A Review of “Surviving a Mass Killer Rampage” by Chris Bird
The world is filled with better men and women than I am. Some probably live next door to us. Unfortunately, there are monsters living next door as well. Author Chris Bird tells us about them both in his new book “Surviving a Mass Killer Rampage: When Seconds Count, Police Are Still Minutes Away”. We’ve lived with violence for a long time, but recently we’ve studied it in greater detail. Chris summarizes what works and what doesn’t. The book tells us how we should change our daily activities, and change our politicians. There are both heroes and villains in this story.
The book is easy to read. Chris Bird doesn’t sensationalize the story at all, but I still felt as if I were reading a multi-chapter monster-thriller. The frightening part wasn’t that evil murderers exists. The painful part was that we didn’t learn from past examples. It felt like I was watching the innocent hero walk into the monster’s trap again. That makes for great theater, but makes for horrible public policy. We’ve seen both the general public, and public officials, fail to learn these violent lessons paid for with blood. Chris Bird’s book helps change that. Now we know our violent history. Now the heroes can win.
Mass murderers attack people in so called “gun-free” zones. “Gun-free” zones are not “gun-free” once a murderer decides to break the law. And a plastic sign does nothing to stop them. The history is clear. Our schools, our churches, and our hospitals have been targeted and attacked before. They will be again. Just because we don’t know about the history of violence doesn’t make these sanctuaries a safe place. Now we know. Now we can make them safe.
Scholars in law enforcement studied these violent attacks. They learned a lot. They uncovered what would stop the killing and save the injured. We have the prescription for safety. We have the antidote to mass murder. The cure isn’t painful or expensive, so why isn’t it routine?
It hurts to see public officials deliberately ignore best practice. These public officials know that a foreseeable mass murder will be a media event.. and that they can hide their poor governance behind their grief for the victims. They can hide their guilt behind their tears. I am not putting words in politician’s mouths when I say that. They told us so, and Chris Bird quotes them. That should make your skin flush with rage. Those craven bureaucrats are the real monsters in this story.
This book is full of heroes as well. Some men and women decided that public violence would stop with them. School board presidents and school board superintendents decided to protect their students. Pastors decided to protect their congregations. Their solutions exceeded the cosmetic features that would shield them from liability. They educated their PTA, their school boards, and the media. They trained their staff. These were real leaders. They are my heroes.
Simply giving the attacker what he wants doesn’t work. We don’t do that any more. Armed and trained volunteer staff are now protecting many of our schools and our churches. Though this change has been recent, we’ve already amassed thousands of man-years of experience. That is a lot of solid evidence to draw on. We don’t read about that experience in the news because anonymous defenders do their job without fanfare and press releases. We don’t hear about it.. because it works. We need to build on that success. There are still too many so called “gun-free” zones.
If I have any fault with the book it is that the author did not lay enough blame with the politicians. Politicians created the very”gun-free”zones that put us at risk in the first place. Politicians did that for very transparent reasons. Politicians created “gun-free” zones in exchange for campaign contributions. Politicians also created “gun-free” zones for another reason. They did it to perpetuate the cycle of violence, of media coverage, and of ineffective regulation that brings politicians the media exposure they need. Politicians supported a failed public policy because it worked to keep them in office.
Uninformed voters and abetting news media feed that cycle. Now, Chris Bird’s book lays out the facts for us. He gives us the information to chose between real solutions that make us safer.. or empty political sound-bites that sound good on the news.
Now we know. The good guys can win this time.