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Newtown shooting: Stopping the active shooter

Active shooters can be stopped long before someone dies by understanding that most shooters pass through a fantasy stage, planning stage, preparation stage, approach stage, and implementation stage

“We interrupt this programming to report there are possibly 27 dead at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.”

That’s what I heard this morning while I was updating my Active Shooter Power Point with the information on the Clackamas Mall Shooting for a presentation on January 10th at Iona College in New York.

We’ve all come to know the names of places like Trolley Square, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Binghampton, Littleton, and Jonesborough... Like the Sonny and Cher song goes, “The Beat goes on and on and on and on...”

No Imaginary Solutions to Real-World Problems
Mere minutes had passed before some hack was on the air and wasting oxygen talking about disarming Americans. Forget about it. It’s not going to happen in the United States of America.

As they say, “That dog won’t hunt.”

Americans will not allow themselves to be disarmed.

Besides, if this was exclusively an American problem that could be solved by gun control, how does one explain the 18 dead killed by Mark Lepine at Universite de Montreal? What about the 77 dead before the muzzle of Anders Behring Breivik at Utoya Island? What about the 119 killed in Mumbai?

These mass killings were committed by shooters who managed to arm themselves for their killing day in countries which have such stringent controls on firearms that many police officers are not allowed to be armed off duty (and sometimes even while on duty!).

Other talking heads go on and on trying to determine who didn’t properly love the shooter, or who bullied the shooter into their hellacious act?


Guns didn’t pull their own triggers on these innocents. Some red haired bully did not cause these people to die by pushing a smaller kid down on the play-ground in the fifth grade. These tired old themes serve as a smokescreen, and have never brought the country one centimeter closer to stopping a single active shooter.

Pay Attention
Updated tactics have saved lives. Police officers have gotten better at responding to these incidents. Officers arrive and engage these shooters as soon as possible.

The problem is, the public does not understand it can play an important role in preventing these shootings. Administrators at businesses, schools, post offices, hospitals think if the post their facility “No Gun Zone” they have done their part. Problem solved.

All they have successfully done in the case of the active shooter is to facilitate a higher body count by designating the facility as a soft target.

Instead, citizens need to realize evil always has and always will dwell amongst us. They must understand before there is a manifestation of evil deeds shooters act, talk, write, post, warn, threaten, promise and sometimes even predict in a threatening manner.

These evil people that are the active shooters can be stopped long before someone dies by understanding that most shooters pass through a fantasy stage, planning stage, preparation stage, approach stage and implementation stage. When passing through these phases these shooters say troubling things, exhibit trouble behaviors, while the gather troubling equipment. Someone has always been there to see, but few pay attention and fewer still call the police.

Schools teachers, doctors, lawyers, therapists, judges, shopkeepers, neighbors, and yes, gun dealers need to pay attention. Many of these incidents can be prevented by the simple act of calling the police when something just doesn’t look, sound, or feel right.

Officers need to continue to arm themselves off and on duty, while training for this incident. It seems more likely than ever that you will face an active shooter in your career.

Citizens that are paying attention can make the difference with one well timed and well placed phone call to prevent the active shooting incident.

Otherwise officers must prepare themselves on duty and off to take that well-timed and well-placed shot to stop the active shooter.

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.