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Which to choose, which to choose…

In January of 2015, I wrote New School Shooter Defensive Technology, which was the story of an Alabama–of all places–middle school principal who asked parents to send their kids to school with an 8-ounce can of corn or peas:

An Alabama middle school principal wants to stockpile cans of corn and peas in classrooms for students to hurl at possible intruders as a last resort defense.

In a letter Friday, W.F. Burns Middle School Principal Priscella Holley asked parents to have each student bring an 8-ounce canned item.

‘We realize at first this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off guard,’ she wrote in the letter, published by TV station WHNT in Huntsville.

‘The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive,’ Holley wrote. ‘The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters their classroom.’

Modern School Killer Repellent
credit: http://www.drpulse.com

The idea was teachers would store the cans in their classrooms, so when an armed maniac–or maniacs–attacked, the teacher would line children up and issue canned veggies, which the children, who would be just vibrating with “a sense of empowerment to protect themselves” would use to immediately feel secure when the killer entered their classroom. I was not, as you might imagine, gentle readers, impressed:

I can see it now: an armed madman, or better yet, armed terrorists are breaking down a classroom door, so Mrs. Politically Correct organizes the second graders in two ranks, like 19th century British troops, and hands out their canned hand grenades, so when the killers smash through the door and start shooting, the kids can, on command, provide a devastating barrage of canned peas and corn that will also serve to absorb and deflect bullets.

I’ve seen various videos produced by people selling this scenario. It’s just heart warming. Little kids toss a few things at an armed bad guy, which immediately forces him to stop shooting them–usually, they never get a chance to fire a shot–and the little kiddies rush the bad guy, who almost immediately falls to the floor, where the teacher leaps on them and holds them for the police as the kids pile on.

In a real attack, these pathetic ‘tactics’ would result only in a floor knee deep in the blood of children.

There is, however, some comfort, or at least continuity, in realizing progressives, no matter how many times their incredibly stupid ideas fail, never learn, as The Washington Times reports:

A Pennsylvania school district is arming classrooms with buckets of rocks as a last-ditch defense against mass shooters.

David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County, told ABC News on Friday that every elementary, middle and high school classroom in the district is stocked with a 5-gallon bucket full of river stones for students and teachers to pelt an armed intruder.

‘We’ve been trying to be proactive just in case,”’ Mr. Helsel said. ‘How can you aim a gun if you’re being pelted with rocks?

The article goes on to talk about how the district is employing a more or less standard “school safety” program. All of which consist of running, hiding and locking doors. While waiting to be murdered, someone is also supposed to call people with guns–the police–who will hopefully arrive before too many children and teachers are slaughtered. One should, however, give Helsel at least a little credit. He’s going a step beyond the feckless program for which his school district is probably paying thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. After all, who could possibly have thought of running, hiding and locking doors without high priced consultants to fill in those cognitive gaps? It’s not like teachers are college educated or something.

To be scrupulously fair to people that don’t deserve it, at least some of those expensive programs recommend, as an absolute last resort, throwing things at an armed, homicidal attacker, rushing him–or them–en masse, and holding them for police. I can just see a class of first graders rushing into gunfire… on second thought, I’d rather not. It’s too depressing.

I also hope the Washington Times article is an Onion parody, but it appears to be the real thing, which considering contemporary educational “thinking,” is, tragically, not surprising.

A bucket of rocks, and not just any rocks, “river stones.” These are nice and smooth, so perhaps the preferred tactic is to skip the stones at a shooter, or maybe they don’t want to use stones with sharp edges, so as not to hurt the shooter too badly?

I’ve often written about such things, but anti liberty/gun forces never give up, so those that live in the real world, who recognize the Constitution and the rule of law are what separate us from Venezuela, North Korea, China Russia and Iran, must not give up either. Therefore, I present a brief, school tactical primer.

Guns are used in contemporary warfare because they provide an enormous advantage over close quarter weapons like spears, swords, and various striking weapons, yes, and rocks. To be sure, such weapons can be effective, and in ages past, tens of thousands died on battlefields, victims of such weapons, in a single day. But distance weapons, even the bow, rendered close quarters weapons all but obsolete, though it took time. After the introduction of practical firearms, the British kept the longbow for decades, because firearms were too inaccurate and slow to reload. The longbow still had a significant advantage in accuracy over distance, and rate of fire, until firearm technology sufficiently improved.

Today, even a handgun is more effective than any close quarters weapon as long as the shooter can maintain sufficient distance, which is what people like Helsel do not understand, or refuse to acknowledge: time and distance. I am, for example, reasonably skilled with the sword, but unless I can close the distance between a firearm-wielding attacker, that skill is useless. I can throw a sword or knife at him in an attempt to close the distance gap, but he can still shoot me before my weapon reaches him, or simply step out of the way of my projectile, which is far slower than his. Mine can be tracked with the naked eye; his can’t. The greater the distance between us the more time he has to shoot or dodge, and the less likely my tactic will succeed, and I’ve thrown away my weapon. I can follow my throw with a charge, but again, timing and distance matter, and he has the opportunity to shoot me until I can get my hands on the gun and disarm him, which I have trained for years to do. However, my training also taught me to expect to absorb several bullets in the process.

One suspects Mr. Helsel and his teachers and staff members have not received such training, and do not understand the issues of time and distance. Let us consider a few representative scenarios, all taking place in Mrs. Smith’s 5th grade classroom. Her children are a bit older and larger than many elementary aged students, and Mrs. Smith’s trusty bucket of river rocks rests on a shelf behind her desk at the wall opposite the classroom door. Presumably this bucket of rocks makes Mrs. Smith and her students feel empowered and safe.

Scenario #1: A single male shooter with a handgun opens the classroom door and begins shooting. Half the class is dying or dead before Mrs. Smith can reach the bucket. As the shooter is reloading, which takes only three seconds, she has time only to retrieve a few nice, smooth river rocks and cock her arm to throw one at the shooter, whose eye, attracted by her motion, shoots her. It takes him only fifteen additional seconds to shoot everyone else in the room.  At least they died feeling empowered and safe.

Scenario #2: Mrs. Smith has heard the shooting in other rooms and has locked her classroom door, armed her students, who are scared to death. Despite the empowerment of their river rocks, many are sobbing hysterically. She gathers them together in a corner of the room, out of sight of the window in the door. The shooter shoots out the glass in the door, reaches in and unlocks it. As he enters, Mrs. Smith throws her rock, but misses, and a few of the braver students prepare to throw, but the gunfire has already begun. Because the students are closely clustered, single bullets often hit multiple students. Three fourths of the students, and Mrs. Smith, are injured or killed, and only eight rocks are thrown, only three of which actually struck the shooter, who did not appear to be bothered.   At least they died feeling empowered and safe.

Scenario #3 (The Rourke’s Drift Scenario): Mrs. Smith has been busy and drawing on British infantry tactics of the late 1800s, has drilled the students in volley fire. When the shooter shoots his way into the room, the class has had adequate time to receive their ammunition and to muster. The shooter is facing five ranks of 5th graders, all equipped with multiple rocks. They are prepared, upon Mrs. Smith’s command, to throw rocks in individual volleys. As one rank fires, they kneel down and the rest advance a step past them, fire, and so on, so as to keep up a constant rain of deadly river rocks, which as everyone knows, are what school shooters fear more than anything. Unfortunately, since the school district has publicized their rock armament, the shooter is wearing a motorcycle helmet with a face shield, and three fourths of the students are shot, injured or killed because most froze, helpless.  Others cut and ran–but could run only a few feet.  Some wet themselves, and most couldn’t hit the shooter while watching their classmates being slaughtered. Mrs. Smith, behind the students directing their fire, was not hit. She will wish she had been.   At least they died feeling empowered and safe.

Classrooms are small, cramped places. A shooter need not have real marksmanship skills to hit multiple children. Even if distracted by accurate rock throwing, he need not finely aim, and many kids will be injured or killed.

I trust, gentle reader, you get the point, even as Mr. Helsel may not? Time and distance render the rock scheme, and any like it, a sick joke. Some might suggest the rock idea is better than nothing, but in most cases, it is nothing. The worst part of this debacle is by thinking as he obviously does, Mr. Helsel is refusing to implement the only effective means of saving lives when a school attack happens: allowing willing teachers and staff to carry concealed handguns. Only that equalizes the time and distance equation. Only that, well publicized, can actually deter school attacks.  Advertising rock armament only encourage shooters to shoot faster and/or wear protective gear.

Even if Mr. Helsel could count on every student under attack to be brave, steadfast, and deadly accurate with their rocks, to continue throwing even as they and their classmates were splashed with the blood and flesh of the injured and killed–something that can’t be guaranteed with adults–a great many would still be casualties. All a shooter need do is kill a few here and there, leaving each room or area as the river rock assault became more effective. Of course, it would never be effective, and by thinking this a good idea, Mr. Helsel, and every “educator” like him, is tacitly accepting some number of wounded and dead before the police can arrive and cause a shooter to flee, kill them self, or die under police gunfire–which virtually never happens.

Were I Mr. Helsel, I would not want to face the parents of dead children, who would presumably want to know what the hell he could have been thinking.

UPDATE, 03-26-18 1700 CST: Fox News reports the Blue Mountain School District has been moved to at least temporary rationality by public exposure of its conspicuous public idiocy: it’s adding temporary armed security to its schools:

Blue Mountain School District Superintendent David Helsel made the announcement Sunday night in a statement on the district’s website. The district currently has one maintenance worker who’s trained and armed, according to previous reports.

Helsel says the influx of attention came from ‘social media posts that took comments out of context and misrepresented our actual planned responses to armed intruders (particularly with the planned use of stones).’

He added: ‘This unfortunate circumstance has increased our concern regarding the possibility that something may happen because of the media attention.

Notice, gentle readers, Helsel us blaming this scruffy little blog, among other sources, for daring to tell the truth about his plans. I’d be interested to learn how explaining that teachers were issued buckets of river rocks to throw at shooters was taking “comments out of context.” It’s all my fault Helsel was embarrassed into actually doing something that has at least a chance of stopping a school shooter. And sorry Superintendent Helsel, any heightened risk of attacks came from your plan to expose children to resisting bullets with rocks, and your publicizing of it, not carefully considered public criticism of the same.

Helsel told Fox News he was surprised he made headlines after testifying to lawmakers at the state capitol about why the school put 5-gallon buckets of river stones in each classroom. The superintendent said the stoning strategy is a ‘last resort.

“A last resort.” Yes, when every other facet of his expensive and entirely ineffective plan failed. What kind of adult plans to reduce teachers and children to rock throwing in a desperate attempt to preserve their lives? Who thinks that a responsible, effective thing to do?

He called the necessity of the rock contingency a ‘sad commentary on our current situation in our nation.

Helsel may be right about that, but the sadder commentary is Helsel is representative of contemporary Educational leadership.