Yes, an armed staff member could have halted the attack at Sandy Hook

[Editor’s Note: this is an update to an article originally published November 26 following the release of the Sandy Hook summary report.]

After Adam Lanza murdered his mother with a bolt-action .22 rifle as she lay in her bed, there was nothing to stop him from stealing her weapons and attacking Sandy Hook Elementary School. There is strong evidence, however, that an armed staffer could have ended Lanza’s rampage at the school after it began, potentially saving the lives of students and teachers.

To understand how an armed staffer could have saved lives, it is important to grasp the layout of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the chronology of Lanza’s attack.

Here is a map the relevant quadrant of the school taken from the Sandy Hook summary report (PDF).

sandy hook elementary school map

The fatalities at Sandy Hook elementary school took place in and around rooms 8, 9, and 10, which branch off from the hallway at the front of the school. Adam Lanza gained access to the school lobby by simply shooting his way through a plate glass window. He then turned left and began his attack.

Plate glass window at entrance of Sandy Hook Elementary. Lanza's entry point.
Plate glass window at entrance of Sandy Hook Elementary. Lanza’s entry point.

Once inside the school, Lanza encountered Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach emerging from  Conference Room 9, across from Room 10.  He shot and killed both of them and wounded another staffer who was able to retreat back into the room and shut the door. Another staff member at the end of this hall was hit, and was able to retreat.

Lanza then moved into the main office, where the staff was in hiding, before proceeding to the classrooms (rooms 8 and 10) where he killed 20 children and four adults.

It is during this movement from conference room to the main office to the two classrooms where he murdered most of his victims that evidence suggests that an armed staffer would have been able to interdict Lanza from behind.

From the summary report:

sandy hook report

One staff member heard a loud crashing noise and ran toward the front lobby. As the staff  member got closer, bullet holes could be seen and gun powder smelled. Realizing what was going on, the staff member immediately called 911, turned and went back down the hall from where the staff member had come. During the incident, while staying on the line with the 911 operator, this staff member sent other staff to their rooms or had them stay in their rooms and this staff member went about locking doors. The staff member remained in the hallway on the telephone with the 911 operator until the police arrived.

To have heard the “loud crashing noise,” this staffer could only have been coming from the main hallway which runs past the staff lounge and Conference Room 20. This staff member then called 911 and stayed on the line, while bravely helping secure classroom doors. In Sandy Hook Elementary, could only be locked with a key, and from the outside.

But what if instead of being armed with just a key and a telephone, this staffer had been armed and trained in the manner other school districts are now pursuing?

The staffer would have been coming from the main hallway behind Adam Lanza, who had hearing protection on,. Lanza would not likely have heard an armed staffer approaching from behind. Depending on precisely when an armed staffer came upon Lanza, he or she could have potentially downed him in time to save some or perhaps many of his victims.

Of course, Newtown Public Schools didn’t allow staffers to concealed carry to protect their students at the time of Lanza’s attack. Even now, this school district and many more around the nation are still resistant to the idea of armed faculty and staff, believing against all logic and evidence that the voodoo of “gun free zone” signs and zero tolerance policies against pictures and pastries and imaginary bows and arrows will somehow save lives.

It has been said—and sadly proven, time and again—that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Unfortunately, it appears that a lockstep progressive orthodoxy is more important to many public school administrators than the preservation of the young lives in their care.

Oct 18, 2021 4:30 PM ET