Time for honest discussion with our kids about how to defend themselves against a school shooterSubmitted by Duane Vick on Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:42
We all hope this won't ever happen to our children but fortune favors the prepared mind. I have had this talk with my children but I think it is time for others to start covering the subject with their children as well. That subject is how to deal with a school shooter.
Now, I think that these things tend to go down while the children are in a classroom. That sets down the scene for where any defense will logically take place. I don't see the prudence in trying to flee through multiple hallways and I also don't see many teachers allowing students to make a run for it while the scene is not secure. So, we have to assume that they will be in a classroom and will have to be prepared for defense from that position. Depending on the classroom space, the situation may favor making an escape, but more often than not, they will be stuck there, possibly facing an armed assailant in an environment that doesn't permit them to meet the assailant with equal force.
I want to cover the escape aspect as that is the superior option if it is available. Some classrooms may have a direct exit to the outside and if the sound of gunfire is coming from an opposite direction, in that situation, I would suggest getting as far away from that school as possible. Run in a zig-zag pattern so that the assailant doesn't have the ability to pause and aim but will have to resort to leading their target, a skill that most people don't possess. Your chances of complete escape or only sustaining minor injury is pretty good and increases with each step. Other avenues of escape might be via drop ceilings, ventilation ducts, etc. Since each classroom is unique, your child should assess beforehand what possible methods of escape are available and which one is preferable if there are multiple means of escape. While a drop ceiling might not be the best place to hide, it doesn't give the shooter an exact target and any shots fired into the ceiling have a good chance of being a miss unless the child's position is given away.
Let's return back to the scenario where they can't escape and they face the very real possibility of the assailant entering the classroom. We have to assume that the assailant is coming to their classroom now. That means the students and staff in the classroom will have to be prepared for an immediate encounter and ready to throw off the attack. Fortification comes after being ready to fight. As students go up in grade level, it is common for the textbooks to become very heavy, blunt objects. Several of these being thrown at the assailant can throw off his attack just enough to attempt to disarm him. That said, I think the first thing that students and staff should do is to get ready to assail the enemy as soon as he enters the room. This initial preparedness should take into consideration any exposure such as windows into the hallway where the shooter would enter from. So, if things go well, at this point, several of the students will have large, heavy books ready to throw at the assailant and some of the larger children should be ready to flank the assailant from a blind direction such as opposite the direction the shooter would logically be facing upon entering the room. The prime directive should be to disarm him and all students should be individually aware of staying out of the direction the gun is pointed.
Now, assuming that everyone is initially prepared to take on the attacker, work should begin on fortifying the classroom against an attack. If there are windows to the hallway, cover them with banner paper so the assailant can't see into the room or be able to distinguish a direct target and shoot from outside the classroom. Barricading the door must also be a primary objective as well. Push the teacher's desk up against the door as well as any other large objects that can be moved. Ideally, these items should form some kind of wedge that would make entry from outside a physical impossibility. Absent of that, making entry into the room into a very daunting task may cause the shooter to move on. Remember, they're working against time because they often want to rack up as many kills as possible before arrest or death. That motivation may just override any persistence at trying to get through a difficult doorway. Who knows, they may even mistake it for a locked room.
At this time, students should have managed the initial preparedness and fortification of the room. Moving on from there, preparedness should now include modifying classroom materials and resources into more lethal weapons to use against the assailant. Prisoners manage to make some pretty lethal weapons despite guards' best efforts to disarm them. Scissors can be made into stabbing weapons by separating them. Paperweights, hole punches, and anything else with a heavy weight on it can be made into a melee weapon by using shoe strings to make a sling. Shoelaces themselves can be used in combination with a pencil to make a garrote. Chemistry classes often have chemicals that can blind, burn, or otherwise incapacitate an attacker. Many classes have fire extinguishers. Cafeterias may have hot oil. Even crushing up chalk into a powder to be thrown in the face of an attacker can create an edge for the students.
Most schools prevent students from carrying weapons to school. That means students will have to be creative if they are to take anything to school to be used to fend off an attacker. My son wears a belt to school, whether he needs it or not. A belt is a fashion item, but when it has a bulky belt buckle, it becomes a pretty vicious weapon when used effectively. If you have a punching bag, have your student practice hitting it with the buckle hitting the bag. That way, they learn the ideal distance as well as technique to inflict the most damage. Always keep pencils sharpened. Be ready to rip off your shoes and unlace them just enough to make a swinging weapon. Bonus points if you can fill the shoes with weight to make them more lethal or if you can push long tacks through the belt to make it slice on impact. Even a student desk, swung by its legs, can make a pretty hard impact. The smaller metal parts on a desk can also become stabbing weapons as well.
I hope no one ever has to face a situation where any of this information would become practical. However, if we can't carry guns at school, we will have to be prepared mentally to think of everything as a potential weapon and every classroom as having the potential to become the most fortified castle against an assailant. I think you really only need to survive for about twenty minutes to come out alive. Are your children ready to survive that twenty minutes? Are you ready to survive that twenty minutes at your place of work? At home? At the grocery store?