Mass Shootings – An American Epidemic

Michael Downing

This is not a pandemic that affects multiple countries and continents, it is a uniquely American epidemic.

Since Sandy Hook, a decade ago, there have been over 900 shootings on school grounds in America.

Guns are now the leading cause of death among Americans between the age of one and 24.

There are answers for this in the middle, but our tribalism will not allow discussion or consensus.

The Uvalde, Texas shooter had a military-style assault rifle with high-capacity magazines allowing him to keep shooting until someone shot him.

Lots of discussion around the alleged 40-minute delayed interdiction.

American Law Enforcement’s trained response is Immediate Action Rapid Deployment and The Multi Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities (MACTAC) – Deploy immediately on the threat and stop the threat – follow-on resources can set up command and control and establish perimeters.

Lots of discussion about more cops, more armed security, arming teachers, hardening targets and it goes on and on.

The same kind of talk we hear after every mass shooting. And the same tribal divide parts the waters of reason, common ground, and humanity.

Scotland figured it out. Australia solved the problem; New Zealand achieved a solution.

American school kids would be much safer attending school in those countries than they would in our own country.

This is a mental health problem, a gun problem, a policy problem and a government accountability problem.

My 35-year law enforcement experience taught me that when governments and politicians have failed policies and failed laws, many times police and first responders are left dealing with and cleaning up the outcomes and consequences.

In the first five months of this year (2022) there have been 27 school shootings.

This is uniquely an American epidemic not experienced in any other part of the world.

The conversation is always about “defense” – harden the target, arm the teachers, implement active shooter drills in the schools, hide beneath desks, get more armed security and it goes on and on.

Don’t you think the time has come to improve the “offense,” to go on the offense, to unite under the banner of protecting our children from being shot and killed in what should be their safest haven for learning, and establishing friendships, and developing their independent identities?

We Americans are trying to solve the wrong problem precisely.

Our tribal divide is creating an existential threat to our children.

There are answers in the middle.

We can fix this for our next generation.

We can for sure mitigate the harm to our children and hopefully eliminate this threat.

We can follow the example of other Western countries who put greater value in protecting humanity.


Michael Downing is a former LAPD interim chief of police, and a 35-year retired LAPD deputy chief of police who commanded LAPD counter-terrorism and SWAT operations. He currently an executive with the OVG Oak View Group, an American global advisory, development and investment company for sports and live entertainment industries. His father, Stephen Downing – a resident of Long Beach – is a regular contributor to the Beachcomber.



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