On Thursday October 1, there was a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. This is a horrible tragedy that words alone cannot fix. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family, the victims and the whole community affected by this senseless act of murder. As details and facts continue to unfold, there will be many questions.             

In the wake of the shooting, a CNN video interview was posted of the father of one of the victims who raised a thought provoking question. It is a question that needs serious consideration. The question he asks over and over again, is about the time that elapsed during which the shooter systematically called out victims one-by-one and loaded the gun. Although, it may have only been a few seconds of time, every second counts and action can and should be taken. The question that begs to be asked is what individuals can do during that time to protect themselves and others? Below are suggestions of what individuals can do to defend themselves and others against a violent attacker.

  • Distract the active shooter’s thought process, by throwing an object at them. This action causes the shooter to lose focus and get distracted which affords the potential victims the time to run away from the danger. Movement and distance increase the difficulty of accurate shooting.
  • Evacuate the area when it is safe to do so and by any way possible. If the shooter is not close to the area you are in, get away from that location as quickly as possible. Look at other possible options for evacuation, such as through a window.
  • Take control back from the attacker. Resist adopting a defeated, victim mentality. You can and will survive. Any movement or action taken to interrupt the thought process of the shooter will increase your chances of survival.

In violent events, seconds count. Every moment affords an opportunity for either one or a group of individuals to do something. Individuals need to be prepared with multiple responses for how to respond to an active shooter or violent intruder and know that they have options for defending themselves. When individuals take control of the situation their response is no longer passive but proactive. Individuals empowered with proactive response options are hard targets. Individuals acting collectively become a group that can utilize their number superiority to take back control from an out-of-control lunatic intent on hurting them. The shooter neither has the skill set nor ability to overcome an overwhelming force. Become that overwhelming force if necessary and survive.

Updated 10-15-2015