Thoughts on the Pennsylvania high school stabbing

By now I’m sure everyone’s heard about the student who stabbed more than 20 of his peers at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, PA.  Two things spring to mind when thinking about this tragedy.

First, why on earth did the students scream and shout and run about like chickens with their heads cut off?  Have we raised and schooled and socialized and ‘educated’ our children to be wimps?  When I was in high school, if anyone had started slashing wildly with a pair of knives it would have taken only seconds before he was deluged with every satchel, suitcase and book-bag in sight, followed by every nearby able-bodied male ‘piling on’ as violently as possible.  There would have been many fewer casualties before the attacker was subdued.  (I’m not exaggerating – I saw a couple of incidents of naked aggression that were dealt with very effectively by fellow students before teachers could arrive.)  I can’t for the life of me understand why high school students would allow themselves to be victimized in this fashion.  I can only assume that the non-stop school system propaganda against normal male attitudes and aggression (and yes, it may not be politically correct to say so, but most adolescent males have more than their fair share of aggression) has finally had its desired effect.

You know, if my son, whom I’d raised according to my understanding of what it means to be a man, came home and confessed to me that he’d hung back out of fear for his own safety while he watched a madman slash and stab a girl in front of him . . . I honestly don’t know how I’d react, but I promise you this, it wouldn’t be pretty.  A man doesn’t behave like that.  Ever.  If that makes you call me a Neanderthal or uncivilized, so be it.  That’s who I am, and I’m not about to change.  (Readers are free to disagree in Comments if they please.)

The second thing is that this incident proves yet again the futility of trying to control objects in order to prevent crime.  If you ban guns, criminals will disobey the ban.  If they can’t get a gun, they’ll turn to other weapons like knives.  If you ban knives, the next step is spears, or baseball bats, or 2×4’s, or whatever.  The weapon used in the crime is largely irrelevant.  The criminal is the deciding factor in whether or not it will be committed.

I’ve not heard any calls to ban or control knives after this tragedy.  That would be so stupid as to invite nationwide ridicule, after all.  However, we continue to hear calls for ‘gun control’ after almost every incident in which a firearm is used to commit a crime.  Isn’t it time that those concerned acknowledged that such calls have nothing to do with crime, but everything to do with their desire to control us?  Knife control would have done little or nothing to stop this incident – after all, the perpetrator allegedly took kitchen knives from his own home.  In the same way, gun control will do little or nothing to stop crimes committed with guns.



  1. no shit…in my school days…chairs, desks, books, you name it, would have been thrown at some dipstick waving a knife. Yes I agree with you,

  2. Would've thought a hardcover chemistry textbook applied directly to his forehead would've sorted him out permanent-like.

    As for the holding back while a woman's getting attacked, I sort of agree with you. The part I take issue with is the 'woman' bit.

    Seems to me, if someone's getting attacked and you can help, you should; doesn't matter if they're a bodybuilder or what.

    And equally, if someone's behaving in a way that would earn a man a punch, by golly she should get one.

    After all, if she's performing a man's actions, she deserves a man's consequences.

    So the feminists tell us, anyway.

  3. In this instance, if the perpetrator had access to GUN, what do you think would have been casualty count? Till now their has not been even one fatality (I think), which would not have been the case if gun was used.

    Frankly, as the Gun technology progresses & become more lethal, it is becoming more dangerous for common citizens to bear arms. Even one deranged person with access to automatic weapon case cause incalculable damage.

    Obviously, this does NOT mean guns should be banned, but

    we need to think creatively to minimize the risks posed by guns in hands of citizens.

    As for standing against the perpetrator, I cannot agree with you more. I think its important to give martial education to children. We must inculcate them to STAND UP against any injustice, irrespective of the personal consequences.

    A society which leaves all the responsibility for its security in hands of others (eg police) will never truely feel secure.

  4. And yet, just like the movement in England, there will be people who can't think, and who demand that we start registering all knives. I suppose we can all eat with plastic knives. Steak is too expensive for almost everyone now anyway. (Sigh)

  5. Gibbs – if I had to choose between being shot at with an Enfield and being shot at with a Kalashnikov, I'd take the AK.
    Even trained soldiers can't hit anything with automatic fire.

    But of course your argument is a spurious one to start with.

    Among other things, you don't need a permit or anything like that to own an artillery piece. Black powder, yes, with solid shot only, but anyone with access to black powder and a willingless to commit a crime can make himself a home-made shell in his workshop.

    And yet you never hear of some motivated crazy with an aptitude for math shelling a post office, or a bridge, or a kindergarten.

    A tin of petrol could be used to kill a lot more people than any wild-eyed gunman, but in America, only the police regularly murder people with arson.

    Something you may find eye opening, if you have any eyes to open:

  6. Shelter in place and metrosexual (e.g. PC) don't upset the applecart… IOW target rich environment with NO ONE willing to fight back.

  7. I've taught my kids – hopefully – that it's better to go down fighting than to cower under a desk and hope someone with a knife or gun doesn't see them. They laugh at the stupid zero-tolerance policies for weapons in school (though they obey them…gotta play the game, after all), because they know that most anything in a classroom can be used as a weapon.

    I hope they'll never have to fight for their lives in school, or any other time, but I'd like to think they would be saying "Let's roll" rather than screaming and running away.

  8. I don't know if it explains this entirely, but "zero tolerance" policies that punish students for 'fighting' no matter who the aggressor was must carry some of the blame here.

    School administrators have done their level best to avoid making judgement calls regarding discipline. They, in all seriousness, have push 'zero tolerance' drug policies to the point that it has been necessary to enact laws telling them that they may not prevent asthmatic students from carrying inhalers.

    What should happen here? It may sound tangental, but (literally) decimating the administrative staff of this school system might do a lot of general good.

  9. Peter,

    Crankywaspguy talks about part of it – zero tolerance for any violence. No consideration of who started it, no consideration of right or wrong, good or evil.
    Decades of kids being taught, then teaching their kids; don't fight back.

    And let's not forget the media and government efforts in this regard – Give them what they want. Be a 'good' witness.
    We've allowed our kids to be indoctrinated into a condition of apathy as a nation. Sure few of us (Teachers really, really didn't like discussions with my kids or I) have not fallen in line but overall, most have.

    I find the contrast between the civilian indoctrination of passivity and the LEO's "go home at the end of the shift" aggressively violent action at the slightly provocation to be very telling about the direction our country is going.

    Down the drain.

  10. And yet, "we have somehow failed the aggressor", so it is, after all, our fault that this bloodbath happened.

    I, and the citizens of western Pennsylvania, should be ashamed of ourselves for failing this young man. NOT!

    I'd like to believe that had this happened during my high school years that someone, or several someones, would have taken the aggressor down fairly quickly.

    When I was in high school, not only were there guns in school, but the school issued them to students to take off-campus for competition in intra-mural leagues. (Tacoma, Washington, circa 1957) At 15, we were of an age where a fair degree of maturity was expected – no, demanded- of us.

  11. To coconut, on Carrying Guns:
    Using logic and good sounding arguments, any thing can be made to appear legitimate. "communism" sounded pretty good in books, but when applied in real life, its inadequacies surfaced.

    In USA, people have been bearing arms for a long time (200+ years), without major detriment to the society. This proves that citizens carrying weapons is OK for the society.

    However, as the technology improves, the potential "killing power" of guns also increases (eg: Scopes making 1+ miles shots simpler, etc). This can make the weapons (read Gun) a great danger to general public.

    Now, one of the primary reasons for citizens owning guns is often cited as "power to resist government tyranny".

    However, in case of civil unrest, if a situation reaches the point where government has to use its military might against its citizens, then citizens would be absolutely outclassed. (at least in US with its Tanks, Rockets, Apache Helicopters).

    For citizens, the most effective way of "resisting government" and bringing a change is peaceful protests (their are many different kinds and levels here). Martin Luther king demonstrated this theory with his fight for civil rights.

    In an open and democratic society, peaceful protests are the most powerful methods of bringing change, not the existence of guns. You can see this from example of Arab spring and recent events in Kiev. When the people get galvanized, government cannot use "Weapons" against them, and have to accede to their demands.

    Please note,
    peaceful protest are good & effective if the country founded on democratic principles. Peaceful protests may not work in totalitarian and dictatorship states (eg: China and North Korea). We all remember the massacre of Tienanmen square where peaceful student protests in China were crushed by state military.

    So, if you believe in democracy's power in USA, then guns should not be needed to resist the government or its policies.

    If, in some unforeseen future date, USA no longer remains a democratic society, then in case of an armed conflict, citizens would be outclassed by the military's firepower.

    In my opinion, one of the central reasons often cited in support of citizens bearing arms, is fallacious, at least in context of the democratic USA.

  12. Re: a young man protecting the young ladies… I saw a report, at least one, possibly two, about a young man stepping in front of an attack on two young women and being injured.

    I have some medical people in my family and a topic yesterday was how someone with a couple knives could manage to wound "so many" (20) people before being stopped. But they are thinking in terms of how difficult it is to make surgical incisions. Those need to be made accurately in place as well as depth. Slashing and stabbing like a mad dervish is another matter entirely.

    Stop and think about a HS hallway just prior to the start of classes. Don't know how big this school is (looked like a substantial school from what I saw) but I went to a mid-size HS and in my day the hallways were crowded and bustling with all sorts of things going on that would set kids off hooting and laughing and even screaming. Shoving matches were not uncommon. Things were always just short of bedlam.

    Not to mention how inwardly focused yutes that age are. In hallways packed full of fellow students they are focuses like lasers on their immediate group and, most importantly, themselves within that group.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the first 1/2 dozen wounds were inflicted by the time anyone even fully realized they, personally, had been attacked.

    Another 1/2 dozen as realization set in and another batch as the frozen panic set in among some.

    JMHO but I can easily see a substantial majority of nearby HS students freezing in stunned panic, another batch running away, and 30-40 seconds, at least, passing before anyone reacted with purpose to stop this.

    I don't doubt for a minute that a nutjob could slash/stab 20 people in a frenzied minute in a crowded HS hallway.

    Oh, and yes, we have turned out young males into, mostly, wimps.

  13. Arthur Gibbs –

    You're making the argument that every member of the military would, without hesitation, obey any orders from the government when it came to actions against fellow citizens.

    I think you're very wrong about that. I believe a very substantial percentage of our military would turn on their so-called masters if ordered to attack their fellow citizens, or at least refuse to obey those orders, and muster themselves out, with as much gear and equipment as they could.

    And, even if you're not, think Vietnam. How long did very lightly-armed fighters who knew the territory and could blend in with civilians keep a powerful force at bay?

    Want a more modern example? Ok. How well did the Soviet military machine fare in Afghanistan? How well did our own military machine fare in Iraq and Afghanistan? You could argue that it wasn't so bad in Iraq – but we are far, far away from being in control in Afghanistan, I can assure you.

    As for the Arab Spring and Kiev examples you provide for peaceful protests – those were far from peaceful. I've seen video of government troops mowing down civilians. It wasn't pretty.

  14. My son is currently in 6th grade. He and I attend TKD sessions and he is in scouts. If he lets anyone attack one of his peers regardless of sex and not do anything I would be surprised. I am a sheep dog and I am trying to raise my son to the same standard.

    In the current school environment is it harder than ever to accomplish this, but I am trying.

  15. Knucklehead got it right. By all accounts the attacker was quiet and ran through the hall, slashing and stabbing as fast as he could. Four victims are in critical condition; one of these was eviscerated. Many of the victims were stabbed and didn't know what happened.

    For anyone to express serious disappointment in their son for his failure to try and stop this terrorist is just plain wrong. These are teenagers and so are untried. Most (if not virtually all) have never had any serious martial arts training, let alone a serious knock down, drag-out brawl. If the terrorist attack went on long enough, someone might have stepped up and mounted a counter attack, but remember that the terrorist is moving and has already made up his demented mind to injure or kill as many people as he can. The counter attack is very likely still undecided about the goal; they're thinking 'fight back' when they should be thinking 'take out'.

    In my own high school the success of this terrorist attack would depend entirely on the part of the building. If the terrorist began in the honor student section, the death toll would be high. I can't think of a single person that might have stood against him, including teachers. Work your way through the middle of the school, and the terrorist would get resistance in the form of certain teachers and a few students. Once the terrorist hit the 'vocational training' section, what we called shop class, and the attack would be short lived. Why? Because the boys in those classes fought. They knew what it was like to get hit, knew it hurt, knew they would survive. Some had already been involved in a knife fight or two. A few were so tough and volatile that the teachers never turned their back on 'em. That's where the terrorist attack would have ended.

    The only way a teenager gets the needed experience is through some pretty harsh training, but then you have to make sure that you're teaching morals and ethics right along with everything else.

  16. Gibbs –

    —Deadly new tech—
    Yet no one goes off on sniping rampages. You've had what, two, three in the last fifty years? That's so few that even on a chart of one-in-a-million statistical outliers, they fall right off the left side.
    Kind of like school massacres, at that.

    Even if they wanted to, it's incredibly difficult to do that sort of thing. Artillery is pretty much applied math; do the sum, take the shot, turn the gun into the wind until you get rounds on target.

    Sniping is extremely difficult, which is why kilometre-plus shots make the news: because anyone who isn't in the top percent of the top percent of shooters could even come close to succeeding.

    And yet a tiny fraction of the Afghanistan population, armed with rubbish weapons, managed to hold off that same American military for years. Actually, they won, though only because a sympathiser got elected to their enemy's parliament.

    —Peaceful regime change—
    The "Arab Spring" where one lot of nasties got kicked out and a worse set got installed, and now people are trying to get da new boss out of power as well?
    They're failing, of course, since the new lot is a lot more ruthless than the old.

    Considering the old ones didn't have any issues with shelling crowds, that's saying something.

    Kiev, where military snipers were cheerfully firing into crowds?

  17. In a classroom setting, my favorite has always been the 3-hold punch like this one:
    Three Hole Punch
    5 pounds of iron with a strong handle.
    But the biggest problem is that students are actively taught passivity, weakness, helplessness, and "let the professionals take care of it," then are actively discouraged from taking risks or acting out or using their bodies in any way. the result is all kinds of psych damage, wide-spread physical softness, and a strong tendency toward freezing under stressing rather than thinking or responding.

  18. But the biggest problem is that students are actively taught passivity, weakness, helplessness, and "let the professionals take care of it,"

    If that's the case, and I don't know one way or the other, where will the next generation of professionals be recruited from, and what will they be like?

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