In the first three parts of this series, I talked about how to prevent an active shooter from getting into your building, what to do if one is in your building already, and how to protect teen and pre-teen students. In this penultimate piece, I’m going to discuss a topic that is controversial and has passionate proponents and detractors on both sides of the argument. Again, unless I quote someone else, these are my opinions and I am not speaking for any organization, including those that I am employed by or a member of.
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman retired after many years of service in the US Army, including a stint as a US Army Ranger and a teacher of psychology at West Point. He writes on ways to reduce violence in society and how to deal with the aftermath of violent events such as school shootings. One of is essays is titled, “On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs.”
In it, he says that he was told that, “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” That is, even though violence is sensationalized in the media, the chance of an average American being the victim of a violent crime is about 16 in 1000. There also are wolves; those who have a capacity for violence and no empathy for their fellow citizens who prey on sheep; and finally, there are sheepdogs, those citizens who have a capacity for violence but with a deep love for their fellow citizens who can confront the wolf and protect the flock.
In my last blog, I asked, “what if teachers were able to either protect their students, or safely lead them out of the building?” What if teachers, or anyone else with the right mentality were trained to be effective sheepdogs? What if a sheepdog could dispatch the wolf before any sheep were harmed?
As I said, there are people who are passionate on both sides of of this topic, and the topic of this blog is guns. Not only guns, but carrying a concealed handgun. Many people see guns as evil whether they they are being carried by a wolf to victimize someone, or by a sheepdog to defend his or her flock. Dr. Jeff Ferguson helped 50 people escape from a gunman who entered a medical building in an attempt to take hostages. When the dust settled, only the gunman was injured. This is just one example of a sheepdog protecting his flock. Would there have been fewer victims if one or more teachers at Columbine High School were trained sheepdogs equipped with their own guns?
The federal government understands how valuable trained and armed citizens can be. After September 11, the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program was established to train eligible flight crew members on the use of firearms, use of force, legal issues, defensive tactics, the psychology of survival and program standard operating procedures. These sheepdogs are authorized to use firearms to defend against an act of criminal violence or air piracy attempting to gain control of an aircraft.
40 states have laws that require the issuance of concealed carry (CCW) permits to any eligible citizen. Eligibility varies, but in my opinion, only people who have the appropriate mindset and training should carry a weapon, both to protect themselves and others—and next time I’ll talk about the mindset and training that a sheepdog should have before they even think about carrying a concealed handgun.