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A Forest Of Flaws Put Our Children At Risk, But A Sea Of Doubts Might Save Them

Lessons learned from the mass-murder that wasn't

Maryland police arrested a mass-murderer before he attacked a school. The murderer taught us a lot. He was ordinary as mass murderers go. What was unusual was that the police in Rockville, Maryland included excerpts from the want-to-be murderer’s manifesto. We’ve read similar stories from earlier murderers, but now we have their statements easily accessible for the public to see. If you read deeply, these statements also show us the difficult problems we need to face in order to protect our children at school and in public.

Most of us face and solve problems every day. We become at risk when we fail to solve the common problems that keep us safe and healthy. Today, we see our society face similar challenges from the problems we’ve ignored for too long.

Mass-murderers go through consistent stages. They first justify their actions. In this case, the murderer complained that his teachers were “evil” and classmates were “assholes” even as far back as elementary school. Mass-murderers routinely study other attacks and the news media’s reaction to them. The Maryland murderer wanted a record number of victims in order to get the publicity he craved. Mass-murderers expect to be killed during the attack or to take their own life immediately afterwards. In the recent case in Maryland, the murderer worried about spending his life in prison if he survived. These murderers plan their attacks for months or even years. They form detailed plans about which schools and which classrooms are the easiest to attack. They plan the detailed route to the school and the tools they will use. The recent want-to-be murderer in Maryland considered both firearms and bombs.

This phenomenon of committing mass-murder to achieve notoriety is so new that we had to form new language to describe it. This recent celebrity-murderer was stopped before he went to the school he once attended.

In the last few years, we’ve seen a new trend with young men and women who feel alienated from their bodies. They try to live as the other sex in order to reduce their anxiety. Some of them then lash out at society. That appears to be the case with the murderers who attacked schools in Isla Vista, California, in Uvalde, Texas, and in Nashville, Tennessee. That was also the case for this want-to-be murder in Rockville, Maryland. He was born a female and now describes himself as male.

That leaves us with a lot of problems for us to face. We’ve prevented our children from failing and learning hard lessons. Social media now relentlessly compares children to their classmates. We forget that adolescence is hard. The attention seeking news media consistently turns attention-seeking murderers into worldwide celebrities. Unfortunately, we as a society have additional problems to face if we want to protect our children in school.

We know how to protect our children and we’ve known it for decades. The celebrity-murderers told us how. The want-to-be murderer in Rockville told us again as did the murderer who attacked a school in Nashville. Like those who commit suicide, these celebrity-murderers are not afraid to die but they are deeply afraid of failure. That tells us a lot. We don’t need a perfect defense to protect our children, but any credible defense at a school or church plants a forest of doubts in the mind of the attacker. Those doubts have formed a perfect deterrent so far.

The good news is that mass-murders at our schools are extremely rare. They are also so horrific that we can’t ignore them. Over 30 states allow school staff to be armed on campus. Thousands of school boards have gone through the process of qualifying and trained volunteer school employees to defend their students. We have millions of classroom-days of experience with armed staff at school. The trained school defenders didn’t have an accident with a firearm and shoot someone. Fortunately, the news gets even better.

The best defense prevents the attack in the first place. Mass-murderers do not want to get into gunfight with bullets going both ways. They consistently choose to attack somewhere else rather than face an armed defender at school. We’ve never had an attack on a school campus that had a publicly announced program of armed school staff. Unfortunately, that solution frightens politicians even as it saves children.

Politicians live in a world where perception is reality. The politician can’t afford a bad headline that says he put children at risk. A headline that says he proposed “More Guns in Schools” could kill his career. The headlines do the damage even if the story describes the perfect safety record a dozen paragraphs later.

I have to notice how differently the media treats the same politician after they defunded the police and then asked for a larger personal security detail. We don’t see the headline claiming that “More Guns in City Hall” are bad. Why are armed defenders good for the politician but bad for our children?

Our politicians are afraid of provocative solutions to school safety. So are the news media. Politicians can only consider solutions that the media already accepts. That leaves the real solutions up to us. We have to lead the politicians and the journalists. It is up to us to study and be better informed than our politicians. We need to face our fears and be louder than the news media when we tell our elected officials what to do.


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Rob Morse

Rob Morse works and writes in Southwest Louisiana. He writes at Ammoland, at his Slowfacts blog, and here at Clash Daily. Rob co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast, and hosts the Self-Defense Gun Stories Podcast each week.