Monday, October 22, 2012

ABC News: Bring a Phone to a Gun Fight

     In my previous post I shared the results of my informal survey about how and when armed citizens and off-duty police carry firearms.  I decided to run the survey and write about it after I ran across this ABC News story:

     In this story, ABC News seems to be telling us that the best action in an active shooter situation is to dial 911 and play dead.  They run an experiment designed to show us the ineffectiveness of armed citizens, and that it’s best to wait for professionals.  There are several problems with their story, and I hope the police instructors participating in the study were edited in such a manner as to look supportive of ABC’s opinion.  If not, they should be ashamed of themselves.
     ABC took some college students, ran them through a class taught by police instructors with Simmunition guns and trained them with more hands-on work than most states’ CHL requirements.  Each student is placed in a classroom while armed with their Simmunition Glock and surprised when an active shooter barges in the classroom and shoots the place up.  ABC is quick to jump on them for failures and mistakes while ignoring their own.
     First, the bad guys in the study are trained police instructors.  They are inoculated against the stressors in the simulation and do not act as all shooters would in the same situation.  The students are in a classroom and it takes them a while to understand that they are in a simulated shooting.  I believe they would respond sooner in an actual shooting.  People take more risks with training gear.  They push their luck because they want to learn limits that will save their lives later.  The bad guys in the study did something in the video that I believe is a real possibility in the real world:  When the test subjects returned fire, they stopped shooting random people and fixated on the person returning fire.   This will save lives.
     Also, think of how many shooters have been arrested after the shooting.  It turns out that some of them don’t want to be shot.  This would cause them to take cover or engage anyone firing at them.  Lives would be spared because anyone else could flee.
     ABC makes a huge statement about tunnel vision and how it causes a person to fixate on a target while ignoring innocent bystanders.  I’d like to note that none of the students shot a bystander.  They hit the bad guy, the floor and a wall.  ABC cites two shootings by citizens to support their stance.  In the first, a man shot his wife in their home.  It seems that he thought she was an intruder.  I see absolutely no correlation to the topic at hand.  That is poor judgment and failure to identify the target.  It’s not tunnel vision during a mass murder.  In the second, a clerk defends against an armed intruder and fires past a woman holding a small child.  They make a point that he fired inches away from the child, but again I see no relation to the topic at hand.  He didn’t hit the kid and he made the bad man go away.
     ABC wants us to play dead, call 911 and wait for the professionals.  This point is followed up by how even the professionals screw up shootings by hitting the wrong people.  They also make every mistake just as the study subjects did, and for the reasons they did.  They are humans  and training degrades if not repeated.  Modern police are trained in responding to active shooters, but the shooting is usually over before they arrive.
     I don’t find this study to be good science.  It seems to be politically motivated and not based on reality.  There are few active shooters stopped by armed citizens because a mass murderer chooses the crime scene based on probability of success.  They seek kill zones where the cops are far away and there is a confined mass of unarmed people to slaughter.
     In mass shooting, time equals human life.  The maximum number of barrels on the bad guy means less time and more people survive.  Opinions on firearm ownership are like politics and religion.  They are not based on fact, they are cultural.  This is a clear case of bias to align with one’s belief while ignoring reality.  There is no replacement for good training, and the vast majority of armed citizens have very little.  Many police don’t have enough and they probably won’t be there before the shooting is over anyway.
     The cultural fear of firearms produces kill zones where mass murderers do their work.  Teaching citizens to disarm, play dead and call 911 increases a murder’s success.  Firearms are a part of the American culture that will never go away.  They were here when the U.S. formed and can never be completely eliminated.  Mass murdering active shooters are an evil that the government cannot protect us from.  They will get their weapons no matter what laws are on the books, and they will kill as many innocent people as possible.  I am thankful to be surrounded by the people in my survey who choose to stand against murderers and those who seek to improve their success.