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Until U.S. Understands Police Limitations, Some Will Put Faith in Gun Control

If municipalities and individual officers could be sued for failure to keep each citizen from harm, how could any city afford a police force? Who would become a police officer knowing every dime they ever made would be spent fending off lawsuits for matters about which they had no knowledge?

Police officers won't refuse to respond to active shooters in schools. However, that is cold comfort to them and to any parent aware of the facts.

There Are A Lot Of Bad Guys Out There

Most Americans would be stunned to learn how few police officers are patrolling the streets of their communities at any time of the day or night.

Police agencies are always undermanned and staff their shifts accordingly, with the largest number of officers when they are most needed, commonly the evening and midnight shifts, and particularly Friday and Saturday nights.

The day shift, the shift coinciding with school hours, is virtually always the most sparsely staffed.

This means that when an active shooter invades a school, there will be very few officers available, fewer than at any other time of the day.

Unfortunately, more and more states and cities are in deep financial trouble, and many have been laying off police officers -- or simply not replacing those who retire or leave for other reasons -- for years. The San Bernardino, CA city attorney recently took the previously unimaginable step of telling citizens to "Go home, lock your doors, and load your guns," so desperate has the crime problem become there and so hard-pressed the police force.

Things will be unlikely to improve -- anywhere -- in the foreseeable future.

The Police Are Less Ready Than You Think

The police did learn from Columbine (April 20, 1999). In those days, active shooters were handled with the belief that time was on the side of the police. Officers were taught never to enter a school, to contain and control the situation, and to call in SWAT. Negotiations would be established, and the kinds of responses commonly portrayed on TV and in the movies would unfold.

Unfortunately, that response model cost lives.

While the police at Columbine waited for hours to enter, people who might have been saved bled out, and the shooters -- as is almost always the case -- killed themselves long before the first SWAT officer entered the building.

Since that day, the police response model has evolved to require the first officers on the scene to immediately enter the school and to seek out and assault any shooters. Unfortunately, not every police agency has adopted this model, and the quality and quantity of training in the necessary tactics and skills are far from standardized and effective.

Most Americans would be equally stunned to learn that a great many police officers are not good shots.

Many fire their duty handguns only for yearly qualifications on courses of fire with generous passing scores. A great many citizens are far more capable with firearms, and due to military training -- most police officers are no longer veterans -- and other specialized training widely available to civilians, more tactically adept.

Firearm training and standards vary wildly from agency to agency.