Stopping the Shooter
by Mad Rocket Scientist
If you haven’t heard, there was a shooting at Seattle Pacific University. One person was killed, and two others were injured by shotgun fire. What makes this shooting special is that this shooting, like quite a few others, was stopped short not because of police, but because people right there, right then, kept their heads, saw an opportunity, and acted decisively to stop the attack with the resources they had on hand. The one thing that has been shown to consistently stop such attacks, be they lone wolf shooters or terrorist attacks, is people acting to halt the attack. None of these attackers wants to be actively resisted, because it disrupts their fantasy or interferes with their goal. Even the recent shooting at UCSB, the shooter said he wanted to avoid a specific venue because there would be too many cops there and he would be stopped.
If this is such an effective way to halt an attack, why doesn’t it happen more often? I think it’s the same reason two airliners were able to bring down the world trade center. It’s a simple phrase that has so invaded out social psyche that we don’t even think about it.
“Let the professionals handle it.”
To a degree, this is true. If someone is having a heart attack, your first act should be to summon the professionals, or make sure someone else does. We want those professionals on site to do their jobs ASAP. And once they arrive, we should step off, follow their instructions, and let them work. However, unless you are right next to the fire station or a hospital, those professionals might be quite a while. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to keep the heart attack victim alive until they arrive. This is why the Red Cross and other such organizations routinely hold classes on First Aid and CPR. Every police officer, every firefighter, and every member of the military is certified in CPR. Millions of other private citizens get and maintain such training, either through their employer, or on their own.
After Katrina, a similar movement was that continues to provide basic and advanced disaster response training to private citizens. In areas prone to natural disasters, there is a constant message of keeping certain equipment on hand and in good working order, as well as always having enough emergency, non-perishable food and water for everyone in your home for at least 3 days (preferably enough for a week). Thousands of people in these areas get trained every year to provide auxiliary support to response teams. Even more get trained just for themselves and to help their neighborhoods. Neighborhood associations actively encourage such things. The whole mentality is simply this, “I may not be an asset, but at least I can avoid being a liability, or worse, a victim.”
But when it comes to the most severe crisis, the kind that is the most time sensitive, where the most people are in the most immediate peril… crickets.
Prior to 9/11, airliner hijackings were not unheard of, and the standard response was to obey the hijackers and it’ll all be OK. After 9/11, there have been maybe a dozen hijackings, none of them successful. Passengers won’t tolerate it, they won’t risk a hijacker killing them all to make a point. We need to start getting that mindset into people in America as they go about their daily lives. If someone shows up with a gun, and they aren’t in a bell tower, you tackle them, you dogpile them, you do something! What you don’t do is turn and run so they can shoot you in the back.
It’s long past time to stop telling people to not get involved and to let the professionals handle it. While we should certainly step aside when the professionals arrive, there is no reason we cannot act until they do. We need to stop just being “good witnesses” and stat being good citizens. The chance of any given person ever needing to use their CPR training is very small, but people still get the training. Let’s start doing the same thing with violent people. It’s amazing how far just a little training can go. Nobody needs to be a ninja to stop an attack, just trained enough that if they can keep their head, they can fight back and win. We need to start training people how to act in a crisis, and how to defend themselves. We also need to start rolling back laws that outlaw or severely restrict non-lethal weapons. Tasers, Mace/tear gas, pepper spray, etc. are routinely restricted in a lot of states and cities, even when guns are openly allowed. Same with knives, saps, asps, clubs, etc. This absolutely boggles my mind. We allow people to carry one of the most lethal tools around, but actively restrict less lethal items, and then complain when people get shot (although gun deaths are down, dramatically).
Certainly let the professionals handle it, when they get there. Until then, help people to not be a victim. Perhaps if it becomes commonplace for people to fight back against shooters, the act will not seem so attractive to the mentally unhinged.
 Resource being a can of Pepper Spray
 Note that the student carrying the pepper spray was in direct violation of campus policies. It will be interesting to see if the campus tries to discipline the hero. If they do, they’ll probably face some pretty significant PR troubles. If they don’t, how much legitimacy will they have the next time they try to discipline a student caught with a weapon on campus who was not causing any trouble?
 Police officers are not superhuman ninjas with awesome man stopping powers. They are just people, who have a badge, but more often than not have very little training, or training that is severely out of date, and most importantly of all, they are rarely ever there in the moment. The people being shot at have to be able to do something. So far, what seems to work best is return fire (and if a madman is already shooting up the place, someone shooting back is NOT going to make things worse – and it can certainly make things better, by either stopping the shooter, or focusing his attention on not getting shot). Absent that, anything a person can do to interrupt the shooter is going to save more lives. Educating people on what they can do, arming them with knowledge of how to fight back, can only help.
I have a bad knee, and when I travel, I take a walking stick that collapses from 5′ down to about 14″. I often have to show the scars on my knee to airport security before they’ll let me fly with it.
 Did you know there is a wide range of ammunition out there that is less-than-lethal? Rubber bullets (not good for semi-autos, but work fine in revolvers), pepper/mace rounds (thin shell containing powdered chemical irritant), etc. Many of those are illegal to carry in your carry gun (WTF?!).
Something too many gun rights supporters (especially the low information people) forget is that if all you’ve brought to a gun fight is a gun, you’ve already lost. (Fun blog, by the way, written by a man in the executive protection business).