Murderers Running Amok in Schools

by Drew Beatty

Part 1 of 2

The horror known as the mass shooting (or spree killer, school shooter, or a whole host of other names) has unfortunately become a part of our modern culture.

Malls, movie theaters, churches, and in particular schools, offer soft targets for mentally and/or emotionally unbalanced or otherwise distraught people to exact their vengeance on the world. It is a sad fact of human existence that criminals evolve in their criminal behavior. The spree killer is an example of this.

The spree killing is not a new phenomenon. The term "amok" dates back hundreds of years, and was created to describe "an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects...." One account of this phenomenon dates back to the 1770 observation of Captain James Cook who wrote about individuals "...indiscriminately killing and maiming villagers and animals in a frenzied attack."

The earliest recorded mass murder at a school was in 1764 in Greencastle, PA. In 1927, a distraught school board member in Bath, MI wired a school with dynamite and killed 45 people, including 38 children. What has evolved is the technique, frequency and popularity — in light of a 21st century worldwide media reach — of spree killing. Our mass media culture and the potential fame it promises has its disadvantages.

The FBI defines the active shooter as, "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area." In looking at latter day mass killing incidents, some obvious patterns emerge. Nearly all of these shooters assumed they would not meet armed resistance, and chose a "soft target" location where they could wreak as much havoc and spill as much blood as possible before police arrived. They choose their targets for a reason: there is a large, defenseless, trapped cluster of human victims. They get to be the ultimate power. They get to slaughter at will.

It is often learned from surveying a mass killer's writings post-mortem that he seldom has a plan for getting shot at himself. Getting shot at prior to police showing up rarely hits his radar. The plan is for ultimate control over the chosen helpless victims, and then to kill himself when police arrive and the easy killing is finished. He deliberately chooses a group of helpless, unarmed victims who are in no position to fight back. 

Almost all mass shootings end when armed resistance arrives to confront the killer. Hardly any mass shooters are taken into custody and tried. It's a pattern we see repeated over and over.

But, what if someone shot back immediately? What if even the idea of someone having the ability to shoot back was advertised, demonstrating that these soft targets of opportunity were not so soft after all? What if, when the mass murderer came into the school filled with bloodlust, he was suddenly and immediately forced to defend himself instead of carry out his plan of ultimate power?

In part two of this post, we will look at programs across the country designed to combat the spree killer on school grounds, what they offer, and how these programs can be leveraged to deal with people who, for whatever reason, have chosen to run amok.

Drew Beatty is a 50 year old husband and father, and a lifetime resident of the great state of Colorado. He is an NRA Life-Member, and a long-time firearms enthusiast, as well as a strong advocate for The Second Amendment.