Ac­tive shooter train­ing teaches how to fight back against gun­man

The Korea Times - - FEATURE - By Kur­tis Lee

GOLDEN, Colo. — The gun­man paced the hall­ways of the char­ter school, pass­ing framed paint­ings of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton and Thomas Jef­fer­son be­fore stop­ping out­side class­room 138. There, he took a deep breath, yanked open the door and be­gan fir­ing.

“Shooter!” shouted some­one in­side the class­room. “He has a gun!”

Two peo­ple seated at desks near the door jumped up and rushed the per­pe­tra­tor, pin­ning his legs and arms against a wall, while ev­ery­one else sprinted out. It was over in 15 sec­onds and tiny yel­low Nerf balls sprayed from the toy rifle lit­tered the room. One of the men who rushed the gun­man was struck in the thigh by a ball, a re­minder of the per­sonal dan­ger in­volved in con­fronting an armed as­sailant.

The re­cent ex­er­cise was part of a two-day, $700 ac­tive shooter train­ing course be­ing of­fered at schools and churches across the coun­try by an Ohio-based firm founded soon after the 1999 Columbine High School shoot­ing ram­page, which took place just a few miles from here. The ALICE Train­ing In­sti­tute, whose in­struc­tors have law en­force­ment or mil­i­tary back­grounds, pro­vides cour­ses for ed­u­ca­tors, church work­ers and small-busi­ness em­ploy­ees con­cerned about how to re­act in case catas­tro­phe strikes.

In pack­ets handed out at its train­ing ses­sions, the com­pany says its aim is to em­power “in­di­vid­u­als to par­tic­i­pate in their own sur­vival us­ing proac­tive re­sponse strate­gies in the face of vi­o­lence.”

ALICE — which stands for alert, lock­down, in­form, counter and evac­u­ate — was es­tab­lished by a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer and has held ses­sions in roughly 3,700 K-12 school dis­tricts na­tion­wide, as well as more than 1,300 health­care fa­cil­i­ties. Dozens of com­pa­nies across the U.S. of­fer train­ing for deal­ing with ac­tive shoot­ers.

Stan­dard shel­ter-in-place ad­vice — “locks, lights and out of sight” — came into vogue after Columbine, when two stu­dents killed a teacher and 12 school­mates. But that has been chang­ing since fed­eral ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials is­sued a re­port in 2013 suggesting staff (not stu­dents) should seek to counter shoot­ers as a last re­sort.

While there’s no of­fi­cial data­base track­ing in­struc­tional meth­ods, the fo­cus of cour­ses across the na­tion has been shift­ing to a more “op­tions­based” ap­proach, an­a­lysts say.

Many train­ers now pro­mote a less pas­sive phi­los­o­phy that in­cludes run­ning, if pos­si­ble, and fight­ing back, if war­ranted. Com­pa­nies ac­knowl­edge the po­ten­tial for death or in­jury, but say that de­clin­ing to act can it­self carry grave risks.

“Hav­ing a plan can mean the dif­fer­ence in life or death,” An­drea Nester, an ALICE in­struc­tor, told her class of about two dozen school of­fi­cials, hos­pi­tal work­ers and small-busi­ness own­ers.

On a re­cent af­ter­noon in­side Golden View Clas­si­cal Academy, Nester — a U.S. Army vet­eran who served in Iraq — asked the stu­dents, “Why are you all here? Just blurt it out.” “Work­place vi­o­lence,” one man replied. “Too many mass shoot­ings,” said a woman. “They never seem to end.”

To safety con­sul­tant Rene Flores, who had trav­eled from Texas, at­tend­ing the class felt like a ne­ces­sity. He thought of El Paso and Day­ton, Ohio, he said, where 22 peo­ple were shot to death last month at a Wal­mart and nine more at a night­club, re­spec­tively. Days later, seven ap­par­ently ran­dom peo­ple were killed on the streets of Mid­land and Odessa, Texas, when a gun­man hi­jacked a U.S. Postal Ser­vice van and went on a ram­page.

At this point, nearly 300 Amer­i­cans have been slain in mass shoot­ings this year, ac­cord­ing to the Gun Vi­o­lence Ar­chive, a Wash­ing­ton-based non­profit. The group de­fines such shoot­ings as those in which four or more vic­tims are shot or killed.

Los An­ge­les Times-Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Timm Petersen, cen­ter, Vice Prin­ci­pal of Golden View Clas­si­cal Academy, a char­ter school in Golden, Colorado, par­tic­i­pates in a demon­stra­tion dur­ing an ac­tive shooter train­ing ses­sion with the ALICE Train­ing In­sti­tute held at the school on Aug, 29.

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