Time Is Life

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There were 19 shootings in 2006, by far one of the worst years we have covered so far. In all that year, around 130 people were shot during active shooter situations. Six of them ended in the shooter’s suicide. Nine of them ended in some form of police action, and one suspect was still at large as of September 2014. Only three of them were stopped by citizens. While statistically that was only about 1 in 6 shootings stopped by civilians in 2009, there are other much more telling statistics, like the number of people shot on average. In order to come up with the following numbers, I noted each shooting under one of three headings: stopped by citizen, stopped by shooter suicide (this includes those who committed suicide during a police encounter), and stopped by police action (wounded or apprehended). I then listed the number killed and wounded during each active shooter situation, totaled them and averaged them.

There were six active shooter situations in which the shooter committed suicide to end the situation. In those six shootings, fifty-two people were shot. Twenty-nine of those were killed; twenty-three were wounded. That is an average of five people killed and four people wounded for each shooting.

There were nine shootings ended by some kind of police encounter. In those nine shootings, seventy-six people were shot. Twenty-nine people were killed; forty-seven were wounded. That is an average of four killed and six or seven wounded for each shooting.

There were three active shooter situations ended by civilians. The first, on April 7, occurred at Kkottongnae Retreat Camp in Temecula, California, where the shooter went from cabin to cabin shooting with a handgun until he was restrained by citizens. One was killed; two were wounded. The second was at Harkness Hall at Hampton University on April 26. The dormitory manager pulled the fire alarm and evacuated the building. No one was killed and two were wounded. The third occurred at the Grady Crawford Construction Company on December 23. The shooter was restrained by coworkers. Two were killed; one was wounded. For those shootings stopped by citizens, the totals were eight people shot; three of those were killed and the other five wounded. That is an average of one kill and one to two wounded for each shooting.

I acknowledge that the lingo above is pretty dry, but stop to think about those numbers for a second. In active shooter events in 2009, an average of ten or so people were shot for every event ended by police. An average of eight or so people were shot for every event ended by shooter suicide, but when the civilians stepped in to end the situation, that average went down to three or four.

You see, here’s the scoop. When a shooter walks into a school or a church or a business and begins shooting, the police are not necessarily there yet. And as a matter of fact the worst shooting of 2009 occurred in a military facility. The citizens, however, are there, and they are much more powerful than they think. Surviving an active shooter situation is a matter of time, and time is life. Police can take an average of twelve minutes just to arrive on the scene, and most active shooter events are over before they even arrive. When the citizens realize that this a time game and that they do not have to be sitting ducks waiting for the police to arrive, they save enormous amounts of time. And again, time is life. In a situation where seconds saved are lives saved, understanding your power as an ordinary person is crucial. When a shooter walks into the room, he expects the victims to be compliant- to sit and wait for him to pick them off. However, when you refuse to sit still, you catch the shooter off-guard, and the ball is in your court. I have just shown you the power of civilian involvement- the power of surprise. You have the ball. The question is , what are you going to do about it?

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