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

Time Is Not On The Side Of The Good Guys

Response times for emergencies vary enormously from place to place. In some rural or semi-rural areas, emergency response is measured in hours. Even in towns or cities, a five-minute response -- from the moment an officer receives the radio call until he arrives in a school parking lot -- would be amazingly fast.

Consider, however, that a radio call likely would not have been made until someone at the school realized what was happening and made a call, a call that will take precious seconds -- even minutes -- to make and to be understood. By the time a radio signal flashes out, a shooter could easily have been shooting for five minutes or more.

And even when that first officer arrives in the parking lot, he will likely not have clear directions. Few police officers have so much as been inside every school in their jurisdiction; fewer know them well. Even if that first officer can hear continuing gunfire, unless by chance he happens to enter the school near the shooter it will take additional minutes to find and stop the shooter. Unless the shooter stops him first.

Every minute is an eternity in a school attack. Every minute costs lives. All competent police officers know this; it's one of their greatest frustrations. They know that in virtually every imaginable scenario, the real issue is how many will die before they are in a position to do anything.

They also know that if the modern history of school shootings is any guide, the shooter will virtually always have killed himself long before they arrive.

In virtually every American school shooting, the police have had no role in stopping the shooter.

Feel-Good Measures Harm, Not Help

The police are by and large practical people. They do their best to do what works, because anything else can cost lives. They know that gun-free school zones are actually “victim disarmament zones,” areas killers can attack with the assurance no one will be able to resist them. They know people planning the mass murder of children will not be deterred by any law restricting guns.

They also know guns aren't the only means of causing harm, as was the case recently in Casper, WY, where a teacher was murdered by his son, who fired an arrow into his head and ultimately killed him by stabbing him with a knife. A knife the son then used to kill himself.

The Single Most Effective Solution

In a free society, nothing can stop the deranged from committing crimes. Everything the Connecticut killer did is already as illegal as human beings can make it, which means little to one planning to take his own life.

Additional laws, particularly those disarming the innocent and law-abiding, accomplish nothing. What I'm about to relate, rank and file police officers -- the men and women who have to charge into danger -- broadly support. Their bosses, by and large, do not.