The media, in its push for ever stricter gun control, loves to trumpet every instance of a school shooting in which large numbers of people are killed. Those instances are trotted out as typical examples of US gun culture run amok. But the media is often curiously silent when active shooters are stopped from committing mayhem, whether by armed or unarmed bystanders. Two recent shootings, in Colorado and North Carolina, show the value of fighting back against active shooters in order to prevent more lives from being lost.
The first shooting, at the campus of UNC Charlotte in late April, resulted in two deaths and three injuries. The shooter was tackled by a student, Riley Howell, who was shot three times and killed. But Howell’s actions allowed other students time to escape. And he tackled the shooter so forcefully that the shooter complained of internal injuries after his arrest. In fact, despite having additional magazines the shooter stopped shooting after emptying his pistol and didn’t try to reload to shoot more people.
The second shooting, at a STEM high school in Colorado, left one student dead and several injured. The deceased student was one of at least two students who apparently attempted to engage the shooters and disarm them. It’s unfortunate that he lost his life, but due to his actions and those of a fellow student, many other lives were undoubtedly spared.
Both of these situations highlight the importance of the fighting aspect of the Run, Hide, Fight philosophy of engaging an active shooter. Those who were able to run to safety were able to do so in large part due to the actions of those who tackled the shooters. Their selflessness and willingness to risk their own lives saved the lives of countless others.
There have other situations, too, in which shooters were engaged immediately without loss of life. In most cases those looking to become mass shooters don't expect resistance. Just one person going on the offensive can throw the would-be shooter off balance and prevent a tragedy.
Of course, one also can’t help but wonder if things would have turned out differently had any of those in these situations been armed. Whether teachers or students, returning fire against an active shooter might have resulted in no deaths at all. But hypotheticals are neither here nor there. The important thing to keep in mind is that when faced with active shooters, the best way to respond is by fighting back if possible, in order to ensure that they can do as little damage as possible.