By Alexander Beason
One gunman, two firearms, three clips, four seconds before the first victim is chosen. Are you prepared?
A feeling of relief comes to students who make it to their seat right as the clock strikes 8:00 a.m. But it can quickly shift to terror when the next student who enters the classroom pulls a handgun from his backpack.
Freeze! We pause to make sure we fully understand what we see happening. Those precious nanoseconds can determine the outcome between life and death.
From 2000-2013, The U.S. had 160 school shootings. That averages to 11.3 school shootings a year, according to a study conducted by the F.B.I.
Besides the flat circle debate of whether or not we should ban guns entirely, it fails to solve the main challenge that remains consistent with these events. And that is the student’s lack of training and understanding on how to react to emergency situations like these.
Prior to the Columbine shooting in 1999, authorities would normally create a perimeter involving all exits and wait for the S.W.A.T. team to arrive. This approach was later abandoned due to the amount of screams from helpless victims inside. Police now aim to engage the shooter in teams from two to six using special tactics so that no more loss of life occurs. Today, many states and their schools are working with authorities to distribute safety tactics to law-abiding citizens.
With well over 3 million views and rising, a video created by the state of Texas along with the Department of Homeland Security stresses the three step approach: “ run, hide, fight.”
Narrator: “If you are to ever find yourself in the middle of an active shooter event, your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan.”
The video, just under six minuets long, is on the F.B.I. website, https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/active-shooter-and-mass-casualty-incidents/run-hide-fight-video along with other lifesaving information in the event of a shooting. While the video takes place inside an office building, the message and concept remain the same for schools: “run, hide, fight!”
But it’s tough encouraging victims to act instead of freeze; so many people disagree with this approach and believe it should not be implemented in any K-12 schools.
Well, what about for colleges and universities? Should the school board look into funding programs to educate its staff and students in case one of these incidents ever occurred? Students at COC in Valencia had overall mixed feelings about the idea.
COC currently has a Public Safety category for courses, however they mostly consist of classes that are reserved for the L.A. Sherriff’s Academy. Whether it is the need for more funding, or the mere lack of student attendance, currently no courses are offered at COC that provide security tactics in the event of an emergency situation. According to the revised 2015 official Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), the main focus is prevention. “ College has formed a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) that is designed to assist students who may be in the earlier stages of a crisis. The BIT team consists primarily of the Director of Campus Safety; the Dean of Student Services and the Director of the Student Health and Wellness Center.
Instead, the campus has created quick reference guides to distribute to students when they make purchases at the bookstore that references different guidelines on what to do in the event of certain situations. Ironically, the booklet advises the same three-step approach encouraged by law-enforcement. Yep you guessed right; run, hide, fight. But COC has its own interpretation as to what those three steps mean. Straight from the EOP it states, “On our campuses, we have interpreted this to mean:
1. Run to the safest place to hide;
2. Hide yourself and others the best you can, using the resources at hand;
3. Have a plan to fight as a last resort if the gunman (men) enters your space.
It is unknown exactly how many have been distributed between the two campuses, but every student needs to purchase at least one thing from the bookstore right?
Even the best imaginations in the student body will have a difficult time painting a realistic picture from a survival brochure. In life-death situations, the hands-on approach may stick with people in the long run. While the trending increase is on school-related shootings, security tactics being taught in college’s nationwide will apply to other situations, like assault, theft, and vandalism.
An agent currently working for the Fugitive Task Force, provided their steps of action when faced with an active shooter inside a classroom; “First, depending on the situation, location, or exits available, I would immediately reach for anything in my reach to throw at the shooter, this would create a distraction or even do damage depending on what is thrown. If I were close enough to engage him, then I would attack to disarm and apprehend him. If not, I would move quickly toward an escape route. When there is only one way in or out, you have an important choice to make. The choice for me is to always act and fight! Once one person reacts, others will hopefully come to your aid.” The agent has asked that his name remain confidential because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
Along with raised awareness and courses, security companies have created products that reduce the risk of fatal injury. Companies like Guard Dog security and Botach have products like the Pro Shield II Backpack for around $300 made from reinforced Kevlar that protect from gunshots.Each product comes with a signed verification test form guarantying the consumer that it passed all impact field-testing. “Why do gunmen like schools? Because they know the odds of another person carrying a firearm are slim to none.” the agent said. “Since California is making it harder for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, investing in something like that could be a life-saving one.”