I observed an advanced training course for armed defenders in school. Some of the problems these defenders wrestle with are beyond what most of us have to consider. On the other hand, some of their concerns are the same as ours whether we own a gun or not.
Most of us don’t expect to face a threat today. Everyone performs better if they have thought about an emergency before the problem is staring them in the face. One solution doesn’t work all the time. Here is where our ordinary concerns overlap with armed defenders in school.
Everyone wonders what to do. Should I try and escape, should I defend where I am, or should I advance?
-Is it acceptable to defend your family at home? Let’s say you are in your bedroom at night. You are woken up by the sound of someone breaking through a window in the center of your house. Should you leave your room or should you stay and lock your bedroom door?
We face a similar question over and over. What is the safest thing to do?
Details matter, and in this case your young children are in the next bedroom down the hall. You grab your gun, your phone, and your flashlight. You put yourself at the end of the hallway between the bedrooms and the center of your home. You call 911 and ask for help.
If you don’t have a gun, then you’re going anyway with whatever you can grab. Yes, a golf club is better than nothing, but isn’t it better to be prepared with effective tools instead of improvising in the middle of the night?
-Would you defend an innocent person in public? Suppose you are in a restaurant and you see a customer with a steak knife threatening the young hostess. The hostess has her hands up and retreats behind the bar. The attacker chases her and the young woman is cornered. She uses a plastic serving tray as a shield to put something between her body and the attacker’s knife.
You are eating by yourself. You are also carrying your legally concealed firearm in your purse. You grab your gun and approach the attacker from behind. You present your firearm and order the attacker to put down his knife. He lays down the weapon on the bar and lies down with his hand out above his head. The waitress climbs over the bar and runs into the kitchen. The manager says that the police are on their way.
There is no legal obligation to get involved, but most of us want to stop a young woman from getting murdered.
-Would you protect family and friends in public? Let’s imagine that you are at the local shopping mall with your 12-year old daughter and her best friend. You hear gunfire echoing across the central courtyard of the mall. You grab the girls’ hands and pull them into one of the shops. You work your way to the back of the store and ignore the sign that says “Employees Only”. You move into the storage area behind the shop. From there you move into the utility hallways that run behind the stores. You exit at one of the outside service doors and head into the parking lot. You call 911 when you’re well away from the building.
You never thought about grabbing the gun in your purse because there were more important things to take care of. Right now, the important things are hugging you and you’re hugging them back. You remind your daughter’s friend to text her mom.
-Would you defend innocent lives at church? You volunteer once a week to watch over preschool children during church service. You are also a member of the church safety team. The early service ended a few minutes ago. You are working with two 13-year-old assistants as parents come to pick up their children.
You hear screams from a nearby building. You also hear gunshots. You shout for people to come inside and to get out of the open walkway. You lock the door to your room. One of your assistants moves a piece of paper to cover the window in the door. The other assistant closes the window blinds. You send and read texts from your church emergency number. They confirm that those sounds were gunshots and that someone is hurt. They order a lockdown.
You move people into the hard corner of the room. You get one of the parents to help you push a desk in front of the door. Your gun stays in its holster because you don’t have a target that needs to be shot. You remember to pull the medical kit from one of the shelves and you hand it to your assistant.
It takes time until you’re given the signal to open the doors. Some of the parents are upset. Some of the children are crying. You listen to them and you’re glad they are all alive.
-Would you defend innocent lives at school? You work in the front office at an intermediate school. You are also a member of the school’s security and medical response team. You are at your desk when you hear raised voices coming from the reception counter. You get up from your desk as an adult man shouts and runs out of the office and rushes his way into the school. He didn’t identify himself or sign in. He pushed through the security door as someone else was coming out.
You don’t recognize the intruder. The receptionist is already on the radio announcing that there is an unknown intruder in the school. You follow him.
The intruder leaves out the back door. You hear gunshots and run to catch up. You see a wounded teacher and student as you step outside. The radio says that a stranger is beating on a classroom door and demanding to be let in. Because school is in session, all the classroom doors are locked. You work along a chest-high wall towards the classroom.
You take a few more steps and see the attacker at the classroom door. You see that he is armed. You present your firearm around the edge of the wall. You shoot until the attacker drops his gun and falls down. You call the office and tell them that there were shots fired. You ask for a medical team at the back of the administration building. There is still work to do.
Some of us are more prepared for violence than others. At one extreme, we have professionals who train constantly. Unconcerned citizens are at the other extreme. Some of us take the contradictory position that there is no evil in the world, and if there is evil, then it is someone else’s responsibility to take care of it for us. Most of us are somewhere between those extremes.
Most of us want to protect the innocent. The volunteer school defenders I saw had recognized that their kids were at risk. They trained to stop an attacker and to treat the injured until outside help arrived. They practiced and tested themselves so they knew what they could do.
What we should do depends on our obligations, our skills, and our opportunities. As ordinary citizens, we defend ourselves several thousand times a day. We defend our families at home and in public. It is a series of small steps to defend the children we love at school.
Please share this article with a friend who questions armed defense.
The class I recently observed for school staff was part of the FASTER program in Colorado. Some of the examples I presented here were from my self-defense gun stories podcast and from other training classes. RM