Professor Bob


Recently numerous editorials have been published in Florida newspapers as to whether or not concealed weapon permit (CWP) holders should be able to carry on campus. I haven’t seen much substance in those writings and saw none from anyone who had claimed to have experienced a campus lockdown. Having experienced a campus lockdown the purpose of this writing is to convey what I took away from that event.



While attending a meeting I received a text alert that deputies were in pursuit of a murder suspect that may have driven onto campus. I brought the alert to the attention to everyone but the administrator running the meeting had not received a message and went on with the meeting. Eight minutes elapsed before he received the same alert via email. A few minutes later I received a text message that the campus was in lockdown. At least ten minutes had elapsed by this point.



It usually takes a special key to permanently lock or unlock exterior building doors so our next chore was to track down the key. In our case the person with the only key was off that day. Fortunately another office administrator was able to locate the key and lock all ten exterior doors. By now another thirty minutes has elapsed. This is an unacceptable time frame in an emergency situation.



A lookout was assigned at each of the ten exterior doors and everyone else was placed out of sight from the doors. The fact is, we were now nothing more than sitting ducks. All ten exterior doors were glass. We had two people in our building with extensive firearms experience but no firearms. One was an ex-MP and the other was an ex-auxiliary law enforcement officer who has attended some of the best firearms training schools in the U.S. What we had for weapons were a stick, a can of pepper spray, and fire extinguishers. But bringing a stick to a potential gunfight is a recipe for disaster. Neither the stick nor the pepper spray are very good indoor weapons. In an enclosed space the pepper spray may have as much effect on the sprayer as on the threat. If you do carry pepper spray make sure you buy several canisters and practice with it. Fire extinguishers were a last resort.



As the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away and we were clearly out-gunned. But as academics like to say “knowledge is power” so here are my takeaways.



First, your smart phone is your friend. If your campus has emergency alert messaging, sign up for it. But keep in mind that most phones scan for emails periodically, like every 15 or 30 minutes. That is why I received the text alert so much sooner than the administrators. Sign up for both text message alerts and email alerts. The time lag can make a significant difference in an emergency situation. Install the apps on your phone for all of your local news sources (newspaper and television stations). Also sign up for push notifications from those same sources if offered. Push notifications are like one-way instant messaging where you receive news as it is happening. They will be covering the same event and you may get additional information from these sources or get information more quickly. Just verify the information that you receive from news sources with someone on campus. Your smart phone is your friend but it does you no good if the battery is dead. It is wise to keep charging cords at you home, in your vehicle, and at your job.



Second, make sure multiple people in your building have exterior door keys (or know where the key is located) and have been trained to lock and unlock the exterior door. Have them receive training in doing so and periodically practice locking and unlocking the doors.



Third, make sure that you take active shooter training or emergency lockdown training if it is provided for faculty and staff at your school. Additionally, I also recommend that you spend 4 hours taking the NRA’s non-gun, non-shooting Refuse to be a Victim Seminar (RTBAVS) or a similar course that may be offered by your local law enforcement agency. RTBAVS is a situational awareness course that provides you with numerous crime prevention/deterrent tips that can be incorporated into your everyday life. It is not a physical self-defense course. Hold a lockdown drill to make sure that the faculty and staff rehearse what they should do. (As an aside, at your residence you should have your family practice a simulated household fire and home invasion.) In an emergency you will respond based on your level of training. If you have no training, it is too late to get any at that point. You are responsible for your own safety.



Fourth, the concept of equal force is an academic question for law schools and Hollywood. In defensive tactics courses you are taught to always use more force than that your attacker. You are also taught that there are no unarmed threats. Hands, feet, arms, and legs can be used as weapons.



Fifth, if your only knowledge of firearms is what you learned from watching television (unless it is one of the outdoor channels) and movies, then you are illiterate. Even if you do not like guns and even if you never wish to own a gun, take a day or two out of your life to learn about firearms. You may find an active shooter who committed suicide and need to pick up the weapon for potential use, to keep it away from their accomplices, or to make it safe so that nobody is accidentally hurt. Learn how to safely operate a firearm. Learn to recognize the different types of firearms and their purpose. This knowledge may come in handy in planning a route if you have to leave the building. Learn about the ammunition that is used in each type of firearm. This knowledge may help you select appropriate cover. Actually shoot a firearm. There are plenty of good instructors in our area who can teach you basic firearm safety and shooting. There are also some good local instructors that can take you to the next level. Additionally, if you wish to pursue training that is as good or maybe even better than what many law enforcement officers receive, you can travel to schools such as Gunsite, Shootrite, Thunder Ranch, etc. It is pricey but it, as they say, is a life changing event.



Last, clearly faculty and staff who are CWP holders should be able to carry their firearms on campus. The types of horrid events that have been happening for years in the rest of the world have now come to America. It’s going to get worse, not better, and foresight is better than hindsight. Keep in mind that knowledge is power and you will respond to the event based on your level of training.