I have long said that as an armed civilian my job in an Active Shooter event is to use my firearm to defend myself and others while getting as many people as possible out and safe. Going after the shooter is not the smartest thing to do, and for a variety of reasons I think this is the most sensible course of action. I have a responsibility to my family and loved ones to survive, and a duty to help as many others as possible without compromising that primary mission. Going after the shooter is the police’s job.
Except apparently they might not do their job. In the wake of the Uvalde shooting rumors were flying, allegations of cowardice were made. Knowing how chaotic things can get I advised people to ‘wait and see’ before passing judgement. Well, we saw.
Many of the allegations are true according to official sources. Two police officers actually did enter the school and evacuated their own children. The Uvalde authorities acknowledged that they made a mistake by not breaching sooner. Apparently the agency that finally did go in to take out the shooter did so in violation of their orders because they just couldn’t keep standing around.
I’m not going to analyze the scene further. I’m not going to say any of the things I feel about it. They are best expressed with profanity anyway. What I am going to talk about this is how it affects my personal responses to such a scenario and how I need to deal with them.
My original plan is still the smartest choice. Use my firearm to cover a retreat, getting out as many people as possible then immediately holster the weapon before police contact occurs. This is sensible and within my abilities. It’s the smart plan.
The problem is that events have proven that in the heat of the moment I might not be that smart. It seems I am what is called a ‘High Responder.’ A couple years back I witnessed a domestic in a parking lot. I knew the smart thing to do would be to discretely observe and call the authorities. But when it became apparent the man was trying to force the much smaller woman into his car the ‘sensible thing to do’ went straight out the window and I intervened directly despite knowing I shouldn’t. In the heat of the moment I discarded my plan and winged it. Fortunately it worked out with no further violence or injuries, but it gave me pause.
Over the years this pattern has been repeated. I’m not a hero and I am not saying I am. What I am is a person who cannot reliably count on following the plan of doing the most sensible thing in the face of events. It’s better to acknowledge that and deal with it.
I’m not saying I’m going to chuck ‘the plan’ in the unlikely event that I need it. I still think it’s the sensible thing to do and it’s still the plan. But I need to acknowledge that in the moment I might not, despite my best intentions, follow that plan and do the sensible thing. Better to prepare for that possibility. As the reverend said, “If you can’t do something smart, do something right.”
This means I need to rethink a lot of things, not the least my concept of what sort of carry gun and personal gear meets my needs, because my needs might not be what I thought. I need to plan for the possibility that I might not be able to follow the plan, which is actually good advice in general.
Just some early morning first-cup-of-coffee thoughts.
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 28 May 2022