How to Reduce Mass Shooting Casualties and Gun Deaths!

The recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas are horrific events and should be a wakeup call for all the citizens of the United States to finally take a stand to prevent these tragedies in the future.  In the months and weeks ahead, you will hear a ton of opinions from the media and politicians proposing all sorts of solutions on how to prevent these tragedies. More guns, less guns, gun bans, universal background checks, armed officers, red flag laws, on-site metal detectors, mental health reform, etc., etc., etc. But the truth is, if we want to SAVE LIVES, we have to TRAIN our students, teachers and staff, and ALL AMERICANS, on how to be PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY prepared to respond.  We know this works because we see the results in the attempted mass shootings that were STOPPED by the potential victims.  These stories didn’t meet the Mass Media Narrative, so they never made the news, or they quickly disappeared from the headlines. If we truly want to be better prepared to respond, we need to focus not only on the events that had bad outcomes, but also on the ones that SAVED LIVES. Below are examples where the potential victims were an active participant in their own rescue.

  • August 1, 1966 – UT Tower Shooting – The first mass school shooting in history occurred when “ex-Marine Charles Whitman ascended the Texas Tower on the University of Texas campus in Austin, and rained death on the citizens below, using primarily a five-shot bolt-action deer rifle. His ultimate toll was 18 dead and 31 wounded. Half an hour into the roughly 90-minute ordeal, the slaughter ceased…because armed citizens on the ground with their own rifles returned fire and pinned the mass murderer down behind cover.” One of the officers on the scene, Ramiro Martinez, who climbed the tower and helped take down Whitman, exclaimed in his book “They Call Me Ranger Ray” that “it was the armed citizens on the ground who stopped the killing.”
  • December 11, 2012 – Clackamas Town Center Shooting – Just 3 days before the Sandy Hook Shooting, a 22-year-old assailant with an AR Style rifle attempts to shoot up a Food Court in the mall.  During that time, Nick Meli, a concealed carry permit holder, drew his Glock 22, and claimed to have taken aim at the shooter. Meli stated he did not fire because there were innocent bystanders in the way but that the shooter saw him and that this may have contributed to his decision to commit suicide. Two people were killed and 1 injured.
  • July 24, 2014 – Mercy Hospital Shooting – Dr. Lee Silverman, against company policy,  was carrying his firearm on him that day when a psychiatric patient opened fire.  A female case worker was killed and the doctor was shot, before Silverman returned fire from his own gun.  This was the first incident that I have seen where an employee was carrying against employee policy where they did not lose their job.
  • August 21, 2015 – Thalys Train Attack – a man opened fire on a Thalys train on its way from Amsterdam to Paris…. French, American and British passengers confronted the attacker and subdued him when his rifle jammed.  4 Injuries, no deaths.
  • September 24, 2017 – Antioch Church Shooting – A lone gunman opens fire in the parking lot before making his way into the church filled with about 50 church goers.  Upon entering the church, the gunman shot 6 more people before being rushed by a 22-year-old usher, Robert Engle.  “During the ensuing struggle, the shooter accidentally shot himself in the chest. Engle ran to his car to get his own gun and pointed it at the wounded Samson until police arrived to arrest him”.
  • May 25, 2018 – Noblesville Indiana School Shooting – Just 3 months after the Parkland, Florida shooting, a 13-year-old armed “with two handguns fired at two people: a thirteen-year-old student; Ella Whistler and the assailant’s science teacher”. The science teacher, who had ALICE Active Shooter Training threw a basketball at the assailant before wrestling him to the ground. The entire event was over before the School Resource Officer made it to the classroom. Two injuries and NO DEATHS.
  • April 30, 2019 – UNC Charlotte School Shooting – A lone gunman enters a classroom with about 60 students and immediately begins firing.  “Student Riley Howell tackled him and knocked him to the floor while yelling “go, go, go!” to his classmates”. Howell was shot 3 times and succumbed to his injuries, but his “actions gave other students time to escape the room without injury” and “the gunman subsequently told police detectives that Howell’s tackling him had caused him to stop firing.”
  • May 7, 2019 – STEM School Highlands Ranch Shooting – “two perpetrators went into the school carrying handguns and other weapons hidden in guitar cases. The school proceeded to announce a lockdown”. One shooter “pulled out a gun and yelled, nobody move”. “Kendrick Ray Castillo jumped on him and was fatally shot in the chest before the shooter was disarmed by two other students”.  The second shooter “targeted the middle school section and wounded four students before being tackled by an armed security guard”.
  • December 29, 2019 – West Freeway Church of Christ Shooting –  “The perpetrator shot and killed two members of the church before he was fatally shot by Jack Wilson, the head of the church’s armed security department], ending the attack within six seconds.”
  • May 15, 2022 – Laguna Woods Church Shooting – A lone gunman attended the church and the following luncheon.  Then he attempted to lock the doors and began shooting.  A church goer, Dr. Cheng, rushed the shooter and was shot.  This allowed others to rush the shooter and subdue and hog tie him with an electrical cord.  Dr. Cheng succumb to his injuries. 
  • May 25, 2022 – Charleston WV Graduation Shooting – “Charleston Police say that a woman’s actions on Wednesday night may have prevented a mass casualty event. According to CPD around 10:45 on Wednesday night officers arrived outside of the Renaissance Circle apartment complex for a report of a shooting. When police got there, they found the victim, 37-year-old Dennis Butler of Charleston, with multiple gunshot wounds. Butler later died. Butler was approached about speeding in the apartment complex while children were playing. Police say Butler then left the complex and returned a short time later when he parked his vehicle in front of the apartment, pulled out an AR-15 style rifle and started firing at people attending a party. Police say a bystander attending the party quickly pulled out her pistol and fired at Butler, fatally injuring him.”

These are just a handful of events you have probably never heard about. But for every mass shooting that dominates the news cycle, there are dozens more where potential victims had the mental fortitude to respond. I know there are those that will say, if we go back and ban the so called “assault rifles” and “high-capacity magazines” that the numbers of injuries and deaths in events like Parkland, Buffalo, and Uvalde would be less, but that is not the case. According to the National Institute of Justice in their “Impacts of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban” they stated “the ban has failed to reduce the average number of victims per gun murder incident or multiple gunshot wound victims”. In fact, if you look at the 30 most deadly mass shootings going all the way back to 1949, there are just as many committed with handguns and shotguns (including Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, Washington Navy Yard, & Virginia Beach) as there are with semi-automatic rifles of any kind, much less AR rifles.

If you want more proof that you are being misled by the media consider the Santa Fe, Texas School Shooting. It was one of the 30 most deadly shootings in the country and occurred on May 18, 2018, just 3 months after the Parkland High School, and left 10 dead (the same number as Buffalo) and 13 injured.  It made a short blip on the news media cycle, but quickly fell off when they realized the shooter used a shotgun and a revolver.

When you compare them on whole, you will see there is huge disparity in the number of injuries and deaths.  These numbers are directly related to the response from the potential victims (escaping, evading, physically rushing the shooter), the time it takes for an armed individual to stop the threat, or BOTH. The cases where there are large death tolls is usually in areas where the victims were forced to lock down.  In the Sandy Hook school shooting, most of the victims were found in the bathroom where they “locked down”.  However, 6-Year-Old Jesse Lewis, had the courage to yell “RUN” when the gunman was reloading.  Six of his classmates lived because Jesse GAVE THEM PERMISSION to run.  Jesse was then shot and killed by the gunman after reloading.   The graph below includes deaths of school children by fire.  If you notice there hasn’t been a mass death by fire since 1958.  Why? Because during a fire we are no longer telling our kids to hide under a desk and wait to see if the fireman reaches you before the flames do!  

US school fires, grades K-12, with 10 or more deaths

  Date    Name    Location    Number of deaths  
03/18/1937Consolidated School, gas explosionNew London, TX294
03/04/1908Lakeview SchoolCollinwood, OH175
12/01/1958Our Lady of the Angels SchoolChicago, IL95
05/17/1923The Cleveland SchoolKershaw County, SC77
05/18/1927Bath Consolidated SchoolBath, MI46
12/24/1924Babbs Switch SchoolHobart, OK32
10/28/1915St. John’s Parochial SchoolPeabody, MA21
03/31/1954Cleveland Hill SchoolCheekowaga, NY15

Since the implementation of fire drills, the number of school related deaths by fire have been almost non-existent.  Instead, of just ‘locking down” we teach them what to do, where to go, and practice it often.

Greg Ellifritz is a retired Law Enforcement Training officer that has been studying Active Shooter Events for more than 25 Years.  He recently wrote an intensive article called “Analysis of the Uvalde Shooting and Implications for the Future”.   I HIGHYLY encourage everyone to read it.  In it he states

In a school, escape should be a priority during an active shooter event.  The thought of actively escaping when safe to do so is fundamentally different than the idea of barricading and hiding.  For the last 20 years, schools have practiced barricading and hiding.  Students are used to the idea and comfortable with the tactic after regular practice.  When that happens, getting them to flee the school becomes harder and harder.  Cops broke the glass in several classrooms to facilitate an escape.  Some students didn’t leave. The success of a barricade and lockdown response to an active killer is predicated by an aggressive police response that finds and neutralizes the attacker.  We now know that isn’t guaranteed.  Maybe we need to alter school responses to adjust to the reality of inept police officers’ inaction. Almost all schools now practice lockdown drills.  Few practice escape drills.  That’s not good.  Teachers should be given the authority to evaluate the situation and make “game-time” changes to the official school safety plan.

If we truly want to prevent school massacres like Uvalde, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Santa Fe Tx, etc. then we must.

  1. Harden the schools – This may not prevent the shooter from entering the school, but it can slow them down to allow time for officers to respond.
  2. Put a School Resource Officer on every campus.  – This gives immediate radio access to all area Law Enforcement instead of having to wait for someone to dial 911. Plus, a single SRO may be enough to stop the shooter alone.
  3. Give the staff, teachers and students the permission, the education and the training to evade, evacuate and fight back if necessary. – If options 1 and 2 fail, then the teachers and the student’s only options are to act in a way that best increases their chance for survival.

Finally, in response to President Biden’s June 2nd speech on Gun Control.   He said “we must do something” and proposed bans or limits on so called “assault rifles”, bans on “high capacity” magazines, red flag laws, etc., but almost everything he proposed in the speech has been proven by government studies that they would do little to nothing to stop gun deaths in the United States. If we really wanted to prevent gun deaths and mass shootings then here are some suggestions that can truly help.

1. Ensure local and state agencies UPDATE the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Universal background checks WON’T help if the data isn’t there.

2. Investigate, Interview and if necessary, prosecute prohibited persons who were DECLINED while trying to buy a firearm.

3. DO NOT release violent criminals on bail.

4. If a person is evaluated for MENTAL ILLNESS, make sure to hold them until YOU ENSURE the NICS system has been updated.

5. STOP wasting time and resources trying to pass “Gun Reform” legislation that GOVERNMENT STUDIES AND STATISTICS” have proven WON’T WORK!

6.STOP degrading our LEO’s and PAY our Law Enforcement Officers a living wage and STOP cutting their training. Double and triple their pay and their TRAINING so you can HIRE and RETAIN the best of the best. Currently most departments across the country are forced to lower standards just to fill quotas.

7. STOP listening to ill-informed law makers. Most Law makers have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what they are talking about. I’ve worked with the “Senior Advisor to 2A Issues” for our US Senator. The person was “very nice” but HAD NEVER FIRED A HANDGUN” before I worked with them. I asked them why a mid 20 inexperienced shooter was the primary resource for 2nd Amendment Issues, and they replied, because “the hours are long and the pay is bad, so anyone with actual experience won’t take the job”

8. Before you try and impose ANY NEW LAWS on LAW ABIDING AMERICANS, enforce the current laws on the books for LAW BREAKERS!