Should we continue to provide people high-quality active assailant training to our staff, to our educators, to our children? Definitely.
Choose a model to train such as the well known FEMA Run-Hide-Fight model and its many variants.
Or there is ALICE.
Every tactical person and/or organization has their own take on it, their own special emphasis, their own special acronym, their own business model for training how to mitigate active assailants.
You want it for schools? There are programs.
You want it for churches? There are programs.
There are live training programs. There are online training programs.
This base of knowledge is provided to the public largely from our Public Safety and Law Enforcement professionals and people who hail from those fields. Do they know this realm? Absolutely. And they should train it, and train others in it.
However, concentrating only on point-of-impact (i.e., when the shooter is shooting) for active assailant incidents is exceptionally short-sighted, unless, of course, our concern is only to stop the shooter when he is actually shooting, and not beforehand as well. This exposes a major societal blind-spot.
In reference to active assailants, focusing our attention almost solely on point-of-impact is tantamount to offering training in self-defense which consists only of how to physically fight an attacker, with a conspicuous absence of what ought to be professionally taught and practiced FIRST (along with the physical as well), namely, situational awareness, prevention, avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.
In other words, professionally taught self-defense includes the realization that there is a great deal to be done to stay left of bang, that is, to do what is reasonably possible to avoid an incident in the first place. Then, of course, if one needs to resort to feral physical self-protection (e.g., hammer-fists, elbows, head-butts, biting, etc.), then so be it (you’re then in the territory of right of bang). But to train the physical skills, and to leave out or under-emphasize all the skills of avoidance, deterrence, de-escalation, etc., is just plain irresponsible.
To what camp do you retreat when expressing the “why” of active assailant incidents? Let’s be honest – for many people, they just don’t have an explanation for why these incidents continue to occur. The camp most people choose is driven by bias, what opinion their favorite politician espouses, and some, maybe, by data-driven evidence.
Some like to shout down those who say that a major mental health crisis in America is a contributing factor to active assailant incidents. And yet there is definitely such a mental health crisis. Would addressing it with constructive action (and not just the clapping of tongues) help to perhaps mitigate some of the severity of the active assailant issue? Absolutely.
Some like to shout down those who point out that America’s serious substance abuse crisis (particularly opioids) is a contributing factor to active assailant incidents. Would addressing this crisis help to perhaps mitigate some of severity of the active assailant issue in America? Absolutely.
Some like to shout down those who say that our gun laws in America need overhauling and that these laws are a contributing factor to active assailant incidents. And yet is there something that could be done, without taking the guns from law-abiding citizens, to perhaps mitigate some of the severity of the active assailant issue in America? Absolutely.
Can we not, as a nation, in a more sophisticated way, implement our emergency management phases of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery to involve disciplines such as politicians, law-makers, mental health and substance abuse professionals, in addition to our Public Safety and Law Enforcement professionals? The active assailant issue in America is complicated and deserves creative, multi-disciplinary, attention.
It’s time for our Emergency Management professionals, and politicians, and all concerned citizens, to step up and away from blinding biases, and to take action for the welfare of the entire nation. We cannot just keep attempting to deal with active assailants only when he already has his finger on the trigger.
Active assailants continue to be treated as a Public Safety or Law Enforcement issue precisely because we are choosing to address only one tiny part of it (the bang). America will not solve, nor likely even chip away at, its issues with active assailants until it begins to take action with the totality of the issue.