ever:

    Gun Rights, Peace, and Liberty (video)
    Darren Wolfe talks about peace, liberty, gun rights, and security from the point of view of arming the people to protect themselves while disarming the government. The talk was based on his opening statement at the Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society ( sponsored gun control debate where he took the pro-gun side. The speech was delivered at the End the Fed/ End the Wars rally
    ( in Philadelphia, PA on November 24, 2012.


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