On Tuesday, a student at Great Mills High School in Maryland stole a pistol from his father and went to school and shot his ex-girlfriend and another student.
Initial estimates are that, within a minute, a resource officer from the St. Mary’s Sherriff’s Department, Blaine Gaskill, audibly observed what was happening, and based on his values and training, decided to take action and ran towards where he heard the gunshots.
Deputy Gaskill told the shooter to drop his weapon and both shot at almost the same time. It’s still unknown whether Gaskill’s shot stopped the shooter or whether the shooter shot himself. Either way, active resistance stopped the attempted murderer.
I need to start out by saying the obvious. What happened was horrible and shouldn’t happen to anyone. But it does. I feel horrible for the families affected. As long as we have evil in the world, people will do evil things.
With that in mind, there are a few interesting aspects about this…
First, because the shooting happened at a school, it’s being called a school shooting, even though it appears right now to be a classic jilted lover scenario that just happened to occur at a school. A note, social media post, or eyewitness account may change that. It’s horrible, regardless of where it happened.
If he only had 1 magazine, the jilted lover scenario is more likely…if he had multiple magazines & weapons, then he probably planned on murdering several people.
CNN claims that this is the 17th or 18th school shooting this year. The impression is that there have been 17-18 mass shootings at grade, middle, and high schools, but that includes a case where a teacher had a negligent discharge during a firearms safety class, shootings at college parties, dorms & apartment buildings, a 32 year old who was shot in a parking lot after a fight, and other 1-off cases.
Technically, this was not a mass shooting. Thanks to the Obama administration, we have a definition of what a mass shooting is…a mass shooting has been defined as an incident where 4 people are killed.
Fortunately, mass school shootings are rare in the US. Parkland was the first one since 2015 in the US, the 2nd since Newtown in 2014 and 8th since 1996. 1 is too many, but 8 mass school shootings in 21-22 years in a country of 300 million is too few to say that there’s any kind of trend happening…much less that it’s an epidemic that requires law abiding citizens to give up rights for no benefit.
Second, the school was a gun free zone and there were numerous laws in place to keep the student from obtaining either a pistol or ammunition for that pistol. In fact, many gun control advocates point to Maryland gun laws as being the “reasonable” and “common sense” laws that the rest of the country needs.
As expected, additional laws did not translate into additional safety.
More specifically, additional restrictions on law abiding citizens didn’t change the behavior of someone willing to commit murder. For some reason, murderers never seem to care that murder is against the law. And once they take that logical step, no other law seems to matter all that much either.
Third, we don’t know right now whether the shooter planned on a murder-suicide and accidentally shot the other student or whether he planned on shooting more people.
Either way, it’s not in society’s best interest to leave things to chance and let murderers decide when they want to stop murdering. When someone crosses the line and uses force to hurt/kill an innocent person, they need to be stopped before they can hurt/kill more innocent people.
Deputy Gaskill’s quick response with a gun did just that, regardless of whether Gaskill’s bullet killed the shooter or he killed himself.
Fourth, it’s ironic that just a few days before the “march for our lives” protest being paid for and promoted by Bloomberg that it was a gun on campus that stopped the violence and potentially saved lives. At this point, the shooter’s ex-girlfriend is still alive, but she may not have survived the day if Deputy Gaskill hadn’t intervened.
Once again, a good guy with a gun and the training and fortitude to use it stopped a bad guy with a gun.
Whether you’re an officer or a civilian who owns a firearm to potentially stop a violent situation, the difference between success and failure in a life & death situation will be your training…both your firearms training and your mental training.
With very minor differences, the gun that Deputy Gaskill had, the guns that the officers who stood outside the school in Parkland had, and the gun that you own to defend the ones you love are the same.
In fact, I’d venture to guess that a lot of the training that they received was the same as what you’ve received. They all learned the basics of stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press, and follow through.
But performance in a life and death situation goes beyond that. It depends on those fundamentals, but it goes beyond that.
And, if you want to be able to do more than just punch holes in paper…if you want to stack the deck as far in your favor as possible for a situation where your life or the lives of others may be on the line, you need to seek out training that will maximize your performance with a pistol, even if you have minimal time and a limited training budget.
by Mike Ox
Mike Ox is an avid defensive and competitive shooter who has co-created several firearms training products, including Dry Fire Training Cards, https://se965.infusionsoft.com/go/dftcmedia/loadout
Dry Fire Fit, 21 Day Alpha Shooter, and See Faster, Shoot Faster. His brain based training focuses on accelerated learning techniques for shooting as well as controlling brain state and brain chemistry for optimal performance in extreme stress situations. Learn more about dynamic dry fire training for defense and competition at www.DryFireTrainingCards.com/blog
Photo courtesy of Mark Miller
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