More and more companies in the US are responding to the Age of the Active Shooter not with lockdown and shelter-in-place procedures, but by training employees to team up and fight back to overwhelm and incapacitate.
The paradigm shift in response — from passive to active — has been endorsed and promoted by the Department of Homeland Security. Last month, it recommended that federal workplaces adopt the training program “Run, Hide, Fight,” which it helped develop. D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier used the same phrase on a recent episode of “60 Minutes.”
“Your options are run, hide or fight,” Lanier said last month. “I always say, if you can get out, getting out’s your first option, your best option. If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”
Gun rights proponents have a much different view of what works. They say that if more law-abiding citizens were armed, more mass shootings could be prevented. But most employers ban guns from the workplace, even in states that embrace concealed-carry permits.
At NeighborWorks, almost three dozen employees were taught to throw things at a shooter — chairs, books, purses, pens, phones, anything — and swarm. Those items don’t seem all that threatening compared with an AR-15, but that’s not the point.
“If you can move him from offense to defense, you have changed the outcome of the event,” said Greg Crane, a former SWAT officer whose company, the ALICE Training Institute, trained workers at NeighborWorks as well as at Facebook and Apple. “He’s thinking about what you are doing to him, not what he’s doing to you. Mentally, he’s going through a whole different process.”
ALICE, based near Cleveland, has been teaching these methods since about 2001. But in the past few years, as mass shootings have killed moviegoers, congressional constituents, first-graders, Navy Yard workers, TV journalists and college students, hundreds of competitors have sprung up, charging thousands of dollars for classroom lectures and intense simulations.
In other words, the new cost of Second Amendment "freedom" is paying experts to teach your employees how to disorient a somebody armed with an AR-15 with a thrown object. Lots of money for training they will almost certainly never have to use, but why should gun manufacturers and ammo makers be the only folks profiting from Gunmerica?
Call it the cost of doing business in the US. Part of me is upset that corporate America has resigned themselves to a workplace that will at some point include an armed employee on campus willing to kill. The other part is impressed that the American way is to find a way to make money off of tragedy, and this looks like a solid growth industry for the economy, right?