February 08, 2013
By James Tarr
In law enforcement, the term "active shooter" denotes an individual who is in the process of actively shooting people — or trying to — and who will continue to do so until they are stopped. In hostage situations, the police negotiate, stall, bargain and do whatever they can to drag out the situation so that it can be resolved peacefully. Active shooters, by their very character, only respond to opposing force, and any delay in going in after them by the police will only result in more fatalities.
Active shooters are nothing new, and do not need "evil assault weapons" to commit horrendous crimes. On Aug. 1, 1966, for example, Charles Whitman killed 14 people and wounded 32 others in and around the tower of the University of Texas in Austin without ever touching an AR-15 or AK-47.
While active shooters aren't anything new, the media hysteria around them is. In response, the Department of Homeland Security has recently come out with a new video, "Active Shooter Situation: Options for Consideration," a 3-minute, 41-second video that provides helpful advice for those people at work who find themselves in such a situation, similar to the active shooter video produced by the City of Houston in 2012.
Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/oI5EoWBRYmo
Most of the advice in the video is basic common sense — identify escape routes ahead of time, if you are forced to hide it's better to do so in a place the shooter is not likely to look, etc. (As an aside, I know — or hope — they used actors to portray the police officers in the video, because the plainclothes "officer" at 1:25 has obviously never fired a pistol. They way he's holding it the recoiling slide would break his thumb.)
One segment of the tape has caused some controversy. The narrator says, "If you are caught out in the open and cannot conceal yourself or take cover, you might consider overpowering the shooter with whatever means are available." The video shows someone opening a desk drawer and pulling out a pair of scissors.
I have no problems with someone stabbing an active shooter with scissors, if that's all that's available. However, nowhere in the video is the use of guns against the active shooter even mentioned. Suggesting scissors, pens, staplers or whatever is a viable option against a determined killer — while never mentioning that carrying a gun or having one available might be a good way to prepare for an active shooter — seems disingenuous at best.
Run, hide or throw things; seems to me that there are better tools for defense against an active shooter — like what the police use.
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