Experiences at Active Shooter Simulation
The Truth About Guns blog organized an active shooter simulation to try to gather some statistics on whether an armed teacher or armed security guard would make a difference in a shooting like we had this month in Newtown CT. They had the services of a guy who did similar statistics gathering for DHS.
The event was hosted at King33 Training LLC in Southington CT. This is a relatively new training company run by Chris Fields who is former Army Special Forces and also was a personal security contractor for DOD. King 33 offers a variety of training for civilians ranging from unarmed soccer moms to people who train with firearms. What makes King 33 different is that they do realistic training scenarios using non-lethal Simunitions pistols that shoot marking (paint) cartridges. Up until last year this type of training was limited to law enforcement and military.
You can read some of this and see a video of the NBC news segment at the King33 Facebook page and you can see their main web site.
There were basically three scenarios that we ran about ten times each. The volunteer role players each got a chance to be the teacher in each scenario. When not the teacher you were a student.
We were not allowed to use hands on physical force for safety reasons.
Scenario One - Armed Teacher is surprised by gunman with AR-15. To try to provide some surprise we had students one by one leave for the bathroom and then come back and did this over and over again. One of the times the gunman came back instead of the student. The gunman and teacher were not give an particular instructions so the gunman had the choice of shooting students, teacher or both. The goal of the teacher was to stop the gunman.
Scenario Two - Armed teacher hears shots and shouting, herds the students into a corner then prepares as they see fit to defend against the gunman. This allowed the teacher to bring the gun out and take an ambush position defending the door.
Scenario Three - Unarmed teacher, gunman comes in and has his way with the room until the security guard can come down the hallway to help. In this scenario the security guard is probably much closer than would be the case in a school since the shoot house is smaller than a school.
As as student role player I got to see how sudden it is to be surprised by a gunman pushing in your door. I also got to experience how it is to be helpless just waiting to be shot and hoping that somehow the gunman will pick someone else. In this case I knew that either the teacher or guard would come to help. I can only imagine how it would be knowing that it was real bullets and there were no guns allowed in the school.
There were several former LE and military involved with the simulation. One retired LE simunitions instructor actually developed the school safety plan for several of the towns in CT. Another retired LE role player had responded to a similar event at Fairfield State University when he was an active cop.
The Truth About Guns will no doubt publish the statistical analysis on their web site when it is ready, but here is my preliminary assessment.
The armed teacher taken by surprise was more effective than I expected. The teacher won a little more than 50% of the time, although there were usually several students shot.
The armed teacher with warning was nearly 100% effective. There may have been one or two students shot, but much less than in the other two scenarios.
In the unarmed teacher waiting for security guard scenario, the gunman could basically have his way with the class. The gunman role players tended to get excited and rush things, but someone who knew what they were doing could easily take his time and put well aimed shots on each person in the room before the security guard arrived. Ther AR started to jam towards the end of the scenarios and students were able to run out of the room while the gunman was trying to fix the problem. If we were allowed hands on we probably could have jumped him.
I am proud to report that during the three scenarios where I was the teacher not one of my students was shot. However, in one case I made a poor tactical decision and had to put myself between the shooter and the students, taking three hits to my body as I was shooting the bad guy.
It is hard to see in the NBC video, but I am the guy in the blue denim jacket and the video has my scenario as an armed teacher with prior warning.
My feeling after this is that for this to work any armed teacher would have to be properly trained in both the mechanics and the mindset of armed defense. This could be accomplished with a relatively short focused training program, say 40 hours over some period of time.
I think that teachers should be allowed to volunteer for this since forcing reluctant teachers to be armed defenders would be counter productive.
Having some number of properly trained armed teachers in the mix that are not known to be armed would be similar to having air marshals on planes. Bad guys would have to factor in the chance that they would pick the wrong room and have to fight rather than just slaughter unarmed people.
I think that the result of this would be that it would make the schools a less desirable place to commit mass murder. However, if other gun-free zones continue to exist it will probably just move the violence from the schools to the other venues. If that happens I would consider it an improvement because at least the targets would not be innocent children, but perhaps people who made a concious decision to give up their right of self protection and patronize gun free zones. Of course that still leaves employees who are forced into the situation by their employer.