I recently read this article published over at the very nice The Secure Dad website. It’s a well-written article about how to prepare one’s family for an active shooter event.
Near the end of the article, however, the author writes:
“Don’t try to attack an armed gunman without a weapon of your own. The odds will not be in your favor. Let the police do their jobs. Don’t get in their way.”
Generally speaking, that is good advice. It’s good advice because our police do an amazing job. It’s also good advice because it’s always useful to pick up a weapon – any weapon – in a situation where you must fight for your life. Going at it unarmed is not the best tactical route, although it may be required.
This advice is often given, though, not necessarily because it’s good advice, but because it reflects a societal blind-spot in America. Collectively, Americans have been conditioned to “notify the authorities.” This is good advice, no doubt. Taken to an extreme, though, and it creates sheep out of citizens.
Times have changed. The spread of domestic and/or foreign terrorism and the pervasive mental health crisis in America call for an emboldened strengthening of our collective national character, that is, if we wish to create more fitting responses to violent incidents. We absolutely must arm ourselves differently, by reframing our options in responding to active shooters, and thus increasing the survivability of everyone involved.
We must stand up, fight when necessary, protect others, and do what we can to face our societal blindspot (or relegating our entire personal safety to others). I’m not advocating Rambo-like machismo. No, I’m advocating that human beings can fight for their lives, and that there are times when citizens can intervene prior to law enforcement arrival in ways which support life.
Plainly put, active shooters (or active knifers, active drivers, active bludgeoners, etc.) are best managed when we give reasonable emphasis to the fight element (along with the other elements as well) of the FEMA doctrine of Run-Hide-Fight. Currently, fight is given lip-service only, with statements like the one mentioned above always being the frame of the lip-service.
Yes, the odds are indeed not in your favor if you confront an active killer unarmed. Guess what…the odds are also not in your favor if you place inappropriate emphasis on advice to let the police do their jobs and not get in their way. There are times when the early intervention of a first responder can increase survivability and save lives. If you are present prior to law enforcement showing up, you are a first responder.
There is simply too much evidence (research the After Action Reports of active shooter events) that a determined citizen can perform effective counter-violence on an active killer. In doing so, s/he can increase the number of persons saved. This is what it comes down to, that is, increasing the survivability of yourself and others.
We need to stop fooling ourselves by teaching a Run-Hide-Fight model, but also at the same time, giving way more emphasis to run and hide, and little to none to fight. Yes…certainly, let the police do their jobs. How about we also, though, re-frame (re-define), and act on, the role of citizens as being potential ethical interveners, when it’s necessary, to save the lives of others?
There are quality programs out there to train citizens in what is discussed here. Active Killer Defense (AKD) is one such program.
Referenced Article: Go here.