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Hard thinking about soft targets
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By Stephen Browne
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: \x34Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY ...
Rants and Raves
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY Used, published in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Novosibirsk, Russia, and English Linguistic Humor: Puns, Play on Words, Spoonerisms, and Shaggy Dog Stories. In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. He is currently living in his native Midwest, which he considers the most interesting foreign country I have ever lived in.
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By Stephen W. Browne
Jan. 25, 2013 11:18 a.m.

Note: This is cross-posted on my blog at The Marshall Independent.
Today (Friday) my interview with Matthew Loeslie law enforcement coordinator at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, appeared in the Independent under the title, “Active shooter: What to do when the unthinkable happens.”
The article was the result of an interesting and wide-ranging discussion that covered much more material than could be included in the article, but may pop up later.
One of the things discussed was soft targets and how to harden them. Though school shootings are rare, they are nonetheless a magnet for the homicidal/suicidal personality precisely because they offer an unprotected target-rich environment.
I wrote about this back in ’06 after the Amish tragedy.
Other possibilities include theaters and shopping centers, both of which have featured in recent active shooter incidents. The shopping center shooter committed suicide immediately upon being confronted by an armed civilian who had a permit but technically shouldn’t have been carrying inside the mall.
(When I lived in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1998 I had to pass through a magnetometer every day I went to work in an indoor shopping mall or the British Council Library. At night I used to go to sleep to the music of partying locals firing guns into the air, and occasionally throwing grenades into the Beautiful Blue Danube.)
The concept of schools as soft target magnets horrifies some people. I’ve been the subject of almost hysterical vilification for merely pointing this out.
Too bad. Unpleasant facts do not cease to be facts because you don’t like to think about them.
And to make you even more uncomfortable, if you’ve seen “Zero Dark 30″ you know that one of the things mentioned in passing is that Al Queda has discussed doing this kind of thing in a much more organized fashion.
Minnesota West and a number of other places around the country offer good information on survival. We’re beginning a dialog on a subject many don’t want to think about – arming a few teachers, perhaps by offering pay incentives for teachers who agree to take – let’s call it what it is – combat pistol training and maintain their skills.
(I’m not suggesting the teachers carry. A firearm can be kept in a lockbox with a digital combination, perhaps in a teachers desk. Students need not know which teachers have them. And if you have a problem with this, may I ask why you trust your children to them everyday?)
But of course, hardening the target doesn’t solve the problem of homicidal insanity. Harden one target and those bent on murder/suicide will go somewhere else.
How to recognize and deal with the problem of homicidal insanity, or just plain evil, without totally junking our constitutional protections against prior restraint is another subject.
But for now, hardening schools and making spree killers look elsewhere for targets is just fine with me while I’ve got kids in those schools.

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