Media Slam Carson For Suggesting You Do What Professionals Say You Should Do In School Shooting

As has been well documented at NewsBusters, the media has been going out of its way to slam Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson for his comments made Tuesday during an interview with Fox & Friends (comments start at the 5 minute mark) regarding how he would have reacted during the recent school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, OR where he said: 

I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'

His comments have been made out to be “controversial” and “beyond insensitive”, all because he suggests actually defending himself, instead of standing there and allowing himself to be shot.

However, if you look beyond the politically correct charges about Carson’s statements, you will find that not only do they make common sense, but they are also steps that are suggested by professionals. Today on Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield, CNN ran a story about a training video from the ALICE Training Institute, an organization founded by a police officer and school principal that specializes in training for responding to active shooter events.

In her introduction to the story on the ALICE video, Banfield spun his comments as if he said it would be the very first thing he would do.

None of us can predict accurately how we would feel, what we would think, or what we would do in that kind of circumstance. But there are certain steps that you can take to save your life. The experts have it. Here’s a hint: what Ben Carson said to do should actually be the very last resort.

However, a watching of the Fox interview and an actual reading of the comments demonstrates otherwise. All he did was say that he would not sit there and let himself be killed like a sitting duck; at no point does he indicate that he would go out of his way to search out and confront the shooter.

As shown in the following story, ALICE is an acronym to help remember the steps to take in an active shooter incident:

  • A - Alert
  • L - Lockdown
  • I - Inform
  • C - Counter
  • E - Evacuate

The Counter step is the relevant step in this process:

COUNTER: Create Noise, Movement, Distance and Distraction with the intent of reducing the shooters ability to shoot accurately. Counter is NOT fighting. ALICE Training does not believe that actively confronting a violent intruder is the best method for ensuring the safety of all involved, whether in a school, a hospital, a business, or a church. Counter focuses on actions that create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately. Creating a dynamic environment decreases the shooter’s chance of hitting a target and can provide the precious seconds needed in order to evacuate. ALICE does not endorse civilians fighting an active shooter, but when confronted directly in a life-and-death situation, individuals should use any actions necessary to defend themselves. Counter is a last-ditch and worst-case scenario option. In the horrible event that an active shooter makes his or her way into a school, hospital, church, or business, there are steps that can be taken as an effort to survive an attack. With workplace violence as a rising trend across the United States, this method is not limited to preventing a school shooting. The ALICE Training Program provides examples for real, effective ways to counter an active shooter, when there is no other option left. Counter is about survival, the last barrier between a shooter and a potential victim, and anything a person can to do gain control is acceptable. It’s the opposite of being a sitting duck, and every action taken is a step towards survival.

This issue was highlighted even more on the ALICE blog in a post titled Thoughts from the CNN Interview with Victim’s Father - Umpqua Community College. In the CNN interview, Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, one of the victims that survived, raised the question of why nobody in that classroom took advantage of the time when the gunman was reloading to attack him or take some other action to protect themselves.

In the wake of the shooting, a CNN video interview was posted of the father of one of the victims who raised a thought provoking question. It is a question that needs serious consideration. The question he asks over and over again, is about the time that elapsed during which the shooter systematically called out victims one-by-one and loaded the gun. Although, it may have only been a few seconds of time, every second counts and action can and should be taken. The question that begs to be asked is what individuals can do during that time to protect themselves and others? Below are suggestions of what individuals can do to defend themselves and others against a violent attacker.

  • Distract the shooter’s thought process, by throwing an object at them. This action causes the shooter to lose focus and get distracted which affords the potential victims the time to run away from the danger. Movement and distance increase the difficulty of accurate shooting.
  • Evacuate the area when it is safe to do so and by any way possible. If the shooter is not close to the area you are in, get away from that location as quickly as possible. Look at other possible options for evacuation, such as through a window.
  • Take control back from the attacker. Resist adopting a defeated, victim mentality. You can and will survive. Any movement or action taken to interrupt the thought process of the shooter will increase your chances of survival.

In violent events, seconds count. Every moment affords an opportunity for either one or a group of individuals to do something. Individuals need to be prepared with multiple responses for how to respond to an active shooter or violent intruder and know that they have options for defending themselves. When individuals take control of the situation their response is no longer passive but proactive. Individuals empowered with proactive response options are hard targets. Individuals acting collectively become a group that can utilize their number superiority to take back control from an out-of-control lunatic intent on hurting them. The shooter neither has the skill set nor ability to overcome an overwhelming force. Become that overwhelming force if necessary and survive.

So in other words, don't be a victim; take steps to take back control, and use numbers if you have them to overwhelm the shooter (aka common sense).

In contrast to the treatment Carson has received from the media, it's interesting to take a look at the treatment given to Chris Mintz, a military veteran who - by himself - made an attempt to stop the shooter, and was shot seven times in the process.

Army veteran Chris Mintz had just started his first week of classes at Umpqua Community College. The 30-year-old, originally from Randleman, North Carolina, served around a decade in the military before beginning to attend the school in Roseburg, Oregon, according to Fox 8 News in North Carolina

Mintz reportedly tried to block a door to keep gunman Chris Harper Mercer from being able to shoot students and professors in Snyder Hall, according to Oregon's Q13 Fox.

Once the gunman gained entry, he reportedly shot Mintz – whose son's birthday appeared to be on Thursday as well – multiple times before continuing his spree, according to Q13 Fox's report and Business Insider. Though Mintz was hospitalized, he is expected to survive, Business Insider said. That would keep the event’s fatality total at 10, including the shooter. Seven others were injured.

And because of his actions, Mintz is being treated like a hero, and rightfully so.

So let's recap: Carson is accused of being "controversial" and "beyond insensitive" for suggesting that he would make an effort to defend himself in this situation, but professionals who train people for this exact scenario say he was right, and a man who actually did this is treated as a hero. 

Exit question: how much celebration would there have been in the media if Hillary would have said the exact same thing?

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards writes occasionally for Newsbusters