Locked and Loaded at Newman Elementary

As a half-snarky response to Tim Cushing’s update to this post about the harm done to students by police educating them on active shooter preparedness, I twitted:

Any more kids harmed today?

And Tim half-snarkily replied:

Day’s still young.

This post at PoliceOne makes me regret my lame attempt at humor.

Police policy was not followed leading up to a school assembly where a student pulled the trigger of an assault rifle mounted on a police motorcycle and three children were injured by bullet fragments, authorities said.

Department rules state the rifle chamber should be empty when it is mounted, Police Chief Miles Pruitt said in a statement late Thursday.

The AR-15 was locked to the side of the motorcycle that was on display at Newman Elementary School on Wednesday during an anti-drug program when a student managed to fire it, Chino police spokeswoman Tamrin Olden said.

Fortunately, the three elementary school students struck by bullet fragments were only wounded. No child died that day. At least not at Newman Elementary.

“The preliminary investigation has shown that the established safeguards and procedures were not followed,” Pruitt said. “It is unfortunate that this event occurred and I will make every effort to ensure it does not happen again.”

Let’s consider what is meant by “every effort.” The police were brought into an elementary school for an anti-drug program.  Assuming the elementary school was not suffering a plague of heroin abuse, this was one of the pre-emptive programs designed to scare kids straight.  Instilling fear into little kids remains one of the best tools available for schools to make them good little citizens. If they pay close attention, they will get prizes for it in high school.

But even if we accept the premise that it’s worthwhile to introduce drugs into the world of elementary school students, and even if we accept that manipulating their fear to prevent them from using drugs is a worthy cause, how do we reach the point where we introduce police weaponry into the lesson?  Do drugs, get killed by the cops?

It’s amazingly easy to avoid having a child shot by a stray bullet from a police AR-15 on a motorcycle. Don’t bring the motorcycle. Don’t bring a gun. Don’t ask the cops to come to your elementary school. Don’t let the cops come to your elementary school.

But accidents happen.  Safeguards aren’t followed, and sometimes things fall through the cracks.

“I though Joe was going to make sure there was no bullet in the chamber.”

“Me? I told you to do so it.”

“I told you I had to set up the pictures of dead junkies’ bodies and you had to take care of the guns.”

One solution to such problems is to keep police, and their weapons, out of the reach of children.  But that’s not the police solution.

How about teaching kids NOT to pull the trigger on guns that do not belong to them? I know that is not the point in this case…or is it? Was safety not engaged while the weapon is stored on bike?

I know kids are curious, every time I go on a campus some kid is trying to touch my sidearm it seems…I get that. But for the kid to walk up the bike, and start finger fiddling with a rifle?? Sorry, some adult besides the officer needs to be on the hot seat as well.

If only kids didn’t “finger fiddle” with the rifle, no one would have been shot. Sounds like the making of a new program for police in the schools, how not to finger fiddle.

To beat this horse to death is pointless.  There are tragedies that cannot be avoided, and there are tragedies we invite into schools that should never happen.  We expend enormous effort and angst to prevent the former while the latter happens because we beg for it. It doesn’t seem possible that police and school administrators can be this blind and stupid.

In the zeal to create the perfect world where no child is ever harmed, we’re doing an awful lot of damage.  This cannot be the way a sane society functions.

15 comments on “Locked and Loaded at Newman Elementary

  1. C. Miller

    I believe you inadvertently wrote AK-15 instead of AR-15. Just a heads up, I’m sure it was an honest mistake.

  2. Wheeze The People™

    Well, if you’re gonna have the cops teach the young’uns about the dangers of “finger fiddling”, it would be wise to add sex education to the police programs for schools. Finger fiddling is more than dangerous, in multiple contexts, when practiced by untrained or the wrong hands. The “Drugs, Guns, & Sex — Kids Don’t Try This @ Home” Program . . .

      1. Wheeze The People™

        High-hangin’ fruit = risk and danger. Low-hangin’, not so much . . . I’m sure you’ve fallen off a ladder or two in your day. It really hurts, donut?!? . . .

          1. Wheeze The People™

            Sorry Marilou, the Hurts Donuts I received a few times as a kid were more of the assault & battery flavor — as in older kid asks, “Do you want a Hurts Donut??” And as a dount-lovin’ tyke, I say,”Sure!!” Then wham, a hard-enough slug to the arm or the gut delivered by the thug kid, who also synchronously delivers the literal punch-line , “Hurts, don’t it??”, followed swiftly by an evil guffaw . . . So to answer your question, sadly, there was neither maple or bacon involved nor even actual donuts . . .

  3. Ultraviolet admin

    I will say this, nobody here used any proper respect for guns. They are tools that demand respect and require caution and use of proper caution no matter what. Part of that is never treating a gun like it’s unloaded, and part of that is never using one as a prop because it looks cool. I know guys that are rabid gun nuts and oh how they’d chew out these cops for being fools.

    1. SHG Post author

      Every gun enthusiast reacts this way. And when they make a mistake and leave a gun sitting around for their kid play with, it’s “oops.” It’s always easy to say these things should never happen, and they shouldn’t. Yet they do. And it’s always the other guy who should have known better. Until it’s them.

  4. Nigel Declan

    Yet more evidence that neither guns nor police have any place in school. There is no valid trade-off between exposing children to the daily risk of fear, injury or death on the off chance that a rare tragedy might be avoided.

  5. Lurker

    I am not a gun enthusiast, but I do know how to handle guns. There are a couple of things that should be clear. Gun safety, as all safety, is based on having multiple layers of defence:
    a) No gun can be left unattended, whether it is loaded or not. No service weapon should be in the reach of unauthorised persons. So, if the policeman cannot prevent the kids from approaching the motorcycle, (e.g. by supervising it all the time or locking it in a shed) the gun should be carried on his back.
    b) No round should be chambered unless you mean to use the gun immediately. A policeman is very unlikely to end up in a situation where 0.5 seconds that you need for chambering the round make a difference, and visibly chambering a round is a very efficient deterrent that can make any further use of force totally unnecessary.
    c) Riding a motorcycle with a rifle attached to it is particularly stupid, if you have a round chambered.
    d) Considering that the rifle strapped on the motorcycle is clearly visible, and relatively easy to steal despite any locks, you shouldn’t have the rifle strapped on the cycle at all. Obviously, as shown by this incident, the police officer cannot control the cycle and the rifle at all times if any work is supposed to be done at the same time. If the motor-cycling cop needs a backup weapon, he can call for reinforcements.
    e) Weapons should only be carried if needed. If your mission takes you to a school for educational purposes, you should not even bring your sidearm, let alone heavier weaponry. Unarmed people survive school visits every day.

    1. SHG Post author

      Your “e” seems to be the only surefire method of eliminating needless potential for harm. And, it’s just a good idea.

  6. Jake DiMare

    Hang on…Let me get my tin foil hat on…

    “Instilling fear into little kids remains one of the best tools available for schools to make them good little citizens.”

    I’ll add…This also makes them into good little fear driven ‘value voters’.

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