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Within our last living generation, there has been a terrible onslaught of gun killings in our schools.  This has included killings many elementary school students and teachers at the Sandy Hill Elementary School in Connecticut, the killings of so many high school students and teachers at Columbine High School in Colorado, and the killings of dozens of college students and teachers at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Let’s go through those horrifying and still practically unbelievable numbers involved in these shootings once more for the point of creating clarification on the entire tragedy of our current school murders. 

There were 33 students and teachers shot to death in the Virginia Tech shootings.  There were 12 students and one teacher shot to death in the Columbine High School shootings. And there were 20 young elementary students and six adult staff members shot to death in the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders.

Between the first mass killings in Columbine in 1999 there have been new on-campus killings every year up until this day

Yet since the tragic Our Lady of the Angels parochial school fire in Chicago in 1958, which killed 96 nun-teachers and their students, there has thankfully been no deaths of 10 or more in any American school fire.

One big difference is that since that terrible Chicago fire is that fire drills are now held on a regular basis – usually once every month or two months – at public schools.  But besides from basic lockdown drills that deal with the gunman outside school doors, there have been no rehearsals on any level rehearsing what safety practices are most effective about what to do once the gunman is inside the doors.

And yet in the face of all the recent shootings in American schools, there have been increased calls to have teachers carry guns to protect the classrooms.  This has been in line with the recent increased gun-buying by the American consumer in light of accelerating criminal home invasions.

But with increased guns at home, we also have to deal with increased gun accidents, more impulsive gun shots in domestic disputes, and increased impulsive suicide by gunfire.  Statistics have shown that a gun in the home will have greater odds of creating those three tragedies than it would protecting the home, and a gun in the classroom would likely be just as dangerous to everyone in the vicinity.

Moreover, even if there were a law permitting teachers to carry guns in classrooms, my experience in knowing teachers tell me very few would carry them.

But my own experience also tells me that a classroom would have a greater chance of surviving a gunman in its midst if the teacher understood and exercised negotiation techniques.

My experience in this area actually comes from my learning negotiating skills as a volunteer in a suicide prevention call-in center. That was a while ago, in 1971, but the lessons I learned were so salient that they have stuck with me.

The first lesson I learned was on how difficult it is to kill yourself.  The human mind and the nervous system have all kinds of safeguards set against suicide that have to be overcome with an enormous surge of mental energy if the suicide is to be acted out until the dismal end.

And this energy required to commit suicide doesn’t come instantly. It is the end of a long rush of momentum that carries the suicidal person all the way to death’s door.  People who seem to have committed suicide instantaneously have been preparing for it longer than anyone outside this person’s brain could ever imagine.

My training as a suicide prevention worker on the phone was designed to delay, distract, detour and ideally stop the momentum that is carrying the suicidal person to death’s door.  While my only experience with police negotiating teams is watching them on TV, even from that rear seat it looks like they carry out the same plan of slowing the momentum of any dangerous person with a deadly weapon, until the momentum slows to a stop.

What is important to remember is that the four young men who carried the killings at Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook were each suicides, building up the momentum and the courage to take their own lives by killing many others first.  Tied in with the psychology of mass killings of innocent children is that it helps create a sense of such self-hatred in the killer that it enables the suicide to execute himself at the scene, where he had no psychological tools to kill himself before.

So each mass killer is working against a lot of instincts to achieve his destruction.

It is the job of the negotiator to strengthen those civilizing instincts that remain in the gunman

And yet nothing is now being done to teach these negotiating skills to use in the next classroom that will go under gunned assault somewhere in America.

Why not?

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.