Real Facts About School & Other Mass Shooting Defense Tactics

By Tom McHale

USCCA School Shootings Presentation
USCCA School Shootings Presentation
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-( What if I told you that all of the mass and school shootings over the past 20 years or so could have been done, to equal effect, by a murderer using a 150-year old lever action rifle?

You know, the same kind that was commonly used in the Civil War?

Or, what if I told you that the majority of mass shootings could have been done, again to the same effect, with a 170-year old single-shot Sharps-type rifle? That rifle was invented 13 years before the Civil War began.

In the collective rush to “fix” the problem of these types of unspeakable crimes, we tend to get collectively stupid by grasping at straws in a desperate race for a solution. You know exactly what I am talking about. When something bad happens, there’s an immediate call to ban something. So-called “high-capacity” magazines are almost always blamed for tragic results of mass shootings. The thinking goes that if you reduce magazine capacity, then vicious and heartless murderers wouldn’t be able to hurt and kill as many people. You’ve probably heard all the quotes in the news like this one:

“If only we didn’t have these high-capacity magazines on the market, the shooter would never have been able to inflict that level of harm…”

To the uninformed and intellectually lazy, these types of statements sound perfectly rational. When challenged with the fallacy of their logic, you might hear those same folks shift gears and offer up statements like, “Well, of course, it won’t completely prevent another mass murder, but it will probably help.” I get it. It’s hard to admit the existence of true evil and even harder to try to solve the root problems that cause humans to do unspeakable things. As a result, we cry for quick and easy solutions that feel good.

I recently sat in what was perhaps the most enlightening presentation I’ve seen in decades. At the recent United States Concealed Carry Association Expo, Chief USCCA Instructor Michael Martin presented a veritable mountain of data that he had painstakingly compiled about mass shootings. Deciding to look at actual facts as a basis for formulating meaningful, realistic, and effective response strategies, he evaluated what actually happened during mass shooting events. Were magazines a factor? What about police response time? Did it make a difference when unarmed people fought back against the killer? How about security, like simple door locks? Did simple and inexpensive deterrents like that make any difference?

The results of Martin’s data compilation are nothing short of stunning. I don’t have the space to go through all of the angles here, so I’ll stick with the magazine capacity angle as an example of the study. Since the perception of the uninformed is that magazine capacity allows an increased rate of fire, and therefore more killing in less time, Martin took a close look at that factor in dozens of shootings. Here are the actual rates of fire based on the number of minutes the murderer had compared to the number of shots fired. I’m naming the locations only as I refuse to print the names of the despicable slime that perpetrate these heinous crimes.

All numbers reflect rounds per minute fired.

  • Virginia Tech: 15
  • Newtown: 15 – 31
  • Columbine: 4
  • Red Lake: 5
  • Oikos University: 6
  • Northern Illinois University: 8
  • San Bernardino: 7 – 14
  • Fort Hood: 21
  • Binghampton: 25
  • Aurora: 8 – 14

Next, Martin considered realistic rates of fire, performed by a relatively inexperienced shooter, as nearly all of these psychos are. With 30-round magazines, a sustained rate of fire is about 100 rounds per minute. Using a 10-round magazine, the sustained rate is about 75 rounds per minute. As you can see, not one of the actual events came anywhere close to these rates.

In fact, that lever-action rifle we mentioned earlier has a sustained rate of fire of 30 rounds per minute. And that antique single-shot Sharps has a sustained rate of between 10 and 12 rounds per minute.

The point of all this? If people (meaning the uninformed and intellectually lazy) would stop to think for a minute before launching into half-cocked solutions, we might invest more problem-solving time in strategies that actually work. This is the real point of Martin’s research. By looking at the details of what actually happened in all these cases, we have a much better basis of understanding from which to do meaningful and effective things to dramatically reduce the number of these horrific events.

Consider some other data points from Martin’s research:

The real factor that drives casualty count is the time before the shooter is opposed – by someone else with a gun. Looking at all the events over the past couple of decades, the killers have an average of nine minutes of completely unopposed time to do whatever they want. Considering that over 70% of school killers end their spree by committing suicide, it’s clear that time is all they seek. There’s no escape plan. There’s not even a big hurry. Nine minutes of complete and total domination is an eternity. In fact, according to Martin’s research, it usually takes two minutes before a 911 call is placed. That alone is an eternity. Then it takes minutes for the police to arrive. Then it takes more minutes for responders to formulate and execute a response plan. The killer actually knows, not thinks or believes, but knows, that they have another four minutes after they hear the sirens coming. The result of all that is nine minutes of pure hell for the victims.

If nine minutes doesn't seem like a long time to you, try sitting still and waiting to be shot while slowly counting to 540. Image: USCCA.
If nine minutes doesn’t seem like a long time to you, try sitting still and waiting to be shot while slowly counting to 540. Image: USCCA.

How about disruption and fighting back? If time is the number one determinant of casualties, then anything that even temporarily disrupts the ticking clock or plan must have a positive effect, right? As it turns out, that’s true. At Virginia Tech, students and professors in two of the five classrooms mounted resistance by trying to block the door. In these two rooms, a professor and one student were killed. In the three other rooms, 27 were killed and eight wounded. When the killer’s plan was disrupted in such as way as to cost him time, he moved on. At La Toscana Village Mall, New Life Church, Appalachian School of Law, and Thurston High School, potential victims fought back, ending the killer’s rampages.

How about background checks? As it turns out, this is no easy fix either. Of the cases Martin studied, 79% of mass murderers bought their firearms from an FFL and completed a background check. 13 percent stole guns and six percent acquired them through illegal means.

Oh, none was acquired via private sale or “gun show loophole” as some like to call it. Did you catch that? Not one killer got their gun through a private sale. Stated differently, universal background checks would not have stopped a single one of the 47 mass shootings since 1998.

So what to do? Based on his learnings, Martin recommends a four-part plan. Be aware that we’re just skimming the surface here, Martin’s plan has hundreds of detailed action items. The USCCA is contemplating how to best disseminate this information, but for now, here are the high points.

1. Hardening schools

If you stop to think about it, a Motel 6 guest room is far more secure than the average classroom. While Martin’s recommendations go far beyond locks and sturdy doors, a simple swing bar lock goes a shockingly long way towards disrupting an attacker. If you want to see some ideas in action, check out the leading edge security system installed at Southwestern High School in Indiana. Total cost? About $400,000, or less than 10% the cost of the average High School football field.

A sample of some of the suggested school hardening measures. Image: USCCA.
A sample of some of the suggested school hardening measures. Image: USCCA.

2. Teaching students and staff to fight back

Most of us have understood the wisdom of run, hide and fight for a long time. Finally, even the Department of Homeland Security is admitting the stupidity of telling victims to sit still and hope for the best.

3. Creating an armed educator program

We’ve got an armed pilot program, how hard can it be to create a similar program for teachers motivated to take and maintain training? ( A good example is Buckeye Firearms Association Armed Teacher Training Program )

Buckeye Firearms Association Armed Teacher Training Program
Buckeye Firearms Association Armed Teacher Training Program :

4. Eliminating schools from the “gun free zone” list

Do I need to comment on this? We’ve painted big targets on schools for far too long at the expense of far too many lives. It could not be more obvious that deranged killers actively seek these zones to maximize the impact of their nine minutes of fame.

So what can you as an individual do? It’s simple really. The solution to these problems is education. We need to educate the educators, the media, the politicians, and our friends and neighbors. If you want to get wired into a source of outstanding information, consider becoming a USCCA Certified Instructor.

It’s time to start calling BS on all the feel good and politically expedient “solutions.”


Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Why always the tin foils come out of the wood work? False flag nonsense! Yeah Sandy Hook thousand of people were in on it The national and local press. The police and people on the ambulance. The people at the emergency room and other parts of the hospital. The people working at the coroners office. The people working at the funeral parlors. The local citizens working at stores and restaurants. The relatives of the dead, and not 1 person came forward and said this dead person never existed, or that they were actually still alive.You tin foils have no reasoning… Read more »


When you hear a gunshot or see a criminal armed, your instant reaction is to run and hide, when in reality is what you should do, but just like hide and seek, you’ll eventually get seen and there’s no back door… to me all the children should run the wall with the hall door and line up behind the teacher, this alone might allow the attacker to pass, if the door opens the teacher should be trained as all teachers should be trained in classrooms to handle these types of situations, to kneel under the window not holding the door… Read more »


I’m sorry for not keeping up with recent events, but, I had to wait for my school year to end so I could start thinking again. Yes, I am a elementary school teacher. I am also a retired Marine GySgt., a CCW holder and a Distinguished Marksman. I guess that makes me a “quad” threat to some people. I have been teaching for 16 years in a school system that does not have armed security anywhere except the building which houses the school board. Hmmmm… Anyway, we practice fire drills and storm drills every month. However we only practice “intruder”… Read more »

Gregory Taggart


You got me – Mea Culpa about the 9 ball.

I am a defensive pistol instructor and self defense consultant. All of my students are counseled to use the good stuff, not ball – except for the folks bound by the UCMJ, who, of course, except for domestic policing , get issued NATO STANAG “ball”.

I used the term ball, generically. I should have said “9mm Gold
Dot” or ” 9mm HST” or something more professional. Never the less, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts a magazine loaded with plain ‘ol “ball” will work better than pepper spray.


Gregory Taggart

Pepper Spray- Having been sprayed with the stuff during various security training exercises , I can unequivocally say that it works on ME. Really well. The problem is that there is a substantial cohort of the population that seem to be pretty much impervious to the stuff- perhaps 25 percent. Whether this indifference is attributable to genetics, mental disease, emotion state, mind set or previously ingested pharmaceuticals I cannot say, ask any boo shod used it a lot/ sometimes it doesn’t work. A Plastic-Fantastic and a magazine load of 9mm ball is likely to to provide more consistent positive results.… Read more »


BALL ammo? Check with a combat instructor, to learn what ammo NOT to use in self defense.

Robert Thomas

As much as I am a supporter of gun rights and the Second Amendment I think there is a simpler, easier solution than arming teachers. Pepper spray. This article points out the strategy of slowing down the shooter, fighting back, etc. If Adam Lanza had a facefull of military grade pepper spray on that fateful day, how much farther would he have gone? Likely nowhere. They make “fogger” style cans that can shut down a hallway. No one’s going anywhere with that stuff. Pepper spray should be much more easily accepted by the public, teachers, etc. What are they going… Read more »


Let’s see you get close enough to use pepper spray before you are shot.


So all the criminal needs then is a gas mask.

David Thompson

The real dangerous weapon is not the gun or the magazine, but the human mind. The casualty count was so high at VA tech because the killer (I won’t name him either) created distractions which slows LEO response. The killer at Newtown picked the people least likely to fight back and interrupt his plans. All a result of planning. Take away guns and see what happens. The five deadliest mass murders in American history weren’t shootings. A gallon of gas and a match was enough to kill 87 people at the Happyland Disco. A person determined to kill will find… Read more »


And, most of those who perished at Happyland were either crushed or choked to death in a stairwell that led to the fire exit. Seems that the owner had unlawfully chained the fire doors shut, trapping everyone who tried to escape the fire exactly the way they should have. So, that was another law broken, other than arson, that caused a large number of fatalities and I would wager that no one paid a price for it. Why??!!!! Because not a single firearm was involved.


Re: Armed Educators:

I think first it would be necessary to get rid of most of the present leftist-liberal gun-hating androgynous teachers and replace them with freedom-loving Americans who share the values of the communitieis in which they teach! Could you imagine arming one of today’s leftist teachers?! He/she/it would just take one look at the gun in their drawer, and faint dead away!


There is one minor little detail about hardening classrooms….ready for this….FIRE SAFETY LAWS. They won’t let you put lock and the like on the doors. Welcome to Catch 22. The ONLY sensible answer is armed staff, or in the case of so called higher education, armed students. IN the case of Leftists schools…don’t much care, they’ll be Free Fire Zones anyway.


If I wanted to design an active shooter program for a school that would maximize the number of casualties, I would have used what was done at Sandy Hook.

#1. Piling students into a closet.

#2. Having students all stand against a wall.

#3. Go out into the hallway in response to gunfire.

#4 Do nothing to distract the shooter.

Greg Tag

The Henry Lever Action Rifle, forerunner of the Winchester Model 1866 ” Yellow Boy”, was a brass framed , tube-magazine, lever action rifle or carbine, chambered for the .44 Henry Flat rimfire cartridge. It was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company, which after bankruptcy reorganization in 1866 became Winchester. The US Government purchased about 3000 in 1863. Several states also purchased them for issue to their state volunteers, and numerous individual soldiers purchased them for their own use as well. A total of about 13,000 were sold to the market. The .44 Rimfire, even fired from a rifle, is… Read more »


Henry rifles were in the civil war came into play mid 1862’s


The video from the school in the link shows the kids in the class covering in the corner of the room with textbook in front of their faces, as if they were waiting to get slaughtered.

They did not turn off the lights in the classroom.


1) Huh – I wasn’t aware of the existence of lever-action rifles for the 1860-64 Civil War!
2) Israel has not had many school shootings (if at all) since it empowered, armed and trained teachers in combat shooting. Stuff THAT, O’Bunghole!


Henry Arms had a lever action rifle in the hands of Union soldiers by 1862 according to their website.


Actually, it was New Haven Arms company. Oliver WInchester bought the company in the 1850s. They had a small caliber magazine rifle and pistol of similar action. The cartridge was anemic. WInchester assigned B. Tyer Henry they ask of taking the Volcanic system, as it was named and turning it into something the company could sell. Thus, the Henry rifle of 1860. It fired a .44 cal self contained, metallic, rim fired cartridge and held 25 rounds in a linear, springed magazine below the barrel. The rifle could be fired as quickly as the lever could be manipulated. The weapon… Read more »

Alvin Palmer

Armed School Staff:
I suggest one other requirement of all teachers and support staff – including office personnel and those at the School Board level: They should be required to take and pass firearm safety classes and some sort of actual firing experience. Perhaps not a “full fledged” one as in a CCW requirement – many folks are ‘afraid’ of firearms – but this could be a “teachable” experience for them.

If a person cannot pass the background check for a CCW [or equivalent] he/she should not be teaching our children.


I’d like to see a NICS check of all politicians as well as school staff, what a GREAT idea!

Jim Macklin

Years ago, ten Stockton, CA shooting as I recall, the killer fired about 40 shots from an AK and a 9mm. 34 kids were hit, 29 wounded, 5 dead. Had the killer used a 12 gauge Topper single shot shotgun with 00 buckshot, there might well have been 25-50 rounds fired with 100% hits and 80% fatal. Nobody shooting back is the big issue. Mass public kills happen in China and Japan with knives. If you can buy a knife, they are easy to make. The 8 inch chefs knife is deadly and available at Walmart in all 50 states.… Read more »


No it isn’t. If anything knife attacks show gun control works because the crooks can’t magically get a gun. Furthermore killing people with knives is extremely difficult and is no way comparable to firearms. After all the bayonet is the attachment and not the rifle.

Vince Parkhill

Been in a lot of up close fighting, have you?


So you prefer your child to be attacked with a knife instead of the suggested alterations? How many children are you willing to sacrifice to prevent armed response? So far, it is every death since 1990 Gun Free School Zone act. By the way, more people are killed by knife, than you want to pretend.

Robert Thomas

You are not too bright. Killing people with knives is difficult? Really? I’ve trained enough to know I’d rather be shot at than face an attacker with a knife. Being shot at, you MIGHT get hit. An attacker with a knife WILL cut you, and it doesn’t take much to make that wound fatal.


But the liberals won’t allow bayonet lugs on rifles. An there are several events where a knife wielding attacker has killed several people with a knife. A knife has stealth; an attacker can introduce himself into a crowd and stick several people before anyone relizes what is going on.


Since the bayonet lug prohibition, there has been complete cessation of drive-by bayonetting.
See how effective prohibition is?


Not to mention bank robberies by bayonet charge. Not a single event in recent history. Lug ban accomplished all this. Now, on to pressure cookers.


Great article, Tom. My best friend and I taught for 35 years each. We started to see the problem coming. We suggested to our County and Local Superintendents the need for trained faculty. He said that would never help anything. The facts seem to speak for themselves that it would have. Teachers, as a group, listen to the AFT and the NEA as if they know anything about it. Many of them tend to be liberals…… I guess we come back to the same issue that tends to be a common denominator that encourages such atrocities. Liberalism that believes that… Read more »

Paul Rusin

Liberals would be open minded in regards teacher carry. I think you mean devout leftists, instead of liberals. Correct me if wrong, showing how I am, as I showed how liberal means “open minded.”

Robert marshall

I think that if you want to just sit back and do not have any brains .all you need is some common sense teach every one that if you plan ahead you might have less to sweat and we ring about planning and thought could stop all this .a little bit of help with the misfortune one’s..and maybe we could All be able to do, better.

Lorraine E Blazich

Most of the school shootings are government productions and never happened. The phony school productions are being created as an excuse to disarm innocent American citizens. Remember Fast & Furious? That was another government created farce to be used as an excuse to disarm us. Learn more about all of the phony government created productions which all have a common goal of disarming us on the Caravan to Midnight web site. Starting on December 10, 2014, Wolfgang Habig began disclosing all of the aspects of the Sandy Hook false flag and he has been on Caravan to Midnight many times… Read more »

Mark Lee

Leave your tinfoil hat at the door.

Kajika Halkawitta

Regarding physical school security, following the Sandy Hook mass shooting, the NRA recommended to have armed security in our nation’s schools. At that time many politicians and the “press”, who were predisposed against firearms, dismissed this recommendation as extreme. Even though, in response to the Columbine High School shooting, then-President Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress enacted a program called Cops in Schools. As a result, 23,000 public and private U.S. schools provide armed security for our children and many more are considering it as a result of the Sandy Hook shooting. My review of the suggestion for armed security… Read more »

Paul Rusin

Again with the permits????? What is wrong with gun owners that they don’t comprehend stare decisis? “…permits for rights are unconstitutional censorships, or prior restraints…”(Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham)
Paying a fee for a right makes it a privilege, and is therefore unconstitutional. (Murdock v PA)

Security efforts are necessary. Perhaps training of individuals, but not to the detriment of their right to be armed as a member of the militia. Where I mention militia, I do not mean National Guard, as some ignorant folks will utter. The militia are all able bodied citizen sovereigns.


Not a single law proposed by the Democrats or the “Gun Safety[?]” groups would have had any effect on violent crimes such as mass shootings. Their only effect is/would have been a restriction on the right of US citizens and legal resident aliens to protect themselves. Instead of these restrictions, allow us to exercise our RIGHT of self-defense! 1. Pass a National Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill. 2. Amend the Federal Gun Free School Zone act to include an exclusion for ALL concealed weapons permit holders, not just holders of concealed weapons permits issued by that state. 3. Pass a National… Read more »

John Dow

How about just eliminate the FGFSZA – it serves no purpose but to be more control by the Fed.

Paul Rusin

First, let’s address the issue of permits, which on numerous occasions, our Supreme Court, and lower courts, have said are unconstitutional prior restraints, as they disallow the exercise of one’s right prior to attaining said permit. (Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, as an example). Second, we can address the issue of fees for rights if, all a state requires is wee pay a fee for a background check. That was addressed in Murdock v. PA, which made plain such fees are unconstitutional.. Third, let’s make plain that in the Shuttlesworth decision above, the author (judge/justice) of the court majority quoted Staub v.… Read more »


A good guy, or girl, with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun.

Wild Bill

Hey Paul, this my be too novel of a thought, but if some criminal misuses a firearm, how about the state tries him and if found guilty, the state executes him. That will keep gun out of the hands of criminals! Oh, and where did you get those cases?


The Mass shooting , Sandy Hook , Boston Bombing etc etc Paris , brussells were all False Flag attacks by the NWO and the objective is to take away you Guns and freedom .


What a stupid crock. Tell that to the dead and the families of the dead in your fairy tale false flags. How brain dead stupid do you have to be?

HMLA-167 Warrior

Uh, are you not aware that there have been several false flags planned and/or perpetrated by the US government in the past and they too have dead and families of the dead associated with them? Perhaps you should research before spouting off such ilk.


What he said is not relevant to the discussion. However,Sandy Hook WAS a false flag. The others weren’t. The families of the so-called “dead” never shed a single tear for their little lost children. No genuine signs of grief.More holes in the official story than Swiss cheese.

R. G. Montgomery

Yes Mike, you just keep up the ignorant propaganda that EMOTION is much more important and a better basis for living a real life than FACTS.

While you’re at it, vote for a third term for our current president. That will make you FEEL good.