Thursday, October 29, 2015

On "This Generation's 'Duck And Cover'" — A Fisking

Oregon's resident anti-gunner, Baldr Odinson (a.k.a. Jason Kilgore), put up a post recently (OK, a couple weeks back — I've been remiss in checking on him) about school lockdown drills, School Lockdown Drills Are This Generation's 'Duck And Cover'" (warning: clicking through will take you to an anti-gun blog; the safety of your intelligence and sanity cannot be guaranteed). Like so many things over there, it's just begging for a good fisking.

As usual for fisks, "Baldr"'s words will be indented and italicized, and my responses will appear in normal, standard formatting. To be clear, unless otherwise stated, by "you" I'm referring to Baldr. Click through for the takedown.

Yesterday my 10 year old daughter had another Lockdown Drill at her school.
"Another" lockdown drill? Oh, the horror! Do you keep track of these things, and are you concerned they're happening too frequently?

At least the weather was nice.
An email announcement went out to us parents from the Principal, a few days before. From the email:
During our drill on Friday, an intercom announcement will inform staff and students that the drill will begin. Staff will then be asked to secure their classrooms. Teachers will lock classroom doors, close the blinds, move students away from the windows, turn out the lights, and ask students to remain quiet. The drill will last about three minutes, at which point another announcement will be made that the drill is over.
And when the time came during class, the teacher locked the door and turned off the lights, and the kids had to huddle in the corner, absolutely quiet and still while they imagined an armed madman walking the halls of their school.
The e-mail sounds like a pretty standard lockdown drill, and it's nice they let the parents know ahead of time. Of course, that defeats the purpose of a "drill", which should be unannounced.

But was imagining an armed madman wandering the school a mandatory part of the drill, too, or were the kids allowed to daydream about Oreos and video games instead?
The teacher explained to them that, if the windows above them were shot out, it would be a harmless shower of safety glass cubes that could not cut them. Then, he practiced walking quickly and orderly out the back door of the classroom, across the school grounds, and to a staging area in the neighborhood across the street.
Have you ever seen safety glass shatter? It breaks up into small glass cubes with very sharp edges. It can and often does cut skin — not deep enough to be dangerous, but saying it cannot cut skin just invites the kids to play with it, which is a bad idea.

Did the teacher practice walking the kids out the back and across the grounds, or did he abandon his charges and go by himself?
The last time my daughter's school had a lockdown drill, she was in an after-school activity with a mixed-age class of kids, mostly younger than her. Many of them were confused and started to cry, traumatized by the image in their mind of an armed lunatic coming toward their room.
As one of the older kids in the room, did your daughter try to calm the younger kids, or did she join in and/or increase the general hysteria? How have you trained her to respond to these things?

And again, was that mental image a mandatory part of the drill? Who is writing the procedures, and who's verifying that each student is doing their part?

Or is this just Baldr projecting his own mental images onto the kids?
This is the new normal in America. It is practiced in my daughter's school at least as many times a year as fire drills, and more even than earthquake drills. My 11 year old son had a drill in his school the week before.
Given Oregon's position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", you'd think earthquake drills would be pushed hardest. It sounds like your school district has its priorities reversed.

But if you don't practice any drills, the students won't know how to react in a bona fide emergency. That's what these "drills" are for, right?
But as traumatizing as this is, it is an increasingly-necessary precaution taken by schools.
Is it actually traumatizing the kids? Or are you traumatized by the thought of it, so you assume it's traumatizing the kids? (I'll touch on the necessity of drills in a sec.)
Since our federal politicians continue to do nothing at all to keep guns out of the hands of murderous madmen, schools are left to pick up the difference, preparing their staff and students to fight for their lives or hide in darkened corners, or to follow the NRA's suggestion, highly-opposed, to make an armed camp out of our children's learning environment (which hasn't turned out so well for some schools). [self-link omitted]
Wrong. Our federal politicians have refused to take actions that would discourage or disallow law-abiding people to exercise their rights, specifically because there is no causal link between those laws and keeping "murderous madmen" disarmed.

Schools are doing as their told by their school boards, who take their marching orders from state and federal Departments of Education. And really, it's a minor addition to include security lockdown drills with fire drills and earthquake drills and tsunami drills and tornado drills and hurricane drills and whatever other drills they might be doing based on local needs. It's all part of a comprehensive emergency plan, and another part of that plan is rehearsing each person's role. That's what the drills are for!

Or do you oppose having emergency plans, too?
Just this last week in the town of Springfield, Oregon, not far from where I live, Riverbend Elementary had to go into lockdown. Police had gotten a tip that a convicted felon, high on meth and suicidal, was armed with a gun and headed to his child's school. The school responded with the lockdown. Luckily, police intercepted the man. He was armed with three firearms in his car. [link in original]
That right there is a perfect example of a school responding appropriately to a potential safety threat. Good on them, and good on the police for finding and arresting him, and thank God nobody got hurt.

However, did anyone else notice how Baldr isn't even questioning how a suicidal, convicted felon was able to procure three firearms? Is that little detail not important? Or should they just disarm you and me?
Two days later, in Salem, Oregon, three schools went into lockdown for 45 minutes, including South Salem High, Howard Street Charter Middle School, and Bush Elementary schools, when there was a shooting in the streets nearby. One man was injured in the shooting. [link in original]
Another good example of schools responding appropriately. If there's a known, continuing safety threat in the surrounding neighborhood, it's reasonable to hold the students indoors until it's resolved.

No doubt, though, that the Bradys and Bloomberg's Demanding Moms will count this as a "school shooting".
A few days before that, two schools in Portland, Grant High School and nearby Beverly Cleary School, went on lockdown when two men were openly carrying semi-automatic assault rifles next to the schools. [link in original]
Open carry of any firearm (unless you've got the blessing of government) is illegal in Portland, so I'll request some additional context to this claim. I'll not get it from Baldr, but I have to ask.

Absent any other information, this is yet another reasonable response by the schools to a reported danger.

Sensing a pattern yet?
And, of course, we can't forget the Umpqua Community College shooting a couple weeks ago. [self-link omitted]
Of course not. Nobody wants for "forget" the UCC shooting, but some of us choose to learn from such tragedies rather than continue pursuing laws and policies that don't prevent them.
Remember the "Duck and Cover" movement of the 1950's and '60's? A whole generation of school children were asked to imagine a nuclear bomb hitting their little American towns and cities. They were told that, if there was a big flash or a little warning, they were to immediately take cover under their desks and wait for an all-clear signal. In their minds, they could imagine a nuclear bomb exploding and a massive fireball washing over their schools, burning them alive. Nowadays, it's not a specter of a giant bomb killing them, but a more personal, and realistic killer walking their halls. [link in original]
Not quite correct. The kids weren't asked to "imagine" a nuclear attack. They were asked to respond to the potential of a nuclear attack. They could imagine the bomb, or they could imagine Davy Crockett walking out of his Army camp to visit his family. (Seriously, why the continuous focus on what the children should be forced to imagine?)

Not that "duck and cover" would save any of them during an actual nuclear attack, but I'll use this as an opportunity to segue to another key topic: morale. "Ducking and covering" represents something to do. When you have something to do, you have something to focus on, and you have less worry and fear about what could happen. Focusing on action helps prevent the hysteria Baldr's daughter witnessed during her previous lockdown drills.

I don't expect Baldr to understand that part, but there it is.
It's happened 150 times since 2013! See an interactive map of them here. [link in original, but be forewarned; it goes to an Everytown site]
Oh, look! The infamous Everytown school shootings list! And in interactive map form! How helpful!

Except that it's crap. CNN found only 15 of the originally-reported 74 to be "school shootings" (that's about 20%, for the math-challenged), and Politifact rated Everytown's list "Mostly False". Mind you, neither of those outlets are particularly pro-gun by any measure. Those articles are from June 2014 (the 18th month since 2013 started), when the list was 74. Now, another 16 months later, and they've doubled the number. Looking at the rate of increase over the original, I have little faith — let alone evidence — that Baldr and/or Everytown are being any more honest in their numbers.
And school shootings are increasing.
Citation needed.

Oh, wait … no, it's not. And no, they're not.
The Trace did a study of lockdowns and found an astonishing 100 school lockdowns (not drills!) in just a two-week period. From the article:
[A]t least 100 lockdowns made the news during those two weeks. That’s an average of about 10 lockdowns due to a potential threat per school day. Of the 10 school days tracked, only one was incident-free."
And that's just the ones reported by media, that they could find with their searches. [link in original, but be forewarned; it goes to The Trace, Bloomberg's gun-control-advocacy-disguised-as-news site]
Note the implication in the context. We've moved from school shootings to reported school lockdowns, implying that the lockdowns were because of shootings or armed threats. Perusing the interactive map (Yay, another one!) at The Trace, many or most don't have anything to do with guns. A short list, going loosely West-to-East (copied directly; any grammatical or factual errors are in the original):
  • Redmond, WA - 10/8/2015: Ridgeview High School went into lockdown after a student threatened another student over text.
  • Forest Grove, OR - 10/2/2015: Forest Grove High School was placed on lockdown after students reported seeing another student with what they thought might be a gun. [emphasis added; No threat or weapon was found, and one student was charged with making a false report.]
  • Coos Bay, OR - 10/2/2015: Schools in Coos County were locked down because of a non-specific threat. [No weapons mentioned, threat found to be unsubstantiated.]
  • San Jose, CA - 10/7/2015: A suspect who escaped from a bail bondsman put a nearby middle school on lockdown. [Suspect was unarmed, and most of the students had already left for the day.]
  • Los Olivos, CA - 10/8/2015: An apparent murder-suicide triggered a lockdown at three Los Olivos schools. [Apparent domestic dispute. A gun was used, but it all happened within the home.]
  • Santa Fe Springs, CA - 10/5/2015: Three schools were placed on lockdown while officers searched for a man suspected of domestic violence. [No weapon mentioned, and he wasn't charged with any weapon-related crimes.]
  • El Cajon, CA - 10/5/2015: An El Cajon elementary school went into lockdown after a woman crashed into a police car and claimed she had a gun. [emphasis added; This sounds like an attempt at "suicide-by-cop" that happened to occur near a school.]
  • Newhall, CA - 10/1/2015: A Newhall elementary school went into lockdown as authorities investigated reports of a gun-toting teen. [No person with a gun found. The "dot" on the map has this one in Iowa for some reason. Layers and layers of editorial oversight.]
  • Reno, NV - 10/2/2015: Two south Reno schools went under lockdown as police searched for a suspect in the area. [Car burglary suspect; no weapon mentioned.]
  • Las Vegas, NV - 10/8/2015: A Las Vegas school went into lockdown while police searched for a suspect.
  • Meridian, ID - 10/8/2015: A direct threat against Meridian High School led to a locked of all schools in Bosque County. [The type of threat was not disclosed.]
  • Pocatello, ID - 10/7/2015: Pocatello Police Department and school district staff placed Highland High School under lockdown to address a potential threat. [Again, the type of threat was not disclosed.]
  • Peoria, AZ - 10/8/2015: An elementary school went on lockdown as police pursued a burglary suspect. [No weapon mentioned.]
  • El Paso, TX - 10/2/2015: Schools and offices in El Paso were locked down because of a suspected armed person. ["Suspected" armed person. Two people who initially claimed there was a "gunman" later told police they never saw a gun.]
  • Stafford, TX - 10/2/2015: Stafford schools went into lockdown because of reports of a suspicious person. ["Suspicious person"; no weapon reported.]
  • Denver, CO - 10/5/2015: The Denver Center for International Studies was placed on lockdown following a report of a student with a knife. [No gun, just a knife.]
  • Pueblo, CO - 10/7/2015: A Pueblo County High School went into lockdown after a student was seen walking down the hallway Wednesday in a gas mask and a trench coat. [No weapons found.]
  • LaMoure, ND - 10/6/2015: A school in LaMoure went into lockdown while police hunted a suspicious male. [No weapons reported; authorities said no imminent danger.]
  • Detroit Lakes, MN - 10/1/2015: A bomb scare put Detroit Lakes schools into lockdown. ["Suspicious device" scare; no other weapons reported.]
  • Minneapolis, MN - 10/7/2015: The Eden Prairie Police Department says a statement made by a student prompted a “soft lock down” of Central Middle School. [The AO of another famous anti-gun personality, "japete" (a.k.a. Joan Peterson). Statement found to be unsubstantiated, no credible threat, no criminal charges.]
  • Oklahoma City, OK - 10/8/2015: Deer Creek schools went into lockdown while police searched for a burglary suspect. [No weapon reported.]
  • Toshimingo, OK - 10/6/2015: The Tishomingo County School District issued a lockdown because of a non-specific threat. [Type of threat not disclosed; no weapons mentioned.]
  • Liberty, MO - 10/7/2015: A lockdown of all Union County schools was issued after a general threat. [Non-specific threat. Report mentions in passing bomb threats issued against other districts.]
I could go on, but I'm getting sidetracked. Heck, when I was a kid, I remember all the schools at my end of town being locked down due to a reported tattooed, neo-Nazi rapist (no, I'm not kidding) at a different school two miles away (the report turned out to be unsubstantiated). But needless to say, that's how many non-school-shooting lockdowns we have on the list — in total, 22 out of approximately 35 (over 60%, for the math-challenged), and most of the rest involve armed suspects but still aren't "school shootings" by any measure — and we haven't even crossed the Mississippi River!

It would seem that conflating "lockdown" with "school shooting" might be just a bit disingenuous, don't you think?

Moving on:
School systems are now making videos and programs to teach students and faculty how to respond in the event of an active shooter incident.
Good. Nothing wrong with an informative and educational video.
One video, from an Ohio school system, even suggests that the students attack the shooter if they come in the room. See it HERE. It teaches the ALICE program (which stands for "Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate"), which is being taught in a number of schools and colleges around the nation. The video, which is shown to students, shows a man with a handgun enter a classroom and the teen students attacking and swarming over the man, holding him down, all the while stating, "If it is necessary to counter the aggressor's attack, you may be able to distract and disrupt the aggressor's plan by putting him on the defensive and possibly even disarming him by swarming him into submission until police arrive." One student gets shot and goes down before the other students dogpile the shooter.

That's right,
they are recommending that child students attack the shooter if cornered.

It's not enough now that school kids have to worry about grades, homework, tests, relationships, sports, and all the usual things that kids have to think about. Now we are asking them to think about cold-blooded killers stalking their halls, and potentially having to fight them to the death!
[link and emphasis in original]
Again, nothing wrong with educating students on all their reasonable options in the face of an emergency. That "counter-attack" video was presented to high school students. Teenagers, some of whom will be legal adults, and plenty of whom will be athletes. To hear Baldr, you'd think they're advocating kindergartners swarm a violent, armed man, but personally I find no problem in offering the 300-pound defensive tackle a chance to … y'know … tackle someone, as a possible life-saving solution to a violent crime-in-progress.

And nobody is advocating they kill the attacker. Subduing him is good, too. Whatever it takes to stop the attack, and no more.
This has to end.
I agree; this fear-mongering article has gone on far too long.

Oh, you mean the drills, the lockdowns, and the culture of helpless fear you yourself contribute to have to end. Huh.
The answer isn't to arm every teacher, faculty, or even students, as the gun lobby has suggested, or to turn our schools into fortresses. The answer is to keep from arming the lunatics in the first place. And the only way to do that is to pass sensible gun laws, such as universal background checks (like the one enacted this year in Oregon)… [self-link omitted]
Are you referring to that universal background check law that went into effect BEFORE the Umpqua Community College shooting? Wasn't that law supposed to prevent events exactly like that from happening, by keeping guns out of the hands of people exactly like that scumbag?

Epic. Fail.
… better mental health reporting to the background check system…
Who gets to decide what's reportable, and on what basis or evidence? That's just ripe for abuse.
… child access prevention (CAP) laws to keep guns out of the hands of school kids… [self-link omitted; Baldr runs that site, too]
"CAP" laws are a euphemism for so-called "safe storage" laws, and the kind you're talking about — that mandate firearms be stored separate from ammunition, and either disassembled or trigger locked — were struck down in Heller v. D.C. in 2008.
… and a renewed ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammo magazines.
Yes, because the last such ban did so much to reduce violent crime rates or school shootings, right?

Oh, wait. It didn't. Research For The Win!

Naysayers might point to this report (PDF warning) from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), but those authors clearly say the "assault weapon" ban had no clear effect on murder or violent crime ("assault weapons" being rarely used for crime to begin with), and could only suppose that a long-term ban on "large-capacity magazines" might have some effect, and supposed so with the understanding that the use of "large-capacity magazines" by criminals to fire more than 10 rounds without reloading is at best unknown.

So why are we pushing for a ban, again?
Perhaps, if we pass such laws, lockdown drills at our schools will become a nightmare of the past, like "Duck and Cover" became, and we will find a new trajectory for our schools and communities away from gun violence. [emphasis in original]
Or maybe, lockdowns will continue, because there are plenty of reasons to lock down a school other than "gun violence". Review my list above, pulled from Everytown's own map. Many of those security lockdowns — including my personal anecdote — had nothing at all to do with guns.
ADDENDUM (10/21/15): One pre-K school teacher from Washington state describes what it is like during a lockdown drill with her small students, trying to convey urgency without inciting fear or alarm, and the mental considerations that she has to endure as part of the process. From the article "Rehearsing for death: A pre-K teacher on the trouble with lockdown drills":
Instead of controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them, we are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them. We are giving away precious time to teach and learn while we cower in fear.
[bold and badly-done link in original]
(BTW, Baldr: the author of that article in your addendum, Launa Hall, is from Arlington, VA, not Washington state. It says so right on top of the article. Schmuck.)

Done incorrectly, we could argue that lockdowns themselves "rehearse for death". Does anyone want to claim that Sandy Hook Elementary didn't try to lockdown as soon as shots were fired, but made the mistake of locking down with the killer inside?

With all due respect to that pre-K teacher, we're not talking about "controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them". We're talking about banning guns and making criminals out of those who would use them. That's the end game of "gun control".

Dear Ms. Hall: Maybe instead of "rounding up and silencing" your students, you could take an active role in protecting them. Maybe instead of "terrifying those who care for them", you could empower those who care for them to take decisive action (remember that morale thing?). Maybe instead of "giving away precious time to teach" by "cower[ing] in fear", you could be teaching them to remain calm and follow instructions in an emergency while projecting an image of a protector who keeps them safe.

Maybe, just maybe, you — as someone who calls herself a "teacher" — are approaching this the wrong way. Be a leader. Set an example. If you want them to grow to be strong, level-headed adults, you need to show them what a strong, level-headed adult looks like (hint: it's not always Batman or Superman, or even Officer Friendly). It starts with you. Be the person you want them to grow up to admire.

Dear Readers: As always, stay safe.


  1. What I took away from all of this is that his poor daughter has to put up with this loon who will never be able to protect her if she is in real danger because guns are icky.

    1. I had a comment about that, and I promised myself I wouldn't stoop low enough to say it. *choking it back, choking it back*

      It's OK, though. He does kung fu. (No, really.) Probably not well, but it's better than nothing, right?