So, today the Campus PD offered up a training session in my building to discuss the "Active Shooter" situation. Basically it boils down to three options:
Figure out if you can get away
- if you can, do so
- if you can't, hide, try to secure the door and spread out
- if the gunman finds you, arm yourself with whatever is handy
People asked a lot of questions, and you sort of were able to gather from the discussion who you did and did not want around you should an emergency situation arise again.
The bottom line is that the cops don't know any tricks other than "use common sense", and they'll tell you that.* There's no magic movie-hero secret to pulling through this thing. The cops themselves have changed their tactics after Columbine (they don't set up perimeters anymore, they go in), and 9/11 taught all of us that we may be responsible for ourselves and others, thus #3 above. And what they were really asking was that we think of a few plans, which... may have been a bit much for a few in the room.
At some point we got down to the whole "you're trapped, now what?" scenario, and the officer was frank about assigning roles and finding heavy and solid items to throw at a gunman to at least slow them down. I am a fairly large guy. 6'5" and fairly broad of shoulder. And despite the fact I was kind of hiding in the back of the room of 50 people, the PD pointed me out and basically said "and you're going to want to assign this guy here... he's going to have to go after the shooter if he enters the room."
Apparently being the largest and slowest moving target in the room just got me put on human shield duty for the library. Sweet.
I don't know what this guy thought when he looked at me, but guns just really, really change the playing field. When I get shot, I assume I will still totally bleed all over the place. I am in no rush to ruin any of my t-shirts or jeans. I also will die remarkably similarly to smaller people but require a 3XLT coffin.
I get it, I get it. When we all go caveman, Largest Man must fight Fang Tiger when it comes to stalk the tribe. And I'm also going to be able to hold the door closed a lot more convincingly than some of the dainty people in cataloging. But don't expect me to get all enthused. There will be no boons bestowed upon Largest Man for jumping Scary Man with Boom Stick.
Straight up, I'm a pacifist because I can afford to be one. I'm a 21st Century American who considers a physical threat to be a needle when they draw blood. I'm a soft, pink desk-jockey who depends on geography, technology and economy to keep me from worrying about bandits, hooligans or roving bands of Mad Max bad guys. I am not sure I'm ready to have a room full of terrified librarians hiding under desks somewhere down the road looking at me and saying "the cop said you had to fight the guy with the gun. Go, Big Man."**
Good golly, how this "active shooter" business is messy. But the messiest part is that the PD basically acknowledged that they know most people are going to make bad choices. And given what I know of students, its kind of scary to consider what could go wrong (let's just say they don't take fire drills super seriously).
Anyhow, none of us want to think life or death situation when we think about our office. I'd like to think my efforts could save the day, but... anyway.
* however, "common sense" is not something you can teach in a 2 hour seminar
** they always call you Big Man, when people are delivering bad news