The Big, Dumb Active Shooter Media Mess
Scaring Kids, The Media Teaching Mass Suicide
There was a recent segment on Fox News that caused outrage - a highly regarded Krav Maga instructor had teenage students demonstrate active shooter gun disarms to a national audience. Here’s a roll-up of the story being picked up within the past week:
Of course there are the problems of demonstrating techniques in a typical news segment, with the hurry-up at the end. There is a huge problem when trying to show good self-defense in a media format. Krav Maga is not flashy like martial arts in movies.The clip is four minutes total - two minutes of conversation, then the demonstration.
The instructor does set the context that if the defender and a friend were hidden and the gunman was nearby and likely to discover them - they would fight - attempt to disarm and damage the gunman. The outrage seems to be over two main points:
Active shooter drills and even talking about mass shootings can scare kids.
Fox News is teaching kids to commit suicide by recklessly running toward the shooter
My first response is that many of the men who stormed Omaha Beach in World War Two, going against trained soldiers with hardened defenses were three, maybe four years older than these kids. I’ll bet they were scared, too. Young people tend to rise to the occasion with adequate training and leadership. The fact is, being scared with a plan, some training, and a team to work with is much better than being alone and having no idea what to do - in a high school with a maniac loose with an AR-15, or when the landing boat hits the beach in World War Two.
My second response is that virtually everyone has agreed on the Run->Hide->Fight strategy. The only reason to fight an active shooter - or anyone, at any time, is because there is no choice.
Strategy the vast majority of private and public security professionals recommend and train (6 minutes):
There was an immediate shift in understanding after 9/11. Everyone who flies, regardless of their politics, lifestyle choices, or religion knew this - if someone, anyone tries to take over the plane and do violence, everyone is obligated to swarm and subdue the attacker. Why? It’s a closed, controlled environment that no one is getting in or out of after takeoff. Backup is not on the way soon enough.
The Human Aquarium Problem
This isn’t at all controversial, but we haven't applied this lesson fully outside of air travel. This is what I’ll call the Human Aquarium problem. In the recent Paris shootings, 89 of the 129 killed were gunned down at the concert hall. Four gunmen killed 89 people who could not exit the building, and dropped to the floor when the shooting started.
This is a full 70% of the body count, and you can bet that Jihadis in training are focused on this part of the operation - and planning for the next one. We’re still programmed for “regular” criminal behavior. If you’re at a bank and a group arrives and starts shooting in the air, it’s a robbery. Hit the floor, cover, and the robbers will try to exit as quickly as possible, with as much money as possible. If the goal is a high body count in a military-type assault, none of our “civil society” reactions to regular crime serve us very well.
In five seconds after shooting starts if you can’t hit an exit or find good cover and concealment, a mass rush of the gunman or gunmen is the best course. This sounds crazy, but it’s a crazy problem with no reasonable solution. There needs to be a universal understanding that the correct behavior when trapped in these environments by armed assailants is to fight aggressively, charging, and doing as much to disable and hinder the gunman or gunmen as possible. It is not possible for four gunmen with no serious military training on covering fire to hold off 100 charging people.
Knowing the Enemy
We should talk about these gunmen - both the mentally unstable and the Jihadi variety. These are not Tough Guys with military training. Their weapons make them frightening, but these are not warriors in any sense of the word. They have likely spent more time on a couch cushion with a game controller in hand then in learning to use their AK-47’s.
We’re not facing the Terminator here. Once an adrenalized, swarming group or regular people gets hands on a soft jackass with an AK-47, his run is going to be over. Again, the ONLY time to fight - anyone, ever is when there is no other choice- including the active shooter situation. If there is a choice to run to an exit or hide and barricade, I take it. If my only choices are to stay in the open or lay down and wait to get shot, I’ll charge a gunman and take my chances.
Kids Learning and training - Active Shooter Drills
Here’s an example of kids in school doing active shooter drills - (8 minutes):
Do they look scared? Taking some type of positive action is empowering. Do you think any parent has a problem with this training? The context is clear - the students are hiding in a room and the gunman attempts access. They immediately swarm and engage the gunman. What is the alternative to acting? The choices are to take action and maybe get shot, or do nothing and definitely get shot.
In conclusion, it's time to apply the lessons of 9/11 to other public spaces and for broad agreement on what to do. Every school, hospital, and place that could serve as a target that is responsibly managed should have some type of assessment and active shooter plan in place. The idea that the media is presenting anything in four minutes between commercials you don't already know is absurd.
And finally, let's talk about who it is we're really facing - weak people with guns, who are regular in every sense except their mentality, and can be overwhelmed my regular people in numbers acting together.