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Newtown, Beslan, Ma’alot: Defending the Targeted School

Beslan, as a case study, was part of a presentation I attended some years ago by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman. A warrior, historian, psychologist, and expert on the science of killing -- which he calls Killology -- Grossman is a captivating speaker. On the day I heard him he brought law enforcement officers across local, state, and federal jurisdictions to their feet in enthusiastic applause.

Grossman’s message, overly distilled, is this: terrorists choose soft targets that generate a lot of emotional imagery for the camera’s lens. The next 9/11 is probably not going to be the taking of airplanes -- a hardened target -- but the taking of schools: a soft, unprotected target that has an even greater psychological impact and generates even greater visuals for a Western media hungry to fill airtime with sensational events. Nowhere is the symbiosis of terrorists and their media enablers greater than in events like Beslan.

Most schools are generally unprotected or inadequately protected, like the Newtown school, which had a security system that didn’t trigger an alarm when the shooter broke the window of a locked door to open it from the inside.

Many schools have security guards armed with Walkie Talkies and a life expectancy that will never exceed ten seconds when confronted by an armed attacker. The killer, even without his conspicuous display of weapons, would never have made it through the checkpoint at an Israeli school. If somehow he had, he would have been confronted by trained teachers bearing assault rifles. He might not have gotted off a single round.

Down the street from me is the local traffic court, where armed personnel come and go all day. Try and get into the traffic court, and you are met by armed guards and a security detection system as rigorous as that at the airport. But drive less than half a mile up the street to the neighboring middle school, and there is absolutely no one who could stop an armed intruder.

The average police response time in America is twenty minutes. Cut it in half, and you still have a tragedy.

Liberals think that if you pass stronger gun laws, you’ll stop somebody who is out to commit mass murder. The logic is incomprehensible -- a person won’t break a gun law, but will commit mass murder. Adam Lanza broke three gun laws after he shot his mother in the face on his way to shoot up the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Let’s acknowledge the real problem: our schools are soft targets. Terrorists, of all varieties, prey on soft targets. And if Dave Grossman’s projections are correct, Beslan -- like the massacre of children at Ma’alot’s Netiv Meir elementary school in Israel -- is a harbinger of things to come.