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Active Shooter Training: Forget Hiding, Fight Back With a Stapler

Active Shooter Training: Forget Hiding, Fight Back With a Stapler

Throw books, purses, pens at the shooter, then swarm him

The 9/11 terror attack changed the way Americans think about and law enforcement / the feds treat hijacked airlines, and San Bernardino and Paris are changing the way that Americans think about “active shooter” situations in the gun-free zones in which they tend to occur.

Previously, office workers were taught to hunker down and hide (under a desk, for example) if they could not get away from the building.  This is a bad plan.  Now, however, “active shooter training” for office workers does not recommend hiding, which was often in plain sight; instead, the recommendation is to fight back—with books and other objects that can be used to “distract” a terrorist or assailant.

The Washington Post reports:

Spooked by a year of high-profile rampages, hundreds of companies and organizations like NeighborWorks are racing to train their workers how to react to a shooter in their workplaces. And after decades of telling employees to lock down and shelter in place, they are teaching them to fight back if evacuating is not an option.

The idea: Work as a team to disrupt and confuse shooters, opening up a split second to take them down.

The paradigm shift in response — from passive to active — has been endorsed and promoted by the Department of Homeland Security. Last month, it recommended that federal workplaces adopt the training program “Run, Hide, Fight” . . . .

At NeighborWorks, almost three dozen employees were taught to throw things at a shooter — chairs, books, purses, pens, phones, anything — and swarm. Those items don’t seem all that threatening compared with an AR-15, but that’s not the point.

“If you can move him from offense to defense, you have changed the outcome of the event,” said Greg Crane, a former SWAT officer whose company, the ALICE Training Institute, trained workers at NeighborWorks as well as at Facebook and Apple. “He’s thinking about what you are doing to him, not what he’s doing to you. Mentally, he’s going through a whole different process.”

Because most shooting rampages end before the police arrive, training companies are adjusting accordingly.

“If you’re passive in the face of extreme violence,” Crane said, “you’re going to get hurt.”

The training companies aren’t teaching fighting as the centerpiece of an active shooter response. Getting out — not locking down — is the first option. (Many of the students killed at Columbine High School in 1999 were hiding in the library.)

Barricading in a room is another option. ALICE and others show workers how to stack chairs, desks and other office items in front of doors, and then use belts and computer cords to secure hinges and doorknobs.

But in many cases, those options won’t work, and battling back becomes the last best hope. To convince workers that’s their best option, Zimmerman runs a simulation with a shooter entering a room and workers instructed to respond the way their brain is essentially programmed — to hide from danger, ducking behind desks or tables.

Jazz Shaw over at HotAir points out that tossing a book at an armed assailant may not be the best idea.

Well… okay. I suppose something may, in some cases, be better than nothing. But this approach seems to ignore some fundamental realities. One hour of training for your average data entry clerk probably isn’t going to get her ready to charge a guy holding a .357 magnum armed only with the latest edition of Spreadsheets for Dummies. The majority of untrained civilians are going to freeze up anyway, and unless you happen upon a truly unusual group you’re unlikely to get a large bunch of people who are all going to instinctively swarm towards the guy with the gun. If only one or two wind up doing it, they’ll simply be the first ones shot.

He has a point, a couple of points.  It does seem that it would be better to do something than to cower in place and await your “turn” to be slaughtered, and . . . is this really such a good idea for the general public?  Swarming is only as good as the number of the swarm and there must be some threat assessment involved (what weapon is the shooter or terrorist using? how many shooters/terrorists are there?  where are they located? how far away are you/the people swarming? and on and on.).  There are, however, opportunities for action, such as when a lone gunman stops to reload his weapon more than a dozen times, as did the Virginia Tech shooter.

Unarmed people have taken out potential shooters and terrorists (the thwarted Paris train terror attack comes to mind), but the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun remains a good guy with a gun.  WaPo has the answer, but dismisses it out of hand:

Gun rights proponents have a much different view of what works. They say that if more law-abiding citizens were armed, more mass shootings could be prevented. But most employers ban guns from the workplace, even in states that embrace concealed-carry permits.

That’s something that may need to change, too.

[Featured image via WaPo]


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Better. Not right. But better.

Now, if we could get the “rape whistle” idiots marginalized…

Watch the liberals demand we regulate assault staplers and assault books.

Sorry but the Post has a point. My employer bans guns from the entire campus. It’s funny, really. Most of the people in the building where I work are PhDs, who wouldn’t touch a gun if their lives depended on it.

I’ve had a couple night jobs in city areas where I would have carried, if only to feel a little safer on that midnight walk to the parking lot but the company considered carrying a gun reason for instant dismissal.

This is life in a country where half the population thinks voting for a career criminal like Hillary is a good idea but worries about honest citizens with guns.

    JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to irv. | December 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I pledge to apply for concealed carry permit in 2016.
    Who’s with me?

    You know, this is CA, they might not (probably won’t?) give it to me. I don’t know if I would carry if I did have a permit, I’m not a gun guy.

    But it does seem like the time has come for all of us to take steps, whatever steps we can. Why not do a web search: “concealed carry permit (my state)”? Print the form. Fill it out. Mail it in. Start the process.

      healthguyfsu in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | December 22, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      I would recommend you do these things first before CC application:
      Carefully find the right gun for you.
      Secure a place to store it carefully and safely in your home.
      Seek out a good training course on its use and handling.

        JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to healthguyfsu. | December 22, 2015 at 11:32 pm

        Good advice, thanks!
        Indeed the application here in Ca requires you to provide make, model and serial number.
        Although I am a novice, my brother is a longtime NRA member, and I think instructor. So I’ll be in good hands.

This post is very important. The self-defense message needs to get out to Americans. Pondering what to do is dangerous in a life or death situation. Be prepared.

The element of surprise and then fear is used by the bad guys to overwhelm, terrorize and subdue their victims. Be prepared to overwhelm them with fear and surprise. Turn their surprise and terror back onto them. Don’t hold back. Practice mentally what you will do in these types of situations. Make the 911 call after your hands are free and people are protected. But first things first: don’t look for your phone. Look for a weapon.

A person has maybe two seconds to react while a killer surveys his targets. Fight fast and fight dirty. Your survival depends on it.

Low information Americans have become complacent about their self-defense, giving over to government the power to protect them. Not good. And, the current chief law enforcement officer plays political games with people’s lives.

So, let me see if I understand this:
1) Disarm the potential victims (“gun free” zones).
2) Teach the potential victims how to use ineffective weapons since they are not allowed to have effective weapons in “gun free” zones.

Create a problem and come up with an “better” ineffective solution rather than eliminate the created problem.

Am I missing something?

“the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun remains a good guy with a gun.”

True, but if the good guy with the gun isn’t in the immediate area, you have to work with what you’ve got.

In the 2011 Tucson shootings, there was a guy with a gun in the adjoining drugstore of the stripmall. He heard the shooting, and ran outside the store to help. But by the time he reached the Safeway (just a few dozen yards away), unarmed bystanders had already knocked the shooter down, disarmed him, and one of them (a lady) was sitting on top of him to keep him in place until the police arrived. (BTW, there is a police station very close to the Safeway. The old saying “when seconds count, the police are just minutes away” was never more true.)

I’ve had discussions with my colleagues on what to do in the event of an active shooter; many admitted they’d panic. Good to know who I won’t count on should that event ever happen.

In the mean time, I have my escape routes and alternate plans established.

NC Mountain Girl | December 22, 2015 at 10:17 am

Many years ago I knew a Chicago cop who later became a private security consultant, His first advice to everyone was to fight back against any criminal who pulled a gun on them. He pointed out the the more unpredictable a target was the less likely a bad guy was going to get off a lethal shot. When people challenged him, he’d note that because of movies and TV people greatly overestimate the ability of even trained shooters to hit a moving target. This is doubly true if the shooter has to dodge whatever objects are heading in his own direction.

In a mass shooting scenario each wasted shot is one less round that can be used to hit a passive target.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | December 22, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Well said. I have been preaching this at least since Columbine. My kid was a bit younger, but lived right next to the next HS west of there (and we all graduated from that school district). Told them, back then, that the problem was cowering in place, and what they should have done was gang up on the two shooters and just start throwing their books, and then anything else they had. Getting hit with anything is going to throw off their aim. Indeed, aim will probably be off just because of the stuff in the air, as well as multiple targets charging in.

    In rereading about the Columbine shooting, I found it interesting how many times the two shooters reloaded. Harris had a 12 gauge pump that he discharged 25 times, and a Hi-Point 995 carbine with 10 round magazines that he discharged 96 times. Klebold apparently had a double barreled shotgun that he discharged 12 rounds from, and a TEC-9 that he probably only had to reload one time for 55 rounds. Facing a barrage of flying objects and charging students, the shotguns would likely quickly have become nothing more than big sticks, and the carbine not much more. Leaving the 9mm TEC-9. Deadly when shot accurately, but we have seen cops blow through better than 100 rounds of 9 mm without killing their targets.

    And, then there was 9/11, where the hijackers took those four aircraft with nothing more than box cutters. I think that it is well accepted that the fourth plane was intentionally crashed as the charging passengers were about to retake the plane.

Seems that teaching employees to “fight back” is fraught with legal peril. Certainly there will be people injured or killed while fighting back, and this will be grounds for a lawsuit.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to Twanger. | December 22, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Yes – but ultimately there is going to be liability going the other way too, as we are starting to see with companies that ban guns. Which means that lawsuits in this area are going to showcase dueling expert witnesses. And, yes, you can inevitably find experts to testify that you are safer if you just hide, but more and more every year to testify that that is how you get the big body counts. I think here that I would prefer to be the attorney on the active intervention side of the case.

    gibbie in reply to Twanger. | December 22, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Keep a stapler handy for the lawyers?

    Ookey dokey, now the USA truly is done, it’s all over, 1776 been replaced by hail to the emperor king, lawyer in chief.

This is a cultural shift that needs to happen.

Americans, probably because the draft no longer exists and a low % are military or military veterans, no longer know how to self defense.

Why aren’t kids learn how to fight? Serious Question. My wife, who grew up in the Soviet Union, learned both judo and how to shoot rifles/gun safety in her middle school.

If everybody cowers and hides and leaves others to die, then the gunmen can kill as many people as they want.

In those airplanes on 9/11, it took three airplanes crashing into buildings for America to learn that all of the government messages from the 1970’s were wrong. “Stay calm and let the government negotiators do their job.” If they want to stop terrorism the first line of defense is you.

Some great comments here. We have morphed into a nation craving maximum comfort for minimum effort. We naively expect government to police everything and provide everything. The team up and fight back response used to be universally understood — but no longer. There are social consequences to being dominated by successive “me” generations. Re-instituting a mandatory draft might help restore some spine, but I seriously doubt the votes are there.

    The draft did a great job of turning boys into men. Not into killing machines but men who took responsibility for themselves and eventually their families.

lean back, spread your legs wide, piss a stream of superurine at them….
unless you’re a guy with a prostate problem (sigh…) the you can dribble them to death.
although a stapler opened up and boomeranged into someones head can take them down its still got to be a lucky shot and a heavy stapler.

check around youtube- a lot of schools have been putting some decent training in place.

We are so used to seeing the stupidity of a few schools spending money on “white privilege camp” (SEATTLE) that it crowds out the fact that most school principals / administrators or rational human beings.

These are good skills to have- hate gun free zones all you want… as soon as you leave the US borders, most countries aren’t letting you defend yourself.

Train up and be safe!

Wasn’t this the Ben Carson response that he was criticized for? Makes sense only if everyone joins in. Otherwise, you’re likely to be the first one dropped. But I guess its better to go down fighting unless you think you have a chance of surviving the assault. In any case, it would be one difficult decision…

Make sure the stapler doesn’t have a capacity over 10 staples–it’d then be a banned assault stapler.
Spare me from these morons!

    Milhouse in reply to persecutor. | December 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    You think you’re joking, but in 1996 I was going through security at JFK with a heavy-duty stapler in my carry-on bag, and they flagged it and held a brief conference among themselves before concluding that it was just small enough to be allowed on a plane; if the staples had been one size larger I would have had to check it.

    I also had a 3-inch novelty pewter dagger that the SF Book Club was giving away as a freebie back then. They actually peace-bonded it with a strip of duct tape and then let me carry it on!

I’ve thought about what I would do were something to happen. Not being allowed to carry at my CC, my first instinct would be to barricade. Unfortunately, most of the doors open out, which makes barricading impossible. It seems the CC is quite happy to render us sitting ducks ~

Isn’t this advice exactly what Dr. Carson said after one of these shootings and the press including WaPo jumped all over him for it?

Anytime this topic comes up I recommend grabbing a Fire Extinguisher. An unexpected blast of cold CO² or chemical fire retardant is going to disrupt a shooters plan. Plus you have a very heavy sturdy object to bash their head in with if you can get them disorientated.

Spread the word!

P.S. Am I allowed to type retardant? I’m not sure if that is a punishable PC infraction here in mASS.

In my world, everything can be used as a weapon. One either opts for self-defense training or one can be a sitting duck.

Jennifer A Johnson, Bruce Hayden, and Rotten are all right on target. The issue is that an attacker will claim his victims, unless those intended victims immediately fight back. However, that’ll take a change to our mindset (Victims, yes or no?).

In a real sense, we, the intended victims, will die unless we realize that we might change the equation by fighting back. Throwing staplers, phones, any hard object, or any object at all, including simply rushing at the attacker, could work to distract that attacker. Then, just perhaps, another person, or more, could join in and then who knows the result from those responses. Of course, not doing anything will mean that that attacker will claim his victims and that should never happen; except it does. Also, a person with a concealed carry weapon would be helpful too if that person gets into the fight, on your side.

Earlier this year, during an attack on a French Train, three Yanks charged the lone shooter and a Brit joined in, saying afterwards that he felt he would die if he did nothing yet might live if he helped take down that bastard attacker. These four did stop that attacker and lived, as did another victim who was the first to be shot. To be sure, that shooter was not competent with his firearms, still the Yanks and Brit did save that day. Even were that shooter to know his weapons, that immediate response might have spoiled the intended result.

The worst thing that anyone could do would be to nothing, simply accepting the coming death. Why not take an action that might save your own life and at worst might stop the intended carnage, while dying yourself as the cost of that action; yet, without your action, you were going to die regardless.

Immediate action against that attacker might distract him, maybe throwing him off his game, letting other intended victims know they need to get into that fight too. Take what is on hand, use it as you can, just realize that attacker is here to kill you so try and stop him. What have you got to lose? Your life is lost unless you act, and maybe taking action means you can live, maybe you will. The turning point in any such attack, is that initial point of attack. An immediate response might save your own life, and that’s difficult for many to attempt. Try thinking about this: Never again applies to all of us.

Our mindset needs to change, we need to understand that an immediate response against that attacker might save our lives, and that’s better than hoping our families can get 6-persons to carry our casket!

“But I guess its better to go down fighting unless you think you have a chance of surviving the assault. In any case, it would be one difficult decision…”

And training is the solution that resolves that decision, no matter if one is armed or not. And don’t ever stop training.