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Thread: Recent School Shootings Spark Question: Should Students Try To Thwart A Shooter?

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    Recent School Shootings Spark Question: Should Students Try To Thwart A Shooter?

    Recent School Shootings Spark Question: Should Students Try To Thwart A Shooter?


    May 09, 2019
    Jack Mitchell Peter O'Dowd

    When someone opens fire at a school, should students intervene?

    It's a question being raised after two shootings in which students lost their lives after choosing to take action. Kendrick Castillo, 18, died in Tuesday's shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch outside Denver. He was shot and killed when he tackled one of the shooters, giving other students a chance to flee.

    Last week 21-year-old University of North Carolina Charlotte student Riley Howell met the same fate when he knocked a campus shooter off his feet.

    "When we're talking about school shooters, almost always, if anybody's going to get shot, it's the intervener. That's why we put police officers in Kevlar vests," says Frank Zimring, a professor of law and criminal justice studies at the University of California Berkeley.

    In the Colorado and North Carolina shootings, Zimring says each intervention likely saved lives.

    One of the Colorado students who charged the Highlands Ranch shooter along with Castillo said at a press conference he had "no hesitation" about jumping into action to try to thwart the attack. Zimring, who studies gun violence and mass shootings, says teenage "machismo or heroic ambition" likely played a role in that decision. And while that bravery is admirable, Zimring says intervention is always the least-preferable option.

    "From an authority or risk-management standpoint, it is only when contacts with authorities who are armed and trained, or escape or hiding, is not possible, when it really becomes a situation where intervention might be necessary," he tells Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd.

    Federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security recommend the "run, hide, fight" method in active-shooter situations, with "fight" coming as a last resort "only when your life is in imminent danger."

    In a CNN interview, Castillo's father John said other students survived because of what his son did, and he will always remember him as a hero. But there is also a part of him, he said, that wishes Kendrick hadn't put himself in harm's way. The two even had a conversation about what to do if a school shooting occurred, with John telling Kendrick he didn't "have to be the hero," according to NBC News.

    It's a feeling that cuts to the core of another thorny question: how people who intervene in shootings are remembered. Does celebrating them publicly encourage others to take life-threatening action, instead of running or hiding?

    After a school shooting like the one in Colorado, Zimring says celebrations of heroism can be the only solace parents have if their child died trying to stop an attack. But when it comes to shaping public policy, he says it's best to "de-emphasize the possibilities of heroic intervention" given the risks involved.

    "Otherwise, we're going to have to dress all our kids in Kevlar vests. And that's a country that none of us want to live in," Zimring says.
    This seems to be how the media is shaping this narrative - run, hide, but don't engage. Have the trained professionals do that part.

    There are several problems with that advice. While running is certainly the option of first choice, it's not always an available option (especially in a closed space). Kids especially have to be specifically taught that in an emergency, running through an alarmed door or smashing a window to exit a room is okay. Even adults have a lot of problems overcoming these inhibitions.

    In many public spaces (schools, offices, churches), there are no good hiding spaces. Both closets and bathrooms are not 'concealed spaces' and killers certainly know that.

    Most woundings/fatalities happen with 10 feet or less with an unresisting victim. The victim is not fighting back in any way.

    Fighting back is the riskier strategy but it has a lot of advantages. Public killers generally have a script in their heads however ridiculous it appears to a normal person. They have thought about this a lot. It's more compelling than a sexual fantasy and just as highly refined and replayed. Anything 'off script' is disorienting for the killer but anything disorienting for the killer is an advantage to the group.

    Human beings are pretty hardwired to respond instantly to that advantage. Yes, the first to attack may get killed but in that moment the survivors will also attack (and may themselves be injured or killed) but the killer will be killed or subdued - sparing other survivors. That's no small thing.

    Men and boys will respond first because this is also hardwired in human beings. Men and boys are stronger, faster, and have less risk aversion. That's a feature, not a bug. Just as most school shooters are male, so are most who resist and fight.

    History tells us that passively cooperating with killers just gets you killed but with less trouble to the killer. Running, smashing things, throwing things, and fighting gives you a shot at getting out alive.

    Wbur
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    "Otherwise, we're going to have to dress all our kids in Kevlar vests."

    I think that qualifies as a reductio ad absurdum argument, if it isn't simply a lame joke. Its humor has been sapped away by some serious suggestions made in recent years, such as keeping boxes of rocks in classrooms, or miniature baseball bats in the desks.

    I don't know Frank Zimring, a professor of law and criminal justice studies at the University of California Berkeley. He has had a long and distinguished academic career—at 76 he should be emeritus by now—and of course whatever his views they are sifted here by the pair of writers Jack Mitchell (U Conn, 2016, journalism/American studies) and Peter O'Dowd (Georgetown, 2003, English/Italian, and Columbia, 2007, MS in journalism).

    I'm disappointed that no mention is made of the possibility of allowing school personnel to be armed. Florida has passed legislation allowing that; I'm not sure where it stands now or what the details are, but I'm very supportive of the principle behind it. This leads me to infer that Prof. Zimring isn't keen on the the idea.

    Waiting for the cops can be a bummer, even were they to arrive in two minutes, a speed they would crow about. But I recall (reading) that eight seconds is an eternity when you're riding a bull. Two minutes hiding from gunfire would seem even longer.

    And if you're stuck in Broward County, where the famous Cowards of Broward would rather wait outside until the shooting stops, good luck boys and girls. Maybe Sheriff Scott Israel just got Zimring's advice "run, hide, fight" mixed up. That's not supposed to be the order of police priotities.
    Last edited by Newman; Saturday, May 11th, 2019 at 7:26 PM.
    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." óCNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    "Otherwise, we're going to have to dress all our kids in Kevlar vests."

    I think that qualifies as a reductio ad absurdum argument, if it isn't simply a lame joke. Its humor has been sapped away by some serious suggestions made in recent years, such as keeping boxes of rocks in classrooms, or miniature baseball bats in the desks.
    Itís apparent you either donít have kids or are very disconnected from Generation Active Shooter Drill.

    Or you are a Modern Republican and simply donít give a shit.
    Reporters ask me what I feel China should do about Tibet. Who cares what I think China should do? I'm a fucking actor!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    "Otherwise, we're going to have to dress all our kids in Kevlar vests."

    I think that qualifies as a reductio ad absurdum argument, if it isn't simply a lame joke. Its humor has been sapped away by some serious suggestions made in recent years, such as keeping boxes of rocks in classrooms, or miniature baseball bats in the desks.

    I don't know Frank Zimring, a professor of law and criminal justice studies at the University of California Berkeley. He has had a long and distinguished academic careeróat 76 he should be emeritus by nowóand of course whatever his views they are sifted here by the pair of writers Jack Mitchell (U Conn, 2016, journalism/American studies) and Peter O'Dowd (Georgetown, 2003, English/Italian, and Columbia, 2007, MS in journalism).

    I'm disappointed that no mention is made of the possibility of allowing school personnel to be armed. Florida has passed legislation allowing that; I'm not sure where it stands now or what the details are, but I'm very supportive of the principle behind it. This leads me to infer that Prof. Zimring isn't keen on the the idea.

    Waiting for the cops can be a bummer, even were they to arrive in two minutes, a speed they would crow about. But I recall (reading) that eight seconds is an eternity when you're riding a bull. Two minutes hiding from gunfire would seem even longer.

    And if you're stuck in Broward County, where the famous Cowards of Broward would rather wait outside until the shooting stops, good luck boys and girls. Maybe Sheriff Scott Israel just got Zimring's advice "run, hide, fight" mixed up. That's not supposed to be the order of police priotities.
    Even when the police get there, the time frame can last hours (in Colorado we know this). Waiting for the pros to do something and stabilize the situation means that some wounded people simply die waiting for first responders to get the go ahead to enter the building.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    This seems to be how the media is shaping this narrative - run, hide, but don't engage. Have the trained professionals do that part.
    The very well trained man we have taken multiple defensive scenario classes from trained his children not to be willing victims waiting for help that may not get there in time. There's a benefit to hiding in place at times but you had better also have a stout offense to offer when the time comes. Holding your hands in front of your face as some crazy ass shoots you doesn't work.

    That said, the majority of people will wait for assigned help to arrive. That help many times will simply be identifying the victims for logging purposes.
    If it pays, it stays

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Jingo View Post
    Itís apparent you either donít have kids or are very disconnected from Generation Active Shooter Drill.

    Or you are a Modern Republican and simply donít give a shit.
    If you really care about your kids face reality and get them some real training not some fell good school lockdown drill.
    If it pays, it stays

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    I'm well aware of active shooter drills. Are you aware of how these vary in both intent and quality? Lock down is still the default response of most schools. Educators are most comfortable with this response.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    One wonders what the OP author would tell soldiers getting shot at to do...ÖÖÖ.

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    She'd tell them to pay attention in Basic Training where they cover just this kind of thing.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    She'd tell them to pay attention in Basic Training where they cover just this kind of thing.
    We had a good example of that on the baseball diamond when Scalise was shot. The two officers charged the shooter across an open field, according to training (I learned on this forum) and acting with genuine heroism. "Heroism" is an overused word, but not in that instance.

    But they were armed, and that was key. I don't expect students to heroically lunge for a bucket of rocks. My idea would be to get trained and armed adults closer to the scene.
    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." óCNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

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