Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Neil Gardner soon would complete his second year as the uniformed community resource officer assigned to Columbine High School. Gardner, a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, normally ate his lunch with the students in the cafeteria during first lunch period. His car would have been parked in his “normal spot” in front of the cafeteria doors - between the junior and senior parking lots.
On April 20, however, Deputy Gardner and campus supervisor Andy Marton, an unarmed school security officer employed by the school district, were eating lunch in Gardner’s patrol car. They were monitoring students in the “Smokers’ Pit,” a spot just to the northwest of campus in Clement Park where the students congregated to smoke cigarettes.
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As Gardner stepped out of his patrol car, Eric Harris turned his attention from shooting into the west doors of the high school to the student parking lot and to the deputy. Gardner, particularly visible in the bright yellow shirt of the community resource officer uniform, was the target of Harris’ bullets. Harris fired about 10 shots from his rifle at Gardner before his gun jammed. Although Gardner’s patrol car was not hit by bullets, two vehicles that he was parked behind were hit by Harris’ gunfire. Investigators later found two bullet holes in each of the cars.
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Gardner, seeing Harris working with his gun, leaned over the top of the car and fired four shots. He was 60 yards from the gunman. Harris spun hard to the right and Gardner momentarily thought he had hit him. Seconds later, Harris began shooting again at the deputy.
After the exchange of gunfire, Harris ran back into the building. Gardner was able to get on the police radio and called for assistance from other Sheriff’s units. “Shots in the building. I need someone in the south lot with me.”
It was 11:26 a.m. Only five minutes had passed since Jefferson County Sheriff’s dispatch center had announced a bomb explosion and subsequent fire on South Wadsworth Boulevard.
This directly addresses the idea that what we need is more armed people everywhere - schools, churches, Little League games, and so on. A police officer with a standard side arm was no match for an untrained teen with a rifle. People with concealed carry permits may be able to arm themselves against other people with concealed weapons. They will not be able to stop a Sandy Hook or Columbine or Aurora style gunman with a rifle and body armor (none at Columbine, yes at the others).
It seems likely that the madmen are learning from one another. The arms and armor of the Sandy Hook killer were similar to those of the Aurora theater shooter. A smart killer, and most of them seem to be reasonably smart, might reconnoiter the intended site before the attack. How hard would it be to buy a movie ticket to a theater and look for where the armed guards are? How hard would it have been for the Columbine killers to look for the sheriff deputy on their way into the school had he been on campus?
If you really think more guns are the answer, Louis Gohmert, then please describe how many guards, at what level of training and how heavily armed, are needed to stop a killer with a semi-automatic rifle, expert in its use, wearing body armor, and attacking with the advantage of surprise at the most vulnerable spot. Because these killers are not going to stop, some of them are going to prepare and plan.
I'd say half a dozen per elementary school, with SWAT-team armaments and armor. There are 67,000 elementary schools in the United States. Let's call it 400,000 full time guards, making perhaps $50,000 each. That's $20,000,000,000 per year just for the elementary schools. And since a smart, preparing, planning killer may just go down the street to the park, or the Little League fields, you can multiply that by a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand to protect every place. Who knows?
So, Louis, will you pay the taxes for this? Armed citizens aren't going to cut it, Louis. They never have, they probably never will. You really want to make our children safe, you need professionals.
You can agree to keep weapons specifically designed to kill many people quickly out of the hands of ordinary citizens.
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