Day one of SIG SAUER’s three day Active Shooter course was dedicated to introducing me to me. Specifically what I can and can not do with a pistol and a rifle. After a brief Powerpoint intro to active shooters—they exist and they need shooting—the rabbi, a cadre of cops and I did the live fire thing. Moving and shooting. Shooting and moving. Trying not to hit the innocents on the targets. What my teammates and I discovered: a rifle is a whole lot better an anti-active shooter weapon than a pistol. Especially for the not-so-active people downrange. At the conclusion of the drills, SIG SAUER gun guru Scott Reidy asked the police participants a simple question . . .
Would you feel comfortable running the same drills with your troops? Sensibly enough, a couple of cops in the group shook their heads no. The proto-active shooter instructors reckoned some of their auxiliaries and bailiffs wouldn’t have the skill or stamina to make it happen. (A man’s gotta know his Clint Eastwood quotes.)
So that’s the non-pros out then. Or is it?
As our instructors pointed out, the days of waiting for the SWAT team to show up, strategize and form a diamond-shaped team to take out the bad guy or guys are long gone. Post-Virginia Tech, the goal is to get rounds on the killer ASAP. In urban areas, that can mean a two-man team going in hot within minutes. In rural locations, it could be one guy with a rifle an hour after the onset of carnage.
But no matter how quickly the cops arrive on the scene—be it a school, government building or office— they’re flying blind. They don’t know the who, what, when or where of the thing. They have to gather intel even as they use speed, surprise, and violence of action to try to neutralize (i.e., shoot) the killer before he kills or kills again—without harming a single hostage or bystander.
No sarcasm here: good luck with that.
In an ideal world, a police officer responding to an active shooter would know everyone in the location (e.g., teachers, students, administrative staff) and the exact physical layout (including likely places for cover and concealment). Even better, the cops would respond within seconds of the attack, rather than minutes.
Of course, the only way for that to happen would be . . . if the people already there were trained in the art and science of taking out an active shooter.
I know it’s a highly contentious idea: green lighting private citizens to deal with active shooters as they rear their ugly heads. For some. Gun rights advocates consider arming “average” citizens to terminate an active shooter as entirely obvious and highly desirable. Hence their complete antipathy to gun-free zones.
Gun control advocates view the concept of arming citizens to guard against (or deter) active shooters a ludicrous fantasy. A dangerous delusion—especially in schools. Their worst nightmare is not, as some suspect, that the armed guardians would turn into psycho killers. They worry that the defenders would shoot innocents by mistake.
Which brings me to today’s class. Unlike the rabbi and my fellow attendees, I am not a cop. Nor do I play one on TV. I am a private citizen with a grade school-age daughter who I cherish more than life itself. I want to know if I could deal with (i.e., eliminate) an active shooter in her environment. ‘Cause if I could do it, so could you. Or people like you. In your world, with your loved ones.
So far I can tell you one thing (that I already told you): if I was going up against an active shooter I’d sure as hell want to do so with a rifle rather than a handgun. Not that I could. Can you imagine what would happen to an average citizen who responded to an active shooter with an assault (a.k.a., modern home defense black sporting) rifle when the cops showed up?
Anyway, it’s an interesting exercise. And the really tough bits start tomorrow. . .