In just the last two years, former FBI agent J. Pete Blair, author of the FBI’s “Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013," has trained more than 130,000 citizens in how to respond to the sudden presence of an active shooter. Blair now leads the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program at Texas State University. Said Blair: “We’ve seen a series of incidents and an increase in lethality [but] it could be that we’ve had a really unlucky few weeks.”
Lucky or not, American citizens are flocking to training classes offering strategies they can use if they are confronted with an armed attacker. Churches are putting in surveillance cameras, hiring security guards or off-duty police officers to patrol outside churches during worship services, and training those in the congregation who already carry to recognize and coordinate efforts to neutralize a threat.
But it’s not just churches that are responding but individual citizens, too. Following his training, Chad Remley and his family were in Las Vegas attending the Route 91 Harvest country-music festival when the shooting began. He immediately pulled his wife behind a Coca-Cola dispenser out of the line of fire of the shooter. Waiting for a break, he and his wife then sprinted for an exit that he had deliberately noted on their way into the concert. Part of his training is to be on “yellow” alert when in public places.
Part of the training is what to do first, then second, and then third. Many trainers follow the general rule: hide, lock, then fight.
Clifton Park, a small upstate town in New York, sponsored an active shooter defense training class earlier this week. When 200 people showed up, a second class was immediately scheduled. Those attending included college students, retirees, and parents of young children. Similar classes were held this week in hotels in Michigan, on a college campus in South Dakota, at a church in Tennessee, in a hospital in West Virginia, and a middle school in Massachusetts.
In Helena, Montana, on Wednesday, 40 people from various businesses crowded into a Chamber of Commerce meeting room to learn strategies to neutralize a shooter. They were taught to “Run, Lock, Fight” in that order. Said Sgt. Clint Pullman of the Lewis and Clark Sheriff’s Office, getting away from the situation is the first best choice, while hiding behind locked doors is the next strategy with fighting back being “less encouraged” in such a situation. Said Pullman, “I’m not advocating everyone to have an AR-15 [a semi-automatic rifle] leaning against their desk [but] this is primal stuff.”
Others take a different and more direct (some would say confrontative) approach: Challenge the shooter immediately before he gets many rounds off. Such an approach is based on a study done by professors James Wright and Peter Rossi of the University of Massachusetts a number of years ago. They interviewed 1,874 imprisoned felons and reported that nearly 60 percent of them feared armed citizens more than the police. Forty percent of them said that they had actually been deterred from committing a particular crime because they believed that their potential victims were armed. The latest studies show that while only three percent of Americans carry on a daily basis, the problem for criminals is that the shooter doesn’t know which of those three percent may be sitting among his potential victims.
Such a proactive stance is being promoted by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said following the Texas church massacre, “What ultimately may have saved lives is … people who were outside the church who had guns … so I would rather arm law-abiding citizens and make sure that they can prevent this from happening [again].” Jordan Stein, director of communications for Gun Owners of America (GOA), agrees:
No law can stop evil acts. Criminals and crazies have no regard for the law. The best way to prevent mass shootings is to eliminate gun free zones, pass concealed carry reciprocity and let responsible armed citizens defend themselves.
Pastor Chuck Baldwin’s recommendations are even stronger:
First, we need to demand that our state and federal legislatures remove existing gun control laws and completely expunge gun-free zones. That the American people need to start demanding the elimination of gun control laws and gun-free zones immediately is now a matter of life and death.
Second, the American people need to arm themselves and bear those arms in every public gathering in which they attend. No public crowd is safe: restaurants, shopping centers, malls, concerts, political rallies, seminars, churches — anywhere a crowd is gathered — are now targets for mass attacks.
Baldwin is adamant in his support of the Second Amendment, especially that part about the right to “bear” arms:
It is not enough to say we believe in the Second Amendment; it is time for the American people to get serious about keeping and BEARING arms everywhere they go….
A few dead shooters at the hands of armed citizens — with limited casualties due to the prevalence of arms in any public gathering — would put a stop to this nonsense.