All you have to do is listen to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman for a few minutes, and you will quickly realize the great love that he has for America and for the men and women who secure the liberty of Americans.
Grossman—retired U.S. Army ranger, scholar of psychology and military history, and warrior philosopher—is a stirring motivational speaker with two primary missions: preparing American warriors for the psychological effects of combat and making the public aware of the effects of violent video games and movies on children. At the recent TREXPO West conference, he was unexpectedly presented with the opportunity to give presentations on both issues when he was asked to serve double duty when scheduled speaker Bruce Siddle was sidelined by sickness.
Giving two presentations in two days at TREXPO really didn't seem to faze Grossman. His three-hour TREXPO keynote was actually an abbreviated version of "The Bulletproof Mind," the day-long course that he teaches to law enforcement and military personnel more than 300 times per year. So he had material to spare.
At TREXPO West, Grossman hammered home many of the same points and themes during his first day of speaking as he did during his keynote at TREXPO East last summer. Anyone who has read his two most famous books, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated "On Killing" and its counterpart "On Combat," knew pretty much what to expect: a folksy delivery that everyone can understand and enjoy; a blizzard of facts, figures, and anecdotes; and a general disdain for political correctness and the media's belief that all warriors are broken by combat.
Constantly moving, punctuating his remarks with wry laughter and Army "Hooahs," Grossman recounted moving stories of the threat facing America and the men and women who rise to fight it. And he captivated the TREXPO audience.
His presentation, "The Bulletproof Mind," is a recipe for preparing officers and soldiers for the possibility that they will be called to kill in defense of the weak, the innocent, and unaware: The great majority of the American public that he likens to sheep.
Bulletproofing the mind is a four-step process, according to Grossman. First, he says that it's critical that no warrior go into combat expecting to be destroyed. "This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy," he explains. Second, he advises warriors to reject the mainstream view that they should feel bad for being in combat. Third, he advises any warrior who is having trouble to seek help, equating anyone who won't avail themselves of psychological counseling to a person suffering from a bacterial infection who refuses antibiotics.
The final step in "bulletproofing the mind" is to be aware of the danger. Grossman argues that denial of the threat can destroy a warrior twice. It prevents that warrior from being ready to fight when the time comes, and the warrior must carry the guilt of not being able to act when he or she was needed. To this end, Grossman urges cops to always carry off duty and to carry extra ammunition in the trunks of their cars in a go bag.
"If you don't carry off duty, then look in the mirror and say, 'Baaah.' You are a sheep," Grossman said to laughter and applause. "There are people out there who think you are borderline paranoid because you carry a gun off duty. I'm here to tell you that there might be something a little wrong with the cop who doesn't carry off duty."
Listing terrorist attacks on schools in a chilling litany, Grossman went on to explain the dire need for officers to carry off duty and prepare for the worst. "If it's the worst thing that you can imagine, then that's the first thing you prepare for. And I don't know about you, but the worst thing I can imagine is someone coming to kill my grandchildren."
Grossman went on to detail the horror of the Beslan school massacre in Russia in which al-Qaida affiliated Muslim terrorists slaughtered hundreds of children and teachers. "Let me tell you something. Beslan was a dress rehearsal. Osama bin Laden tries very hard not to lie, and he has promised that Russia is our future. Don't let them do it. It is your job to put a hunk of steel in your hand and shoot the SOBs who are coming to kill your kids."
While a terrorist attack on a school is a distinct possibility, Grossman spent much of his day two presentation discussing a more immediate and prevalent threat: active shooters.
Grossman, co-author of "Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill," argued that the American entertainment industry, especially the makers of violent video games, are responsible for the rash of extreme violence perpetrated by children.
He began this part of his presentation by projecting the image of a very young Palestinian girl onto the screen. She was wearing a fake suicide bomb belt and a green Hamas head scarf. Grossman told the audience that most Americans think the Palestinians have a sick culture because they train children to be terrorists. "But what we're doing to our own kids is vastly worse than what Palestinian terrorists are doing to their kids."
Grossman cited research that has shown that video violence is intoxicating and addictive. He then detailed some aspects of extremely violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Postal 2 in which killing cops and innocent citizens is encouraged and rewarded. "Surveys show that 30 percent of second graders have played Grand Theft Auto," he said.
More projected images followed. Grossman showed brain scans of teenagers playing violent video games. The scans revealed that the reasoning centers of their brains were turned off and their pleasure centers were overstimulated.
TV and movies were also attacked by Grossman for serving up violent imagery to children. He asked the question, "What would happen if a whole school just turned it off? No TV. No video games." He gave examples of schools that have tried this Stanford University endorsed program for as much as a month. The schools reported much less student-on-student violence, less bullying, and higher grades.
Grossman believes that violent crime in America has reached staggering proportions. "We have a gunfight equal to the one at the OK Corral every day," he said.
He urged the officers attending TREXPO to realize their role in defending their fellow Americans. "Our nation is like one big body under attack from a variety of diseases; you are the white blood cells that fight off these diseases. If we break in this dark and desperate hour, it will be because we cannot find enough qualified people to do the job you do."
Grossman closed his second keynote in two days with a hand salute to the crowd, which responded with a standing ovation.
"Let me tell you something. Beslan was a dress rehearsal," he said. "Osama bin Laden tries very hard not to lie, and he has promised that Russia is our future. Don't let them do it. It is your job to put a hunk of steel in your hand and shoot the SOBs who are coming to kill your kids."