Thoughts on "active shooters"
The manager of South East Area Law Enforcement has some thoughts, of which the most relevant are:
"Where times have been reliably documented, the average post-Columbine “rapid mass murder episode” lasts just 8 minutes, according to Borsch’s calculations. “The murderer’s timeline begins when he says it begins. Any prevention, deterrence or delay efforts have failed at that point, and the police are handicapped with catching up whenever they are notified.”
• 98% of active killers act alone.
• 80% have long guns, 75% have multiple weapons (about 3 per incident), and they sometimes bring hundreds of extra rounds of ammunition to the shooting site.
• Despite such heavy armaments and an obsession with murder at close range, they have an average hit rate of less than 50%.
• They strike “stunned, defenseless innocents via surprise ambush. On a level playing field, the typical active killer would be a no-contest against anyone reasonably capable of defending themselves.”
• “They absolutely control life and death until they stop at their leisure or are stopped.” They do not take hostages, do not negotiate.
• They generally try to avoid police, do not hide or lie in wait for officers and “typically fold quickly upon armed confrontation.”
• 90% commit suicide on-site. “Surrender or escape attempts are unlikely.”
Because active shooters seem so intent on killing, it’s often difficult to convince first responders that “this bad guy is one of the easiest man-with-gun encounters they will ever have,” Borsch observes. “Most officers have already faced worse opponents from a personal safety standpoint than these creeps.”
Once into the scene, to further gain confidence in advancing aggressively toward the suspect, officers need to understand the nature of these killers. Unlike conventional criminal predators, who often have no reluctance about attacking police, active shooters tend to be “cowardly,” Borsch says.
“They choose unarmed, defenseless innocents for a reason: They have no wish to encounter someone who can hurt them. They are personally risk- and pain-avoidant. The tracking history of these murderers has proved them to be unlikely to be aggressive with police. If pressed, they are more likely to kill themselves.” In his research, he has found no evidence of any LEO in the U.S. yet being wounded or killed in an active-shooting incident where mass murder was intended or accomplished."
UPDATE: yep, I think everything he says supports Joe Olson's conclusion that the only way to stop such a shooting is for someone not in uniform -- a civilian, an off-duty officer, whatever -- to deliver immediate counterattack and counterfire. The attacker is counting upon hitting the defenseless, for a period of a few minutes, certainly less than police response time. If within that period he is attacked by someone who is not defenseless, he will kill himself rather than continue the battle. That may also explain the phenomenon noted earlier here, that active shooters tend to home in on "gun free zones."
Spree killers are cowardly wife-beaters writ large.
The same media that would never sensationalize a common wife-beater (local news, aggrandizing), take these weak-minded petty criminals and turn them into anti-heroes for all other sulking, self-absorbed, depressed, pimply-faced teenagers suffering from self-absorbed teen-angst dripping from their oily chins.
The media is wholly responsible for blowing this worthless scum into "important news" and granting their twisted wish for attention, power and control.
If the NRA started sponsoring Psych dissertations that showed the common psychological characteristics between spree killers and wife-beaters, the media coverage of these things could be scrubbed from the public eye. The fact the Brady Campaign uses these people to raise money is disgusting.
Posted by: Jim D. at April 6, 2009 07:49 PM
"he has found no evidence of any LEO in the U.S. yet being wounded or killed in an active-shooting incident " that usually because they have done all they need to do and iced themselves before the cops ever arrive.
Posted by: common sense at April 6, 2009 09:25 PM
With the information Borsh provided, wouldn't it also be safe to say the same thing about an armed-civilian?
Just think of how many of these mass-murder scenarios could've been avoided or stopped by an armed-civilian.
Posted by: thebronze at April 6, 2009 09:40 PM
This solution - armed civilians as first responders - seems to be getting more traction.
Related to this, on 3 April I posted the following on IllinoisCarry dot com, in response to a member there, concerned as most of us are that that these shootings would lead to more gun control. He noted that the gun control movement really "began in earnest" in the late '60s:
I understand where you are coming from, but I disagree with your conclusion. It's not 1968. It's not even 1994. What has been the trend since, say, the late 90's, with respect to these horrible school and mass shootings? It's not been a tightening of gun laws. To the contrary, we've seen a liberalization of them. This is in no small part, I believe, to the success and prevalence of right to carry laws of the states. There are now what ... perhaps 6 million Americans with carry licenses? Americans by the hordes are buying protective arms and getting training.
What I see happening, if the trend continues, is a further liberalization of self defense laws. I see the systematic dismantling of "gun free zones" in the states. Are we seeing successful efforts to curtail carry laws? No. We are seeing concerted and strong efforts to allow carry in churches, bars, restaurants, schools, and universities ... places which for the most part have in the past been deemed "gun free zones." The reaction now is "if only there were an armed citizen there to stop this murderer." Those calling for more gun control are being further marginalized. Even strong gun control advocates in government are running fast away from it. That's what I see. Tell me I am wrong, and I will listen and consider.
Honestly, I feel these tragic events are leading to more liberal, not more conservative, gun and defense laws.
Anyone have thoughts on this?
Posted by: Carl in Chicago at April 7, 2009 05:34 AM
It would be nice for this data to be written up and published in appropriate professional journals.
Posted by: Flighterdoc at April 7, 2009 06:48 AM
But would they publish it?
Posted by: Rich at April 7, 2009 07:49 AM
Someone would. Or at least self-publish on SSRN or something. The point is that the information right now is nothing more than the claims of a retired cop who makes his living telling people of his research: There is no opportunity to validate his numbers or research methodology, nor is there any active distribution of that information.
After all, Lott gets his stuff published, no matter how much it pisses off the gun grabbers.
Posted by: Flighterdoc at April 7, 2009 08:27 AM
Much of this information has already been submitted for publication. Author is David Kopel. Article is entitled:
Pretend 'Gun-Free' School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction
It's a great article, with a few typos and other things that will be worked out by an editor. He has submitted it to a Law Review journal, but I am not sure which one. It includes the report by Borsch, and the paper suggests that the best approach (more often being taken) is that someone ... anyone ... immediately confront the threat. That includes single police officers, such as was the case in Carthage, NC.
You can download the article here:
Posted by: Carl in Chicago at April 7, 2009 09:10 AM
In general, cops are a clean up crew. Very seldom are cops on the scene before things happen.
The ONLY way to manage these situations is to require, as the Constitution points to, EVERYONE keep and bear Arms, EVEYONE train properly (well regulated) to those Arms, and EVERYONE free to carry in whatever manner one feels comfortable in so doing.
Tiochfaidh ar la!
Posted by: fwb at April 7, 2009 09:48 AM
"In general, cops are a clean up crew. Very seldom are cops on the scene before things happen."
Yeah, an interesting mental exercise is to imagine you're the police and you get a call that later turns out to be a spree killer. What do you know?
a. The location of the caller and any other innocents colocated.
b. The caller might have approximate knowledge of where the perp is based on gunshots. By the time you arrive, that intel is stale.
That's it; you don't even know how many perps. I think before you can do anything you have to assemble enough officers to do cordon and search. A clearing op requires manpower proportional to the size of the building(s), and cordon requires manpower proportional to the perimeter, so if it's a large institution (college campus or office building) you'll have to wait until many units can arrive.
I'm not sure what the dangers of sending an advance team is, though we only know that ambushes are unlikely in hindsight. From the info the police get, they don't know if it's a spree killer or someone more likely to engage in a shootout. Also, they might decide it would simply further delay beginning the full operation because the advance team has to come out before the full search can begin.
Posted by: ben at April 7, 2009 01:09 PM
I think we need to have the LEAA or some other police association get into this to get some traction.
The first few police responders absolutely need to grab a longarm, cowboy up, and charge the perp if these massacres are to be prevented.
SWAT can clean up and resolve things if the perp behaves untypically and decides to hole up and take hostages.
Posted by: Kristopher at April 7, 2009 01:28 PM
Thanks, I missed that article.
Posted by: Flighterdoc at April 7, 2009 02:16 PM
Their breed will become more bold over time. Each time they have to raise the bar to get more news coverage. Eventually, they will have enough training and a mindset to use it on 1st responders. the simple fact is that it takes very little training to be proficient with a rifle at those ranges and when they learn to control their ground, it will be a real issue. Look at the shooters in India, days for the cops to clean up what one armed citizen in a restaurant could have stopped.
Posted by: Deavis at April 7, 2009 04:49 PM
The problem is simple, when seconds count the police are always 10 minutes away. The only thing that would stop one of these suicide shooters is a person with a gun on them, at the time of the attack, with the nerve and skill to do the deed.
The rest is just endless argument.
Posted by: tarpon at April 7, 2009 06:52 PM
The recent nursing home killings in North Carolina did have the LEO first responder being wounded, taking 3 shotgun pellets in the leg. That being said, he was able to disable the shooter with a single shot from his .40 S&W pistol without sustaining any further injuries.
Posted by: Josh K at April 9, 2009 03:24 PM