Fighting back

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.

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Comments

  1. Good advice:

    Be a pack, not a herd!

  2. It’s a shame it’s infinitely more likely Major Browne is allowed to carry his officer’s sidearm in Texas than in his native UK.

  3. When I was teaching Latin in an Atlanta City school there was a survey of teachers about campus and personal security. One of the questions was “do you think that carrying firearms on campus by teachers should be against regulations [or maybe it said “illegal”]?”

    I was answering the questionnaire in the teachers’ lounge and I looked up and asked “CAN we carry firearms?

    My colleagues all looked at me as though I was nuts and said “Of course! So-and-so packs! he has to take ticket receipts from the football and b asketball games to the bank! She packs! She was attacked in the parking lot once and has a concealed carry license.”

    I was amazed.

  4. Some of us live in states far too “blue” to even dream of ever carrying a sidearm to school with us.

  5. It’s even possible that if, for example, students try to escape out the windows, there could be an accomplice waiting outside to mow them down.

    It seems to be one of those situations where there are no absolute rules and no guarantees. Like someone trying to force you into a car. Even if he has a gun or knife, it’s certain he’s going to take you somewhere he can do what he wants to with no interference.

    It’s horrible to think about facing such a choice, but it could happen.

  6. One day, not too long after Columbine, and immediately after some copycat incident, my third grade class started to ask questions about school shootings. They were genuinely scared.

    I told them, first that Officer X, our school policeman was walking around with a gun to defend us, next, that the school had a plan to deal with emergencies like that, and finally, that an intruder would not harm them while I was alive.

    As melodramatic as that sounds, it represented my deeply felt sense of duty at the time. No guns allowed in our district, more’s the pity, but a book thrown at the eyes, and a jump to the intruder’s strong side, and you’d have a chance.

    It would be better than going through life like a Columbine policeman.

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Sometimes all your choices are bad, and so you need to go with the less bad one. If you do not resist, it is highly unlikely the criminal will feel anything but pleasure at how easy you make it for him. My only concern is that some stupid politician will try to outlaw “taking the law into your own hands.”
    I have always felt the real rule should be “Never let the law get out of your hands.”

  8. Walter wrote:
    I have always felt the real rule should be “Never let the law get out of your hands.”

    Is that available on a bumper sticker? 🙂

    Seriously, that has to be one of the best Second Amendment slogans ever.

  9. The CrankyProfessor wrote:

    I was amazed.

    That’s why they’re called concealed carry permits. 🙂

    JimC wrote:

    It’s even possible that if, for example, students try to escape out the windows, there could be an accomplice waiting outside to mow them down.

    Possible but improbable in the extreme. Even the Columbine lads, who showed more forethought in the planning of their rampage then most, didn’t separate. Being a sociopath and trusting someone else who’s also a sociopath, don’t go together very well. Action, being almost always preferable to inaction, puts the initiative with the prospective victims. That may come at a cost but it’s infinitely preferable to appealing to the compassionate side of a sociopath.

    It seems to be one of those situations where there are no absolute rules and no guarantees.

    The purpose of the concealed carry permit is to allow citizens with no interest in breaking the rules to restore the rules when no other acceptable choice is open to them. It’s unfortunate that it requires a permit but that’s what we’ve come to as a society.

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Bumper sticker? Be my guest.
    Tnx

  11. Indigo Warrior says:

    Walter:
    My only concern is that some stupid politician will try to outlaw “taking the law into your own hands.”

    Politicians and ivory-tower types have already done that, not completely, but they started long ago. It doesn’t surprise me they want to side with criminals against honest productive people (or in liberalspeak, fascists and racists).

  12. It’s a shame teachers dress so informally these days. A modern shoulder holster – carry pistol combination will not print thru a sports jacket.

  13. My only concern is that some stupid politician will try to outlaw “taking the law into your own hands.”

    Isn’t that already the case in the U.K.? I hear that crime victims are advised to scream “Call Police!” rather than “Help!” because it’s illegal for another civilian to intervene.

    Back to Colorado and Pennsylvania, better to be shot while resisting a crazed gunman than to allow oneself to be molested and then executed by said gunman.