On Monday, April 16th university student Cho Seung-Hui murdered 32 students and professors with a 9mm handgun and a .22 caliber handgun in Blacksburg, Virginia. This massacre now makes it the bloodiest school shooting in American history.
Just three days before the massacre took place I taught a course called Terrorism Survival in Los Angeles (Buena Park), California where I simulated this very scenario using projectile firing air guns. Of course, I’ve been teaching civilians how to survive such incidents since January 21, 2003 and hundreds have gone through the program.
On CNN news the “experts” were recommending that stricter gun control be put into place to prevent Virginia Tech style shootings. That is always the answer to any high profile shooting in America. However, even in countries with very strict gun control such shootings still occur, including massacres. Even when other weapons are used, such as knives, there are groups who want to place stricter controls on those weapons. There are actually groups in the United Kingdom that want to outlaw knives with any sharp point throughout the country. Of course, where does it stop? Do you outlaw cars, because they are often used to run over people? Do you outlaw beer bottles, because they are often used in bar fights? The weapons are not the problem. It is the person behind the weapon. The truth is that if a few responsible people were armed among the people Cho Seung-Hui targeted they might have gunned him down while he was executing people. Of course, our society is not ready to hear that. They want the government to always shoulder the responsibility of protecting them or hope that such incidents will stop if law abiding citizens are stripped of their guns; although criminals and terrorists will always be able to get weapons on the black market.
Before the 1990s school massacres did not exist, but now they are a fairly common thing. In fact, school crimes of all sorts continue to climb. Between 2000 and 2004 there were 68,308 violent offenses on American campuses according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (www.fbi.gov/ucr.ucr.htm). There were another 113,160 non-violent offenses, thus a total of 181,468 persons were arrested.
Where weapon type was known, personal weapons (such as hands and feet) were used 77.5 percent of the time. However, keep in mind that these crimes include all ages, such as grade school children. Knives accounted for 8.6 percent of the weapon total and guns were used 2.7 percent of the time.
In my opinion every child, even small children, should learn how to survive a school shooting, and depending on the age, there are several ways. Many Virginia Tech students and teachers survived because they did the right thing: barricaded themselves in, played dead, and escaped. However, nobody ambushed the attacker. I’m not second guessing those who didn’t, but that is an option that few are willing to do.
The murderer committed suicide by shooting himself in the face before the police could get to him. He had left a note before his infamous attack stating “You caused me to do this.”
Level 1 courses a success in Los Angeles Jim Wagner
From April 9 to 13 I taught my Level 1 courses to a highly motivated group of men; there were no women this time except my assistant instructor Kelly Sceberras who pulled off a realistic scenario that all the students though was real at the time. From this group six of the students were instructor certified: Guss Ives from Maine, Timothy Stinson from Texas, Ed Bartylak, Michael Gallardo, Marty Soudani from Colorado, and Cesar Terrones.
Tim Stinson, who had recently returned from working for a security company in Afghanistan, greatly contributed to the courses by confirming the material I was teaching and sharing with the students his own experiences. Tim gave everybody a rare glimpse of what was going on in Afghanistan by showing students video clips and photographs he took. As a gift Tim gave me a shirt that he had worn in the war. Of course, this is shirt is now part of my collection in my office. Tim’s company paid for his one week training, and will be using much of the knowledge I had taught him. I often get security companies sending their people through my courses. Just last month I trained several security personnel in South Africa and in Holland.
For Michael Gallardo I gave him private lessons in Children’s Survival, because his organization could not wait until July when it is offered in Los Angeles. Occasionally I will do private lessons, but it is not often. I gave Mike his lessons for half of his lunches and after his regular classes. When it was all over Mike told me, “Jim, Children’s Survival was the hardest class out of them all.” Many people have told me that, because this course really challenges people in becoming a better instructor.
For some reason this group really gelled well together, which made it more enjoyable for me in teaching. The guys who had real-world fighting experience made the courses more intense and realistic. It made it all the more fun when Ed Bartylak opened up his lunch box and jumped back when a simulated bomb went off (a high pitch noise maker) during the Terrorism Survival course. I had planted the device there when he was on break, but used the experience to teach everybody.
A few of the students are coming back in July when I teach my Level 2 and 3 courses. For you who are thinking of signing up for Level 2 you do not need to have completed Level 1, and you don’t need to be a certified instructor to get into Level 2. However, to enter into Level 3 you MUST be at least a Level 1 instructor.
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.