Tag Archives: School Shootings

Northeastern Study: Schools Safer Than in ’90s, Shootings ‘Not an Epidemic’

A new Northeastern University research study claims that mass shootings are happening at a historically typical pace and that shooting deaths in schools have been on the decline since peaking in the 1990s.

The study entitled “The Three R’s of School Shootings: Risk, Readiness, and Response” by Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy James Alan Fox and doctoral student Emma Fridel, which is set to be published in The Wiley Handbook on Violence in Education: Forms, Factors, and Preventions in June of 2018, compiled data on school shootings from USA Today, the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, Congressional Research Service, Gun Violence Archive, Stanford Geospatial Center and Stanford Libraries, Everytown for Gun Safety, a Mother Jones compilation of shooting statistics, and an NYPD active shooters report.

While each of those reports define a mass and school shooting differently, Fox said that according to his examination of the totality of the data, since 1996, 16 multiple-victim shootings have taken place in schools, defined as shooting incidents in which there were 4 or more victims and at least 2 fatalities excluding the perpetrator. Fox defined 8 of those shootings, involving deaths of 4 or more victims excluding the perpetrator, as mass shootings, which mirrors the 1980s FBI definition of mass murder, The Washington Post noted.

Fox also said that, including school shootings below the threshold of a mass shooting, four times as many children were fatally shot in schools in the 1990s compared to the present day. He also added that an average of 10 students per year die to gunfire in schools in the United States, meaning that bicycle accidents and pool drownings are significantly greater threats to the lives of schoolchildren.


School Shootings
source: Northeastern University

“There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” said Fox.

Incidentally, Professor Fox is a supporter of gun control legislation and said that he believes that banning bump stocks and raising the legal age to purchase tactical rifles from 18 to 21 could help reduce overall gun crime. However, he claimed that these policy changes would do little to impact mass shootings.

“The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround,” he said. Fox also noted that there have only been five times in the past 35 years in which a person between the ages of 18 and 20 used a tactical rifle along the lines of an AR-15 to carry out a mass shooting.

Fox slammed the idea of arming teachers, calling it “absurd” and said, “I’m not a big fan of making schools look like fortresses, because they send a message to kids that the bad guy is coming for you—if we’re surrounding you with security, you must have a bull’s-eye on your back. That can actually instill fear, not relieve it.”

Emma Fridel pointed out that many security policies aimed at stopping mass shootings have been ineffective. She said that mass shooting drills have not been shown to work in studies and that students find them traumatizing. She also noted that many mass shootings have taken place at schools with metal detectors and other security precautions, as shooters have found ways around them, such as targeting students outside during fire drills or ambushing security guards at the front door to gain entry.

“These measures just serve to alarm students and make them think it’s something that’s common,” Fridel claimed.



School Shooting Survivor Says Armed Teacher Could Have “Stopped the Threat”

Parkland, Florida— While a number of students at Stoneman Douglas High School have called for stricter gun control following the deadly school shooting, 17-year-old Stoneman student Colton Haab told Fox News that he believes football coach Aaron Feis, who was reportedly killed while shielding students from gunfire, would have been able to neutralize the threat had he been allowed to carry his firearm on school grounds.

“If Coach Feis had had his firearm in school that day, I believe that he most likely could’ve stopped the threat,” Haab told Fox News. Haab is a Junior ROTC member who has been revered for shielding and directing as many as 70 kids to safety during the shooting.

Assistant football coach Feis was remembered by students and staff alike as a “hero” for turning himself into a human shield in order to save the lives of others.

“He died the same way he lived— he put himself second,” school spokesperson Denise Lehtio said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”

Haab explained that he saw Feis, who was reportedly a trained security guard in addition to being an assistant football coach, run toward the sound of the gunshots, only to later learn that Feis was killed as he tried to shield students from gunfire.

In an interview with Fox News, Haab said:

“I believe if we did bring firearms on campus to teachers that are willing to carry their firearm on school campuses—and they got their correct training for it—I think that would be a big beneficial factor for school safety. Because if Coach Feis had had his firearm in school that day, I believe that he most likely could’ve stopped the threat.”

An article from CNN reported that Haab, who is a member of the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), jumped into action upon hearing gunshots and directed around 70 students into a classroom where they proceeded to use bulletproof Kevlar mats from the JROTC’s marksmanship program to act as protection in case found by the gunman.

“We lined [the students] up into the wall and along the back of the wall…and from there I was standing with my first sergeant and I said, ‘these are kevlar, these are bulletproof material,’” Haab said. “We started moving the kevlar sheets forward.”

The Florida school shooting has reignited a wide-ranging debate as to how to most effectively stop the school shooting phenomena, with some in favor of stricter gun control laws while others support armed guards or allowing trained teachers to carry firearms on school grounds.

Haab recently told local reporters that he backed out of attending a CNN town hall focused on the Stoneman Douglas school shooting, claiming that his own prepared commentary was proposed by CNN to be replaced with “scripted” material.

Trump Orders Sessions to Draft Regulations Banning Bump Stocks

“Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns. I expect that these critical regulations will be finalized, Jeff, very soon,” said President Donald Trump on February 20 at Tuesday’s Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony at the White House.

In a memo to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the same day, Trump wrote, “Although the Obama Administration repeatedly concluded that particular bump stock type devices were lawful to purchase and possess, I sought further clarification of the law restricting fully automatic machineguns.”

Trump’s comments were aimed at bump fire stocks, a firearms accessory that uses a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to accelerate its firing rate closer to that of an automatic weapon at the expense of accuracy. Bump stocks were alleged to have been used by Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock in his deadly rampage.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Trump Did Not Make It Easier for Severely Mentally Ill People To Buy Guns]

The president’s effort to ban bump stocks comes in the form of a reinterpretation of existing law by the executive branch.

Commenting on the victims and families of last Wednesday’s deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Trump said, “We cannot imagine the depth of their anguish, but we can pledge the strength of our resolve. And we must to do more to protect our children. We have to do more to protect our children.”

According to CBS News, the Justice Department said in a statement, “The department understands this is a priority for the president and has acted quickly to move through the rulemaking process. We look forward to the results of that process as soon as it is duly completed.”

New regulations of this type first stand for a period of public comment and legal challenges before going into effect.

Bloomberg notes that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at a briefing, “Background checks are something that the president is supportive of making more efficient and looking at better ways to improve that process.” Sanders told reporters asking if Trump supports reauthorizing the Clinton-era federal assault weapons ban, “we haven’t closed the door on any front.”

When asked if President Trump would support raising the federal age limit to purchase a semi-automatic rifle like the AR-15 to 21 years of age or older, Sanders said according to CNN, “I think that’s certainly something that’s on the table for us to discuss and that we expect to come up over the next couple of weeks.”

Texas Police Chief Advocates Arming Teachers to Prevent Mass Shootings

Argyle, TX— In the wake of the deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17-year-old survivor Colton Haab told Fox News that he believes that if his football coach Aaron Feis, who died in the attack shielding students from gunfire, had been able to carry his firearm at school, he would have been able to effectively obstruct the gunman.

“If Coach Feis had had his firearm in school that day, I believe that he most likely could’ve stopped the threat,” Haab told Fox News.

Haab went on to explain that Feis, who was a trained security guard in addition to being an assistant football coach, upon hearing the sound of gunfire, sped off in his golf cart toward the sound of the gunshots.

While arming teachers is not common practice, The Daily Caller reports that one Texas school district has been doing exactly that for the past four years. In 2014, motivated in part by the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Argyle Independent School District began allowing staff members to carry guns on school grounds after “intense interviews and training” in an effort to mitigate the threat from a potential mass shooting.

Argyle Independent School District Police Chief Paul Cairney appeared on MSNBC over the weekend and discussed the steps staff must take in order to carry a firearm on the campus, and he was asked if he was concerned for the safety of students due to the presence of firearms.

Cairney noted that the practice of allowing armed staff is highly controlled, stating that when it comes to school shooting the “time to do nothing is over.” A recent WFAA-TV report explained the process to carry a firearm in the Argyle Independent School District:

To become a school marshal, those employees must undergo extensive active shooter and firearms training with the state. They must also undergo a mental health evaluation.

They receive a school marshal designation by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and must renew their license every two years by undergoing the same training and evaluation.

Outside of campuses in Keene and Argyle, signs warn visitors that there are staff members who are armed and are prepared to protect children.

“We handpicked these people, we make sure they go through an extensive screening process. They go through a psychological evaluation and then I go through an intense training where they shoot over 900 rounds of ammunition and just a few days,” Cairney told Fox4 News.

To critics of arming teachers, Cairney said, “If you think of something better, let us know. We’re willing to listen, but at the same time, the day of doing nothing is over.”

Watch the interview with Cairney below:

Oregon Teacher Files Suit Against School For Holding Surprise “Active Shooter” Drill

Halfway, OR- A lawsuit was filed last Friday by Linda McLean, an elementary school teacher who alleged that a surprise “active shooter” drill, held at Pine Eagle Charter School, led to severe emotional distress.

The Oregonian reported that the drill took place on April 26, 2013. It was held on an inservice day when there were no children attending. According to the suit, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and goggles ambushed McLean’s classroom, pointed a pistol at her head, and fired blanks. “You’re dead,” the man said.

The hooded man turned out to be school safety officer Shawn Thatcher. At the time of the drill, McLean was unaware that the scenario was staged. “McLean could not figure out what was going on,” stated the complaint. “She felt very confused. Her heart was racing. She walked out of the classroom and saw a pistol lying on the ground. … She wondered if she was really shot and was going to die.” Another “gunman”, school board member John Minarich, was dressed in similar attire and armed during the drill. The two reportedly visited classrooms, pointed their guns at teachers, fired, and announced they were dead.

“She could not shake the event but continued to relive it and try to make sense of it, but could not. Ms. McLean could not sleep, and remained anxious and vigilant. When she drifted off to sleep, she experienced nightmares and sweating,” the complaint claims.

The Oregonian reported in April 2013 that Pine Eagle Charter School superintendent Mike Corley defended the drill’s intent to “test teacher preparedness and come up with a plan for dealing with an actual shooting incident.” The teachers at the school had reportedly received previous training to deal with active shooter situations before the surprise drill.

The Oregonian reported that “members of the district’s Safety Committee notified the Baker County Sheriff’s Office and its 911 dispatch center in advance of the drill so that they wouldn’t respond to an emergency at the school in case any of the school staff called.”

The school tried to ensure that no teachers would return fire on Thatcher or Minarich by having the sheriff’s office review concealed-carry permits.

The suit stated that McLean went to Pine Eagle Charter School the following week but was unable to stay. McLean has been diagnosed by her psychologist and physicians with post-traumatic stress disorder. “On the advice of her treating psychologist, Ms. McLean tried to return to the school building as part of a desensitization therapy,” the suit says. “However, when she returned she was short of breath, anxious, emotionally distressed, and had to leave. She has not returned to the school building since.”

The lawsuit names as defendants Pine Eagle Charter School superintendent Mike Corley; principal Cammie DeCastro; Alpine Alarm Communications and Construction LLC, the company that constructed, installed and maintained the school’s security system; and seven members of the school board.  School board member John Minarich, one of the “surprise gunmen”, is identified in court papers as the principal and president of Alpine Alarm.

McLean seeks “economic damages for her involuntary separation from employment, her medical and psychological treatment, and the loss of retirement contributions and fringe benefits,” as well as punitive damages and attorney fees. Alpine Alarm and school officials have not made public comment.