A little more than a year ago, on March 1, 2014, I posted Connecticut: The Coming Storm. That article was among the most popular I’ve ever written, accounting for my highest daily hit total to date: nearly 16,000. It was a fictional account of the probable consequences of the draconian, unconstitutional anti-gun laws hastily passed in Connecticut in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary attack. Following that article were four more in the same series:
I am glad that this series may have had at least some part in presenting and reflecting the sentiments of Americans that respect the Constitution and the rule of law in scaring Connecticut politicians sufficiently to back away from a path they appeared hell-bent on pursuing. I don’t believe I exaggerate in suggesting it may have saved the lives of innocent citizens and law enforcement officers.
Those articles were preceded by the November 25, 2013 report by Danbury Judicial District State’s Attorney, Stephen J. Sedensky III on the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School attack. A PDF of that document is available here. My analysis of that report, beginning on December 08, 2013, took three parts:
The virulently anti-gun Governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, established a commission to make recommendations relating to the attack, which has now (03-06-15) issued its final report, which is available here.
It is particularly ironic, considering the content of that report, that Gov. Malloy has recently announced there is no longer any “appetite” for additional gun control in Connecticut.
There’s just not a big appetite for even talking about guns at the moment in the state of Connecticut,’ he said.
It is also ironic that despite being reelected only a few months ago, Malloy’s popularity is slipping among keys elements of his base.
The lengthy report purposely ignores one indisputable fact of life, of human existence, relies on two entirely false premises, and one mistaken premise:
(1) Evil exists; some people do evil things for no reason other than they want to do them and they like doing them.
(2) School attacks can be prevented by substantial destruction of the Second Amendment and the harassment and disarmament of the law-abiding.
(3) The solution to school attack is in large part the unconstitutional and massive application of mental health interventions.
(4) Some part of the solution is school design and security features.
As my analysis in Part III of the original series noted, there were no warning signs that would have allowed anyone to predict or interdict the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary. The killer was treated by many mental health professionals over many years, and not one saw any sign of danger, let alone predicted or feared he might attack a school. This was actually reflected in the commission’s report, not that that recognition prevented it from making entirely predictable recommendations:
While discerning no clear answers to the question of what role A.L.‘s behavioral health challenges played in the violence he ultimately inflicted, the Commission nonetheless turns its attention to what we have learned about the role of mental disorder in violent events [p. 8].
However, once the attack began, the killer could have been driven off or eliminated at many points during the attack if teachers and staff had been armed. It is entirely possible no one had to die except the killer.
The report, on pages 5-6, makes clear its true purpose: It is an anti-gun hit job from beginning to end, but a hit job that exonerate the mental health profession.
United States civilians own or possess in excess of 300 million guns: as of 2009, they owned or possessed approximately 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns. The incidence of gun ownership/possession in the United States—nearly one gun on average for every resident—is the highest in the world. Most guns are lawfully owned by law-abiding persons who use them for recreational activities, such as hunting and target practice, and/or for self-defense. However, many guns are owned or possessed illegally or, even if legal, are used for unlawful purposes.
Beyond the sheer number of guns in the United States, the lethality of readily available firearms and ammunition continues to increase. The connection between the extent of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the lethality of weapons used in the attack on the school is self-evident and beyond dispute. The Commission is deeply concerned about the proliferation, throughout the civilian population, of weapons that were specifically designed for military use during wartime. ―Assault weapons like the AR-15, as well as large capacity magazines often used with those weapons, have no legitimate place in the civilian population. The Commission finds that the cost to society of easy civilian access to assault weapons and large capacity magazines vastly outweighs the benefits of civilian ownership. By contrast, the Commission finds that the significant benefit to society from eliminating civilian ownership and possession of assault weapons and large capacity magazines can be realized with only a minimal burden on persons who want to hunt, engage in target practice or use weapons for self-defense. They remain free to engage in those activities with a vast array of long guns and handguns. In short, the Commission‘s first goal is simply to limit the possession and use of weapons designed for wartime use to members of our military services and law enforcement personnel.
The Commission is obviously not bothered by mere facts, such as the fact that rifles of any kind, and particularly AR-15 pattern rifles are used in only a tiny percentage of all crimes. The fact that there is no such thing as an “assault weapon” is likewise not a concern, as is the fact that the 5.56mm/.223 cartridge fired by the AR-15 family is, in terms of rifle ammunition, low lethality and of, at best, intermediate power.
The report also makes the usual disclaimer:
The Commission acknowledges the United States‘ long tradition of gun ownership and the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. However, the Commission also notes that although United States Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is a personal right, the court also held that the right is not absolute. The Supreme Court further acknowledged in Heller that society has the right to regulate gun ownership, possession and use within constitutionally permissible limits. Through reasonable, constitutionally permissible regulations applicable to long guns, handguns and ammunition, the Commission seeks to minimize to the greatest extent possible the number of gun-related civilian deaths, while respecting the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners.
Heller also notably held that usual and common firearms may not be banned. The AR-15 platform is the most common, usual, and popular modern sporting rifle sold in America.
I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
There is at least one place, other than a home, in which every person, whether a child or adult, should feel absolutely safe and secure from the threat of physical harm: school. All schools—whether pre-K, K-12, colleges or other post-secondary institutions—are places for learning and personal growth. Sadly, the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine, Virginia Tech and other institutions taught Connecticut, and have reminded the nation at large, that schools, even elementary schools educating our youngest children, are not immune from the gun violence that afflicts our society [p. 14].
This is an entirely rational statement, but the conclusions and recommendations that follow it are all too often something else entirely. They focus on feeling safe rather than being safe.
The section of the report titled “Guiding Principles Of Safe School Design And Operation Recommendations,” reads like a progressive wish list of feel-good measures. Some examples:
Outdoor environments and indoor spaces affect the way we feel, move, and contemplate. These known design consequences must not be unbalanced in favor of protective designs, which while improving personal safety, actually detract from the core missions of self-development through learning from teachers, interacting with peers, and observing how the social process of the ―internal school neighborhood operates successfully or unsuccessfully (25).
Notice the focus on “feelings” rather than practical, quantifiable results, in essence, feeling safe rather than being safe.
Being in a place/space where one feels secure allows the focus to be on the school‘s mission and the roles teachers and students need and want to fulfill. Self-protection from perceived threats requires expenditures of deleterious and defensive negative energy, a fundamentally subtle distraction from core school activities and accomplishments [p. 29].
Those that would deny children and teachers the only effective means of deterring and stopping active school shooters commonly speak of the need for schools to “feel secure” or to “feel safe,” which to them has to do with rhetorical, symbolic measures, such as talking about “safety” or posting gun free school zone signs. Notice the code words disparaging effective methods: “expenditures of deleterious and defensive negative energy.” Such people also commonly argue that having even armed police officers in schools somehow magically detracts from a pristine educational environment, thus “a fundamentally subtle distraction from core school activities and accomplishments.”
The report’s recommendations for facilities (pp. 32-60) are in many cases as nonsensical as they are disturbing in their lack of understanding and depth. I’ll not discuss all of them, but merely some representative concepts.
Recommendation #1: Classroom doors that can lock from the inside. “The testimony and other evidence presented to the Commission reveals that there has never been an event in which an active shooter breached a locked classroom door.”
Recommendation #2: All K-12 exterior doors should be “capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown.
This is part and parcel of the “run, hide, and wait to be killed” school of thinking, which is essentially the state of the art in progressive school safety rhetoric. It’s the same kind of “thinking” that inspire a principal to ask teacher to store canned food in classrooms so children could throw it at an armed attacker. By the time a school attack has started, the killer or killers are already within the school perimeter. Locking down the entire school, absent a way for children and teachers to escape, would only trap them in a killing zone. All doors, particularly classroom doors, can be easily and quickly breached by nothing more complex than a sledgehammer, a firearm or a crowbar. Such measures aren’t entirely useless, but they can slow a determined, prepared attacker by only seconds. Locking doors are not useless, but they are not a solution.
Of course, the report demands the establishment of “school security and safety committees” in schools. Teachers are exposed to all manner of such committees, which give the appearance of seriousness and “input” from teachers, but in reality, have only the authority to make recommendations that will be almost universally ignored, and will accomplish little or nothing. The report is full of recommendations establishing this or that committee or appointing this or that person to implement committee recommendations. Not all of these ideas are frivolous, but a great many will produce voluminous talk and paper to no practical end.
A large section of the report consists of the committee’s serial endorsements of state-level mandates and reports. An example:
At minimum, all school facilities are required to be compliant with state and federal building and fire codes. In other areas of school design and construction, standards and guidelines may be somewhat more variable providing local authorities with the flexibility to create an increased level of safety and security while meeting broader educational objectives. Areas not identified in the Mandatory or Critical Compliance sections noted above will be subject to more flexible guidelines to be incorporated in the School Security Technical Compliance Manual that is currently under development. Once complete this document will be incorporated in the SSIC final report as an updated and free standing Appendix E to be used by design and architectural professionals, along with Appendix A, to achieve security design objectives [p.44].
Particularly striking is the heavy-handed, top-down approach to school safety. One might even call it blatantly obvious, as in this passage:
1.4 School boundaries and property lines shall be clearly demarcated to control access to a school facility and shall clearly delineate areas of public, semi-public, semi-private, and private space.
1.5 Where a school is a shared use facility that serves the community, internal boundaries shall be clearly defined to establish a distinct perimeter for both the school and the shared use facilities with separate and secure access points that are clearly defined. Boundaries may be defined by installing fencing, signage, edge treatment, landscaping, and ground surface treatment.
1.7. The number of vehicle and pedestrian access points to school property shall be kept to a minimum and shall be clearly designated as such.
1.8. Directional signage shall be installed at primary points of entry to control pedestrian and vehicular access and to clearly delineate vehicular and pedestrian traffic routes, loading/unloading zones, parking and delivery areas. Signage should be simple and have the necessary level of clarity. Signage should have reflective or lighted markings [p. 46].
None of this, of course, would mean a thing to an attacker, nor would it deter or slow them. Not all of the recommendations in this section are problematic. Many are merely common sense, but many, such as comprehensive video systems, hardened glass, locking systems, and other architectural changes are plainly outside the realm of practicality and affordability for most school districts in schools that were never designed with security in mind and that cannot be easily upgraded.
Part two of the report encompasses its anti-gun recommendations. Consider this statement:
The lethality of the weapons used in the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School requires that the Commission evaluate access to firearms and ammunition. The analysis of the Commission is not rooted in dogma or a particular ingrained ―world view, but rather a rational analysis of what type of firearms are available to citizens and what that means to the security of communities. In its analysis, the Commission engaged in a pragmatic, not dogmatic, review [p. 61].
The entire section then engages in dogmatic, ingrained, and absolutely predictable world view, to wit: “In setting forth the following recommendations, the Commission does not seek to deprive citizens of their right to hunt, engage in target practice or own a firearm for self-defense…[p. 62]. The Constitution, nor Heller, have to do with hunting, target practice, or even exclusively self-defense. Such deceptive argument is the lifeblood of gun-controllers everywhere.
The commission’s recommendations–pp. 64-78–are a virtual anti-gun wish list (I am not including all):
RECOMMENDATION NO. 1. Mandatory background checks on the sale or transfer of any firearm, including long guns, at private and gun show sales.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 2. Require registration, including a certificate of registration, for every firearm. This certificate of registration should be issued subsequent to the completion of a background check and is separate and distinct from a permit to carry.
Neither regulation would have, in any way, hampered or stopped the Sandy Hook killer. His mother legally purchased all the weapons he used. Neither regulation would have in any way hampered or stopped any known mass shooter, nor would they stop any criminal contemplating mass murder.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 3. Require firearms permits to be renewed on a regular basis. This renewal process should include a test of firearms handling capacity as well as an understanding of applicable laws and regulations.
This regulation too would have no effect on mass shooters. Regulations of this type serve only to inconvenience the law-abiding, which is, of course, their primary purpose. Deterring and catching criminals is difficult. Harassing people that mean harm to no one is much easier.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 4. Institute a ban on the sale, possession, or use of any magazine or ammunition feeding device in excess of 10 rounds except for military and police use. In proposing this recommendation, the Commission recognized that certain sporting events at times involve the use of higher capacity magazines. However, the consensus of the Commission was that the spirit of sportsmanship can be maintained with lower capacity magazines.
The practical realities alone render this recommendation nonsensical. Magazines can be changed within 1-2 seconds. Therefore, replacing a 30 round magazine with three ten-round magazines would require only an additional 2-4 seconds to fire the same number of rounds. At Sandy Hook and elsewhere, this would have meant absolutely nothing, nor would it have saved a single life. As my analysis of the attack demonstrated, the killer had more than sufficient time to kill. His stopping at 26 was a matter of choice, not necessity. He could easily have continued killing for at least five more minutes. Such has been the case in virtually every mass killing of recent years.
RECOMMENDATION NO. 5. Institute a ban on the possession or sale of all armor-piercing and incendiary bullets, regardless of caliber. First-time offenses should be classified as a Class D Felony.
No actual armor piercing or incendiary ammunition has ever been used in an American mass shooting or school attack. Actual AP ammunition has, for decades, been illegal for citizens to possess, and “incendiary” ammunition–the report does not define it–is all but unavailable in any form except tracer ammunition. This recommendation amounts to nothing more than checking a box on any anti-gun wish list.
Interesting, isn’t it, that a report supposedly concerned with preventing future school attacks is little more than a wish list for leftist gun banners? Consider, however, that when the Commission was established, Connecticut politicians still imagined there was substantial anti-gun sentiment on their side. The Commission, appointed by the Governor, would surely have seemed to be a way to legitimize even more restrictive anti-liberty measures that had not yet been enacted. Its conclusions were surely known before the first meeting was held and the first bit of testimony was heard. But in the meantime, the mood in Connecticut, and throughout the rest of America, was changing. The bottom dropped out of the gun control bucket on the national level, and gun companies in the East began running for states that followed the Constitution and appreciated their tax contributions. Even in Connecticut, anti-gun fervor began to disintegrate. Gov. Malloy never saw it coming.
Next week in Part II: the remainder of the specifically anti-gun recommendations, and the beginning of the mental health section, where we discover that mental health professionals are absolutely vital and hundreds of millions should be spent on increasing their numbers and power, but they can do nothing virtually nothing to identify the potentially dangerous or to predict their future deadly violence.
What, then, can be done? Tune in next wednesday, same bat-time, same bat-channel.