December 27th, 2012

Gary Marbut On Target Regarding Sandy Hook Shooting


Gary Marbut _ Allen Keyes at Marbut's private range in Montana

Gary Marbut (Left) and Allen Keyes at Marbut's private Montana range


This article was written as an op-ed by guest columnist Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, headquartered at Missoula, Montana. Please enjoy reading this article at the original site, and check out the comments thread.


December 26, 2012 * by Gary Marbut

As with many others, I’ve been recovering from the shock of the school shooting in Connecticut. While doing so, I’ve been watching some national themes emerge. They seem to be these:

  • Nobody can understand why a human being would commit such an atrocity. There may be no prohibition more pervasive and staunch among all cultures and societies than that against killing children. Some can see how such an event could happen, but nobody understands why.
  • Hypothetical “gun free zones” turn out to have been a horrible public policy failure. All such mass murders have happened in pretended gun free zones that in fact obviously weren’t. The people who would never commit a crime are the ones who follow the rules, creating a killing field of defenseless victims to magnetically attract those predators and crazies for whom the rules mean nothing at all, but who appreciate a free fire zone where nobody can fight back.
  • Some perspective may be helpful. There is much talk about banning “assault rifles.” The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report states that 323 people were killed in the U.S. in 2011 by rifles of all types. In the same period, the CDC reports that 400 people died from falling out of bed. Motor vehicles and water are orders of magnitude more dangerous to children than school shootings.
  • n Guns save lives – lots of lives. Florida State University Professor Gary Kleck estimates that Americans use firearms lawfully about 2.5 million times each year to make predators go away. Shots are only fired in about 8 percent of those cases. An American is about 6,000 times more likely to use a firearm legally to protect herself than to be injured with a firearm.
  • People who advocate firearm restrictions say we need to have a national debate about guns. Well, we’ve been having that debate for about three decades. What the gun control advocates really mean is that they’d like to win this debate, for once. In the past three decades, about 35 states have enacted mandatory issue concealed weapon permit laws. Opponents in every state predicted such laws would result in shootouts on every street corner, with rivers of blood running in the streets. Of course, that prophesy never came true. What did happen was that national crime statistics and victimization have trended steadily downward over that same period, notwithstanding record firearm sales in the U.S.
  • The last theme I’ve seen emerging is one to allow willing and responsible teachers and school staff to be armed. More than one parent has said that if a teacher is not responsible enough to safely possess and use a firearm, that teacher is not responsible enough to be in loco parentis, responsible for the parent’s child. The ugly truth is that sometimes people just snap and do horrific things. When that happens and the assailant has a gun, intended victims will call and pray for somebody else with a gun to come save them. No matter how much they wish, police can seldom get there quickly enough to save the victims. Only the people present can do that, and only someone with training and a gun is likely to be able to stop a madman with a gun. How many of the teachers killed at Sandy Hook spent their last moments, after watching the babies murdered, thinking “Thank God I don’t have a gun … someone could get hurt”?

Finally, I’m sure millions of law-abiding gun owners join me in wishing we could have been magically transported to Sandy Hook Elementary School on that fateful day, with our guns, so we could have stopped the killer and saved those children. We’d gladly have taken the personal risk, the moral load of killing the assailant, and our legal licks for violating the dangerous no-guns policy, to be able to save those precious kids.

Sadly, such magic doesn’t happen. In lieu of magic and simple emoting, we can rationally examine how these incidents happen, and how they can be interdicted, even if we are still at a loss to understand why any person would do such a terrible thing as was done at Sandy Hook.

Gary Marbut is accepted in state and federal courts as an expert in self-defense and the use of force and firearm safety; is a veteran firearms and self-defense instructor; and is president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. He lives in Missoula.


End note: Gary Marbut and his MSSA wrote the Montana Firearms Freedom Act of 2009, which  was passed and signed into law that year, and which is now working its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is one of the most powerful State challenges to the Federal government’s interpretation of the “Commerce Clause”, possible the first law (challenging Federal interpretation of Commerce Clause) to reach the top of the Judicial system.

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One Response to “Gary Marbut On Target Regarding Sandy Hook Shooting”

  1. 1
    Kimberly Lambright Says:

    I too have given this alarming trend some thought and although I abhor the idea of having firearms in schools, the time has perhaps come. However the I have real problems with having teachers/staff having active control of firearms ie., having it on their person. The probability of a teacher succumbing themselves through some mental or emotional trauma to use a weapon against the students is probably low. However a teacher being overpowered by determined individual(s)for possession of said weapon has a high degree of probability of arising. Another point I’d like to make is that the primary mindset/ demeanor/behavior of a teacher is to teach!!! To put the majority of them in the position to be CONSTANTLY aware of their weapon is both distracting and fatiguing in my opinion. Thus I suggest the following:

    1.Conduct a risk assessment of each participatory school with “qualified individuals” (SWAT, ANTI Terrorist type backgrounds), involve the Campus LEO’s and PTA on some levels as there might be “jewels” buried out there that could be utilized. Especially since no 2 schools are alike- physical structure being one of them.

    2. If weapons have to be present, an armed policeman in a high risk area could be both comforting and demoralizing to the purpose of why our students are at a school. Although it may have additional benefits such as reduction of drug trafficking within and nearby a school’s vicinity. A “safe” person to confide in of other possible crimes- abuse, threats, etc. Could provide them with business cards to hand for “confidentiality” contact numbers. Introduce them to the students as a “safe resource”. Their job should be totally insular meaning confined solely for the purpose of safety and NOT a roleplayer in the school staffs’ political affairs (union, etc). Incorporate into whatever required “drill” structure for schools-fire, tornado, etc. In addition to the above there is also the “atmospheric” benefit to the immediate vicinity.

    3. Identify, approach and train school personnel/staff who are of the “Troops to Teachers” persuasion as they would be more comfortable with incorporating weapons in their daily routine and can usually deal with the additional burdens of responsibility. Should include an annual review and assessment, ongoing and maintenance training (as directed) by a competent authority- an oath and an allowance to opt out at any time or grounds to be excused from this responsibility should be included.

    4. Only allowing willing teachers/staff who are screened and trained by local law enforcement to perform this function. With above recommendations for interview, assessment, training and review. Never make it mandatory/punitive option of employment! Beware of the over enthusism-police know what to look for in persnal evals. Their basis of eval is probably the most complimentary as opposed of the military mindset.

    3.Compensatory measures- case by case, school by school, etc. as determined by authorities…

    4.”Active control” versus “passive access” of pre-positioned weapons- Here is where I have to say that I would much rather see strategically placed weapons in strategically placed biometric type lock boxes with a typed or spoken password known only to them. I believe this layered approach is best so that a key can’t be misplaced, stolen or duplicated. Biometric offers both quick access and is harder to reproduce/generate. The addition of a spoken or typed password(s) known only to person desiring access to the specific weapon. Universal passwords can offer a variety of options such nullifying access to all lockboxes at certain times (school’s out), activating alarms/alerts both overt and covert such as alarm systems, 911 response and just another layer of for a moment to breathe… before engaging. Combinations of pathway response levels can be incorporated into predermined activation code words.

    4. Provide some means of communicating to students and staff where safe egress to outside or wherever “place of shelter” can be accessed. Lights, automated message, etc.

    5. Comms. The biggest complaint of any exercise is comms. Discussion by all partiess involved should determine primary, secondary and tertiary methods/keyword activators etc,if necessary.

    In closing, I still hate idea of guns in schools. It’s a slippery slope and should be safegaurded against any measure to “move” it onto other venues.

    In the spirit,
    Kimberly Lambright

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