The title of this post comes from a series of the same name by US Army Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman. Its focus (and that of its sequel, "The Bullet Proof Mind") is cold, hard truths about battle, and how those of us in the profession of arms must adapt to them.
This is something with which civilians should never have to be burdened.
Sadly, "killing" is extremely relevant in light of the horror of last Friday morning. As the father of a toddler son, I am wracked by the idea that children barely older than him spent their final few moments in the terror I knew in an ambush on a narrow mountain-top road across from the Pakistan border. I know what it is to assume you are about to die, and cannot fathom what that must have been like for those so little.
But almost as bothersome been the endless bluster of "solutions" and "action" from people who plainly know nothing about the use of force. These ivory-tower pundits are setting us up for disasters that will only be known when the 911 calls come in from malls, schools or theaters. The grandstanding of Senator Dianne Feinstein and our own local congressional delegation will us with window dressing protection, devoid of any practical, tactical value. Feinstein knows nothing of the cold, hard facts of battle.
Here’s a fact: Europe, with gun bans Feinstein envies, has had more school shootings resulting in 10 or more fatalities in the last decade (five) than has the US (two).
Here’s a another cold, hard fact: only effective method of eliminating a threat of force is rapid application of superior force. The yapping about "assault weapons" and "high capacity magazines" is trivial.
Let's start with "assault weapons." The media tells us the Bushmaster .223 is a "high-powered assault weapon.” It is not. The .223 (or 5.56mm NATO equivalent) class of weapons is quite low on the nastiness scale. In fact, it is well documented that the .223 system was adopted during Vietnam because it caused less damage than higher caliber weapons.
These weapons burden the enemy with caring for casualties who survive. Weapons like the AK-47 are far more lethal, and hunting rifles are a class above that -- they take out 400-pound Elk.
But, put against tiny children, and .223s might as well be grenades. A hunting rifle in the Sandyhook classrooms would have required far fewer rounds to do much worse damage.
More bothersome, much smaller weapons have been put to more evil purpose.
Virginia Tech remains the most lethal mass murder in American history (not counting acts of war). The killer used two mid-caliber pistols, a 9mm and a .22. There are few weapons smaller than these, yet he was able to kill more people than any murderer in American history.
An assault rifle ban would have done nothing to prevent that horror. Moreover, those (and much larger calibers) are precisely the weapons that people use for home defense and which politicians make a point of protecting.
All home defense and hunting weapons are designed to destroy. It’s that simple. If people are going to be allowed to protect themselves, there will always be a risk.
The blabbering crowd also spews about "high capacity magazines.” Having to make fewer magazine changes is a convenience, I'll admit. But I've changed magazines under fire and had little impact on my ability to engage targets. And, anyone with an hour's practice can be fairly good at it.
The fact is, the shock of being under an unexpected assault (especially if from a hunting rifle) will negate any value from a pause for a few extra magazine changes. And, that value would depend on a crazed, determined killer not being able to obtain such magazines outside the law.
Again, Virgina Tech is the tragic illustration. The killer used two pistols with 19 magazines to shoot 50 people in nine minutes. A few extra magazines changes would have barely broken his stride.
But what did concern the VT killer was intervention – i.e. superior force. He chained the doors of the target building, thus holding his victims in range and keeping responders at bay. With no threat from within, he was free to continue his massacre at will.
This is the cold, hard reality. Once killings like those in Aurora, Sandyhook or Virginia Tech start, the victims’ fate rests on the killers’ insane whim and the driving skills of the local police officers.
It is this equation which our local leaders must address. Issues like assault weapon definitions and magazine limits are beyond the influence of the Monrovia School Board and Monrovia City Council. Questions of hardening facilities to prevent unauthorized access are logical prophylactic measures. But the issue our local officials really need to address is a brutal discussion of what will happen once a shooter gets inside a school or public building. In a city that often only has five or six patrol cops on the street at a given time (assuming they are not tied up on the other side of town), there are few good options.
Having real, deliberate plans based on real scenarios (like Aurora and Sandyhook) with no-holds barred analysis of what really might happen is the only true way this community will protect itself from the cold, hard facts.
There is another way, of course. Last week, before Sandyhook, there was a shooting at an Oregon mall that was interrupted by a person with a concealed carry permit. Though he did not fire, the presence of a capable opponent seems to have brought the assault to a quicker end.
I do not advocate for a careless distribution of concealed weapons permits. Many of the most vocal advocates of them should be last to get one. Allowing educators to have guns on campus is an idea which requires very careful, deliberate consideration.
But the cold, hard tactical reality is that the only way to end an assault once it begins is the rapid application of superior force. You can wish away and demonize whatever objects and groups you want. You can assume it will never happen here. I pray it does not.
But, the laws of ballistics and tactics are all that matter, once someone starts killing. There are no ifs. Only when.