The gun laws recently proposed (or passed) in Colorado and at the national level will not reduce violent crime. Something that will reduce the number and destructiveness of mass murders is citizens preparing for such attacks and responding appropriately.
Of course, your chances of ever finding yourself in the middle of a situation like that at the Aurora theater or the school in Newtown are extremely low. A tiny fraction of homicides are mass murders, and a tiny fraction of mass murders are the random and large-scale events that generate international headlines for months on end. You’re far more likely to die in a car crash than to die at the hands of a mass murderer.
Still, there is some chance, however slight, that you will find yourself confronted by a mass murderer, so it is worth some time thinking and planning how to respond. Perhaps surprisingly, even the New York Times picked up on this theme in an April 6 story written by Erica Goode. Following are some of the highlights from that article:
The speed and deadliness of recent high-profile shootings have prompted police departments to recommend fleeing, hiding or fighting in the event of a mass attack, instead of remaining passive and waiting for help. . . .
Research on mass shootings over the last decade has bolstered the idea that people at the scene of an attack have a better chance of survival if they take an active stance rather than waiting to be rescued by the police, who in many cases cannot get there fast enough to prevent the loss of life. . . .
In the absence of a police presence, how victims responded often made the difference between life and death, Dr. Blair said.
In 16 of the attacks studied by the researchers [at Texas State University], civilians were able to stop the perpetrator, subduing him in 13 cases and shooting him in 3 cases. In other attacks, civilians have obstructed or delayed the gunman until the police arrived. . . .
“The take-home message is that you’re not helpless and the actions you take matter,” Dr. [J. Pete] Blair [of the university] said. “You can help yourself and certainly buy time for the police to get there.”
Here is the video from the Houston’s Office of Public Safety mentioned in the article:
I’ve produced two videos and an interview on the matter.
The interview (with my father), available at TOS Blog, is “Linn Armstrong on Self-Defense and Guns.”
I also conducted another interview on video with my dad:
And I conducted an interview with Alon Stivi (with whom my father has worked), who developed a program for Attack Countermeasures Training.
So don’t be paranoid, but do be prepared.