Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lessons and preparations

I like this Mark Steyn article.

A culture of passivity
It's a delicate subject. No one wants to blame the victim but if we avoid the subject altogether, we will draw the wrong lessons.

Police trainers have a saying-- in a crisis you do not rise to the occasion, you default to your training.

Right now, we train for passivity. Steyn is right about that.

'Twas not always so.

When Whitman started shooting at U. of T., civilians from all over Austin headed to the campus. They brought their deer rifles and varmint rifles and mil-surplus rifles. They were the militia ready to fight.

They are remembered, now, as typical, gun-toting, Texas yahoos. They deserve better.

For one thing, they showed up. With bullets flying, they showed up.

More importantly, they were effective. Whitman spent 96 minutes shooting from that tower. Most of the casualties happened in the first 20 minutes. After that, he could no longer take careful aim because he was under heavy fire from those gun-toting yahoos. Their suppressive fire also allowed rescuers to recover the wounded and get them to the hospital.

The usual argument against civilian response is that they will inflict more casualties on the innocent due to their lack of training. That did not happen in Austin. There were no friendly fire casualties even though hundreds of rounds were fired at the tower which was occupied by dozens of innocent civilians.

Contrast that with the performance of the New Orleans Police Department when they confronted another sniper in 1972. The NOPD turned away civilian volunteers in their standoff with Mark James Essex. Nonetheless, over a dozen officers were wounded by friendly fire. All of it came from police officers.

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