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DA candidates react to school mass shooting reports

RUSSELL FISH | 7/17/2018, 1:50 p.m.
With two school mass shootings within three months and another averted, Gov. Greg Abbot held public hearings and produced a ...
From left: Faith Johnson and John Creuzot File photos

Special to The Dallas Examiner

With two school mass shootings within three months and another averted, Gov. Greg Abbot held public hearings and produced a school shooting report, available on the Texas.gov website. The report didn’t review the history of previous shootings, but did issue a list of possible options. Suggested actions range from increasing counselors, to hardening school entrances, to arming teachers.

At almost the same time, a group of volunteers called The Open Records Project completed an analysis of most school mass shootings since the 1966 UT Tower Sniper, available on the Open Records website. The ORP report reviewed the history of previous shootings but didn’t offer a list of possible options.

Taken together these two reports may offer guidance to legislators and local school boards as they implement policies to save children’s lives.

The ORP report analyzed publicly available documents to identify patterns that might lead to mitigation or avoidance of future school mass shootings and from that information drew several conclusions.

• School mass shooting events are rare but extremely traumatic.

• Shooters can be deterred by extremely hardened campuses, such as in Detroit.

• A motivated individual is likely to get himself and weapons inside the school.

• A large percentage of shooters were confronted by unarmed males who then died.

• Arming these men might save lives.

• A small percentage of shooters resisted when confronted by armed resistance.

• A large percentage of shooters committed suicide.

• Normal law enforcement had negligible effect.

• Armed campus deputies had mixed effect.

• Technology had negligible effect.

• Improving security of parents’ weapons might save lives.

The report documented some already known facts. For example, the overwhelming majority of perpetrators were mentally deranged and in some cases had been found by courts to be “Mentally Ill” or possessing “Significant mental health issues.”

There were four lesser-known facts revealed:

• First, all the school mass shooters in the events analyzed were young white males.

• Second, except for incidents 30 and 50 years ago, none of the perpetrators should have been legally able to obtain weapons.

• Third, except for the UT Tower shooting 50 years ago, normal law enforcement was no factor in stopping the killing. Even then 17 were killed and 31 wounded before an Austin Police Officer aided by an armed civilian shot the gunman.

• Fourth, in the overwhelming majority of cases one or more unarmed white males attacked the gunman. Some successfully disarmed the shooter. However most died in the effort.

Texas is a special case, as it had one of the oldest school mass shootings, the UT Tower Sniper in 1966, and one of the most recent, Santa Fe High School, May 2018.

Texas law enforcement seems more effective than other states. Deputy Sheriff Scot Peterson and other law officers at Florida’s Stoneman-Douglas High School hid safely outside while the gunman murdered 17 and wounded 17 students and staff and then escaped and walked to McDonalds. Three months later at Texas’s Santa Fe High School, Deputy John Barnes immediately ran to the gunfire and was critically wounded by a shotgun blast. A second deputy arrived several minutes later and wounded the gunman thereby stopping the killing.