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Home  >  Topics  >  Gun control

April 04, 2014
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Lt. Dan Marcou Blue Knights
with Lt. Dan Marcou

15 years after Columbine: How the media turned me into a 'gun control advocate'

If an active shooter is not stopped as they progress through the first four phases, the only way they can be stopped is by my version of gun control during the fifth phase — here’s my definition of gun control

We solemnly remember the vicious murders of 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado. Now, a full 15 years after Columbine, I’ve come to believe that gun control would have stopped Harris and Klebold. That’s right: I’m in favor of gun control. 

No matter how you feel about gun control, I feel compelled to say this in the interest of saving lives.

Please, hear me out. 

Mainstream Media Has Ignored the Five Phases
When Columbine occurred, I was already teaching officers to ride to the sound of the guns when faced with an in-progress attack conducted by a shooter going for top score. 

I had developed the Five Phases these shooters seemed to go through inspired by some early events. The term ‘active shooter’ had not yet been even coined when I began to teach how to more effectively stop killers like James Oliver Huberty.

Then Columbine happened, and the whole world woke up to the problem of the active shooter.

Looking at the Columbine shooting, it was clear that Harris and Klebold went through these five phases: 

1.)    The Fantasy Phase: Klebold and Harris dreamed, talked, drew and wrote about their fantasy of killing. They even video-taped their thoughts, desires and feelings.
2.)    The Planning Phase: Harris and Klebold took time to meticulously plan this event together.
3.)    The Preparation Phase: The two gathered materials, built improvised explosive devices, purchased weapons and ammunition illegally, and pre-positioned resources before the attack. They also trained in the use of their weapons.  
4.)    The Approach: During their approach they were dressed in garish outfits fashioned after a character in their favorite movie “The Matrix.” They even warned friends not to go to school ahead of time. They were initially engaged by an officer on the approach, but slipped by the officer into the school.
5.)    Implementation: They opened fire and continued shooting until they realized the police had arrived in force. They killed themselves rather than be captured.

As some of you know, I have tried to get the message out to the media, citizens, school officials, and the medical / mental health specialists that there is no reason to say (as many of them do), “These things can’t be prevented.” 

Many of these cases can be prevented. In fact, many have been prevented

Most are not crimes of passion, but crimes of intense, even lengthy deliberation. They go through this process and present many and numerous opportunities for the people around them to stop these killers’ march toward infamy in the early phases. It is important that parents, friends, teachers, mental health practitioners, social workers also police officers believe what these suspects, write, draw and say. Then effective action must be taken to steer these suspects in a healthy direction, while they are in a secure facility.

I believe the concept of the “Five Phases of Active Shooters” should go out to the public. Mass media outlets should be clamoring to broadcast every element of it.

In doing so, they would save lives.

A few local outlets have had stories on it, but national news entities like NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and FOX News have shown no interest in getting this message out to the public. 

I’ve noticed, however, that proponents of gun control have been able to get their message out on these national venues immediately and repeatedly after each one of these active shooter events.

The Media Loves to Interview Gun Control Advocates
Since it has become clear to me that the only time someone gets media coverage after these incidents is if they are gun control advocates, I have decided to out myself. 

Even though I am a former SWAT commander, a firearms instructor, and tactics instructor, I reveal to you today that I am a gun control advocate.

If I say “gun control” often enough in this article maybe one of the major media outlets will contact me after doing an Internet search query on “gun control experts,” and allow me to seize the opportunity to spread the word beyond law enforcement that many of these shooters can be stopped if the public understands that these Five Phases exist. 

My stance in favor of “gun control” is based upon saving lives. I do not know what side of this gun control issue you’re on, but I know all of you agree with me on the issue of gun control as I define it.

If an active shooter is not stopped as they progress through the first four phases, the only way they can be stopped is by my version of gun control during the fifth phase — here’s my definition of gun control.

The ability to maintain a proper sight picture on a vital area of a dangerous suspect who poses an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to an innocent person. This control must be maintained throughout the trigger squeeze up until and including the moment the gun goes “bang!”

So, you see? I’m strongly in favor of gun control. 

Maybe by stating this stance in this space, I’ll be invited by one of those national news outlets to explain the Five Phases. 

I can be reached via the email below, or via PoliceOne Editor-in-Chief Doug Wyllie, who conspired with me on this idea. Send all your hate mail to him


About the author

Lt. Dan Marcou retired as a highly decorated police lieutenant and SWAT Commander with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. He is a nationally recognized police trainer in many police disciplines and is a Master Trainer in the State of Wisconsin. He has authored three novels The Calling: The Making of a Veteran Cop , S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor, and Nobody's Heroes are all available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Visit his website and contact Dan Marcou





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