On April 27th, just before 11:30 am at the end of the Jewish holiday of Pesach, a gunman entered, Chabad of Poway the place of worship and began to open fire.
Then on Tue, April 30th, a shooter enters UMS Charlotte (A university) and opened fire with a handgun.
In both cases, the shooters were misled by hate and prejudice.
In the first case, only one person was killed, in the second only 2. Generally accepted US government standards say it is a mass shooting when 4 people or more have been killed. Though both cases are tragic events, the combined death of both is less than this. (It should be noted that over the years this number seems to keep getting lower).
So what is the difference between 1 or 2 deaths and 17 or 49 deaths? The answer is simple, in the first 2 examples brave individuals quickly and bravely stood up to the shooters.
Though it is often counterintuitive especially to the untrained, if you are able to and you wish to stop further harm or death then the answer is to run to the threat not away. You see, waiting for the police can take some time and in the time a lot can happen. In Metro Vancouver, the call time is usually somewhere between 5-7 minutes for most serious calls. I was once told in Washington state that the call time can be 20-30 minutes. No matter the call time however, if a police officer is not there with a gun shooting back immediately a lot of people can die.
In the Chabad shooting, the rabbi stood up to the shooter with words in a way only rabbi’s can do and another took the bullet for him. Then the gun jammed and it is my understanding that someone charged him which started the shooter and he ran outside. Another person, who was armed, an off duty LE shot and the assailant until he gave up.
In the second UMS shooting a courageous young man by the name of Riley Howard charged the shooter died in the process but this allowed everyone else to be saved.
The specific details of both are a bit hard to follow as the accounts vary from site to site, but the fact is in both cases when the opportunity arose, someone did the bravest thing they could and confronted the shooter.
Believe it or not, this is the Israeli way. This is also what we teach in Krav Maga. If you are unable to or unwilling to stand up to terror or tryany then get to safety. No one is saying be the hero. But if you have it in you and you are willing at the moment to know that the faster the threat is stopped the more lives will be saved.
I often tell students that Israel most likely would get very different results if they studied the bystander effect. For one something happens, you get two groups of people, those running away, and those running towards. Because they know the more people that are able to stop the threat the faster the threat will be stopped. I even have family that on one occasion noticed odd behavior of someone who entered the store they were in. They tackled him and this saved everyone. For you see he had a suicide vest on and had yet to activate it.
In the west, we often have policies in place that tell people to lock the doors close the windows and hide as best as you can. While in some cases this may save lives the reality is if you are able to get out of the building to safety by whatever means necessary then your odds are even better than simply waiting and hoping.
Bullets and bombs go through walls and doors. But smashing a window to run home will most likely get you out of harm’s way. Such policies remind me of the cold war when students were told to duck under their desks in case of a nuclear bomb. We now know this is clearly laughable yet why do we still insist on such an approach to dangerous situations.
These policies, by the way, are usually for the administrative class. It is easier for those arriving on seen to know who is “the good guys” and “bad guys” it is also easier to count heads. The heads of the dead and the heads of the alive.
In the west, our views on how to deal with these situations seem to be out of touch with reality. If you are unable or unwilling to stop the threat then get away to safety. But if you are able and willing, just know the faster you stop the threat the more lives will be saved.
In the end, the motives of those who would use violence for their own ends is less important in the moment than the fact they are doing it. The why only matters to prevent people from doing it in the future, in the moment the why is quite irrelevant. If one morning someone wakes up and decided to do something hideous, if there were no indicators that they were going to do it then the why is even much less important because the only thing that will prevent tragedy or reduce the tragedy is that in the moment someone had the courage to stand up and stop the threat.
So come, learn Krav Maga, so that you may walk in peace knowing that you have the skill and ability to stop the threats that may enter your life whether you want them to or not.