Preparing for That Once-in-Twelve-Millenia Tragedy

The Virginia Tech massacre has predictably inspired a new wave of hysteria and legislation surrounding school shootings. Here, for example, local police lecture a school in Columbia, Missouri on what to do should someone open fire in the class room.

"We're going to try to educate everybody, teachers and administrators to think outside the box just a little bit," said Robbins, a member of Boone County's Swat Team. "And that is if the violence is at your door and you have a window to get out of, then get out the window."

"If the violence is bypassing you because they don't know you're there because you're huddling and being quiet, then huddle and be quiet."

Officers say the training is also applicable in other public areas where a similar situation could take place.

Try to get away. And if you can't get away, hide! That's some real outside-the-box thinking.

These sorts of programs are useless, accomplishing little more than spreading fear, as well as the misperception that school shootings are anything but exceedingly rare.

A few weeks ago, I got to hear the University of Virginia's Dewey Cornell, generally considered the leading expert on school shootings, give a presentation at a crime summit on Capitol Hill. Cornell estimates that the average middle school, high school, or college can expect an on-campus homicide about once every 12,000 years. Of course, no one wants to hear statistics like these when a school shooting hits the headlines.

One other thing, I've found in researching SWAT teams that the possibility of school shootings are often cited when local police departments ask local governments for funding to form a SWAT team. This is disingenuous for a couple of reasons. One, because of the statistics cited above. And two, because when the rare school shooting does happen, it's generally over before a SWAT could have scrambled to the scene, anyway.

Of course, once the SWAT team is in place, it's then overwhelmingly used to serve drug warrants.

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  • Tuff Guy in teh Internetz||

    "Try to get away. And if you can't get away, hide! That's some real outside-the-box thinking."

    NO WAY. YOU GET INTO YOUR UFC KARATE STANCE AND DRAW YOUR 88 MAGNUM AND BLAST THE FUCKERS. BOOM BOOM. CARRIED BY TWELVE. HUMPED BY SIX. ARGH! BLARGH. GURGLEGURGLE.

  • ||

    I guess they need to stop having fire drills too, then. "Walk out the door, don't panic" - that's some real out of the box thinking there.

    And when was the last time you heard of a school full of kids catching on fire, anyway?

  • ||

    Bluff. Tell the shooter that you used to rip intestines out through noses during your Special Forces' days in Afghanistan, and you'd really prefer not to do it again.

  • I Say Old Man||

    The Management wish to excuse Mr. Libertate from further discussion. He is still traumatized about the kitten he received as a post pubescent adult. The kitten ripped its own intestines out and tried crawling down its own colon in a last ditch effort to escape.

    We apologise for this inconvenience and mind the gap.

  • Abdul||

    Here's some advice for a school shooting victim: you're safe now for another 12,000 years!

  • ||

    But my school has never had a shooting! Oh shit, we're due!

  • robc||

    joe,

    Without looking anything up first, Im willing to be any amount up to $100 that in the last year there were more schools evacuated due to a real fire (not a false alarm) than schools that had school shootings.

  • ||

    highnumber,

    You'd better stop VM, or I'll institute Sarek Thursday at Urkobold. I'm not bluffing! All Sarek, all of the time!

  • robc||

    joe,

    And when was the last time you heard of a school full of kids catching on fire, anyway?

    Monday. Okay, there were only 90 kids there, being summer school and all, but thats the most recent one google news brought back. There were 2 others at night that were more recent.

    Apparently schools are constantly catching on fire.

  • ||

    Sarek!

  • ||

    Yeah, schools have chem labs and home ec classes, so fire drills are perfectly appropriate. However, schools also have disaffected teenager who are mocked and humiliated by their peers, so maybe school shooting drills are in order as well.

  • Dave W.||

    somebody ought to do a similar analysis about how long a po-po would need to work on avg before s/he could expect to be murdered (as distinct from felony-murdered) in the line of duty.

  • robc||

    On Sunday, 8 children were injured in an elementary school fire in the Phillipines.

  • robc||

    Last Thursday:

    500 kids evacuated from school on fire in the UK.

    Its an international conspiracy!!!

  • Urkobold@trade;||

    SCHOOLS IN THE URKOBOLD'S POSH NEIGHBORHOOD HAVE GLOBAL WARMING DRILLS.

    WELL, YOU NEVER KNOW.

  • Urkobold™||

    WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS KEYBOARD? VIKING MINION, GET OVER HERE AND FIX THIS THING.

  • ||

    Our local paper has the story of a school fire alarm sounding for a continuous 29 hours. Neighbors complained about the sound to the authorities, but it being summer and school out, it took that long to find a way to turn the claxon off. I surprised no one shot up the school to try to stop the alarm!

  • ed||

    Duck and cover.
    The classics never go out of style.

  • ||

    OK, so school fires in the United States are roughly 10X as likely as school school shootings, which means the avearge school will have a fire once every 1200 years.

    Let's compare deaths, shall we?

  • Episiarch||

    The idea of a cop "thinking outside the box" is hilarious. And he goes on to demonstrate why it is hilarious.

  • LibertyPlease||

    "The idea of a cop "thinking outside the box" is hilarious. And he goes on to demonstrate why it is hilarious."

    That's hilarious

  • ||

    Sorry Joe,

    During the four-year period of 1999-2002, an estimated average of 7,070 structure fires in educational
    properties were reported per year. These fires caused an annual average of 113 civilian fire injuries, and
    $112 million in direct property damage. Civilian deaths in these properties averaged less than one per
    year during this time.
    National Fire Protection Assn.

    1958, Lady of Angels school fire in Chicago killed 95. This prompted code changes including the addition of sprinklers in new facilities which has made fatalities pretty rare, however the potential remains for large-life loss events, particularly in older structures, so drills are still a good idea.

  • ||

    Eh. You can't train people who don't care how to respond to a violent person. A fire follows rules that make certain activities always useful. The point of fire drills is to have A way out of the building in your head. That's all you get.

    This is a waste of money in the name of making people feel better. I'm reminded of feel good self defence classes that pop up suddenly after these things occur (okay, now stomp on his foot and scream "NO!"). Not to mention that police know next to nothing about what a non officer should do during the act. Officers never train in how to hide or where to go. They are just lending their badges as symbols of authority to a feel good measure.

    Not the worst thing that has ever happened, but I get annoyed when people act as though if only there were more government education like this, we'd be better off.

  • Officer Barbrady||

    And two, because when the rare school shooting does happen, it's generally over before a SWAT could have scrambled to the scene, anyway.

    Right. And, it gives the regular police pussies who get there first while there still might be a chance to do something an excuse to sit on their fat asses while they wait for the SWAT team cowards to finish raiding a poker party.

    "Hey, when I signed up for this job I thought I'd be going after dope smoking hippies, nineteen year-old college kids trying to buy beer and some guy in a BMW doing 50 in a 35. These guys have real guns and they're using them! Fuck that, I'm not messing with them. Hey, is that a cherry-filled? I'll trade you my last powdered for it."

  • ||

    Sorry about what?

    Civilian deaths in these properties averaged less than one per
    year during this time.


    OK. Littleton was 12. That's a higher average annual death toll from school shootings than school fires, from that one event, all by itself.

    The point of fire drills is to have A way out of the building in your head. That's all you get.

    Actually, the point of fire drills, like most emergency exercises, is to make the appropriate behavior in the emergency second-nature to the endangered people, so they will know what to do and not panic.

  • ||

    And when was the last time you heard of a school full of kids catching on fire, anyway?



    Great White played my prom...

  • Koko the Signing Gorilla||

    Fine have food lips lipstick hurry.

  • ||

    "Actually, the point of fire drills, like most emergency exercises, is to make the appropriate behavior in the emergency second-nature to the endangered people, so they will know what to do and not panic."

    Which you can do with something like, "take the stairs, leave the building", but not like "hide under desk, listen for feet, tiptoe across hall but move quickly enough not to stay exposed for too long, move from cover to cover, blah blah blah, and get to safety."

  • ||

    This reminds me of a bomb-threat checklist I reviewed for a former employer. It had all sorts of things about how to look for the explosive, who to call, what not to touch, etc., but it left out one key instruction: Get the heck out of the building.

  • Lincoln||

    Great White played my prom...

    So you set yourself on fire?

  • dhex||

    "but it left out one key instruction: Get the heck out of the building."

    classic workplace safety.

  • ||

    Actually, the point of fire drills, like most emergency exercises, is to make the appropriate behavior in the emergency second-nature to the endangered people, so they will know what to do and not panic.



    Except that the appropriate behavior for a school shooting, self-defense, is either illegal or so extremly taboo that they are never going to teach the appropriate behavior.

    I mean, teaching students how to get on their knees and beg for their life, or huddle helplessly in the corner, doesn't seem that useful... and I am sure having the kids practice jumping out of the window would kill more students than school shootings themselves.

    In theory, I am not against school shooting drills any more than fire drills, but what exactly are you going to teach kids. These school drills are "duck and cover" fearmongering, not anything useful.

    You would probably save more lives spending the resources teaching kids CPR, or spending the resources warning them about drunk driving, than spending it on school shooting drills. There was never a school shooting when I was going to school, but a couple kids WHERE saved by a faculty member or student who knew CPR, and a couple of kids did get drunk and kill themselves in a car.

  • ||

    Rex,

    Do you recommend that the fourth graders attend school with firearms on their persons, or that they charge school shooters with their bare hands?

  • VM||

    like the bloom county nuqular safety drill.

    Oh mighty URKOBOLD - take off thy LONEWACKJOB gloves when typing. It helPsmItigAte spelung fromMeletaryLoierTypes

  • ||

    Ok...so in a fire, we train people to walk out calmly and don't panic. How about me, having been to firefighting school, would it be better for me to walk away from the problem or solve it before it got a lot worse? Lets assume I had a way to get the hose out of the wall, and the mechanics of turning it on, etc, were covered, so it came down to me using my training and equipment or not?

    I would think so, you could try, at least. Same situation with a permit holder firing back. I don't know, makes too much sense to me.

    BTW, I did go to firefighting school many years ago compliments of the Navy, and I'm also pretty well trained with a firearm, so it's not so hypothetical as you might think.

  • ||

    We should train kids who are mocked and humiliated to only shoot the people who mocked and humiliated them.

    I should be a social worker, as opposed to the so-so worker I am.

  • ||

    Do you recommend that the fourth graders attend school with firearms on their persons, or that they charge school shooters with their bare hands?

    Head-butt to the nuts is the typical self-defense tactic taught to 4th graders. It doesn't handle female terrorists, but hey, we train based on the odds, right?

  • ||

    Other Matt,

    This drill and instructions are being given to children attending school during school hours. I really don't think that they are going to have either the training or equipment to out-shoot an armed attacker.

  • Jennifer||

    Cops can't think outside the box. Cops are the box.

    You can't really compare school fires with school shootings unless Congress first passes a law making it illegal for people in burning buildings to have on hand an effective tool for dousing the flames, because schools are officially designated "fire free zones."

  • ||

    Do you recommend that the fourth graders attend school with firearms on their persons, or that they charge school shooters with their bare hands?



    You are trying to be snarky, but teaching fourth graders about firearms, or to charge school shooters with their bare hands, are pretty much the only thing you are going to teach them that would be any use. If that suggestion seems ridiculous, then maybe the whole idea of school-shooting drills are ridiculous.

    You want your cake and eat it too! You want to train kids for ridiculous John Carpenter B movie scenarios, that are less likely to kill them than a meteor strike... but you want us to address this irrational fearmonger threat in what you percieve to be a rational manner.

    It is like you argueing that we should teach kids how to deal with Godzilla attacks, but balking when I suggest we teach them how to pilot MechaGodzillas Robots. If you didn't take us into the realm of insanity by suggesting that crazed gunmen are reasonable thing to teach kids how to deal with, then you wouldn't get an answer such as teaching kids to attack gunmen with their bare hands.

    I much rather see kids learn CPR, or learn the dangers of drunk driving than whatever paranoid, than waste the money on ridiculous things like school shooting drills. But if YOU insist on school shooting drills, fine... Lets actually teach the kids something more useful than to grovel before they die. Lets train kids in SWAT tactics and counterterrorism, so that they can deal with school shootings in a useful manner.

  • Sal Paradise||

    Bah. We need to teach them how to call Gamera. He is the friend of all children.

  • ||

    "Let's compare deaths, shall we?"

    You go first, Commander Quibble.

  • ||

    Rex,

    Doesn't the fact that you need to misstake the facts in order for your point to look reasonable suggest anything to you?

    What "grovelling?" What "begging?"

  • ||

    D'oh! Stupid joke name.

  • ||

    P Brooks,

    Sorry, I was already beater to the punch.

    The sum total of all deaths from school fires in the past decade is less than the death total from Columbine High, and less than a third of that from Virginia Tech.

    While we're estimating probabilities.

  • ||

    "You would probably save more lives spending the resources teaching kids CPR, or spending the resources warning them about drunk driving, than spending it on school shooting drills. There was never a school shooting when I was going to school, but a couple kids WHERE saved by a faculty member or student who knew CPR, and a couple of kids did get drunk and kill themselves in a car."

    Mr Rhino, please step to the center of the ring and raise your hands over your head. [da winnah!]

  • ||

    This drill and instructions are being given to children attending school during school hours. I really don't think that they are going to have either the training or equipment to out-shoot an armed attacker.

    But perhaps the teachers would. Obviously small kids are one thing, college age kids (all legal adults, or most all with a few statistical outliers) are something else entirely.

    I guess my beef is with the "let the professionals handle it..." mentality. We are treated like errant children for the most part. Or, perhaps it's just being oversensitive having just come out of DC for most of the day heading back into MD.

  • ||

    I can appreciate that sentiment, Other Matt.

    But these actually are children. It's ok to treat them children.

  • ||

    D'oh!

  • ||

    Rule 1 - Check your handle
    Rule 2 - Close your tags
    Rule 3 - Preview

  • Urkobold™||

    EXCELLENT, JOE. THE URKOBOLD WAS WORRIED THAT HE'D HAVE TROUBLE THINKING UP ANOTHER BOOK IDEA. YOU ARE SINGLE-HANDEDLY PUTTING THE URKOBOLD'S MINIONS THROUGH COLLEGE.

  • ||

    Doesn't the fact that you need to misstake the facts in order for your point to look reasonable suggest anything to you?

    What "grovelling?" What "begging?"



    Oh, I am sorry joe, "huddling and being quiet" as the article says... groveling and begging would be way too pro-active for you!

    You have failed to demonstrate how teaching kids to be passive victims would help them in the extremly unlikely event of a school shooting. Like I said, if we are going to indulge in preparing for your irrational fantasies, then lets actually prepare. If we are going to teach kids how to stand around and do nothing while someone shoots at them, why even bother?

    My only guess is that you realize that the only gunmen kids are going to see is a police officer searching for drugs... teaching kids to defend themselves could be used as a weapon against the benevolent police state that you admire.

  • ||

    NO WAY. YOU GET INTO YOUR UFC KARATE STANCE AND DRAW YOUR 88 MAGNUM AND BLAST THE FUCKERS. BOOM BOOM. CARRIED BY TWELVE. HUMPED BY SIX. ARGH! BLARGH. GURGLEGURGLE.

    Wow, it's like listening to Neal Boortz in the days following Virginia Tech all over again.

  • ||

    Oh, I am sorry joe, "huddling and being quiet" as the article says... groveling and begging would be way too pro-active for you!

    Um, huddling and being quiet is what you do if there isn't any gunman there. You are deliberately misstating what the article says to make it appear that the drills are teaching people to be passive when they are attacked, just to give yourself something to flail at.

    The only one talking about people "being passive victims" is you. I guess arguing against what they actually recommend is too tough for you.

  • ||

    If an armed wacko storms a school and starts blowing people away, I don't think "run and/or hide" training is going to make much of a difference, especially if the school is full of little kids. There just isn't much untrained, unarmed people can do to protect themselves from crazies with guns. If this makes people feel better and they want it, fine, do it- but let's admit that it's being done to make people feel better.

    A fire drill makes a bit of sense- it's all run, as in "run the hell out of the building following this exact route and don't think too much about it." Sound advice and probably good that little kids be familiar with it.

  • ||

    I predict that the number of people who will criticize Rex for wanting to teach kids and teachers to use firearms, as a means of Preparing for That Once-in-Twelve-Millenia Tragedy will be zero.

  • ||

    The article was very short and the only training I saw being discussed was of the "run and/or hide" variety. I wouldn't call running or actively trying to hide exactly passive.

    Totally not passive, would, I suppose, be my H&K returning fire.

  • ||

    There are other good reasons for teaching kids to use firearms. Teachers, I'm not so sure. /wink

  • ||

    An armed student is an honors student.

  • Sal Paradise||

    My kid hunted your honor student for sport.

  • ||

    I predict that the number of people who will criticize Rex for wanting to teach kids and teachers to use firearms, as a means of Preparing for That Once-in-Twelve-Millenia Tragedy will be zero.



    If a teacher wants to jump through the training and bureaucratic hoops to get a concealed carry permit, then I see no reason to prohibit them from carrying at school.

    As to kids and guns, I think that a basic safety course in jr. high or high school along the same lines as drivers ed or sex ed isn't a bad idea.

  • ||

    I predict that the number of people who will criticize Rex for wanting to teach kids and teachers to use firearms, as a means of Preparing for That Once-in-Twelve-Millenia Tragedy will be zero.



    Because my suggestion takes in account the absurdity of it all. I realize that teaching kids to deal with crazed gunmen is absurd in itself... so if my solution to the problem is a bit absurd, then so be it. Welcome to crazy-world!

    You can say my idea is crazy, I *KNOW* it is crazy. I suggested kids learn CPR, you are the one who thinks training kids to deal with crazed gunmen is a good idea! But if we are going to take a trip down the road of maddness, lets do it right!

    Where as you, joe, are accepting this "duck and cover" syle BS with a straight face.

  • ||

    For all those who are claiming that using time and resources to teach children ineffective stragies against extremely unlikely events is a waste of government resources and classroom time, I would suggest that it is no more of a waste than 90% of the other things kids are taught in public schools.

  • LarryA||

    I predict that the number of people who will criticize Rex for wanting to teach kids and teachers to use firearms, as a means of Preparing for That Once-in-Twelve-Millenia Tragedy will be zero.

    1) At VA Tech the "Gun-Free-Zone" process worked just as it was designed. Thirty two innocent people were killed. If we keep using the same procedure, we should continue to expect the same results. Is that acceptable? If not, what should be changed?

    2) The chances of being caught in a school shooting are remote, as are the chances of being caught in workplace violence. The chances of random criminal attack are not so remote. I for one find it reasonable to carry a licensed concealed handgun just in case.

    In the last ten years I've never had to draw it. But I have been in three situations where I (and in one case people around me) were glad I was armed.

  • ||

    Don't worry Rex. I, for one, get the point you are trying to make.

  • ||

    "This is a waste of money in the name of making people feel better. I'm reminded of feel good self defence classes that pop up suddenly after these things occur (okay, now stomp on his foot and scream "NO!")"

    You're right, feel good training is a waste of money and promotes false confidence.

    However effective training does work and helps a person deescalate a situation in a way that is appropriate for the situation. And you don't necessarily need a gun to be effective against an armed assailant.

    Along Rex's line of thinking - i.e. actually doing something useful if you are going to bother preparing (read:scaring) for the unlikely shooting event - perhaps we could teach teachers effective self-defense training such as Model Mugging. Even if they get hurt going up against a gun or knife, they are likely to live and save a few lives in process. I know. It works. I've used it and so have lots of other people.

  • ||

    And one more thing...

    Whoever said we should focus on real threats such as obesity and drunk driving...that is spot on!

    Letting (making) your young child get obese is criminal. And injurious. And irresponsible. And, well you get the idea.

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