Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More guns are not the answer: Thirteen people killed in shooting at military base in Fort Hood - when trained and armed bystanders were present! Read the witness report, learn about the confusion, the danger, the fear

By Patrick

The Sandy Hook shooting shocked America deeply, and solutions are needed. Gun control is complicated, and sometimes very unpopular. So why not choose an easy solution? Which could be: More guns. Virtually anyone has a gun, and everything will be fine. The "bad guys" will be killed instantly, surely.

A GOP-lawmaker from Texas called Louie Gohmert thinks that this would have solved the problem at Sandy Hook - from Business Insider:

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, said Sunday that he wished Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, had been armed on Friday with an M-4 assault rifle to counter Adam Lanza, the alleged shooter who killed 20 children and seven other adults.

"I wish to God she had an M-4 in her office locked up — so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands," Gohmert said on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace.

"But she takes him out, takes his head off, before he can kill those precious kids." Gohmert was one of the only pro-gun rights senators to agree to appear on a Sunday talk show. All 31 pro-gun rights senators declined to appear on "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Gohmert urged an "open dialogue about the situation." It's a different approach than lawmakers from President Barack Obama to Democratic Congresspeople, who are advocating stricter gun laws.

According to reports, Hochsprung was killed when she confronted Adam Lanza, the alleged killer.

"Every mass killing of more than three people in recent history has been in a place where guns were prohibited," Gohmert said."... They choose this place. They know no one will be armed."

Give school principals a M4 machine gun for self-defence?

Therefore it is very easy, isn't it? If the principal had had a gun, she would have shot the assassin, she would have "taken him out" and "taken his head off", the children would have been saved, and they all could have gone home for tea and medals. Right?

Well...if it only were that easy!

Our reader KatieAnnieOakley today in the comments drew the attention to the devastating Fort Hood shooting with the following graphic (click to enlarge):

At Wikipedia, we find a good description of this horrible incident: On November 5, 2009, the Islamist Nidal Malik Hasan, an US Army Major and psychiatrist, starting firing with a very advanced and effective semi-automatic pistol, carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Within the time-frame of ten minutes, he killed thirteen people and injured twenty-nine more with his pistol - not in a cinema, not in a public place, but right on the Fort Hood military base, the "most populous U.S. military installation in the world", as Wikipedia knows. He was surrounded by people who had military training - and who were armed.

What exactly happened during these ten minutes? This would really be an interesting question in order to decide whether "armed bystanders" can stop a manic lone shooter. A website published a first-hand witness account on November 8, 2009, giving us a deep insight into what happened on this terrible day. This account provides a good impression about the shock and confusion which this incident caused - and it shows how even military trained and armed people who witness a mass shooting can stop a determined shooter only with great difficulty, and with terrible casualties on their own part. 


I did my SRP last week (Soldier Readiness Processing) but you're supposed to come back a week later to have them look at the smallpox vaccination site (it's this big itchy growth on your shoulder). I am probably alive because I pulled a ---------- and entered the wrong building first (the main SRP building). The Medical SRP building is off to the side. Realizing my mistake I left the main building and walked down the sidewalk to the medical SRP building. As I'm walking up to it the gunshots start. Slow and methodical. But continuous. Two ambulatory wounded came out.

Then two soldiers dragging a third who was covered in blood. Hearing the shots but not seeing the shooter, along with a couple other soldiers I stood in the street and yelled at everyone who came running that it was clear but to "RUN!". I kept motioning people fast. about 6-10 minutes later (the shooting continuous), two cops ran up. one male, one female. we pointed in the direction of the shots. they headed that way (the medical SRP building was about 50 meters away). then a lot more gunfire. a couple minutes later a balding man in ACU's came around the building carrying a pistol and holding it tactically. He started shooting at us and we all dived back to the cars behind us. I don't think he hit the couple other guys who were there. I did see the bullet holes later in the cars. First I went behind a tire and then looked under the body of the car.

I've been trained how to respond to gunfire...but with my own weapon. To have no weapon I don't know how to explain what that felt like. I hadn't run away and stayed because I had thought about the consequences or anything like that. I wasn't thinking anything through. Please understand, there was no intention. I was just staying there because I didn't think about running. It never occurred to me that he might shoot me.

Until he started shooting in my direction and I realized I was unarmed. Then the female cop comes around the corner. He shoots her. (according to the news accounts she got a round into him. I believe it, I just didn't see it. he didn't go down.) She goes down. He starts reloading. He's fiddling with his mags. Weirdly he hasn't dropped the one that was in his weapon. He's holding the fresh one and the old one (you do that on the range when time is not of the essence but in combat you would just let the old mag go).

I see the male cop around the left corner of the building. (I'm about 15-20 meters from the shooter.) I yell at the cop, "He's reloading, he's reloading. Shoot him! Shoot him!) You have to understand, everything was quiet at this point. The cop appears to hear me and comes around the corner and shoots the shooter. He goes down. The cop kicks his weapon further away. I sprint up to the downed female cop. Another captain (I think he was with me behind the cars) comes up as well.

She's bleeding profusely out of her thigh. We take our belts off and tourniquet her just like we've been trained (I hope we did it right...we didn't have any CLS (combat lifesaver) bags with their awesome tourniquets on us, so we worked with what we had). Meanwhile, in the most bizarre moment of the day, a photographer was standing over us taking pictures. I suppose I'll be seeing those tomorrow. Then a soldier came up and identified himself as a medic. I then realized her weapon was lying there unsecured (and on "fire"). I stood over it and when I saw a cop yelled for him to come over and secure her weapon (I would have done so but I was worried someone would mistake me for a bad guy). I then went over to the shooter. He was unconscious.

A Lt Colonel was there and had secured his primary weapon for the time being. He also had a revolver. I couldn't believe he was one of ours. I didn't want to believe it. Then I saw his name and rank and realized this wasn't just some specialist with mental issues. At this point there was a guy there from CID and I asked him if he knew he was the shooter and had him secured. He said he did. I then went over the slaughter house. the medical SRP building. No human should ever have to see what that looked like. and I won't tell you. Just believe me. Please. there was nothing to be done there.

Someone then said there was someone critically wounded around the corner. I ran around (while seeing this floor to ceiling window that someone had jumped through movie style) and saw a large African-American soldier lying on his back with two or three soldiers attending. I ran up and identified two entrance wounds on the right side of his stomach, one exit wound on the left side and one head wound. He was not bleeding externally from the stomach wounds (though almost certainly internally) but was bleeding from the head wound. A soldier was using a shirt to try and stop the head bleeding. He was conscious so I began talking to him to keep him so. He was 42, from North Carolina, he was named something Jr., his son was named something III and he had a daughter as well. His children lived with him. He was divorced. I told him the blubber on his stomach saved his life. He smiled.

From the very detailed Wikipedia account, we learn even more:

At approximately 1:34 pm local time, Hasan entered his workplace, the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, where personnel receive routine medical treatment immediately prior to and on return from deployment. He was armed with the FN Five-seven pistol, which he had fitted with two Lasermax laser sights: one red, and one green. A Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver (an older model) was later found on Hasan's person, but it was not used to shoot any of the victims.

According to eyewitnesses, Hasan had taken a seat at an empty table and bowed his head for several seconds when he suddenly stood up, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" and opened fire. Witnesses said Hasan initially "sprayed bullets at soldiers in a fanlike motion" before taking aim at individual soldiers. Eyewitness Sgt. Michael Davis said: "The rate of fire was pretty much constant shooting. When I initially heard it it sounded like an M16."

Army reserve Captain John Gaffaney attempted to stop Hasan by charging him, but was mortally wounded before he could reach him. Civilian physician assistant Michael Cahill also tried to charge Hasan with a chair, but was shot and killed. Army reserve Specialist Logan Burnett tried to stop Hasan by throwing a folding table at him, but he was shot in the left hip, fell down, and crawled to a nearby cubicle.

According to testimony from witnesses, Hasan passed up several opportunities to shoot civilians, and instead focused on soldiers in uniform. At one point, Hasan reportedly approached a group of five civilians hiding under a desk. He looked at them, swept the dot of his pistol's laser sight over one of the men's faces, and then turned away without firing.

Base civilian police Sergeant Kimberly Munley, who had rushed to the scene in her patrol car, encountered Hasan in the area outside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Hasan fired at Munley, who exchanged shots with him using her 9mm M9 pistol. Munley's hand was hit by shrapnel when one of Hasan's bullets struck a nearby rain gutter, and then two bullets struck Munley: the first bullet hit her thigh, and the second hit her knee.As she began to fall from the first bullet, the second bullet struck her femur, shattering it and knocking her to the ground. Hasan then walked up to Munley and kicked her pistol out of reach.

As the shooting continued outside, nurses and medics entered the building, secured the doors with a belt and rushed to help the wounded. According to the responding nurses, the blood loss inside the building was so heavy they were unable to maintain balance, and had difficulty reaching the wounded to help them. In the area outside the building, Hasan continued to shoot at fleeing soldiers, and civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd arrived and shouted commands at Hasan to surrender. Todd said: "Then he turned and fired a couple of rounds at me. I didn't hear him say a word, he just turned and fired." The two exchanged shots, and Hasan was felled by five shots from Todd, who then kicked his pistol out of his hand and placed him in handcuffs as he fell unconscious.

An investigator later testified that 146 spent shell casings were recovered inside the building. Another 68 casings were collected outside, for a total of 214 rounds fired by the attacker and responding police officers. A medic who treated Hasan said his pockets were full of pistol magazines. When the shooting ended, he was still carrying 177 rounds of unfired ammunition in his pockets, contained in both 20- and 30-round magazines. The incident, which lasted about 10 minutes, resulted in 30 people wounded, and 13 killed—12 soldiers and one civilian; 11 died at the scene, and two died later in a hospital.

While it is apparently a popular fantasy amongst right-wingers that "more guns" will stop shooters quickly, these accounts clearly tell a very different story: If a shooter has a high-powered, fast-shooting gun, it is brave, but also virtually suicidal to attack them, with or without guns - even for soldiers. A shooting can go on for a long time - even on a military base.

There is also something else which we learn from the Fort Hood incident, which is important to note: It is essential for a wannabe "mass shooter" to use a modern gun which allows fast reloading and shooting, and preferably with very large magazines. Such a gun can be turned into a weapon of mass destruction - and the Fort Hood incident proved how deadly such high-tech weapons can be in the hands of a person whose only goal is to kill as many people as fast as possible.

So, could the principal of Sandy Hook have stopped stopped Adam Lanza, who used a semi-automatic assault rifle with a 30-round magazine, if the principal would have been armed with a "M-4 assault rifle", as the Republican Louie Gohmert claimed?

My vote: "No way!" Attacking a fanatic, determined shooter, who also wears a bullet-proof west, is just suicide. It is not like in a computer game. Nobody is mentally prepared for a mass shooting. A teacher will never be skilled enough to kill somebody like Adam Lanza.

On the other hand, if you place a machine-gun in every school, what could happen? What if there is a less dangerous situation, and a teacher decides to "pre-emptively" shoot an attacker or a student who might not even have been a real threat? Could a teacher even make a simple error and completely misjudge a situation, then pulling the trigger and kill totally innocent people? Could students or somebody else steal the machine-gun? I think that Republicans and the pro-NRA crowd might not have considered these possibilities. There could be many other tragic scenarios as well.

Another note on the Fort Hood shooting - look how police later turned up on the scene:

A school principal should not try to play swat-team. It can only go wrong.

In case of a mass shooting, the only sensible thing to do in my opinion is to leave the scene as quickly as possible, take as many people with you as possible, and leave the rest to the professionals.

But as I mentioned above, there is something else which is noteworthy: For a mass shooting, a killer needs guns which allow many people to be killed in a very short amount of time. He needs semi-automatic weapons and large magazines. Ban them completely - make them illegal for civilians! Nobody needs them. "More guns" is not the answer. Reasonable, intelligent gun-control is the answer. Welcome to the real world.

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