shooting at yet another school has a better outcome than most in recent
memory. No one died at Cleveland’s Success Tech Academy except the
perpetrator. The two students and two teachers he shot are in stable
condition at Cleveland hospitals.
What is depressingly similar
to the mass murders at Virginia Tech and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania and
too many others was the killer’s choice of venue — that steadfastly
gun-free zone, the school campus. Although murderer Seung-Hui Cho at
Virginia Tech and Asa Coon, the Cleveland shooter were both students
reported to have school-related grudges, other school killers have
proved to be simply taking advantage of the lack of effective security
at schools. The Bailey, Colorado multiple rapes and murder of September
2006, the Nickel Mines massacre of October 2006, and Buford Furrow’s
murderous August 1999 invasion of a Los Angeles Jewish day-care center
were all committed by adults. They had no connection to the schools
other than being drawn to the soft target a school offers such
This latest shooting comes only a few weeks after the American Medical Association released a theme issue of its journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.
This issue is dedicated to analyzing the April 2007 Virginia Tech
shootings, in which 32 people were murdered. The authors are university
officials, trauma surgeons, and legal analysts who pore over the
details of the incident, looking for “warning signs” and “risk factors”
for violence. They rehash all the tired rhetoric of bureaucrats and
public-health wonks, including the public-health mantra of the 1990s
that guns are the root cause of violence.
Sheldon Greenberg, a dean at Johns Hopkins, offers this gem: “Reinforce a ‘no weapons’ policy and, when violated, enforce it quickly, to include expulsion. Parents should be made aware of the policy. Officials should dispel the politically driven notion that armed students could eliminate an active shooter”
(emphasis added). Greenberg apparently isn’t aware that at the
Appalachian School of Law in 2002 another homicidal Virginia student
was stopped from shooting more of his classmates when another student
held him at gunpoint. The Pearl High School murderer Luke Woodham was
stopped cold when vice principal Joel Myrick got his Colt .45 handgun
out of his truck and pointed it at the young killer.
Virginia Tech’s 2005 no-guns-on-campus policy
was an abject failure at deterring Cho Seung-Hui. Greenberg’s audacity
in ignoring the obvious is typical of arrogant school officials. What
the AMA journal authors studiously avoid are on one hand the repeated
failures of such feel-good steps as no-gun policies, and on the other
hand the demonstrated success of armed first responders. These
responders would be the students themselves, such as the trained and
licensed law student, or their similarly qualified teachers.
Cleveland this week and at Virginia Tech the shooters took time to walk
the halls, searching out victims in several rooms, and then shooting
them. Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro describes the
locations of the dead in Virginia Tech’s Norris Hall. Dead victims were
found in groups ranging from 1 to 13, scattered throughout 4 rooms and
a stairwell. If any one of the victims had, like the Appalachian School
of Law student, used armed force to stop Cho, lives could have been
The people of Virginia actually had a chance to implement
such a plan last year. House Bill 1572 was introduced in the
legislature to extend the state’s concealed-carry provisions to college
campuses. But the bill died in committee, opposed by the usual
naysayers, including the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and
the university itself. Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was quoted
in the Roanoke Times
as saying, “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the
General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students,
faculty, and visitors feel safe on our campus.”
encouraging that college students themselves have a much better grasp
on reality than their politically correct elders. During the week of
October 22-26 Students For Concealed Carry On Campus will stage a nationwide “empty holster” demonstration (peaceful, of course) in support of their cause.
officials typically base violence-prevention policies on irrational
fears more than real-world analysis of what works. But which is more
horrible, the massacre that timid bureaucrats fear might happen when a
few good guys (and gals) carry guns on campus, or the one that actually
did happen despite Virginia Tech’s progressive violence-prevention
policy? Can there really be any more debate?
AMA journal editor James J. James, M.D. offers up this nostrum:
We must meaningfully embrace all of the varied disciplines contributing to preparedness and response and be more willing to be guided and informed by the full spectrum of research methodologies, including not only the rigid application of the traditional scientific method and epidemiological and social science applications but also the incorporation of observational/empirical findings, as necessary, in the absence of more objective data.
I prefer the remedy prescribed by self-defense guru
Massad Ayoob. When good people find themselves in what he calls “the
dark place,” confronted by the imminent terror of a gun-wielding
homicidal maniac, the picture becomes clear. Policies won’t help.
Another federal gun law won’t help. The only solution is a prepared and
brave defender with the proper lifesaving tool — a gun.
— Timothy Wheeler, M.D. is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Claremont Institute.
Sat, June 28, 2008
by Timothy Wheeler