Thursday, October 08, 2015

Stupid Political Rant

Sorry, I've got to get this off my chest...


Far be it from me to defend someone whose political views are pretty far off from mine, but folks... Ben Carson is partly right.

His smirking attitude makes his comments on the Oregon shooting a bit off-putting, to the point where it almost seems he's blaming the victims. And his previous statements on the second amendment and shooting victims mean people aren't going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But he's absolutely correct that, in some specific cases, it's better to rush the shooter than to stand there and just get killed. In fact, that's the new way children are being taught in schools. But, of course, it's more complicated than just rushing the shooter.

The old protocol for school shootings dictated that everyone huddle in place and hide, making no noise to attract the shooter to your location. The result was that shooters could go from room to room killing without distraction. There have been studies done on the subject, and the conclusion seems to be that a "one size fits all" response to a school shooting is ... well ... stupid.

The newer protocol being taught relies on the teachers being informed and the students being drilled in what to do. The first step is keeping everyone updated on what's happening, whether through intercoms or text messages or security badges with alert systems.

If the action is happening outside the school, the building will go into the traditional lockdown. Outside doors locked, students staying in classrooms instead of roaming the building - the usual. This is for situations where police are conducting a search for someone believed to be armed in the neighborhood near the school or a case of somebody spotting a danger outside the school.

However, once the danger comes inside the building, the protocol changes. The new protocol says that students who are far enough away should escape if it's possible and safe to do so. So, if there is a shooter reported at the front door of the building and your classroom is at the back (and there's no evidence of a second shooter), then you evacuate the class out the back as fast as possible. The shooter can't kill kids that aren't there.

If the shooter isn't in the same room but you cannot escape through another door, you follow the old lockdown standards. You are silent, don't move, don't attract attention. If possible, barricade the door so even breaking/shooting the lock doesn't let the shooter in. So far, I bet most of you are in agreement with these ideas.

The final, last resort happens ONLY if the shooter enters the room you are in. And this is the only situation in which Ben Carson's "I would have done it this way" would work. If you are in the same room as the shooter and cannot escape, then rushing the shooter or trying to distract him (and the odds are high it's a "him") is the best way to survive. Because at that point you are likely dead anyway, so rushing the shooter (if you have the courage and physical ability to do so) makes more sense.

Of course, children aren't being taught that they must rush the shooter in these cases. It's emphasized in the training that it's a personal choice. It might be easier for some kids to throw things at the shooter or run around to distract the shooter or scream (a classroom of 14-year-old girls screaming at the top of their lungs would distract anyone). Whatever works. Some kids would rather hide. In the most drastic situation possible, if the shooter is in the room, there is no wrong response (except maybe pushing someone else in front of you to die, that might be wrong). It depends entirely on the person.

Carson said he would have rushed the shooter. Giving him the maximum benefit of the doubt, I'm assuming he meant in a case where there was no other option: where he couldn't escape and hiding was no longer safe.

That said, there are about a dozen different ways he could have said it better, starting with dropping any laughter or smiles while talking about people who have just been murdered. He could have cited ALICE training, he could have noted that it was a last resort. He could have made himself considerably more clear. Simply saying "I would have rushed the shooter" is a pretty weaksauce way of describing a valid method of defense against a problem that is becoming entirely too common.


I'm still very much in favor of reasonable gun control laws written by reasonable gun owners. I'm not of the opinion that guns should be outlawed, nor do I feel that people who enjoy shooting at the range or hunting should be vilified. But I also think the NRA has completely lost its way and it's time for the responsible gun owners to either take it back or start their own gun owners association.