What should students and teachers do if a gunman walks into their classroom? In Burleson, a working-class Forth Worth suburb, students and teachers are being trained to fight back with everything they’ve got.
“Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success,” said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.
Burleson’s ninth graders have gone through training in how to deal with a variety of emergencies. The “fight back” instruction is part of that. Don’t obey the gunman, the trainers say.
Browne recommends students and teachers “react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down.”
Experts are nervous about the advice, but admit that complying with gunmen isn’t a great strategy either.
William Lassiter, manager of the North Carolina-based Center for Prevention of School Violence, said past attacks indicate that fighting back, at least by teachers and staff, has its merits.
“At Columbine, teachers told students to get down and get on the floors, and gunmen went around and shot people on the floors,” Lassiter said. “I know this sounds chaotic and I know it doesn’t sound like a great solution, but it’s better than leaving them there to get shot.”
Eventually, the training will include elementary students who probably will be told to run away screaming for help.
I suspect Burleson students feel less scared. The training gives them the sense that they are not helpless victims. I wonder if the prospect of being bombarded with books and tackled by a teacher and five students will make attacking schools seem less appealing to potential attackers.