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#210039 - 10/21/10 03:38 AM Preparing for Campus Shooting
Bingley Offline

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1415
Last month there was another campus shooting -- this time at Univ. of Texas at Austin. Even though this time around it looked more like a public suicide, it looks like those of us who go to school, work at a school, or even take kids to school, really have to be prepared for a gunman or two. So let me put it to the collective wisdom of the forum: you are in a classroom, guy walks in with a gun -- what do you pull out to stop him?

You need something relatively compact so you can carry it on your person or in your bag/briefcase. It has to have some range to reach across a classroom -- 20-30 feet for a small room, and more for a lecture hall. It has to have stopping power -- enough to stop the gunman so the braver people can rush him and take him down. It may need to deliver more than one shot in case of multiple gunmen.

You can't carry firearms on campus unless you want to risk getting expelled, fired, arrested & jailed, or worse, mistaken for a homicidal shooter by the SWAT sniper. So that's out. Taser can have the same problem, depending on the local campus' definition of a weapon. So what's left?

I looked into various types of pepper spray, but I'm not sure that they'd work:

-- The Mace Pepper Gun is small and has some range (25'). It delivers a stream -- unclear how accurate the stream is at the long end of its reach. It lacks a laser to help you aim.

-- The Kimber JPX Jet Protector has a slightly shorter range (23'), but it seems to be able to fire two shots of liquid OC at 270 mph, which increases the impact. But it only has two shots. You can reload, while getting shot at, I suppose. Kimber also has discontinued this item.

-- Pepperball Technologies seems to make the most powerful devices. It looks like they basically adapt various paintball markers to fire OC-filled balls that explode upon impact. It's reassuring that they also make Pava-filled pepperballs. Because these launchers shoot the balls with compressed air, they probably deliver the biggest percussive impact. The Flash Launcher has an integrated 100-lumen flash and a laser sight, plus the ability to fire five pepperballs with a range of 30'. It is a bit on the big side, though, being basically an 11" cylinder. If you watch a demo on Youtube, you'll see that firing it with accuracy requires holding the launcher with two hands and bracing it against your belly. And even then you're still off by a few inches.

-- Another Pepperball product is the SA-8 launcher, which is basically adapted from a Tiberius Arms paintball pistol. The shape is more amenable to accurate firing, but it's getting rather big at 11" long and 8" high. Definitely a bag item, and not concealable on your body. And let's forget about launchers the size of an Uzi or carbine. (I looked into using other paintball pistols -- apparently these pepperballs are the standard 68 caliber. The problem is that because the CO2 cartridge has to go somewhere, these pistols can't ever get that small.)

-- I also found something called the PepperGun, which is from a company based in South Africa. It's a rather large and intimidating-looking pepperball pistol, probably also adapted from a paintball marker.

With pepper guns/sprays, the biggest concern is the stopping power. If you watch live tests on Youtube, it's not clear how bad the effect is. It seems to take a second or two for the OC to set in, and in that time the gunman could squeeze off a few rounds in a crowded classroom. So it doesn't seem to me like a good solution.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Don't tell me to set phaser to stun.

Da Bing

Edited by Bingley (10/21/10 03:40 AM)

#210041 - 10/21/10 04:23 AM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: Bingley]
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA
If you rule out a firearm, in reality the most effective option is probably a Taser. The Taser is effective, *if* you can hit the aggressor. Then, you have a 30 second window in which you need to be the heck out of dodge, or restrain the attacker.

OC spray has a large amount of variability in its effectiveness which boils down to... it isn't something you can count on but it is better than nothing.

I don't really trust the pepperball type thingies. They might have more range, but you need to consider the amount of OC they can contain is much smaller, and you don't have the chance to "walk" the spray into the target like you do with an OC stream.

If you go with OC, I'd say go with a good quality OC like Fox Labs, and get the biggest can you can get.


#210044 - 10/21/10 04:56 AM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: JohnN]
Paul810 Offline

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
Not for nothing, but if someone comes into a classroom with a firearm and starts shooting, the first thing everyone is going to do is panic, with most people trying to run away. Unless you are sitting right in front of the door the perpetrator walks in at, it's going to be tough to employ any type of defensive mechanism. You would most likely end up getting trampled by the other students in the classroom....especially in a large lecture hall setting.

Not to mention, you're already at a tactical disadvantage, as they are most likely better armed, they've already got their weapon in their hands, and they may even have the element of surprise on their side.

With this being the case, first thing I would do, if I was in the kind of situation, is throw my backpack over my shoulders to help cover my upper body and start running towards the closest viable exit. The idea being, between the chaos of everyone running away and having my book filled backpack covering my vitals, I would lessen my chance of receiving a fatal injury as much as possible (short of going to class wearing a ballistic vest.)

Even if I had a firearm on me, you can bet your butt I would be running unless I was absolutely cornered or found myself unable to move and had to fight back. Sometimes it's best to know when to retreat and regroup. wink

#210053 - 10/21/10 12:14 PM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: Bingley]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC

Bear spray. You can keep it in your bag or wear it on a chest harness or belt. But you've only got 7 seconds of spray so your hand better not be shaking too bad.


The few highly publicized college shootings have been tragic, but I'd feel safer in a college classroom than just about anywhere else in an urban area.

Welcome to ETS.

#210054 - 10/21/10 12:15 PM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: Bingley]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078
A suitable backpack such as Macpac Rapaki 28+ with a Dyneema Polyethylene Level III 10x12 Ballistic Plate stored inside should give you some protection in this scenario. A fixed blade knife such as a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife and a Mk9 Thunderflash could be useful especially if you can get within 20 feet. All bets would be off. A Fritz helmet would be ideal but would be a little inconspicuous when being worn to lectures.

Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (10/21/10 12:23 PM)

#210055 - 10/21/10 01:10 PM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: Dagny]
TeacherRO Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2396
Originally Posted By: Dagny

The few highly publicized college shootings have been tragic, but I'd feel safer in a college classroom than just about anywhere else in an urban area.

Welcome to ETS.

Agreed. Given the very large number of people on campuses and the very tiny amount of shootings -- its a very rare event.

#210062 - 10/21/10 04:54 PM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: Bingley]
ireckon Offline

Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 1629
Loc: Northern California
In this type of discussion, I think it's helpful to imagine real events, like Virginia Tech, Columbine or the Colorado mega-church. Any answer to the original question will sound awkward because the shooter has a huge advantage. Not only does the guy have a gun, but he also has the advantage of surprise.

That being said, to answer the original question, I would throw myself quickly and violently. The shooter would not expect it. I would try to grab something as a shield and assume a low stance, like a defensive end rushing a quarterback. Rushing in combination with using pepper spray may be quite effective. I can recall a case where two students rushed and subdued the shooter. Of course, the media doesn't celebrate the case because nobody got shot. If I can find the case, I'll post it.

My answer is no more absurd than running away if you think about it. It's far too easy to imagine a clear, undisturbed path to the door. In contrast, I imagine a traffic jam where 100 people are just as terrified as you and trying to fit through a 4 foot opening at the same time. Generally, if you take away the ability to use a firearm against somebody who has a gun AND surprise, then there's no reassuring answer. Ideally, the innocent should be allowed to defend themselves with a firearm, as in the Colorado mega-church case.
If you're reading this, it's too late.

#210063 - 10/21/10 05:03 PM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: Bingley]
Jeff_M Offline

Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Northwest Florida
Most likely, even less-lethal weapons, especially the projectile types, will be banned on campus. Situational awareness is always good. Make sure you carry a cellphone and subscribe to any campus alert type services offered. Know the on-campus emergency phone numbers, 911 will get you to them, but only indirectly and a bit slower. Know your campus's emergency plans, procedures, alarm signals, call box locations, etc.

Campus crime tends to be grossly under-reported, but are generally pretty safe, depending on the general neighborhood, degree of access, etc. I always encouraged my night students to try to park in the same area and leave as a group, and offered to escort any student to their car after class. Know your classmates. Know who is a familiar on-campus face and who may not belong there. Be sensitive to fellow students under too much stress, isolation, etc.

If your classroom doors open in towards the classroom, a simple wedge to block the door from opening, kept in your backpack, might be real handy. Different doors require different solutions. A bicycle lock might hold double doors closed, for example.

#210066 - 10/21/10 05:45 PM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: Bingley]
pezhead Offline

Registered: 05/18/10
Posts: 76
Loc: Minnesota
Schools have a lot of rules(posted victim disarmament zones). It's tough to say what is possible to use as ever schol is different.
Don't overlook the flashlight hi lumens even a strobe mode. They can be used to disorient your attacker.
as others have said situational awarness is a big thing.

#210067 - 10/21/10 06:06 PM Re: Preparing for Campus Shooting [Re: NightHiker]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

The effects of your UK environment are showing Greyman, here in the US, if we were gonna take things to that level we'd probably just go with an easy to conceal pistol.

I think your right. The idea of a gunman running down any of the streets in any of the 3 local universities in this part of the world is pretty far fetched.

I remember siting in the pub opposite Auchterlonies Golf Shop in St Andrews seeing Prince William (a high profile student at the University at the time) riding by on his mountain bike. Later I casually asked at a bookshop nearby if he had any security looking out for him. 'Oh yes, you can recognize them from their brown corduroy suits they wear, they stand out from the rest of the University student crowd' was the reply. laugh

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