Ethics Comments On The Gadsden, Alabama Failed School Attack

Have you heard about this? No? How is that possible? After all, we have so many news organizations that should be thrilled and eager to report that a planned school shooting was foiled because–wait for it!—everyone did what they were supposed to do.

The story: Someone driving past by the Walnut Park Elementary School in Gadsden, Alabama saw a man trying to get into the school and looking into cars. The citizen called the police to report what he saw. The man was aggressively trying to get into the school building, and went to several doors, all of which were locked, but the principal, once he was alerted to the threat, checked the doors to make sure. The school administrators then declared a lockdown and called the school resource officer, who called for back-up. The officer reportedly engaged the would-be invader, who allegedly attempted to break into a marked police vehicle and to take the officer’s gun. More police officers arrived on the scene and the individual was shot and killed.

Observations:

  • This episode doesn’t “prove” anything, though the conservative media is already claiming it does. Yes, in this case everything worked, the right people were in the right places at the right time, and it is a useful contrast with the fiasco in Uvalde.
  • Regarding pro- and anti-gun control arguments, however, the episode has limited value. One cannot blame the massacre in Uvalde on the failures of the police and the school. Full responsibility belongs, first of all, on the shooter.
  • The episode in Alabama should prompt exactly the same kind of intense examination in the absence of casualties as the Uvalde tragedy did. Will it? I have no idea. My guess is that police and investigators won’t spend much time looking at the reasons a shooting might have happened when it didn’t. I can’t even be certain from the linked news story if the man involved had a gun. His name was Robert Tyler White and he was 32-years-old. I couldn’t determine from reports whether he was white or black, because the four news stories with photos disagreed. White’s brother said he was “a little off” and might have been trying to get shot, as in a “suicide by cop.”

But did he try to get a gun? Is so, why wasn’t he successful? Would any “red flag laws” have stopped him, if he was trying to shoot up a school?

  • It is as important to understand the cases where tragedy is averted as it is to dissect the episodes where one or more systems and safeguards fail. How often do the systems work? This is a big country: focusing on the mass shootings only while ignoring the tragedies that never come to fruition is inherently misleading.
  • But, as they say, if it bleeds, it leads. The Alabama non-shooting has received very little publicity, for a good reason: not much happened, and a bad one: the news media is determined to push the Left’s anti-gun agenda, and this doesn’t advance that objective.
  • Unlike most of the national media I’ve checked, the Washington Post at least covered the incident. It also posted the story as “national news.” good for the Post. The Post also published the Justice Kavanaugh assassination attempt as “local news.”

In related news, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo told The Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself to be the commanding officer on the scene that day.

Oh.

You know, laws won’t stop human beings from doing wrongful and terrible things by themselves. Somebody has to enforce them. Here’s The Federalist’s take:

It turns out we don’t need celebrity lectures and sweeping gun control to keep schoolchildren safe. We just need locked doors and adults who do their dang jobs.

But “just” having systems work as designed is not as simple as it seems. It is disingenuous to claim otherwise.

7 thoughts on “Ethics Comments On The Gadsden, Alabama Failed School Attack

  1. >>>But “just” having systems work as designed is not as simple as it seems. It is disingenuous to claim otherwise.

    There is a famous quote by Clausewitz: “In war everything is very simple, but the simplest things is difficult.”

    • “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”.

      A quick little saying that is hyperbolic (because plans are NOT worthless) but useful. Plans most certainly matter, they help guide common and individual action when the time to think diminishes. But the quote is to emphasize *planning*. Plans designed for emergencies and contingencies can never be perfect as we are not omniscient – we cannot predict exactly how an event will unfold when we design the plans to counteract the event.

      But the act of *planning* – members of the team going through the study of as many possible scenarios they can and developing as many possible mitigations as they can – has a way of programming the team member’s minds to be instinctively focused on the goal even in the midst of the stress of an emergency happening. In the height of confusion, the human brain can create a myriad of responses, how much better that the myriad of responses is already geared to a single goal in mind.

      And obviously the individual plan wasn’t worthless, but consisted of a series of independent steps, that could occur in any general order and STILL combine to reduce holes in the security while heightening posture towards the threat.

  2. The cowboy country church I attend does not allow unlocked unattended doors.
    Newcomers are of course welcome but anyone hinky is eyeballed throughout the service by the security team and the pastor.
    Point being, simple security measures frequently are very effective~~~~~> locked doors kept this guy on the outside!
    Some of this stuff is just common sense and not much of an inconvenience.

    • Our church is very similar: there are at least a half-dozen armed and trained “gatekeepers” for each service, to say nothing of the congregants that arm themselves.

      The Left constantly talks about “common-sense gun control”, but as we see with Gadsden, sometimes just a little sense does the trick without resorting to the restriction of freedoms.

  3. Regarding pro- and anti-gun control arguments, however, the episode has limited value. One cannot blame the massacre in Uvalde on the failures of the police and the school. Full responsibility belongs, first of all, on the shooter.

    How is it that you seem to be the only one on the Internet who knows this? Is it some kind of secret that homicidal behavior by a person is not the fault of external factors? Did someone repeal the law of cause and effect and add “gray” area? Probably yet another black mark against the Leftist cult formerly known psychology.

    My guess is that police and investigators won’t spend much time looking at the reasons a shooting might have happened when it didn’t. I can’t even be certain from the linked news story if the man involved had a gun.

    It didn’t. He was unarmed, but allegedly tried to grab the security guard’s firearm.

    In related news, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo told The Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself to be the commanding officer on the scene that day.

    Further proof that “The buck stops here” has been relegated to a historical curiosity.

    But “just” having systems work as designed is not as simple as it seems. It is disingenuous to claim otherwise.

    True. Systems can only work as designed if consistently implemented with care and oversight by people who care enough not to take shortcuts, grab-ass or otherwise let attention slip. The kind of people we generally hire for security unfortunately come up short in those areas all to often, lulled by “it couldn’t happen here.”

    More proof that generalizations are related to bias, and bias makes us stupid.

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