What Now?

By now, most people have gotten the “gist” of what happened in the Virginia Beach shooting. If you haven’t been paying attention, a city employee took two handguns into the Municipal Building and killed twelve people on three different floors.

There’s one different piece to this one which we haven’t seen much of, and that is that he used a suppressor on his handgun.

This brings up two points I think are worth addressing.

First off, if you are unfamiliar with what gunfire sounds like, it is difficult to make a quick connection that the loud noises you are hearing are actually gunfire and you might want to start doing something about it. It’s even more complicated to come to that conclusion if the shooter is using a suppressor and you have never heard what gunfire sounds like under those circumstances.

Now suppressors are actually pretty hard to obtain, it’s not like you can walk down to your local gun shop and grab them. It takes time, background checks, and a decent amount of money. Obviously, in this case, the shooter did all those things. So it’s definitely possible we will see this again, but the higher barrier of entry makes it less plausible. But, it is still something to understand.

The reality is, ignorance is bliss…. until it’s not. If you’re worried about being murdered in public by mass violence, ignoring the topic only creates and fuels fear. Exposing yourself to the topic, learning how guns work and what they sound like, learning how to fight, learning how to give medical care, etc… These things are what will help suppress that fear and set you up a higher likelihood of survival.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. Too many people are dying because they prefer ignorance.

Secondly, it is important to understand that the use of the suppressor can really delay reaction and response. That’s not good. The longer it takes for you to recognize a threat, the lower your likelihood of surviving. More time equals better decision making, more options, and better execution.

The shooting took place on three different floors. Reports range from “I didn’t really hear much” to “It sounded like a nail gun.” If you don’t recognize a threat, you can’t respond to it. If he had been using a 45 caliber handgun without a suppressor it is way more likely that people on other floors would have heard much much sooner.

So here’s where I am going with this…

Most large companies and schools put the majority of their eggs in the “run” or “barricade” options. They run lockdown drills, and have barricade positions laid out throughout the facility.

It’s great to have these plans in place, but I always ask this simple question:

“What if the shooter is already in the room or you can’t get to that lockdown? – What is your plan for that?”

It’s a really simple question. One based around a situation that has been reality over and over again, and yet, everyone finds reasons why we should avoid it.

We tend to brush off fighting, running, medical, training, etc… because it’s complicated.

Physically. Emotionally. Financially. Complicated.

But it’s not ok to brush it off. I actually read a few articles a few weeks back where they stated that “options based training” was setting people up for failure and that schools and businesses should be focusing on reverse evacuations and lockdown.

I get it. We want things to be simple. We don’t want to hear about good people like Riley Howell or Kendrick Castillo being killed having to fight back. But in both of those cases, the shooting stopped way before the shooter intended and before law enforcement could assist.

Simple. Clean. Pretty. These things would be great, if they were actually possible.

You cannot put all your eggs in one basket. These events are not simple, and things like this just begin to really highlights the variables and the level of complexity. If I don’t know there are gunshots until I am one of the people in shooting range, I don’t have the chance to barricade or lockdown.

So what now?

What is your plan?

How have you familiarized yourself with the information in an effort to help make the best possible decisions under stress that you can?

It’s not going to be pretty or perfect or clean or simple or risk-free.

That’s not how these situations work.

Tough situations call for tough decisions.

And that sucks… but it is true.

Training matters. Knowledge matters.

Ignorance does not defer responsibility. It is up to you. Plain and simple.

Be good, train hard, stay safe

-aaron