In the wake of the July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colorado mass shooting, it’s instructive to review the official stance of the Department of Homeland Security on active shooter scenarios (hat tip to Dan Gifford). DHS provides instructional materials, including a booklet and a poster targeted to civilians in workplaces. Both documents give useful information about what to expect in this horrifying, life-threatening scenario, but the advice given to potential victims is downright bizarre:
- Only when your life is in imminent danger
- Attempt to incapacitate the shooter
- Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter
Throw items at the shooter? Act with physical aggression? Seriously?
Why is there no advice for legally armed citizens to consider shooting the active shooter? Since Columbine, police tactics have shifted priorities toward rapidly identifying and neutralizing the active shooter. From previous mass shootings like the 2002 Appalachian School of Law shooting and the 1997 Pearl, Mississippi school shooting we have learned that armed intervention by potential victims at the scene has prevented deaths and injuries. The DHS could propose in its materials the option of legal, armed intervention by one of the potential victims. Such a statement would be a powerful endorsement of an ethical and practical preventive solution to the further slaughter of innocents.
So why would DHS not address the obvious and give its authority in its written materials to this potent lifesaving option? Is it out of ignorance or political correctness? Such trivial advice is an insult to the American citizens the DHS is sworn to protect.