The Dave Grossman Debate

He is very popular with police and military audiences.

He is a very likeable guy.

But, are there problems with his reasoning?

And, are some of his stated opinions actually detrimental to the law enforcement community?



Dateline: August 11, 2001

The following is a detailed analysis of ideas that were exchanged between Lt Col. Dave Grossman, and Tom Aveni between August 8th and 11th, 2001. The questions and comments raised were pertinent to Grossman's stated positions, from various sources, though many were derived from his 4-hour presentation at the Southern Police Institute's Annual Alumni Conference, in Palm Beach Gardens, July 27, 2001.


NYPD:  What I said was:  "John Farnam recently released data reworking the NYPD data.  After you factor out the suicides and accidental discharges, the average number of rounds fired from the average revolved was 6 shots."  My point was the same as yours:  Training is the problem.  John Farnam is (for my money) one of the greatest minds working in the field.  I might have misunderstood him, or he might be mistaken.  Certainly I would encourage you to follow up on the matter with him.  I would politely and respectfully ask you to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken in this matter.


I have had numerous contacts with John over a 23-year span. I have immense respect for all that he's accomplished. But....

That's NOT what John Farnam said!!!!!

I spoke with John Farnam (most recently on 09/10/02), and he states that he never took such a position regarding the number of shots fired by police. He stated that his view is that police are firing far FEWER shots than many had anticipated we'd see. In fact, he sent me his position on this issue, along with permission to post it. You can view John Farnam's TRUE views here: ENOUGH AMMUNITION?

Now, from my vantage point........

You say that the historical gunshot average that I used (2.7 shots fired, per gunfight, per revolver-equipped officer) was flawed since it included "accidental discharges," "suicides" and "shots fired at dogs." 


You need only scrutinize NYPD's "GUNFIGHTS" data set to exclude the shots fired in incidents other than gunfights. John Farnam makes this distinction also.

Having said that, let me provide you with GUNFIGHT statistics that I've archived over the years. You probably won't find this data online, except for our website. NYPD SOP9 is now semi-privileged data. They only provide it upon official request, to people with LE credentials.

The Early Years:

1981 NYPD SOP9 (data not broken down to number of shots fired per incident, or by MOS) Though there is no data referencing how many shots they fired that year. It does contain this quote:

"The SOP 9 study reveals that the average number of shots fired by individual officers in an armed confrontation is between two and three rounds, less than half the capacity of the service revolver.   The two to three rounds per incident has remained constant over the years covered by the report. It also substantiates an earlier study by the L.A.P.D.  (1967) which found that 2.6 rounds per encounter were discharged."

The later years I am providing below begin to show gradual increases in the number of rounds fired, per officer, per gunfight. Why? During this time-frame, we begin to see the manifestation of newly incorporated conditioning. So-called "double-taps," "vertical tracking." and "fire until your foe falls" became thoroughly ingrained in firearms training in the 1990's. Therefore, I would submit to you that a paradigm shift in handgun training has more to do with slight increases in the numbers of shots fired (per officer armed with even a revolver) than with what you describe as "panic." 

Panic COULD be a thread influencing the number of shots fired, but there is no definitive data to illustrate to what extent  this issue influences firing behavior among individual police officers .

But to reiterate, the average number of shots fired is still way below that which you claim to be true. Are you beginning to get the picture? If not, please look at the table below:
























































The above time frame encompasses a period in which NYPD had gradually transitioned from revolver to pistol. By 1995, most officers were carrying issued pistols. As you can see, the statistical average of 5.2 shots per officer shows a surprising degree of consistency throughout this period of handgun training upheaval.

If you'd like to compare revolver vs. pistol shots-fired data, during this same time frame, you should look at this article from the Portland "Oregonian" newspaper. It is (to this day) one of the most illuminating articles regarding the pistol vs. revolver, shots-fired vs. hit ratio, etc. investigative reports that I've ever seen. Here is one pertinent item from that article:

"There appears to be a relationship between the amount of ammunition a weapon holds and a tendency to shoot more. Twelve officers firing six-shot revolvers fired an average of 2.6 times each. Nineteen officers using semiautomatic pistols with capacities ranging from eight to 18 rounds shot an average of 4.6 times apiece."

All-in-all, the facts clearly suggest that shots fired per MOS haven't come anywhere near the characterization that you made, that they are, "firing their magazines empty in a panic mode."

Now, combine the above dangerous rhetoric with this Dave Grossman quote, from "Trained To Kill":

"The military and law enforcement community have made killing a conditioned response."

Dave, you're saying that all police officers kill as a matter of "conditioned response" ?!?!?!

Do you understand what you are implying here? Do you realize how inaccurate and inflammatory this is?

Your position IS NOT merely innocuously inaccurate. 

Your allegations imply that deadly force is routinely employed in a manner that is the product of a conditioned response. The troubling implication is that police don't use professional judgment on a case-by-case basis..... they merely pull triggers as a matter of conditioning!

In that light, you may wish to not only reconsider your "data," but your publicly espoused conclusion (from such questionable data) as well. You are doing law enforcement no favor by voicing erroneous and potentially divisive opinions.


FBI SWAT Team Weapon:  The FBI HRT does use the Les Baer .45.  The FBI's regional SWAT teams use the Springfield Armory .45.  Single stack, M-1911.  I have taught at  the FBI Academy on several occasions, and had the privilege of presenting to personnel from their HRT and Behavioral Sciences Unit.  The HRT people gave me a tour of their facilities and equipment, including a chance to check out the Les Baer and the Springfields.  I would politely and respectfully ask you to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken in this matter.


Let's get this straight Dave. 

Your premise, as openly espoused in your SPI presentation, was that:

"FBI SWAT uses a single-stack .45 so that they have to reload before they can fire double-digit numbers of rounds." 

Dave, are you misinterpreting something here? Do you really believe that is the reason why a mere handful of agents went to a single-stack gun? Additionally, since FBI HRT (the Bureau's best trained people, who are issued Les Baer double-stack .45's) and special agents assigned to the field (their least-trained personnel, issued mostly double-stack Glock 22/23's and double-stack SIG P226's) are generally issued high-capacity handguns, what does that do to your thesis? 

It emasculates it, of course.

Remember, it was the 1986 FBI Miami-Dade gunfight debacle that persuaded the Bureau that low capacity handguns were often one component of being on the losing side of a gunfight. That isn't the only reason why they had their tails handed to them, but it did compel them to adopt pistols, the vast majority of which are now high-capacity. 

Please, do everyone in law enforcement a favor; quit demonizing high-capacity handguns, especially in the presence of a large audience of Chiefs and Sheriffs, as were present at the SPI conference. Although your observations have no factual basis (as I clearly illustrated above), most police administrators don't know your sources and conclusions are flawed. They could therefore easily buy into this misinformation.


Medical Technology:  The American Medical Association says that, if you arrive in the hospital emergency room alive, the probability that you will die from a trauma wound today is half what it was just 10 years ago.  I presented this information in a paper to the annual convention of the AMA.  Although the steady progress in trauma work is not well know to the general public, the point was not at all controversial to them.  I would politely and respectfully ask you to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken in this matter.


Our staff MD, Fabrice Czarnecki, couldn't find anything to support your claim about the reduction in trauma-related fatalities. Interestingly, Fabrice is an emergency room physician, and a TAC-MED specialist. One would suspect that any major advance in trauma medicine would be known to him.

You can view Dr. Czarnecki's response HERE.

Even if your data were found, and corroborated.......

                           ....................... IT IS ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS!

It does absolutely nothing to support your assertion that there are currently more assaults and shootings, and that only through the efforts of modern medical science, saving more lives, do we have murder rates going down. 

The fact is, gunshot wounds have declined, and declined sharply. That probably throws a monkey-wrench into your marketing strategy. Do I have the facts to prove it? You bet. Merely check out these links:

Report: Gunshot wounds fell almost 40 percent during mid-1990s

Non-fatal and Fatal Firearm-Related Injuries -- United States, 1993-1997

And while we're on the subject, most crimes have increased from 1960-2000. However, talking about dramatic increases in property crimes won't sell your books, will it?

However, the data suggests that the 1998 murder aggregate is roughly equal to the 1970 murder aggregate, which is quite amazing when one considers the 80 million increase in population from 1970 to 2000, as well as the dramatic shift in demographics in this period. Indeed, looking at the bottom of that linked page reveals that the murder rate (per 100,000 population) peaked in 1980 at 10.2, but has fallen to 6.3 per 100,000 by 1998. Here are some other recent headline to further illustrate my point:

U.S. Crime Rate Holds at 30-Year Low

U.S. Murder Rate Hits 40-Year Low

And so, what is Dave Grossman's last line of defense (as presented at the SPI conference)? 


"We shouldn't be using the decline of murders as an accurate barometer of where we are. We should be using aggravated assault rates, which would include everyone seriously assaulted yet possibly saved by medical advancements."


OK Dave, let's look at those numbers. 

The aggravated assault aggregate in 1998 (974,402) is roughly equal to that of 1989 (951,710). 

In 1989, the ratio of aggravated assaults (per 100,000) was 384.4, while in 1998 it was 360.5.

Yes, the ratio peaked in 1991 (441.8). but it's clearly time to update your "data" Mr. Grossman, as well as your marketing strategy.

For an interesting update to this argument, you should view this article:

Violent Crime Rate Falls To Record-Low Level

Now, having disassembled your flimsy thesis, am I suggesting that America is safer than it was in 1960? 

Of course not. 

Am I suggesting that America won't see an up-tick in violent crime if we plunge into another recession? 

Of course not.

I'm merely suggesting that what you present is self-serving, and very misleading.

In the future, you might wish to consult with a reputable criminologist before you stake your reputation on misunderstood statistical data, and the absolutely bizarre causal theories you then derive from them.


WWII Firing Rates:  I would be very interested to know what WWII soldiers did use humanoid targets.  I am sure there must have been some (although I think we both agree that the number is comparatively small) but I have not been able to find this info.  Your knowledge in this area would be very valuable to me.  


Dave, you served in the Army for over twenty years, and you freely boast about having taught at West Point, yet you never came across evidence of the Army using humanoid targets going into WWII?  You've made so many wild assertions based on this issue that one would have thought that you'd researched it to some degree. Apparently not.

I have retrieved and digitized just a few minutes of a U.S. Army, WWII training film (War Department Film Bulletin, F.B. 152). I attempted to upload a larger clip from this film, but the server hosting this site repeatedly rejected the size of the file. If you wish a full version of this film, I'd be more than glad to send it your way.

I have also digitized snippets from a segment of "Tales Of The Gun: U.S. Guns of World War II." As with the above War Department film, I had to abbreviate these enough to upload them. However, nothing is taken out of context. You can purchase this video directly from the History Channel's website, as I did.


In addition, your interpretation of SLA Marshall's studies, pertinent to soldier firing rates, is in serious need of re-evaluation! 


What did SLA Marshall actually suggest in his writings?


And, was SLA Marshall's work reliable enough for Grossman to have based his book "On Killing" upon?



As to the differences in the nature of fighting in RVN, you are quite correct.  However, in the Falklands, the Brits, trained in the new style, were getting a 95% firing rate, while the Argentines, trained in the old style were firing at approximately 20%.  (I am a graduate of the British Staff College, where this matter is addressed extensively.)  We can see this in many other wars.  I wrote three encyclopedia entries and the entry in the Oxford Companion to American Military History on this topic, all peer reviewed at the highest levels by  some of the world's most distinguished academics.  I would politely and respectfully ask you to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken in this matter.


I'm a bit confused here Dave. When you admit;

"As to the differences in the nature of fighting in RVN, you are quite correct," 

You implicitly admit to the fallacy (of your stated position) regarding Vietnam-era soldiers having a higher firing rate as a matter of what target medium they trained upon. You have proven no causal linkage here.

Since I contested only your comparison between Vietnam and WWII (which is the only comparison you made at the SPI Conference), I won't submit anything further. I have no detailed knowledge of firing rates in the Falkland War, nor have I seen anything published in this area.  However, judging by the multitude of mischaracterizations made regarding the firing-rate propensities of soldiers in Vietnam and WWII, I would approach any such Falkland "data" with justified skepticism.

The issue I raised about Vietnam, regarding whether visible ethnic differences might contribute to a higher firing rate, might also be a factor worth considering in the Falklands. 

The Argentine troops, as I recollect, were cold, wet, hungry and demoralized by the time the British landed (in force) to retake the island. Troops in such condition seldom fight very well, or very cohesively. On the other hand, the British landed on the island, fresh, motivated, and with very high morale. 

Interestingly, this is corroborated by SLA Marshall himself.


More importantly, the British have, from an historical perspective, never demonstrated much hesitation to shoot what they've perceived as, "heathens," "rabble," "whirling dervishes," etc. who had the audacity to resist the Crown. This mindset has little to do with what target medium they trained upon, and long predates the influence of movies and video games. 

You do allude to some of this in Section VII, Chapter 1 of your book ("Desensitization and Conditioning in Vietnam") although I believe soldiers are less reluctant to shoot people from a vastly different ethnic and cultural background. Aside from the obvious reasons that might cause a soldier to hesitate to shoot someone who looks very much like himself, there are other practical reasons why soldiers in Korea and Vietnam may have fired with greater frequency than they did in WWII. 

German soldiers committed very few atrocities against Allied soldiers in WWII. Soldiers and marines facing the Japanese (WWII), Chinese/North Korean forces, and VC- NVA forces, understood with great clarity that cruelty, starvation, torture and possibly death awaited them if captured by OPFOR. 

There is no greater motivation for a soldier to fight than knowing the inhumanity of his enemy, and how his enemy might treat him if he were captured.

Had you considered that? You loosely skirt this issue in your book when you reference demonizing one's enemy, but oddly don't mention how an enemy might demonize himself (in our eyes) through his treatment of POWs and non-combatants.

One would be wise to consider whether soldier firing rates, for which there still remains a paucity of  hard data, have much more complex underpinnings than merely which target medium they trained upon. I would love to see someone compile truly exhaustive firing data that contrasted the firing rates of soldiers from countries with Judeo-Christian value systems, against the firing rates of soldiers from atheistic or agnostic countries.  


Heart Variability:  What I said was:  "For the average person, around xxxx BPM, xxx begins to happen.  This data is taken straight out of Bruce Siddle's material, which we presented in an encyclopedia entry that we co-authored.  I would politely and respectfully ask you to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken in this matter.


I am not a physiologist. Nor am I a licensed psychologist. Even though I have more formal education in the field of clinical psychology than you do, I fully recognize my limitations in this field. However. most of the body of empirical evidence that we have in this field is inconclusive at best.


Video Games:  Just firing at flat, e-type silhouettes was a significant step forward from bullseye targets in WWII.  The humanoid targets in Doom are certainly a significant step forward in putting military quality enabling in the hands of children.  I would encourage you to go to the local video arcade and play some other games besides Doom.  The realism of the (human) opponents gets ever greater.  In July, 2000, the AMA, the APA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry made a joint statement to a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional conference.  This is the national representatives of all of our doctors, pediatricians, psychologists, and child psychiatrists making a statement to our Congress.  What they said was:  media violence causes violence in children, and "the negative impact of interactive electronic media [violent video games] may be significantly more severe than that wrought by television, movies or music."  I would politely and respectfully ask you to consider the possibility that the medical community would disagree with you on this matter.


For the record, I have been playing numerous video games for 12 years now, as does a huge segment of the U.S. population. Your characterization of these games is far too broad. I used the Klebold-Harris-Doom example simply because pseudo-social scientists have seized upon this linkage as an alleged "smoking-gun." 

Within this arena, It would seem that you've sparked an interesting intellectual offering in Salon magazine: Games don't kill people -- do they? This was insightful reading.

There is yet another article that questions the validity of so-called "studies" pertinent to whether video games have nearly the influence upon adolescent behavior that you claim they have. You might wish to read, "The shooters and the shrinks," which is an article that seems to specifically target your thesis.  It would seem as though there is an abundance of qualified people who don't buy your thesis.

But, wait-a-minute Dave! 

It Looks Like You Got Smoked In This Case!

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit in Columbine Case

Regarding media influence, there is also this revelation, released by the "Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence," which released the results of a study that concluded:

"A two-year study was conducted by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence and commissioned by Mediascope, Inc., a nonprofit public policy organization. The study revealed that during a 21 year period from 1972-1992, the depiction of weapons in newspaper movie advertisements were portrayed less frequently than ever before, despite public belief that movies are more violent today."  (emphasis is mine)

Dave, in case you missed this article, you may wish to look at what a school-shooter is saying, five years after his school shooting rampage in Kentucky.

Years Later, Kentucky School Shooter Still Can't Explain Crimes

'One thing that did not influence him, he said, is video games or violent movies.'

'The families of the slain girls filed a $33 million lawsuit blaming entertainment companies for the shootings. Last month, a federal appeals court panel unanimously affirmed the dismissal of the case, saying the companies couldn't have known that somebody would commit such a crime after viewing their products.'

'Carneal said the video games he played were no more violent than the articles on the front page of a newspaper; he said he only watched a portion of the movie "The Basketball Diaries," in which a drug addict dreams of shooting students who had laughed at him when he was paddled by a teacher.'

"It was just another movie," he said. "It really didn't stick with me."

(bold emphasis is mine)

     Dave, you've gone on record as blaming video games and "the availability of firearms" as the impetus for school shootings. If you had actually had a legitimate background in psychology you might have had a different perspective on the majority of US school shootings. Did you know that 8 out of 13 of the most recent school shootings - most prominently the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, were committed by teens who had been taking  psychiatric drugs? But, we have to suppose you've found it more profitable and politically palatable to blame these shootings on video games and the Second Amendment. Right?

Dave, do some literature review in this area:

  • “Littleton Gunman Tests Positive for Manic-Inducing Drug,” ABC's Colorado Affiliate KNBC News 4 reports, 4 May 1999, Goddard's Journal:, May 1999.

  • Katy Muldoon, “Shooting Spurs Debate on Prozac's Use by Kids,” The Oregonian, 1 Jun. 1998

  • Robert A. King, M.D., et al., “Emergence of Self-Destructive Phenomena in Children and Adolescents during Fluoxetine Treatment,” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30:2, Mar. 1991.

  • Lecomte D, Fornes P “Suicide among youth and young adults, 15 through 24 years of age. A report of 392 cases from Paris, 1989-1996,” Journal of Forensic Science, 1998 September: 43(5):964-8; Internet website,

  • “Did Prescription Drugs Help Trigger Winnetka Shootings?,” The Doctor's People Medical Newsletter for Consumers, Vol. 1, No. 1; “Experimental drug was used by child's killer,” Los Angeles Times, 3 Jun. 1988; “Suit against Laurie Dann's parents to proceed,” UPI Executive News Service, 8 Feb. 1990.

  • “Gunman Kills Girl, Wounds 10 at School,” Los Angeles Times, 27 Sept. 1988; “School shooting probe continues,” The Newton Kansan, 27 Sept. 1988; “Psychiatric Drugs Create Killer,” Freedom, Nov./Dec. 1988.

  • David Harpster and Kathleen Salamon, “Schoolyard Massacre, 5 Kids Die In Shooting, Gunman Injures 30 Others, Then Kills Himself,” The Sacramento Union, 18 Jan. 1989; “Chronological Life History of Patrick Edward Purdy,” prepared by Special Agents Allen Benitez and Phil Lee, Bureau of Investigation, California, Dept. of Justice, 1989, p. 17.

    There is reason to suspect that the pre-existing psychological condition that prompted medication was the underlying reason for the shooting rampage - not the medication itself. Video games? Guns in homes? Dave, how badly have you over-simplified this issue? How many other factors have you over-looked?

     But, there are many other problems associated with what you espouse Colonel Grossman. Anyone who takes the time to examine the facts quickly recognizes that the gun and video game paranoia that you peddle (for cash) is doing society a big disfavor. Why? By projecting so much distorted focus toward problems that aren't what you make them out to be, scarce criminal justice resources can easily become allocated disproportionate to their degree of severity . Ironically, the media that you frequently malign is just as much as a part of the disinformation campaign as you are.

    The latest data released by the U.S. Surgeon General and National Institute of Health suggest that youth violence has just dropped to its lowest point in the 25 years it has been chronicled.  But, what do we get from Dave Grossman and the liberal media? Misinformation!

From the study, "Off Balance: Youth, Race & Crime in the News"

"Despite sharp declines in youth crime, the public expresses great fear of its own young people. Although violent crime by youth in 1998 was at its lowest point in the 25-year history of the National Crime Victimization Survey , 62% of poll respondents felt that juvenile crime was on the increase. In the 1998/99 school year, there was less than a one-in-two-million chance of being killed in a school in America, yet 71% of respondents to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll felt that a school shooting was likely in their community. Despite a 40% decline in school associated violent deaths between 1998 and 1999 and declines in other areas of youth violence, respondents to a USA Today poll were 49% more likely to express fear of their schools in 1999 than in 1998."


Hollywood Pushing "Avenger" Mentality:  You are quite correct that Hollywood is teaching disrespect for authority.  Michael Medved, one of our nation's most respected commentators, has written extensively on how Hollywood is also teaching this "avenger" mentality.  There have always been some old movies that lived on the edge, but the old Hollywood code limited them significantly.  The number and degree of movies that undermine authority and make a hero out of the criminal (something that was forbidden by the "code" that Hollywood lived by up until the early 1960s) has increased dramatically.  What I said was, "Starting in the late 1960s with movies like "Dirty Harry" and Charles Bronson in the "Death Wish" movies, we began to tell ourselves a new story:  "The system is broken, and if I want justice, I have to take the law into my own hands."  Then you mention the "Death Wish" movies to rebut what I said. (?)   Could it be that you were distracted, or were in an area where you had difficulty hearing all of what I said?


So, your very strong conclusions in this topical area are based  upon what Michael Medved says?

Michael Medved is a stand-up guy, no doubt. However, his qualifications as a social scientist ARE a bit in doubt. His book, "Hollywood Vs. America" is a beneficial contribution in the cultural debate that consumes people like you and I. 

However, Medved goes far beyond indicting Hollywood for pushing the "avenger" mentality. In fact, that issue is a mere footnote within a much broader context of his allegations. To take but one thread (the "avenger" thread) from his thesis would be shallow (in the least), if not disingenuous. 

 In fact, a mere glance at the outline of this text illustrates the broad, sweeping nature of his invective against the Hollywood establishment.

Outline of "Hollywood Vs. America":

  • Part I: The Poison Factory

    • A Sickness in the Soul

    • A Bias for the Bizarre

  • Part II: The Attack on Religion

    • A Declaration of War

    • Comic Book Clergy

    • Forgetting the Faithful

  • Part III: The Assault on the Family

    • Promoting Promiscuity

    • Maligning Marriage

    • Encouraging Illegitimacy

    • Kids Know Best

  • Part IV: The Glorification of Ugliness

    • The Urge to Offend

    • The Infatuation with Foul Language

    • The Addiction to Violence

    • Hostility to Heroes

    • Bashing America

  • Part V: An Inescapable Influence

    • Denial Behavior

    • A Fun-House Mirror

  • Part VI

    • What Went Wrong

    • Motivations for Madness

    • "The End of the Beginning"

Hmmm..... the "avenger" issue doesn't seem to get very high billing in his book index, does it? Where is it Dave?

But, before you take everything that Medved says to the bank, you should examine more closely some of his admitted errors in judgment. His admitted affection for Hillary Clinton, and his past service to California Democratic Congressman Ron Dellums (a politician that Medved himself describes as a "Stalinist") might make many among us wince at his past political naiveté.

In addition, he makes some sweeping generalizations that are patently absurd, and  that I take exception to.

In his text, he writes that there are people who, 

" to see heads blown up and limbs chopped off. That exists in America. That audience is composed primarily of drooling, sub-literate, hormone-addled, violence-prone, adolescent boys. And you know who you are."

Does that mean that if I enjoyed watching the graphic violence portrayed in "Saving Private Ryan," Braveheart," "Gladiator," and a host of other such movies, that I fall into any or all of his descriptive categories? 

If so, who on earth is going to fight America's wars? Guys like Michael Medved? 

I don't think so!

If inclined, take a look at an alternative cultural perspective about changes in America.

Where Are All The Guns?


Atrocities.  As to your question about, "the class-inspired slaughters in Cambodia, China, Haiti, etc."  I spend a whole chapter in my book addressing the dynamics that enable mass murders and atrocities throughout history.  My book was nominated for a Pulitzer, is being used as required reading at West Point, the US Air Force Academy, the Police Corps program nationwide, "peace studies" programs in Mennonite and Quaker Colleges, and in Berkley.  This is just a few of the hundreds of military, law enforcement, and academic institutions where the book is being used as required reading in classes.  I would hope that you can agree that this large and diverse body of individuals would disagree with you on this matter. 


Don't let your inflated ego further cloud your judgment Dave.

Firstly, that "whole chapter" that you claim to devote (in your book, "On Killing") to the "dynamics" of mass murders and atrocities is an anecdotal "air biscuit." There is absolutely no data anywhere to be found in Section V, Chapters 1-5, which I presume that you are alluding to. There is nothing anywhere between these pages that even remotely approaches empirical research. It's story-telling, nothing more, nothing less.  And, there is even an apparent  paucity of stories to tell on this issue, judging by how little one finds here.

And so, my assertion still stands, that bloody, ritualistic killing is much more prevalent in countries where Hollywood and video games are MIA. I would also assert that the most notable thread common to all of the preeminent violent cultures is their lack of faith in God.

OK, so your book was nominated for a Pulitzer.  <yawn>

Do you know how many people have actually received Pulitzers based on fraudulent writing or with fraudulent credentials? Take a look here for a few examples that I quickly came up with. 

My point? 

Nomination for a Pulitzer does NOT serve as validation for anything you've said!

Some might argue that a Pulitzer nomination is merely grounds for heightened suspicion!

Your credibility should stand apart from any Pulitzer nomination!  


Wait a minute Dave, you're actually boasting that your book is, "required reading with .....'peace studies' programs in Mennonite and Quaker Colleges, and in Berkley." 


Let me get this straight. You take pride in being snuggled-up to by the Mennonite and Quaker folks who've advocated ducking out of every war we've fought in recent generations? And, my God, you gloat over having the folks in "Berzerkley" in your philosophical corner?

Dave, what do you do for an encore, seek thesis validation from Jane Fonda?

OK, so your book is required reading at West Point and the Air Force Academy, as well as with the UN-inspired Police Corps? Unfortunately, given the globalist political drift (toward peace-keeping and "nation-building") of the upper echelons of the U.S. military, I'm not surprised.

As the facts illustrate unequivocally, your book ("On Killing") is pure, unadulterated garbage. Many of the bizarre endorsements you offer as forms of validation only attract added skepticism.

Other questions you may wish to resolve:



(found at :

'Grossman pulls out a .22-caliber pistol. This, he tells me, is the same model that fourteen- year-old Michael Carneal stole from his neighbor's house in Paducah, Kentucky, on December 1, 1997. Carneal took the gun to a high-school prayer meeting and opened fire on the group.'

"He fired eight shots and got eight hits on eight different kids. He killed three and paralyzed one for life," Grossman notes grimly in his slight Arkansas accent. It was an astonishing piece of marksmanship-a hit ratio that many highly trained police officers can't achieve. Last year, for example, four experienced New York City cops shot at unarmed Amadou Diallo, firing forty-one bullets from barely fifteen feet away; fewer than half hit their mark.'

QUESTION #1: Mr. Grossman, are you comparing the hit probability of a kid, armed with a .22 caliber pistol, who is calmly shooting unarmed victims, with officers who are likely shooting within the influence of a limbic system reaction? 

QUESTION #2: Are These Grossman Quotes In Conflict? 

Grossman ..... also claims kids' access to guns hasn't increased, so guns can't solely be responsible for the rise in shootings. "I grew up with a twelve-gauge shotgun in my bedroom," he notes. (


"It sounds like a Second Amendment issue to me, and as such these things (video games) should be regulated just like guns," Grossman says. "Anybody who gives a child a gun is a criminal. Anybody who gives unrestricted access to these devices are criminals."

Comment: OK, so which is it Dave? Your parents gave you "unrestricted access" to a 12 gauge shotgun (at least, that's what we infer from it being in your bedroom), does that make YOUR parents "criminals"?

QUESTION #3: Judging by the quote below, are you suggesting that we be "weaned" away from the Second Amendment?


"We are trapped in this spiral of self-dependence and lack of trust. Real progress will never be made until we reduce this level of fear. As a historian, I tell you it will take decades--maybe even a century--before we wean Americans off their guns."

Comment: It sure sounds that way. (So, you're an "historian" too?)


 In Summary

Simplistic solutions appeal to the ignorant masses who cannot grasp complex problems. You also seem to offer the ignorant masses absolution from their complicity in societal dysfunction. (SEE: Study Says Broken Homes Harm Kids More). Avoiding the most serious societal problems may have been a marketing decision on your part. One can only speculate.

However, your most egregious sin may well be the shameless, "me-myself-I" marketing of yourself at every possible opportunity. You can't form a sentence without somehow injecting "me", "myself" or "I" into its structure. You use questionable "data" from questionable sources. Upon that foundation, you reach unscientific conclusions. This is nothing from which anyone should derive an inflated ego.

There is one remaining issue to address. For God's sake, cease proclaiming that you "TRAIN" police and military personnel. Do you honestly believe that you are actually training people? You are a lecturer. More accurately, you are a storyteller. No one walks away from any exposure to you any better "trained" than when they walked in the door. 



 "I train 50,000 people a year, 10,000 cops every year for the last 3 years."

AVENI: pretty darn silly!

You are probably a great guy, who sincerely believes in what he proclaims. 

I have no personal grudge against you. I neither envy you nor despise you.

We've never even met.

And, I'd would rather work with you than against you.

I didn't just stumble into the field of police/military training yesterday. I expect to have my assertions challenged by police and military personnel, and have been challenged in the types of forums that I've trained them in. 

You (apparently) have never had the benefit of that interaction. You walk in a room, do your "hooah" routine, tell a few USMC jokes (no, I've never been associated with the USMC), advance some sweeping, untested generalizations, AND LEAVE!

Dave, do yourself and everyone you touch a favor. Consult with reputable people who have a range of expertise that might augment your own. Bruce Siddle is one such guy, and there are many more you should be doing more than merely rubbing elbows with. Secondly, corroborate your "data." We all make mistakes, but as widely read as you are, any errors you might make become memorialized for many years to come.

Lastly, the people you touch deserve much more than untested platitudes. Some of the people you touch will never live to see the pensions they toil for. Your marketing impulses should always take a backseat to that reality.

As I said previously, I mean you no harm. I would hope that you'll one day look back upon our exchanges as being thought-provoking, and perhaps even beneficial.

You made me dig deeper to substantiate the remarks I had made previously to you. I did benefit from that. Will you benefit from anything I've offered you?

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas J. Aveni



copyright 2004 The Police Policy Studies Council. All rights reserved. a Steve Casey design.