Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Foot Shooting


After the latest in a long line of school massacres in the US, we’re hearing that arming teachers is proposed as a possible solution.

 It’s asserted by gun rights activists and the NRA, that the presence of an armed teacher would deter a shooter, or if one actually turned up, that this same teacher would be able to shoot back, and lives would be saved.

Let’s do a little common-sensed analysis of these propositions.

 The first is that the knowledge that teachers may be armed would deter a prospective shooter.

That is a very frail assumption. History shows that most active school shooters either die by their own hand, or are shot by armed police. They’ve usually killed a number of staff and students prior to being shot or suiciding. It’s completely implausible that an individual who is prepared to shoot himself, or take on armed police is going to be deterred by the possibility of being confronted by an armed teacher. Such an individual is, by definition, not behaving rationally. In some cases, the expectation that he may have to engage in a firefight with an armed teacher might well constitute extra motivation. Shooters have equipped themselves with flak jackets and protective gear. They’re typically up for a fight with no rational fear of consequences.

Then there is the contention that the armed teacher will have the realistic capacity to prevent a rampage by shooting back.

You'd have to be kidding yourself to swallow that proposition..

Let’s assume that the teacher is carrying a concealable firearm. Obviously concealed carry by teachers who have to operate in the classroom unhampered is practicable only with short barrelled weapons. These weapons are notoriously inaccurate except at very close quarters and aren’t as powerful as say, an AK47 or AR15. The shooter will always have the advantage of surprise, and no doubt would be cunning enough (if he assumes the teacher is armed) to use this surprise, as well as concealment, in initiating the attack. The first person most likely to be targeted would be the armed teacher. The shooter would be ready - the teacher, most likely, would not.

If you believe that someone packing (say) a 9mm Browning would have a fighting chance against an assailant with an AR15 or AK47, you obviously have little real understanding of firearms. Or perhaps you’ve watched too many movies where the good guys always win.

 In the army I was trained on long barrelled semi-autos (FN 7.62, which we called “SLR”) and full auto sub machine guns (M16). We were also trained on the 9mm Browning (sometimes carried by chopper pilots and tank crew).

This training, and my experience in as a rifleman in Vietnam where people actually shot back, has given me a clear appreciation of the relative lethality of the two classes of weapons. A pistol, pitched against a long barrelled auto or semi-auto is a very bad joke. The only people happy to use pistols in Vietnam were tunnel rats. A long arm is a liability down a tunnel.

 So the proposition that a teacher with a handgun is going to deter a shooter is simply invalid, taking into account the relative capacity and power of the weapons, the element of surprise, and the murderous intent of the shooter. Then there are a whole range of other real world factors to be considered.

These factors are cheerfully glossed over by the proponents of arming teachers. The first of these is the built environment. Schools are typically rich in concrete, glass and steel. The behaviour of a spent round striking these hard surfaces is totally unpredictable. In fact, I couldn’t imagine a better definition of chaos than a firefight in a school building. The risk of death and injury from ricochet and dislodged glass or other fragments is real. Ricochet killed one of the armed serge hostages in the Sydney Lindt cafe siege.

 Assuming that the armed teacher has the opportunity for a clear shot at the attacker, that same teacher would have to be sure that no student or staff member was likely to be harmed by overshoot or ricochet. The shooter would have no such concern.

 The human element - panic, the adrenaline rush, the unpredictability of the situation, all combine to make any firefight a deadly lottery. This was brought home to me nearly fifty years ago when the digger standing next to me was hit by friendly fire. Standing a metre from the cone of fire of an M60 as it brings down branches and foliage from stout looking trees concentrates the mind somewhat.

 Of course, a school inhabited by teachers bearing arms is a very different place from a gun-free school. With over twenty years’ experience as a school administrator in our Australian gun-free community, I can imagine that managing a situation where staff are armed would be daunting. It’s challenging enough without firearms.

Weapon security would be an element of school management with horrendous outcomes should it break down. My experience in Vietnam reminds me of accidental discharges, mislaid or stolen weapons, and ammunition security issues. Visiting this scenario on a location teeming with children, families, teenagers, the usual mix of school staff, stressed individuals, distracted individuals and the statistical small percentage of people with mental illness would be, put simply, an administrative nightmare. All of these factors are part and parcel of any modern school community.

 The plaintiff lawyers are probably rubbing their hands in anticipation.

The “solution” of arming teachers is a pretty fair barometer of the level of desperation that US gun culture has visited on its citizens. Whatever the remedy, it sure as shooting (sorry) isn’t this one. 

From where I sit in school massacre free Australia, I can feel only profound sympathy. The Americans have let the genie out of the bottle. Or, to use a more appropriate metaphor, they've shot themselves in the foot.

The best we can hope for on this side of the Pacific is that the school massacre nightmare doesn’t cross the Pacific.

 Keep your fingers crossed.

We’ve done a pretty good job of it so far - since 1996.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monash_University_shooting

Anonymous said...

Gun free Australia......you obviously believe ignorance is bliss.
Read up on the numbers. and this was 2007.
https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/0708/FirearmsAustralia

1735099 said...

This incident was not in the same league as any of the scores of shootings that have occurred in the USA recently. Remember Columbine, Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas? School shootings have become routine in the states. Arming teachers won’t change that.

1735099 said...

Ignorance of what?
Gun ownership in the US per head of population is four times the rate in Australia. There are more guns in the USA than people.
Australia has a long way to go before we approach that situation, and hopefully the gun lobby here won’t ever buy the legislature the way it has across the Pacific.
Semi-autos can be bought over the counter by 18 year-olds from many supermarkets over there.
Ever consider that there might be a connection between these facts and a gun fatalitiy rate (corrected for population) eleven times ours?
It’s a public health problem, and should have nothing to do with politics.
Don’t you think it’s bizarre that something that kills 30000 Americans annually is consider acceptable by the US Congress?
Ever wondered why that is so?
The Yanks can accept that if they’re crazy enough to do so. It won’t wash here.

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder why the number of vehicular fatalities in US are ten percent higher than gun fatalities? Is a car less acceptable as a result of that figure? Take away the cars?
Of those gun fatalities 68% are suicides.
Don't try to argue that a reduction in firearms would greatly reduce suicide rates because that does not seem to be the case in Australia. Hanging has become popular and the overall numbers are not demonstrably less.
You claim Australia is gun free.. I merely point out that you have no idea, and the numbers are rising.
Granted, we have more regulation but don't try and push your agenda with b/s.
You must have been a pogo at some stage or you would not have been trained with the 9mm. I only bring that up to knock your claim to expertise with weapons around a little.

1735099 said...

Is a car less acceptable as a result of that figure?
Thanks for posting this. It makes my point crystal clear.
US vehicle deaths are declining, gun deaths are rising. If the trend continues, and gun ownership is not regulated, inevitably the lines on the graph will cross - https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/gun-vs-traffic-accident-deaths-getting-the-data-straight/
Like in Oz, in the USA, you have to have a licence to own and drive a car. Not so with firearms - even military pattern weapons like AR15 and AK47.
There was strong resistance from libertarians in the US when seat belts were introduced. Many felt they were an infringement on individual freedom - https://www.bestattorney.com/auto-defects/defective-seatbelts/history-of-seat-belts.html
There was no corresponding NRA type organisation paying politicians to resist common sense when it came to seat belt legislation, so they became compulsory. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
Don't try to argue that a reduction in firearms would greatly reduce suicide rates because that does not seem to be the case in Australia.
Sorry, old mate, you're wrong about that - https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2530362
You claim Australia is gun free.
Show me where I wrote that. What I did say was that gun prevalence in Oz is one quarter (adjusted for population) than the USA. Scroll up and read my second comment. The b/s is coming from you.
I don't have any agenda except the maintenance of the 1996 National Firearms Agreement. It's plain after recent events in Tasmania (of all places) that they are under threat.
You must have been a pogo at some stage Sure was - and proud of it.
Nevertheless, I spent the bulk of my time in 7RAR in a rifle section.
Incidentally, we were trained on the M72 and the M79, so I've fired both, and carried an M72 on a couple of operations. I also got to fire a captured AK47.as well as the M16 and M60, and I carried an SLR for the duration of my tour. I kept it clean, slept with it, and it was always in my hands in the bush. I respected it and what it could do - a tough and reliable weapon. But that's what it was - a weapon of war - a machine designed to kill, not a plaything. Remember the old saying - "This is my rifle - this is my gun - this is for fighting - this is for fun" That was always sung with one hand on the rifle, and the other on your dick.
Unfortunately, there are a few out there too thick to tell the difference.
I don't pretend to be an expert on firearms, but I've seen what they can do to the human body, and I know they are not toys.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of gun wankers out there who lack that respect. We don't have anything to fear from responsible gun owners. It's the dipsticks who vote for people like David Leyonhjelm that are the threat..
Dreadnought Davey needs to spend some time on the two-way range.
Meanwhile, the lunacy continues across the Pacific - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-21/maryland-high-school-in-lockdown-after-shooting/9569336


Anonymous said...

"as a school administrator in our Australian gun-free community, I can imagine that managing a situation where staff are armed would be daunting.
Read from your own article Bobby.

"Sure was - and proud of it" and so you should be. Just pointing out that only a pogo would have the extra training. With the exception of the AK all the others were basic inf. requirement. You missed out on the 90mm recoilless and the mortars.

"This is my rifle - this is my gun - this is for fighting - this is for fun"
Must admit I missed out on this training aid. Heard of it, but never saw it in action. Most of our blokes had an innate ability to know the difference. Each had his own preference of course.

1735099 said...

Perhaps it's unclear, but my reference was to school community.

Anonymous said...

"my reference was to school community" yes you are correct or intentionally misleading for anyone who doesn't know better.

Getting back to the school environment and use of firearms, it would appear that you believe that a person with a long arm is better equipped than a person armed with a short arm with reasonable knock down ability. You obviously believe then that Police and security personnel should be armed with long arms rather than pistols.
Only specially trained groups within the force are equipped with long arms.
At a school a long shot would be across a sports field, quadrangle or along a corridor between rooms. In the rooms it is a matter of who is trained and gets the first few rounds off. The same reason cops carry pistols.....most shootings are at short range and if the weapon can knock you down it won't matter if it is a 105 howitzer or a 9mm. In a confined space the pistol is the better option as long as the user is up to it. Think of patrolling through bamboo or mangroves or waitawhile. Try bringing the weapon to bear on a target.
Don't get me wrong I don't think arming teachers is a very bright idea unless that teacher is trained and tested to better proficiency than average coppers or security staff. If he/she is trained then things like unintentional consequences are reduced not eradicated.
Even with training there is no way to know if a suitably armed person, copper, security or teacher is up to the task of confronting a bad guy, until put in the situation.
Someone has to do something and the task or disarming or even regulating firearms in the States is going to be horrendous. I can't think of an answer. It hasn't been as successful here as you seem to believe. The bad guys didn't hand in their firearms. There are now more licenced firearms in circulation than at the time Johnny changed the rules.
As much as I think your crusade has merit I can't see a method by which you can bring it to fruition.

1735099 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
1735099 said...

You obviously believe then that Police and security personnel should be armed with long arms rather than pistols.
I don't believe this at all. They would be hampered by the length of the weapon in all the other things they have to do as part of the job.
In a world like the one I grew up in, police did not need to carry side arms. As soon you accept that everyone has a God-given right to bear arms, that puts all police at jeopardy, and they have to carry to protect themselves. You finish up with a situation as exists in the USA, where around 1000 people were killed in police shootings last year - https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2017/
In a confined space the pistol is the better option as long as the user is up to it.
Not sure I agree with that. Following that thought to its logical conclusion would have meant that we have carried pistols in close country in Vietnam.
The bad guys didn't hand in their firearms.
This is a specious argument. It's far more complicated. Every bad guy is a good guy until he breaks the law.
The answer in the US may be through litigation. The gun manufacturers, who are making a motsa through sales, are vulnerable. Years ago, two vehicles (the Chevrolet Corvair and the Ford Pinto) were removed from the US auto market after the manufacturers came out of litigation losing millions through lawsuits.
Gun manufacturers could conceivably be sued because their products kill people. This would require a repeal of, or legal challenge to, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Attempts, so far unsuccessful, have already been made - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/12/16/lawsuit-filed-against-gun-manufacturers-and-dealers-over-sandy-hook-murders/?utm_term=.cf658ad603c1

Anonymous said...

"In a world like the one I grew up in, police did not need to carry side arms."
You must have grown up in a different world to the rest of us Robert. Australian coppers have been carrying firearms since before you were trained in long arms by the Army. Security personnel have carried firearms since I was 10 yrs old, perhaps longer. At 18 yrs of age I was trained in the use of a Browning .32 pistol as a railways clerk. I am now 68.
"Not sure I agree with that." Of course you agree with that or you are suggesting that the Tunnel Rats made poor choices of weaponry. For general purpose use a long arm with good knock down ability is preferred for patrolling different environments. For urban work a carbine or similar is preferred for ease of carry and knock down effect along with firepower.
"This is a specious argument" No, it is a statement of fact.
Every bad guy is a good guy until you can prove he breaks the law. There are lots of bad guys out there without a proven track record and therefore go unseen in the community.
Without checking the history of the vehicles I would guess they had design or manufacturing flaws that rendered them dangerously defective.
Firearms are designed as a tool for target shooting or killing (animals or humans). Alone a firearm can neither be used for target shooting or killing without human interaction. Firearms are inanimate objects, incapable of thought or deed. Humans on the other hand are capable of both and therefore capable of killing, with or without the firearm.
"Gun manufacturers could"......the verbs could, would and should all indicate that whatever you are wishing for has not occurred.

1735099 said...

You must have grown up in a different world to the rest of us Robert
I grew up in a small town in North Queensland. My father (the local schoolie) was great mates with the local police sergeant. This was usual practice in bush communities - the third person in this group was usually the local ambulance bearer. My father knew that myself and my younger brother were fascinated with guns. (We've both matured beyond this childhood obsession, unlike many gun wankers who have never grown out of it).
He prevailed on the copper to show us his sidearm. We were ceremoniously driven to the police station where we were able to view the revolver which was in the office safe. That was where it lived. Despite the fact that from time to time things could heat up around the pub, the sidearm was never worn. This was common practice at the time.
Without checking the history of the vehicles I would guess they had design or manufacturing flaws that rendered them dangerously defective.
The Ford Pinto had a fuel tank which was prone to exploding if the vehicle was rear-ended. The problem with the Corvair was that the Yanks didn't know how to drive a vehicle with rear weight bias.
Firearms are designed as a tool for target shooting or killing (animals or humans)
Absolutely, and motor vehicles were designed to move people around. It's passing strange that a machine that accidentally kills is legally not OK, whereas a machine designed to kill is.
The absurdity of this state of affairs seems completely lost on gun lovers.
the verbs could, would and should all indicate that whatever you are wishing for has not occurred.
Perhaps, but eventually gun control in the USA will prevail. The high school kids, whose stake in the game is their lives, are beginning that movement. When you see firms like Hertz and First National Bank of Omaha, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines cutting ties with the NRA, something new is happening.




Anonymous said...

The vehicle with design flaws that make it unsafe to use in its usual environment is difficult to compare to a tool without design flaws, but given that neither the vehicle nor the firearm could kill anyone or thing without the human input, you totally ignore the fact that without the human neither, car nor firearm alone, can kill anyone or thing. The same goes for a knife, a club, a rock or a clenched fist.

Good luck disarming the American populace. Hasn't happened here so there is absolutely no chance of it happening over there.

Firearms and coppers.....by the early seventies the majority were carrying firearms daily. Old school boys and some country coppers who had never needed one sometimes refused to carry Known a lot of coppers over the years Robert and only knew one that did patrol work that didn't carry. The rule of thumb is that it is better to have one and never need it than to need one and not have it.

1735099 said...

without the human input, you totally ignore the fact that without the human neither, car nor firearm alone, can kill anyone
The old "it's not the gun - it's the bad guy" argument.
It pales in the real world. Look at the statistics - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate
Sure, but remove the tool (semi-auto, hammer, knife, etc) and you'd have to kill the person with bare hands.
Simple question - based on a risk management concept.
Two scenarios -
Scenario 1 - you have an Armalite with a twenty round mag, and 10 guys in front of you. How many can you kill?
Scenario 2 - Same situation, but no Armalite. How many?
Good luck disarming the American populace
Nowhere did I advocate disarming America. They can do what they like in their own country, including allowing lunatics to shoot school children.
I simply don't want the same gun culture exported here.
Historically, we've adopted many elements of US culture - some OK - some not.
This is one aspect we can well do without.

Anonymous said...

"The old "it's not the gun - it's the bad guy" argument." It is not always a "bad guy" soldier boy, but it is always the human.
Please deny it is so.
Wiki does not have records from a number of countries that have large firearms numbers per capita.
In the US motor vehicles account for most injury related deaths, then poisons, then firearms.
35% of firearms deaths are unlawful homicides. Guns figure in 68% of total homicides indicating it is the preferred method but also indicating there are other methods employed.
"you'd have to kill the person with bare hands." I mentioned fists. A fist is a closed bare hand.
Two ultra-simplistic scenarios that have too many possible variables to be considered for a reasonable reply.
The American gun culture, as you call it, will not happen here and I have never heard any one advocating for it. Bad guys can get firearms, very bad guys can get very nasty guns and really bad guys can get someone in the "very bad" guy category to do the job for them.
If you know a fella who knows a fella who knows a fella, anyone can get a firearm with enough monetary inducement along the way. Pistols, shotguns and rifles of the not very pleasant type.
Joe Blow off the street can get a licence and go through all the necessary regulatory processes to purchase a firearm and one day have a melt down or deem it necessary for whatever reason, to use it for humans instead of game animals or vermin. The chances have been minimised here but nothing is perfect.

1735099 said...

Please deny it is so.
I've never denied that human agency is required for a firearm to kill.
What I have pointed out - not argued (there's no need to argue an obvious fact), is that human beings cannot be simply divided into good guys and bad guys. This contention derives from the childish notion of goodies and baddies, and most, with the exception of a few gun wankers, have understood this by the time they hit adolescence.
You've made exactly the same point - Joe Blow off the street can get a licence and go through all the necessary regulatory processes to purchase a firearm and one day have a melt down or deem it necessary for whatever reason, to use it for humans
There are a few immutable facts that always need to be front and centre in this debate -
1. The USA has the highest rate of gun fatalities in the civilised world.
2. The USA has the highest rate of gun ownership in the civilised world.
3. Gun advocates (the NRA) hold American legislators hostage. Public opinion indicates 55% of Americans believe gun ownership regulations should be tightened.
4. The USA is the only country in the world where children are shot regularly when they are at school.
As for the existing Australian law's failure to prevent criminals acquiring guns, the traffic laws don't prevent people getting killed on our roads, but there is no push to abandon current rules because they don't always work.
I have never heard any one advocating for it
You obviously haven't been paying attention to David Leyonhjelm - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-18/australia-a-nation-of-victims-says-pro-gun-senator-leyonhjelm/5974684

Anonymous said...

I said I haven't heard.....I don't read or watch ABC reporting. That is a 2014 report. Have you asked him what his thoughts are on the subject lately? Don't trust the ABC.
You can quote numbers for USA but you qualify your statement with "in the civilised world". A large part of the world is not civilised and gun deaths go unrecorded. Firearms are openly carried in a number of countries and AK47s feature large. We really have no idea what goes on in "uncivilised" countries. This does not mean that I think the situation in the US is a good thing.....just pointing out that you target things with arguments that lack impartiality as a good lefty does.
"The USA is the only country in the world where children are shot regularly when they are at school." That is a fairly broad statement Bobby. Do you mean.....Children in the US are at a greater risk of being victims of a school yard shooting than children in other countries?
I have become bored with this one Bobby, but it has been fun.
No I do not own a firearm.

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