My disclaimer: This is the first time in my life that I have written a letter to the president. This is solely my opinion based on my research, training and experience and does not reflect the opinion of my employer or any organization I may belong to....Share if you like.
Dear Mr. President and members of Congress,
I am an average American. I have two children, an SUV, and I live in middle-class America. I am a law enforcement officer with fifteen years of patrol experience. I am also an Emergency Medical Technician and a volunteer Fire Fighter. I have had the honor of serving this great nation in our armed forces. I have served on an emergency response team (ERT/SWAT). I hold several degrees, including a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University and Masters degree in Protection Management from John Jay College of criminal justice. I hope you take my opinion on the subject of gun control seriously. I find what you, the Vice President, and Congress are attempting to do, is reprehensible and a complete waste of time and money. Emotions are very high and everybody thinks blaming and inanimate object (assault weapons, in this case) will prevent future attacks. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
To explain my position, we need to examine past terrorist incidents in the United States. During the first World Trade Center (WTC) attack, the terrorists used a truck bomb, which they drove and left in the underground parking garage. What was the response to this attack? Did we ban Ryder rental vehicles? Did we ban the materials used? Absolutely not. We put excellent physical security measures in place that prevented a similar future attack. The security was so good that the terrorists had to come up with an entirely different method of attack.
The 9/11 WTC attack used planes full of fuel. The terrorists gained access to the cockpit by using razor knives. After this attack, did we ban razor knives? Absolutely not. We put physical security measures in place that prevented future similar attacks. In fact, we did so well, the terrorists have had to come up with other methods of attack. They have tried shoe explosives and liquid explosives, just to name a couple. We also placed armed personnel, in the form of pilots and air marshals, on flights. We have been 100% successful thus far.
These two incidents show that physical security measures are effective in preventing terrorist attacks. Incidents, such as the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting and the Sandy Hook, Connecticut shooting should be considered domestic terrorist attacks. After the Sandy Hook incident, I was detailed for several days to a security assignment in a very similar type of elementary school. In just those few days, I was able to determine that the physical security at our schools is nonexistent. I spoke to teachers, administrators and the general public. From that, I determined that the majority of people believe banning guns will do nothing. What most of the teachers thought was, “There is no physical security at schools; and there should be a police officer at every school”. If not given the option of a police officer, some teachers would actually volunteer to be trained to carry a handgun. I live in New Jersey; so this response was quite surprising to me, since New Jersey is one of the most conservative states in regard to gun laws.
In the last fifty years, there have been no deaths attributed to fires in public schools. How is that possible? The reason is simple. There are numerous redundant systems in place to prevent such deaths. These systems were developed as a result of years and years of research and implementation. There have been no deaths due to fire; yet every month, schools are mandated to conduct a fire drill.
Do you know how often we conduct active shooter drills? These drills are conducted at a maximum, once a year. Sometimes, they are not conducted at all in a year’s time. And by no means are they conducted at every school in the region. Our children go to school in a fish bowl. The doors and windows are glass that is breakable, and entry can be gained easily. The camera systems are antiquated and insufficient. There is no control of all the exits, and multiple entry points can be opened at any given time during the day. The real truth is, there is no physical security at our schools; and if it continues, banning a type of weapon will have no effect on future attacks. We need to have an entry system that only allows authorized people past the front office. We need to have a way to monitor all entries and exits. We need to have secure types of windows, glass and doors. And, we need to train the school staff significantly more. The perpetrator at the Sandy Hook shooting incident capitalized on our current “Shelter in Place” tactic. If we are going to continue to use this method, we need to install secure doors and/or security gates, which can be secured upon the sounding of an alarm.
There are an estimated 300 million guns in the United States and yet rifles only account for the deaths of approximately 450 people annually. To put that into perspective, there are about 1,700 deaths caused by knives each year and 725 caused by hands and feet. The statistic that we are trying to bring down is extremely low and will not be affected at all by an assault weapons ban (AWB). This is also proven by the fact that during the last AWB, gun crime actually increased. In 2011, there were 9,878 deaths as a result of drunk driving; yet alcohol and motor vehicles are still legal. Statistic after statistic proves gun control fails to address the real problem.
In addition to there being no real physical school security, the secondary problem is that there are little to no state run mental health facilities anymore. There is an incredible amount of violence in our society; and, there is no early warning system for these type of events. Primarily, the profile of the shooter is all too familiar. There are always warning signs that people see and say nothing about. Sometimes we get lucky. Somebody gives us a tip and we prevent the next attack. But these attacks are going to continue; and if we make schools a harder target, I expect you’ll see more attacks at other soft locations. Police officers and other qualified people need to be encouraged to carry their firearms everywhere they go. Many of these attacks could have been prevented or casualties minimized by an armed citizen.
The fact that firearms are such an integral part of our society; and the fact that there are so many already in our society, means that banning future weapons will do nothing to prevent future attacks of this nature. Are you willing to bet my child’s life on you being correct and me being wrong? I’m not. We need good physical security and armed officers to prevent future attacks. The perpetrator in Connecticut did not obtain his weapons legally. He committed the most heinous crime, murdering his mother, to gain access to the weapons he used. This perpetrator was apparently very intelligent, and, even in a society without guns, would have made a bomb or used a poison to commit his attack. There is very little we can do in a free society to prevent a free person from killing innocent people. However, banning so called “assault weapons” will do nothing but help criminals and harm law-abiding citizens.