I’ve been stewing about school intruder plans since the Sandy Hook shooting last December. Even before that event, I knew that the existing plan most schools utilize is completely useless. That event, and the resulting discussions by school administrators, parents, and teachers caused me to stew even more; and with school starting up again this month, I decided to put some of my thoughts down on paper.
As a firearms instructor for a company that has other instructors who are very knowledgeable about this topic, we have had many discussions over the past year about how badly some situations have been handled in schools with active shooters. We are all more than willing to go into a school, assess it, and come up with a better plan than the current ones used in most facilities today, which basically make our teachers and students nothing more than sitting ducks.
I began asking my son’s private school administration shortly after Sandy Hook what their intruder plan was, and offering to come in, free of charge with other instructors, and help develop a plan for them. I didn’t hear anything for some time, then was told that they do have an intruder plan, but that’s as far as the information went.
My son, Dylan (15 at the time), came home and told me that the plan was just the same as other schools: Shut and lock the classroom door, huddle down, and wait, hope, and pray that the intruder doesn’t get to you before help arrives. He said he told the teacher, and the class, that he would not be doing that. He said that plan would only get more people killed. If you know Dylan, you know he was not disrespectful or belligerent about it, just very matter of fact. I told the administrator the same.
I also found out that Dylan went on to address the class and let them know that if they hear a shooter in the building, yes, they would first shut and lock the door, but that’s when they would go into action. His classrooms are all on the 2nd floor of a metal building with thin, hollow-core doors that would not stop a bullet or an intruder. The windows are narrow, but wide enough to get through if necessary. And even if they had to drop from that height to the ground and broke a leg, that’s a better option than being shot. Escaping would not only remove them as a target, it would also most likely make notification of authorities much faster, as someone could make it to the church next door and get help.
Dylan pointed to one of the larger boys during that conversation and said, “You break the window and start lowering people out.” Pointing to another, he said, “You pick up whatever you can use as a weapon and stand by the door with me. If an intruder gets in, we will tackle him and do whatever we can to buy time for others to get out.”
Dylan knew, and I knew, what that meant, that he would at that point be risking his life for others. He wasn’t having delusions of being a superhero, and he wasn’t trying to take the fight to the intruder. He knows there is a good chance that if he tried to attack someone that had the forethought to arm himself and dress in a defensive manner, that Dylan (completely unarmed) might be overcome by him; but his hope is that it would buy enough time for others to get out, greatly reducing the number of casualties. I know other young people who would do the same.
They are wise enough to know that gathering up into a huddle and waiting only increases the death count if the gunman comes in and finds the huddle, forming a large target.
In future posts I will be going over what teachers can do to improve their, and the children’s, odds of survival in an intruder situation. I will also be talking to school administrators who have chosen to arm themselves and their teachers so that they could stop an attacker before many innocent people are killed. I admire those who are leading the pack on this issue and risking ridicule by putting the safety of those in their charge first.
My advice to parents: Talk to your school administrators and find out what the “active shooter” or “intruder” plan is. If you don’t like it, work to change it. Your child’s life might depend on that plan.