Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Elementary School Responds to Sandy Hook Massacre by Replacing P.E. with Counter-Terrorism Curriculum

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Residents of Bennington Vale, a conservative bedroom community situated in the staunchly right-wing county of San Narciso, Calif., have spent the last week honoring the victims of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary shootings and taking precautions against similar tragedies locally. But in a town predominantly populated by Tea Party supporters, the one topic of discussion that will not be entertained is a ban on weapons of any kind. "Deaths from incidents of vehicular homicide outpace gun-related fatalities by 56 percent. But we're not talking about banning cars and making people ride horses to work," said Mayor Manny DiPresso. "Besides, horses are dangerous too. Think of Catherine the Great, Scarlett O'Hara, Christopher Reeve, or that weird guy in 'Equus.'" Borrowing heavily from a December 17 editorial by Megan McArdle in The Daily Beast, DiPresso urged citizens to focus on the reality that "there's little we can do to prevent another massacre," and instead make more reasonable efforts to mitigate the unavoidable deaths to come.

Megan McArdle's Final Solution
Megan McArdle paints a hopeless picture with very broad strokes in her piece, always seeming to arrive at the conclusion that "since we can't understand it, we can't change it. And since we can't change it, our best hope is to box it in... Not every problem has a policy solution."

McArdle goes on to illustrate the impracticalities of the emotionally driven proposals to end violence. Outlawing guns would be unconstitutional and unpopular -- between 40 and 60 percent of Americans own firearms. Institutionalizing the mentally ill would prove expensive. Such a move could also compromise the operation of the federal government, as many congressmen would likely be forced into confinement in psychiatric facilities. And although McArdle accepts that unfettered media coverage may exacerbate these tragedies, stifling the freedom of the press by implementing "Chinese-style Internet controls" could cost her a lucrative career.

In the case of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, he had received the best mental health care available and was denied purchase of a firearm. Records indicate that his mother was registered as the legal owner of the weapons he used in the grotesque, execution-style slaughter of 20 small children.

"'Make more mental health resources available' or 'early identification and treatment of troubled children' is a fine answer to many cases," McArdle argues, "but Adam Lanza had all that you could wish for in terms of resources. It didn't stop him from picking up a gun and going to that school."

And according to McArdle, the one thing we can't do is "ban the types of weapons that make these shootings possible."

"It's true," she wrote, "I would oppose a total gun ban even if it were structurally and practically possible."

Mayor DiPresso agreed with McArdle's dire yet honest assessments. He told his community that rage and hate and evil will always find a means to their ends, regardless of the devices used or agents of their delivery.

"As Ms. McArdle so astutely pointed out, the best we can do is mitigate the collateral damage so that fewer children are butchered in these situations," DiPresso explained. "Sometimes, you have to lose a finger to save a hand."

So what are the options? McArdle's first solution, barring an unconstitutional ban on weapons, is to impose regulations on top of the existing "reasonable controls" that would limit the number of rounds legally permitted within a magazine or clip: "Reducing the body counts a bit is obviously a very worthy project; I am okay with outlawing magazines that contain more than ten bullets."

Unfortunately, McArdle also acknowledges that "this will in no way prevent people from going on murderous rampages."

Her final solution, one that Mayor DiPresso has embraced to the letter, is this: "I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once."

San Narciso Shoots for Success by Targeting Unorthodox Methods
On Wednesday, heeding McArdle's advice, the San Narciso School Board voted overwhelmingly to replace the already faltering physical education programs in the county's elementary schools with counter-terrorism exercises such as "gang rushing shooters."

Dr. Maude Bravo, former principal of Bongo-Shaftsbury High School and current superintendent of the San Narciso County School District, has already coordinated the formation of a counter-terrorism curriculum with local police, educators, and parents.

"The first step is reconditioning," Bravo stated. "Not just for the students but the teachers as well. The initial instinct of very young children when threatened is to hide. Similarly, the first instinct of the teachers at Sandy Hook was to protect the children by hiding them. Sadly, this response is wrong. Sequestering the pupils in a confined space simply affords killers the opportunity to shoot fish in a barrel. But these monsters would never anticipate a preemptive strike by the children."

If 20 children had banded together and rushed Lanza, Bravo reasoned, at least a dozen kids could have survived the attack.

"It's not optimal, but it's definitely better odds," she added. "So, we're trying to teach the children these new habits until they become instinctual. The other issue is getting the children to make decisions about which of their friends will be sacrificed. As with adults, we think it makes the most sense to ask the older students -- those in fifth and sixth grade -- to lead the campaign as the first line. They've lived much fuller lives than kindergartners, and can meet their makers with a greater sense of accomplishment. And if they don't die, all the better."

To help in the county's endeavors, area high schools have donated equipment from their football teams that could prove vital to the success of the new program.

"The tackle dummies were a brilliant idea and a magnanimous gesture," Dr. Bravo beamed. "We've outfitted them as psychotic assailants with fake guns. For drills, we have the children form up in lines and attack the dummies in groups. After they get used to the situation, we'll arm the dummies with paintball guns to enhance the simulation."

Bravo hopes the presence of the paintball guns will assist in the administration's data analytics process, which should produce an efficient working model to help predict -- and reduce -- the number of casualties during encounters of varying dynamics.

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.

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