The mad homicidal rampages in American schools will halt when attackers find out that faculty and students sometimes are armed and trained to use those weapons effectively, so an expert in the defensive use of guns is offering free training to educators.
"In our country, every time a misguided individual on psychiatric drugs goes on a killing spree, anti-self defense legislators watch the polls and exploit the dead victims in order to fool the public into accepting more gun control," said Ignatius Piazza, founder of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute.
"It is time our country finds some resolve and the will to tackle the real problem — which is rooting out the actual influences in the lives of our youth that predispose them to commit atrocities such as those we saw at Virginia Tech," he said.
"The problem is not guns. Guns don’t cause these incidents to occur any more than cameras cause child pornography or automobiles cause traffic fatalities," he said. "Society is safer when we train and arm our law abiding citizens."
His feelings are so strong on the subject he’s launched a two-part campaign: to honor the heroes of the Virginia Tech massacre and to make sure that defensive firearms training is available to those who will be in a position to halt the next one.
In the Virginia Tech attack, Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old English major and native of South Korea, took two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition on his rampage. He killed 32 others, and himself.
In this case, and others like it, the issue has been raised about how an attacker is able to kill so many, and what would it take for someone to fight back against such aggression. There also are random arguments that there should be more restrictions on guns and gun ownership.
But Virginia Tech’s own experience with shootings should have made the solution clear:
As WND reported, five years before this latest shooting, on Jan. 16, 2002, Peter Odighizuwa, a 43-year-old student from Nigeria, walked into the offices of Law School Dean Anthony Sutin, 42, and professor Thomas Blackwell, 41, and opened fire with a .380 ACP semi-automatic handgun — shooting them at close range.
Also killed in the same building was student Angela Denise Dales, 33. Three others were wounded.
But as soon as the gunfire erupted, two students acting independently of one another, Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, ran to their vehicles to retrieve firearms. Gross, an off-duty police officer in his home state of North Carolina, got his 9mm pistol and body armor. Bridges got out his .357 Magnum.
They approached Odighizuwa from different angles, and Bridges yelled for him to drop his weapon and the shooter was subdued by several unarmed students. Gross went back to his car and got handcuffs to detain the shooter until police arrived.
To address the next attack that will come up, Piazza is offering free firearms training (for up to three people from any school) to any school administrator, teacher or fulltime staff member designated as school safety monitor.
"My offer is not a new idea. In the early 70’s, Israel was faced with much greater problems of armed terrorist attacks on schools. The cry for more gun control was heard then too, but Israel very carefully analyzed all possible options before adopting the proactive position of arming and training their teachers. School shootings stopped and terrorists looked for easier targets."
Dave Clark, who retired a short time ago after teaching for 25 years in Livermore, Calif., and has attended First Sight training, said such education is needed for teachers.
"I learned universally accepted rules in justifiable use of deadly force," he said. "More importantly, I learned when not to shoot and how to be more mentally prepared to see a lethal confrontation coming before it happens in order to avoid it."
"It seems obvious that armed and trained staff members inside the school are in a better position to identify the attackers and do something immediately to resolve the situation. It is much harder for police, who arrive on the scene too late to stop the killing," Piazza said.
He cited a case in Pearl, Miss., when a vice principal used a handgun to stop and detain an armed killer.
"Teachers will be trained to carry a concealed weapon, so potential attackers will not know which teachers are armed and which are not. In states that have adopted concealed weapon laws for private citizens, violent crime has dropped. School attacks will drop as well once it is known that any of the teachers and staff members on school grounds have the ability and training to stop a violent attack immediately," he said.
He also said laws banning guns on campuses need changing. None of them, Piazza noted, prevented the two shooters at Columbine, or Cho at Virginia Tech, from bringing weapons onto campus. "The brazen attacks in school after school during the last decade indicate criminals have concluded that ’Gun-Free-School-Zone’ actually means ’Government Certified, Helpless and Unarmed Victim Zone,’" he said.
It was just a year earlier a Virginia plan to give college students the right to carry concealed weapons was killed. Larry Hincker, Virginia Tech spokesman, said at the time, "I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this helps parents, students, faculty and visitors to feel safe on our campus."
In announcing the honors for heroism during Cho’s attack, Piazza said Front Sight is recognizing Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor and professor at Virginia Tech who blocked the doorway with his own body and ordered students to flee through open windows. They did and survived; he was shot and killed.
Piazza is honoring Librescu’s heroism with Front Sight Firearms Training Institute "Legacy" lifetime memberships for each of those saved students.
The $8,900 memberships include training in various defense, weapons, and gun courses, Piazza said.
"Professor Librescu’s actions under fire are inspiring. He gave his life to save his students. I want the Librescu family to know that such valor does not go unrecognized or unrewarded," he said.
"With Front Sight’s training, Professor Librescu may rest in peace, knowing his students will have the mindset and ability to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their peers for the rest of their lives," he said. "They will never have to run in fear again."
Those in the classroom need just send Front Sight a letter from the Virginia Tech Engineering Department administrator confirming their presence in the classroom that day, he said.
"Just as Professor Librescu’s experience as a Holocaust survivor burned into his character the importance of standing tall against aggression and hate, his students will forever carry the understanding that such irrational violence can happen at any time and any place," Piazza said.
In addition to the Liviu Librescu Scholarship awarded by Piazza and his institute, John Wehner, a lifetime member of Front Sight, has agreed to honor one of the other heroes.
"An amazing student at Virginia Tech held off the shooter who killed all those kids. Zach Petkewicz is his name. It seems he barricaded a door. Please find him and give him a Lifetime Legacy Membership on me! I’ll even pay for his first trip to Front Sight — air fare and hotel. God bless him. He has wits about him," Wehner wrote in a letter to Front Sight.
In a report on CNN, Petkewicz said he wasn’t brave, but he wasn’t willing to do nothing.
Students in his classroom saw the gunman coming out of a nearby classroom. "They immediately slammed the door shut, told us, everybody kind of went into a frenzy, a panic. I hid behind the podium and then just kind of looked up at the door. Like, there’s nothing stopping this guy from just coming in. And so I said, ’We need to barricade this door.’"
He described his feelings. "I was completely scared out of my mind originally, just went into a cowering position, and then just realized you have got to do something." He and others shoved a table against the door and held it there first as gunshots rang out in the hallway, then the gunman tried to force his way in.
"He … tried the handle and couldn’t get in because we were pushing up against it," he said. The gunman shot twice through the door. "I just heard his clip drop to the ground, and he reloaded and I thought he was coming back … He didn’t say a word, and he just turned and kept firing down the hall and didn’t try to get back in."
Asked to respond to those who call him hero, he said, "I’m just glad I could be here."
Wehner said such character is what the nation needs. "If citizens in our society have the proper training, the odds will improve for the good guys in these horrible situations."
Piazza started his training school after realizing the need for expertise with weapons once when "a group of anti-socials drove through my quiet neighborhood and blasted away at everything that represented the fruits of a decent work ethic."
"I was struck by a sudden and frightening realization. Although I owned firearms and shot them regularly at the range, I was never taught the skills required to use a gun when it is needed most — to defend one’s life."