February 14, 2009

We cannot prevent, only defend

CNN-SIU, Do you think you could spot a killer?
CNN Crime - Secret Files Reveal NIU Killer's Past

I spent a year in Denver when I was young. I knew people in Littleton and even lived there for awhile. I cannot count the number of times I drove past Columbine High School. When the 1999 Columbine Shooting made the news here in Tokyo, I was horrified. Eight years later Virginia Tech was visited by a fan of the Columbine shooters. Not even a year after Virginia Tech, Steven Kazmierczak took out his rage on students at Northern Illinois University.

Starting in 1966 (perhaps earlier but I don't have access to earlier records online), there have been more than two dozen school shootings around the world. From a single casualty to almost 400 dead, each of these events is a revolting tragedy. There is almost certain to be another one this year, and maybe more. It seems flagrantly obvious to me that putting fancy signs around a school perimeter is not stopping the killers. It is not even slowing them down. Of those two dozen plus attacks linked above, not a single one has been stopped through interventions by campus security teams. The few that have ended in a police shooting or an arrest have only ended after many innocent lives had been lost. In every case but one, outside intervention only happened once the shooter had run out of ammunition.

This is reality. It is not speculation, nor logic, nor statistic analysis. It is a simple fact. Gun-free zones and armed campus security have had no effect on the rapidly escalating pace of mass killings on school campuses. If anything, every effort made to date has helped the killers isolate and exterminate their victims with no resistence and no intervention.

The fact is, gun control is not working. How on earth can anyone imagine that further encroachment on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding adults would be any more effective than the reams of worthless laws that have already been passed. If too much penicillin is killing the patient then giving them a larger dose is not the answer.

No, anticipation and pre-arrest such as seen in the movie Minority Report will not work either. The Safe Schools Initiative has this to say (page 30):
Many attackers felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others prior to the attack.
Almost three-quarters of the attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked
or injured by others prior to the incident (71percent, n=29).21
In several cases, individual attackers had experienced bullying and harassment that
was long-standing and severe.

I doubt anyone remembers, but in the aftermath of Virginia Tech two years ago I pointed out that social marginalization is the major contributing factor in the creation of monsters who walk through schools shooting down students. I doubt we can ever achieve a utopian society where no one is marginalized. No, I'll take that a step further. Let me assert here and now that it is completely impossible for any human society to create perfect integration of all members. It ain't nevah gonna happen.

We can't prevent massacres in our schools. We cannot stop creating the monsters and once they decide to kill, we cannot prevent them from making the attempt. Therefore, the only realistic solution to minimizing the destruction these people bring about is to allow students to learn how to defend themselves and then arm them appropriately.

We must teach our children that the world is dangerous place where men and women with ill intent roam the streets and byways in search of victims. We cannot stop creating the predators, therefore, we must provide the potential victims (namely, all the rest of us) with the confidence and skills they need to survive these encounters.

I can see no other realistic option.