As I was preparing this article, I realized that a lot of what I wanted to say had already been written…by David and me, 2 ½ years ago after the Sandy Hook murders.  That article >HERE< was reprinted on several sites.  I’ve included a few snippets from that article.

It’s sad, but people in our country keep refusing to learn lessons when bad events happen to other people and insist on waiting until bad events happen to them to accept the fact that they might need to prepare.

Ironically, the reason why MOST people don’t think that there’s a need to prepare for incidents like Sandy Hook and Charleston is because of how incredibly rare they are.

That’s also why police response times are as long as they are. Violent crime is RARE in the US. Most cities operate with 1 patrol officer for every 4,000-10,000 people on duty at any given time. As a society, we have decided that this is enough and that the additional cost of more officers and a faster response time is not justified.

The net effect of this is that it shifts the responsibility of first responder from law enforcement to individuals. People just have to accept that they’re probably going to be on their own.

“Gunfights,” muggings, and a lot of other violent crimes are over in seconds. Mass shootings are normally over in a couple of minutes. A great and admirable response time by law enforcement is 8-10 minutes…after someone at the scene has the presence of mind to call 911 and communicate what’s going on clearly and calmly enough for the dispatcher to send appropriate help—assuming they’re not in the middle of another situation when the call comes in.

In my opinion, the model of passing first responder responsibility to the individual is a healthy model to follow.

We use this model with medical and trauma emergencies. That’s why people learn the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and basic first aid. We take responsibility for helping ourselves and those around us until professionals arrive in an attempt to save lives. Sometimes mistakes are made, like breaking ribs with the Heimlich or with chest compressions, but overall, trained lay first responders save lives.

We use this model with fire emergencies. That’s why we have smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, ladders to escape the 2nd story of houses, fire drills, sprinklers, and fire escapes in public buildings. Again, we take responsibility for helping ourselves and those around us until professionals arrive. Sometimes people throw water on a grease fire or break their leg jumping out a window, but overall, trained lay first responders save lives.

In the case of Charleston, if one or more of the adults would have had a gun, knife, Taser, pepper spray, or solid empty hands combatives training, like TFT, it’s very possible that the killer could have been stopped and lives saved.

Did you know that, outside of a war zone where we’re fighting, the US has some of the best, if not THE best gunshot trauma care in the world?

Nationwide, you’ve got a 90% chance of surviving a single gunshot wound IF you receive prompt advanced medical care and you’ve got a 95% chance of surviving if you have a heartbeat when you reach the hospital.

The fact that 9 people died in Charleston tells me that it’s highly likely that none of the people there had the tools (mental or physical) to stop the killer. He had time to reload, take multiple shots per victim, and nobody was able to call for help in a timely manner.  That’s sad, and we can’t do anything about what happened in Charleston, but we can each make a decision to make forward progress at being prepared if we find ourselves in a similar situation.

Part of that is individual preparation, and part of that is helping as many people as possible realize the need to prepare themselves to confront evil. With that in mind, I want to share a few things with you—arrows in your quiver—for when the topic of the Charleston shootings in particular or gun violence in general comes up.

First off, it’s important to realize that there is no such thing as “gun violence.” Guns are inanimate objects. There is only violence and violence is a product of the mind and the mind will use whatever tools it has available at the time. The term “gun violence” makes about as much sense as “fork overeating.”

  • Did you know that there was a mass killing in Austria 2 days after Charleston where the killer drove his car into a crowd. When the car stopped, he got out and started stabbing people. The driver is a radicalized Muslim who appears to have been following the directives given by the Islamic State in October 2014 on how to treat infidels, “…slaughter him with a knife or run over him with your car…”Are their deaths any less horrible because the killer didn’t use a gun? Is the killer any less evil? This incident in particular highlights the fact that the mind of the killer was the true problem and the tool didn’t matter. When the car stopped working, he transitioned to a knife and continued his evil behavior.
  • Did you know that the day before the Sandy Hook murders in 2012, a mentally unstable man stabbed an elderly woman and then went to a nearby school where he stabbed 22 children before being subdued. There were 6 knife attacks like this in a 7 month period in 2010 that killed nearly 20 and wounded more than 50. They went mostly unreported.Where did this happen? China. Why didn’t you hear about any of these mass killings? Why are “Newtown”, “Columbine”, and “Charleston” top of mind, but not the mass stabbings that happened in Brooklyn, Houston, Osaka, Calgary, Murrysville PA, China and more?
  • Did you know that while there is 1 child (under 10) death per year per 1 MILLION guns, there is 1 drowning death per year per 11,000 residential pools? That means that an individual backyard swimming pool is roughly 100 times more likely to kill a child than a given gun.
  • Roughly 1-3% of the entire population (including inmates) would be institutionalized if our mental health laws were the same as they were several decades ago. A LOT of mental health patients are now treated in jails after they commit crimes rather than in mental institutions.

While I’m not suggesting that 1-3% of the population should be institutionalized, I am saying that if/when these 1-3% go off of their meds or just plain go off the rails and take evil actions, the rest of society needs to have the tools at their disposal to protect themselves and other innocent people around them.

To be clear, most of this 1-3% number will not go off the rails in an extremely violent manner, but when you’ve got a country of over 300 million, even 1/10th of 1% is 300,000 people.

Evil has been around since Cain killed his brother Abel. Evil is with us now, and evil will be a constant, although hopefully infrequent, companion to one extent or another throughout each of our lives.

Denying evil doesn’t make it go away…it only causes paralysis due to disbelief when crashes into your life.

In fact, studies that SEALed Mindset have done shown that one of the biggest problems that law enforcement and civilians have when they’re attacked is realizing and accepting the fact that they’re under attack and responding kinetically. This lack of acceptance oftentimes takes someone who can draw and put rounds on target in under a second and paralyze them for 5, 10, or more seconds before they even start their “lightning fast” drawstroke.

  •    When cities, states, and countries institute more restrictive gun laws they experience an increase in almost all forms of violent crime. If anyone brings up Canada, England, or Australia as examples to the contrary, they are simply ignoring the reality that these countries experienced double digit increases in violent crime immediately following their most recent crackdowns.
  •    The presence of a firearm in an active shooter situation can be enough to end the killing. Take the Trolley Square killings in Salt Lake City OR the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs.
  •    The gun used in Charleston was not the problem. Was it used in a horrible way? Absolutely. Was it the fault of the firearm? No. No more than the China stabbings are the fault of knives, that chlorine gas killings are the result of chlorine, or that if I get beat over the head with a rock that the rock should get blamed for my killing. BAD people murder people and the only thing that stops them is good people.
  •    911 doesn’t have a teleport feature yet and cop cars don’t have warp drive, so you better be prepared to self-support for several minutes after dialing 911.
  •    The US isn’t the only country in the world, and we aren’t the first to face the issue of mass killings in schools and churches. Israel and South Africa both faced a similar problem and their solution to protect schools was to arm teachers and administrators. The reasoning? Hire teachers who love kids, who want to protect them, and give them the tools to do it.
  • Accurate stats on mass shootings are INCREDIBLY hard to find and most lists conveniently leave out the following:
  1. The murder of 385, including 186 children at a grade school in Beslan in 2004
  2. The murder of 59 boys at the Federal Government College in Nigeria last February
  3. Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 329 girls in Nigeria last year with an unknown number murdered (at least 2) or the 330 residents of Gamboru Nigeria who were killed by Boko Haram when Nigerian security forces left the town to look for the kidnapped girls.
  4. They also conveniently forget Anders Breivik murdering 69 participants at a kids summer camp in Norway in 2011.

These 4 incidents would be the first, second, third, and fourth most deadly school mass shootings of all time, but most of them are ignored in reports on mass murders…presumably because the people making the list are trying to paint a picture that it’s a problem unique to the US, when it’s not.

In every group of people, you’re going to have sheepdogs who are willing to stand up to evil and those who take it one step further and are willing to take the fight to the bad guy and protect the innocent.

But the will and the grit to stare evil in the face and decide to take it on doesn’t do a darn bit of good if they have the willingness to fight but don’t have the tools and/or the skills to fight effectively.

Now, since the victims in Charleston were law abiding citizens, they didn’t carry guns into the gun free zone. Of course, evil people intent on murdering innocents don’t really care.

What’s the answer then? Good people need to have the tools and skills necessary to provide tactical “first aid” for the time between when evil shows itself and when law enforcement arrives. And not the sad excuse for a plan that says to “lock your doors, pull the shades on your windows, hide in a closet or under a desk, or play dead.” That is a plan that is more interested in minimizing casualties than stopping the threat.

There’s a HUGE difference between the two mindsets. Put another way, it’s damage control vs. destroying your attacker. That defensive mindset in sports is what loses games for teams who have a big lead going into the 3rd or 4th quarter. That mindset in an active shooter situation—where you are told to run and hide and give the shooter free reign for the minutes necessary for law enforcement to arrive—gets innocent people killed.

Don’t be naive and think that taking the fight to the murderer is a “clean” option. With a firearm, you may miss the shooter and hit an innocent. You may hit the brain, but not the mid-brain and cause a shooter to fire one last round into an innocent bystander.   Heck, the NYPD had a shootout with 1 guy in front of the Empire State Building and shot 8 other people in the process. Stopping evil gets messy, and the decision to do so is sometimes a hero’s last.

So, given the fact that we can’t flip a switch and take care of the spiritual or mental health component of the equation, what do I think we should do?

  •    Encourage the warrior mindset of people who already have it. There are some sweet kindergarten teachers, pastors, and Sunday school teachers who have both an incredible nurturing nature and who excel at martial arts and a martial mindset, but they are rare.
  •    Don’t ignore training for them—just focus on people who are already predisposed to taking the fight to a bad guy. It’s similar to firecraft. If you throw a log covered with pitch on top of a match, it’ll put it out. On the other hand, if you throw that same log covered in pitch on a fire that’s already healthy, you’ll get a bigger, hotter fire. You can put the log on the fire from the match eventually, but it will take a little time and nurturing to build it up.
  •    Pick the right tools. Firearms are one of the most efficient tools for innocent people to use to project force over a distance to stop evil as quickly as possible. If guns are a possibility, then training is the next step. Once training is taken care of, the next thing is secure storage that is QUICK to get into. In a work, church, and school environment, I suggest gun safes with 5 button mechanical locks instead of electronic keypad or biometric locks, but consumer grade biometric locks are STARTING to catch up with the hype and their military grade cousins.
  •    If firearms are not a possibility, then I suggest Tasers. Tasers are MUCH better than pepper spray in an environment with young children. As a note, Tasers are NOT stun guns. Stun guns operate on the basis of pain compliance and Tasers use a pulse that interrupts the electrical impulses between the brain and muscles. In addition, civilian Tasers shoot out 15 feet.
  •    Keep in mind that the foundation for ALL martial training is empty hands training. Why? You may not always have access to a purpose built weapon like a firearm, and even if you do, you might have to fight to get to it or to buy enough time to bring it to bear on an attacker. Even without a weapon, if one of those people in Charleston would have seen an opportunity when he was reloading and known to punch the turd’s throat, jab his eye, or crush his testicles, lives could have been saved. If you’ve been following me long, you know that I am a HUGE proponent of Target Focus Training.
  •    If the Charleston shootings were the straw that broke the camel’s back for you as far as knowing you need to get serious about self defense, but you’re also concerned about pending anti-gun legislation, I would suggest that you sign up for a special package that Tim and Ralph at Target Focus Training put together for my readers. You can read more about it by going >HERE<.
  •    If you do have a situation where you’re limited to non-firearm defense against firearms, it’s important to identify people with a similar mindset who are willing to take the fight to evildoers in the event of an active shooter incident. One person going head-on with a shooter is likely to be needlessly committing suicide. They’re no doubt a hero, but the goal when confronting an evildoer is to go home at the end of the day, have as many innocents go home at the end of the day as possible, and do whatever is necessary to stop the evil party.
  •    With multiple people, though, there’s a much greater chance that at least one of you will have or acquire an angle on the shooter that they can take advantage of to rush the shooter and set up a situation where the rest can swarm the shooter and render them incapable of continuing to hurting people as efficiently as possible.

In short, YOU as an individual can’t control the morality, spirituality, mental health, or tendency towards violence of the people around you. Someone determined to be violent will ignore firearm and other weapon laws. Cain didn’t have or need a gun to kill Abel and even if you could click your heels together and make all firearms disappear, mentally disturbed people determined to kill will still kill. All you can do is equip yourself with the mental training, physical training, and tools necessary to be able to stop evil between the moment when it crashes into your life and a few minutes later when law enforcement arrives.