Let’s Roll, pt 2: Redcoats, Risk, and Active Shooters

Or

How and why: implement a classroom “CHARGE!” plan for active
shooters

 

Every year,
some students in K-12 schools are crippled or die playing football and other
sports. If you asked the players to quit because it was safer, they’d laugh at
you. We accept those risks as part of the cost of participating in life,
because the benefits for those not
seriously injured or killed are numerous and significant – physical fitness,
sportsmanship, how to work as a team, self discipline, etc. It is an acknowledgment that with life comes risk, and benefits
are not without costs
. To attempt to eliminate ALL risk is to utterly
stifle life, and merely… exist. That is NOT what America is
about. That is not what being human
is
about.

 

When an irate parent shows up at school, yelling that their kid should
not have failed a test, or whatever, it is usually not a mass shooting threat,
even though schools have been locked down for such events as a precaution
against a possible escalation. The same has happened for a gunman or a robbery near the school, and many other
possible-but-unlikely threats. So, in those such cases where there is a
perceived threat, the risk-averse school “locks down:” all the teachers close
their doors, turns off the light, pull the shades, and tell the kids to hide,
trying to make themselves low visibility targets, much like a rabbit in an open
field that freezes in place hoping the fox, whose vision keys very well on motion, won’t see them. In most cases, the
lockdown procedure is reasonable, and it works fine, because the threat is not an actively shooting psychopath bent on a
body-count
. BUT, once the shooting starts, the picture changes radically,
and continuing to hide motionless in the dark hoping he picks another room to
shoot up, or hoping to talk the gunman into stopping, is just as stupid as the
rabbit continuing to stay motionless while the fox is running and looking
straight at it, jaws agape, with hunger in its eyes. Reasoning with a
psychopath is a non-sequitur. Once the threat is demonstrated, and the shooter
is active and closing fast, the risk-assessment of freeze-vs-action changes;
the time for hiding is over, and action
is the best path for survival. Pretending to be a motionless rabbit after being
seen is to be raptus regaliter.

 

The British
Redcoats wore red, of all the possible colors, to march in formation toward a
mass of people firing at them. Why?
It would seem like they would make good targets, what with a bright white X
across their scarlet chests. It served a couple of purposes, aside from saving
money by using cheap red dye. It identified friend from foe – an important
thing in a fight, especially in a mad melee surrounded by thick smoke and
confusion. It made the soldiers look sharp, professional, which both intimidated
the enemy AND made the Brits act more
like professionals, because self-image is vital to esprit de corps (especially
when the odds look bad on the surface). School sports teams want nice uniforms
for the exact same reason. But, most
importantly, a bright uniform makes it hard to be a coward, run away, and
escape the deadly insanity of the battle field; by keeping the unit cohesive in
the face of danger, it raised the odds of victory, decreasing the overall
casualty rate, and thus, counter-intuitively, it made staying in formation and
fighting less risky than running away
. By running away, an individual
raised their personal odds of
surviving that particular battle considerably,
but it is at the cost of an increased
risk of loss by the side he deserted. In the big picture, it might mean he
survived the battle only to lose the war and die, just a little bit later, as a
deserter.

 

In a fight, as
in a union, collective, unified action, even if imperfectly coordinated, is a
powerful thing. Numbers count. Speed counts. Determination counts. Conceding a
fight invites a follow-on attack. The Japanese were stopped at the Battle of Midway
even though the first half dozen valiantly lead but almost entirely ineffective air attacks were poorly
coordinated, used mainly obsolete aircraft, and were too few planes in number
at any one time to do much more than provide target practice for the skilled
Japanese fighter pilots and gunners. BUT… they tied things up and confused the
Japanese navy just enough so that a
small squadron of dive bombers came upon them unprepared; that final wave of
planes were able to drop out of the sky and sink the centerpieces of the attacking
Japanese fleet, the carriers. The scores of airmen dying in the first,
ineffective, attacks were NOT in vain, because they paved the way to success.
The Japanese ships and weapons were first rate, their planning was meticulous
and sweeping (but flawed); the US attack disorganized, but determined. The US pilots
took risks and won the battle decisively, and changed the course of the war
dramatically.

 

So, what can teachers and students do differently, so that things don’t
go badly for the “false positive” scares, but gives them a fighting chance when
things take a dramatic turn for the worse, and the shooter is at the door? What
can be done that doesn’t require massive bureaucratic intervention and
interference? The police come to stop the violence by displaying a willingness and ability to use
counter-violence
– why can we, the average person, not do the same?

 

Use history and human nature as guides. Most mass shootings (just
talking about in the developed world, and not government-sponsored or drug-war
stuff) have been lone gunmen, so you likely only need to stop one and you are
done – that’s the history. Secondly, it is human nature to duck and dodge
things flying into your face or at your body, and it is very hard to focus on
something precision (like aiming and shooting) when you are in pain and blind.
So, when a lockdown occurs, rather than immediately cowering in fear hoping to
be shot last, everybody grab something they can throw, or hit with, to use as a
weapon, or get out a BRIGHT flashlight (or even a cell phone camera flash;
temporary blinding and disorientation is a MAJOR help in a fight). When hiding,
arrange yourselves around the door or other most likely entry point, with the
biggest and strongest nearest the door, but at least a few paces back. Those
nearest the door should be holding stuff that makes a good club (be creative –
like the heavy iron 3-hole punch, a meter stick, using a marker or Sharpie like
a kubotan, or a shovel from the wetlands ecology project last month you just
“happen” to still have), or a couple of them might use a desk they can push or
hold up in front of themselves. If an active shooter comes in the door,
everyone shine lights in his eyes, throw stuff at him, scream a battle cry, and
CHARGE! The folks in the first rank charge in, planning on knocking the weapon
up, jamming the action, hitting or blinding or disabling the shooter in any way
possible. Bury him in weight of numbers, use knees, biting, clubbing, anything
that causes pain, distraction, immobility, damage, or blindness. The second
rank should be ready to dive in to help, pull back the injured to clear the way
for more counter-attackers, or whatever. The physically weakest should shine
flashlights into the attacker’s eyes to blind him, watch for other shooters, or
prepare to lend a hand in any way possible (such as keeping a power-cord or
other tie-‘em-up handy to give to the primary counter-attackers once the
shooter is subdued).  If the event
happens in a cafeteria or gym, throw your lunch, a can of soda, hot soup or
coffee, a ball, or anything else handy, and charge in for the take-down.

 

This sort of plan does not interfere with the normal lock-down
procedures of “lock-lights-hide”, can be implemented independently by
individual teachers, and can be modified and adapted to specific classroom
layouts and student age and abilities. 
It empowers kids, and trains them that the proper reaction to senseless
violence is not cowering in fear or meek compliance but to do what the police do and use determined and
purposeful counter-violence, to raise the
price of being anti-social
. It creates an anti-victim mindset.  It lays
the groundwork for a stronger appreciation of what it is to be an American, and
a free human.  It also inculcates a recognition that action is what stops psychopaths.

 

Now, to be sure, many police departments are likely to oppose this idea
– it’s their job we are talking about taking from them. If after an attempted school
shooting, two rookies, a sergeant, and a coroner with a spatula can clean up
and document the mess, then there are a whole lot of neat toys the local PD
can’t justify buying, and a lot of security programs that won’t get funded, a
lot of grief councilors won’t be hired. It is in their best interests for you to be dependent on them; it is not in your best interests, however. Some teachers will be opposed to it
too, on the grounds that it flies in the face of their ideology of “violence
never solved anything,” which is laughably, provably, wrong, as well as being
quite at odds with American history.

 

If people are trained to do this in schools, then mass-shootings
elsewhere in public become less likely, too, because a “counter-attack”
mentality means they are more likely to be dragged down promptly, ending the
spree. It will teach teamwork and coordination, self-defense, and an active
rather than passive mentality.  It will
also help in building self-confidence, by creating an independent outlook on
life. Research shows that people who are targeted in a violent
confrontation  have much less PTSD and
other psychiatric recovery issues if they fought back and won, even if
injured,  than if they were a passive
receiver of violence. When the would-be victims fight back, it allows for
heroes worthy of emulation on the good guys side, and destroys the image the
sociopath has of themselves.

 

Is this a perfect solution to the problem of mass shooting and
murderous psychopaths? Will it guarantee no casualties? Will it always work
perfectly? Well, no, of course not. All
choices and actions are an exercise in trade-offs. But it is virtually free to
implement, may be laid out in a very short time to a class if an emergency
arises elsewhere in the building that you fear might head your way, has many
potential positive side-effects, and few downsides. It’s a start toward
creating a mindset in the nation of refusing to be a victim.

 

 

Know any teachers? Mail a link to this page on to them for thinking
about. This essay is a more school-specific follow-on to my original, more
general, “Let’s
Roll
” article, which lays out the case why fighting back is the best way to
both stop and prevent mass shootings.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Roll, pt 2: Redcoats, Risk, and Active Shooters

  1. “it’s their job we are talking about taking from them.”
    My first reaction was, “the hell it is! They’re never around at the moment the elephant comes into the room (to mix metaphors).”
    But then, I though, it’s their job to come in afterwards and take pictures and make chalk lines around bodies, and gather blood evidence, and if the perp didn’t kill others, there’s less work for them. So when we see to our self defense and don’t become worm food for the greater glory of the badge-wearing class, we do take their jobs from them.

  2. There is this;
    “When Kinkel’s rifle ran out of ammunition and he began to reload, wounded student Jacob Ryker tackled him, assisted by several other students. Kinkel drew the Glock and fired one shot before he was disarmed, injuring Ryker again as well as another student. The students restrained Kinkel until the police arrived and arrested him.[5] A total of seven students were involved in subduing and disarming Kinkel.[6]”

  3. I’m a teacher and this was very well written. I do something quite similar in my classroom. I’ve never spoken about it to the kids in a planning sense – for one reason, up until this coming year I worked largely with very small children and second, I’m pretty sure many administrations would frown on the idea and therefore I didn’t want it getting back to them. I keep a box of bean bags readily accessible to arm my kids with.

  4. I don’t comment often but I couldn’t resist on this one. I like the idea of high powered solar flashlights, used golf balls and maybe a baseball bat for the teacher(s). All would probably be donated by parents and are totally innocuous otherwise. Walking into a dark room full of golf balls, 6-8 high powered beams hitting you and getting hammered by a baseball bat (thrown or otherwise) would be very intimidating.

    2ravens

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