Sandy Hook: In memory of those who were murdered three years ago today

It has been three years since a coward killed his mother, stole her guns, and went to the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The school was locked for the beginning of the school day. The coward shot out the windows and entered through the administration area, killing several there. He proceeded down the hallway, murdered 27 year-old Victoria Soto, who had hidden her children, saving their lives. He entered another room, killing all 20 students. Teacher Anne Marie Murphy’s body was found over children she was apparently trying to shield.

This mass killing was just one of hundreds we know about. The killing itself was fairly typical; a school or other location believed to be “safe” and “gun free” is selected for the location of a brutal mass killing. The locked doors, lock downs, and all other preventive actions failed to stop the killer. Four to five people died per minute, and police arrive too late to save anyone, or fail to take appropriate action once on scene. 26 people died at Sandy Hook, 20 of them young children. The killer’s mother, made the total death count 27. The coward committed suicide.

The killer fell far short of his goal of setting a new world record of mass shootings (77 in Norway) and didn’t even set a U.S. record. Still, this event was shocking to us. What was striking to our nation was the age of the victims. First grade students, the picture of innocence, slaughtered in their classroom or hunted down in the bathroom while school officials hopelessly tried to implement a “lockdown.” The adults legally and morally responsible for the children’s safety were totally unprepared to stop the killing.

The lack of preparation was not because they didn’t care. They had invested good time and money. They just didn’t learn from people who actually understand active killer events. Though their plan was impossible for staff to execute under stress, there was no lack of bravery. Much has been made of the heroes who gave their lives doing everything in their power to protect and comfort the children in their care.

In our three years working with schools, we have seen that the above is common. Schools are advised by so-called experts, who often don’t know anything about active killer events. Teachers love our kids enough to die for them.

Policies adopted on emotion or feelings will leave you empty on event day. Most school staff do not want anything to do with carrying a gun, or the responsibility of shooting down a killer. There is nothing wrong with them. But every school has people who will step up on event day. They are going to the scene before the police even know there is a situation. They should have the tools and skills to win the fight, to stop the violence and end the killing when they get there. Then immediately start treating the injured, hug our kids, and send them home like they do every other school day.

FASTER Saves Lives is a program designed by experts. It has evolved over three years with the help of educators who are pioneering a better way to keep our schools and our kids safe. Many schools and police officers who once opposed this concept now advocate for it because they took the time to learn how and why it works. Still improving, it is the best solution proposed to date.

As you run around stressing over finding the right gifts for your kids, and getting everything ready for Christmas day, remember those who would love to have those pressures, but instead only have the void left by their child’s early death. Be thankful for what you have, and learn from the mistakes of others.

Take nothing for granted in your school’s safety. Get involved, and make sure your school is making the grade on safety.

Learn more about the FASTER Saves Lives program or apply for training at

Donate to Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which sponsors FASTER Saves Lives.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation President, BFA PAC Chairman and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award," the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award," and the SAF's 2015 "Defender of Freedom Award."

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