I normally post an education article on Monday and a firearm-related article on Tuesday, but this week, the topics have merged: the good news is school shootings remain relatively rare. But there is recent bad news, particularly for the residents of two small towns, as Fox News reports:
A female student was wounded Monday morning after a fellow classmate opened fire in a Texas high school cafeteria, police said.
The suspected gunman, a 16-year-old male student who was not identified by name, was taken into custody without incident shortly after allegedly firing at the 15-year-old student at Italy High School, about 45 miles south of Dallas, just before 8 a.m., Ellis County police told Fox News.
The teenage girl was airlifted to a hospital, but her condition wasn’t immediately clear.
‘This is a trying time for our community and our school,’ said Lee Joffre, superintendent of the Italy Independent School District.
Details about what led to the shooting are still being investigated. Authorities did not provide details about the female and male students’ relationship.
The shooter left the building immediately after opening fire at the high school, which had about 600 students.
For the purposes of this article, there are only a few other necessary points:
Joffre would not say whether the suspect had any previous disciplinary issues at the school. He said when the district officials became aware there was an active shooter, the district ‘immediately took action to get our students in a safe position.
Italy has a population of about 2,000 people and calls itself ‘the biggest little town in Texas,’ Dallas Morning News reported. There’s only one high school in the town.
In this particular case, the shooter was apparently a jilted boyfriend of the victim who broke up with him only the day before the shooting. Only a day later, in Benton, KY, the unlikely became reality for Marshall County High School. Fox News reports:
At least two people were killed and 19 others were injured when a student opened fire at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., officials said.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said the shooter, a 15-year-old male student, was in custody. Bevin said the alleged gunman will be charged with murder and attempted murder. The shooting began around 8 a.m. when the suspect entered the school with a handgun, authorities said.
As this article is posted, no motive is known, which is common in such cases. As usual, it appears the two students killed may have been random targets, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The two people killed included a 15-year-old female student and a 15-year-old male student.
Bevin said the alleged shooter was apprehended by police in a nonviolent way. He said the incident was an ongoing investigation.
Mitch Garland told The Associated Press he saw 100 children running out of the school seeking safety after the shots started going off.
‘They was running and crying and screaming,’ he said. ‘They was just kids running down the highway. They were trying to get out of there.
A Fox News report from the following day suggested the school had recently had “active shooter training”, and credited it with saving lives. One suspects the parents of the wounded and dead, and the parents of the children fleeing in panic, would be somewhat less than impressed with the effectiveness of that training:
The shooting unfolded around 8 a.m. Tuesday after a 15-year-old male entered the school with a handgun, officials said. The shooting occurred in the school’s common area, but there were also reports of students shot in the building’s tech center.
Of the 20 people who were injured in the incident, 16 were shot. Baily Nicole Holt, 15, died at the scene and Preston Ryan Cope, 15, died later at the Vanderbilt Medical Center. Those injured and killed, all believed to be students, were between 14 to 18 years old.
School attacks is a topic I’ve often addressed. At the end of this article I’ll provide links to my most recent series on this issue, but for the moment, let’s consider the reality of school shootings, a reality almost entirely avoided or ignored by those charged with protecting school children.
As I noted at the inception of this article, such shootings remain rare. They are noteworthy largely because of their rarity. This central fact has allowed, for decades, school boards and school administrators to get away with virtue signaling rather than active, effective measures to protect children, teachers and school staff. In recent years, the kind of “training” apparently recently undertaken in Marshall County, KY has been lauded as an effective response to school shooters. Unfortunately, its “effectiveness” is always measured by the final body count, which is almost never enough to cause the adoption of the only effective means of deterring and stopping school attacks.
School shootings perpetrated by students are probably the most common kind in America. They are also virtually impossible to stop, unless the attacker, before the attack, makes clear their intentions in a way that can’t be ignored or explained away. Far less common–thankfully–is an organized attack, such as the fictional attack I created in 2014’s “The Attorney General’s Report On The Anytown Elementary Terrorist Attack,” where multiple Islamist terrorists wrought destruction on a common elementary school.
Some respond to such possibilities by observing that well-armed and organized shooters would have such an advantage over armed teachers and staff it would be somehow better that they remain unarmed and entirely vulnerable to attack. After all, letting teachers carry guns is dangerous! Schools must ever be safe and nurturing places. Some even argue against allowing armed police officers in schools, as their very presence, particularly the presence of their handguns, somehow diminishes the magically pristine educational environment. All of this I have documented in previous articles.
The potential danger is not focused only on students, as I noted in October of 2013, when 24-yeard old Danvers, MA high school math teacher Coleen Ritzer was followed into a women’s bathroom one day after school by a 14-year old male student. He raped and murdered her in particularly vile ways. The sixth article in that series has links to the previous five. As is the case virtually everywhere in America, Ritzer was, by law and school policy, unarmed and unable to defend herself against a younger, larger and stronger attacker armed with a razor knife. As is virtually always the case, the killer showed no previous sign of the evil within.
Labeling a building as a school creates no magic. Evil exists everywhere. Pretending schools are not subject to its influence and destruction is insanity.
The vital question every parent of a student must ask is: when a school attack begins, what is my child’s school prepared to do, then and there, to stop it? Not what are they prepared to do after some number are shot, wounded or killed, but what are they prepared to do to actually stop the shooter or shooters before they can harm anyone?
If they have not allowed every willing teacher or adult staff member to carrying concealed handguns, they are, by default and their inaction, regardless of how well intentioned it might be, willing to accept some number of wounded and dead, which number will be determined by the shooter’s marksmanship–or lack thereof–and by the speed with which the police–people with guns, can arrive, find and neutralize the shooter.
How long does it take the police to arrive? In virtually every American school shooting, the police have played no actual role in stopping the slaughter. Before they can arrive, the shooters have either killed themselves, decided to stop shooting, or fled. At the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the police did not enter the building until more than fifteen minutes after the shooting began. By then, the shooter had killed all he pleased and been dead by his own hand for some five minutes.
The current response model of essentially all American schools is as simple as it is ineffective. With no possibility of effectively and immediately stopping active shooters, they have resorted to running, hiding and barricading, and as a last resort, mass attacks by children, even tiny children, on armed, homicidal shooters. As an absolutely last resort, it is arguably better to go down fighting rather than waiting in horror to be slaughtered, but would it not be best to force potential killers to anticipate the horror or their own demise rather than children?
One Alabama middle school descended into farce when the principal asked parents to donate cans of veggies, not for a food drive, but as ammunition to be used against school shooters. The cans were to be stored in classrooms and in the event of an attack, issued to students, who would throw them at armed attackers in the hope of distracting them so they could rush, disarm and hold them for the police.
The result would surely have been the Monty Python version of Rourk’s Drift, with ranks of children, veggies in hand, their arms cocked, launching volley after volley at attacking murderers, all the while reloading and advancing by ranks. Unfortunately, it would not be spilled vegetables littering the floor, but the blood of children. There’s scant humor in that.
I’ll leave it to you, gentle readers, to take the links and more fully explore the issues. We can be certain, however, of some things. The school boards, administrators, principals, teachers, and parents of Italy, TX and Benton,KY were almost certainly unremarkable. They did not imagine for a second the children in their charge would ever be the target of armed madmen, and to whatever degree they did, they relied on the current state of the art in “school security.” That state of the art proved entirely inadequate, as any rational, tactically aware person could have told them.
Today, they know better. Any school, anywhere in America, can be the target of an armed madman at any time. The danger of better organized and more effective attacks is not decreased by the effectiveness of our military, unleashed by President Trump, in destroying terrorist strongholds in foreign lands. When they can no longer operate on a grand scale, terrorists are more likely to operate locally. Even during the Obama years, the FBI admitted it had active anti-terror investigations in every state. The fictional Anytown Elementary attack could be coming to any town at any time.
The question remains: when a school attack begins, what is every school prepared to do, then and there, to stop it?
These are the links to the eight-part series: