Well, we’ve sunk to the following new low arriving in a school email from university administrative powers –with a standard pre-warning that this is informational only, and not based on a current threat — with an active link to a NYPD Shield Safety Pamphlet included for good measure:

NYPD says: Avoid. Barricade. Confront. (ABC)

DHS says: Run. Hide. Fight.

The words are different, but the three actions are essentially the same:

1. Get out and get away, as quietly and quickly as possible, leaving your belongings behind.  Run. Avoid.

2. If you can’t flee, lock or barricade the doors, silence your cell phone and hide.  Hide. Barricade.

3. If all else fails, and only as a last resort, attack the shooter with whatever makeshift weapons you can find (scissors, portable fire extinguishers, chairs, etc.) to disarm and disable.  Fight. Confront.

Of course, call 911 to report the attack as soon as it is safe for you to do so.

Okay, sure it’s good to be safe, but at what human emotional cost?  The following video was also linked in the university email:

It’s a little chilling how plainly the video states Active Shooter events are usually random and your survival is pretty much based on the luck of the draw:  Are you in the gunman’s range or not?

The video is pretty scary stuff with all the blood and dead bodies strewn about — I guess Active Shooter events really are like videogames where the gunman randomly kills anybody nearby and he wins the game by blasting you with lead shot.

It’s odd how we see in that video the shooter killing at least five people with his pump shotgun, but we never see the ordinary people hiding in the room successfully work against him by fighting/confronting him!  Why is that last-ditch hope left to the imagination while his bloody murders are not? Is dying the only guaranteed outcome?

Do we believe the NYPD’s — “Avoid.  Barricade. Confront.” — advice?

Or the DHS with their — “Run.  Hide.  Fight.” — mantra?

The messaging is confusing.  Is it that hard to create one, cohesive, response to an Active Shooter?


  1. Rather frightening — I can imagine that people that survive such situations end up quite traumatized and spend years thinking any person around the corner might be the next tormentor.

    1. My concern is the video itself with terrify people into inaction because it focuses more on the the gore of killing and not as much on the perils of survival in actually confronting the shooter!

      1. I see your point! It does appear to be an instructional video that hinders and hurts more than it helps!

        1. Can you imagine you’re a Freshman in NYC and you get that email plus that video in your Inbox? It’s enough to terrorize you right out of town right there!

  2. Pretty scary stuff ………… no wonder I do not like guns. I guess NYPD are trying to keep it simple with ABC . I really do not know what I would do in that situation – although I am told that my handbag is a formidable weapon. I think – I hope I would have the common sense to hide or play dead – you do not always get that option though.

    In the school/university scenario I always wonder why staff do not carry simple alet buttons that set off a silent alarm – similar to the ones elderly people wear.

    1. I do think the ABC is much easier to understand — though “confront” and “fight” are not synonymous to me. “Fight” is a much better word, but it does mess up the ABC meme.

      Some schools say, if a shooter enters your room, everyone in the room should, at the same time, throw their books and chairs and backpacks and anything else they can find to overwhelm the shooter so they can escape. The idea of 30 textbooks flying at a shooter seems like a good distraction if there’s more than one way out of a room.

      Most universities have phones in the classroom so you can pick up and dial security. Not as quick and silent, but still effective.

  3. I agree with you on the confront -v- fight – two different things in my book .

    I am a little uncomfortable with the throwing books idea as well – I would thing there is a grave risk of enraging the shooter especially if they have semi- automatic guns capable of firing off 50 or so bullets one after the other. I certainly would not like to be the person picking up that phone – makes you the prime target. There needs to be a button that can be pushed silently – like there is in banks.

    1. The message is mixed. Pick either the NYPD or DHS scheme, but you can’t have both and teach a clear message of what you want to have people do.

      I agree the books thing is shaky. Many of the kids would freeze. Your idea about the silent alarm is a good one. One might also think 30 kids with cellphones is also a sort of instant, silent alarm. Many of the schools today have sophisticated SMS notification emergency alerts and you can also send one, too.

      1. I needs to be one button to press in my mind – hand in pocket and unseen, not drawing attention ……………. or even a button under the teachers desk – ther must be a way of making that alert without making the sender a prime target.

        1. The only sad thing is that in the USA, when these gunmen enter a room — it’s pretty much over. Everyone’s dead. A silent alert might work for other nearby classrooms, but once a classroom is breached, there’s no time for an alert. It’s fight or die.

  4. I’ve always had concerns about this “it could happen to YOU” mindset. I know they meant well, but the presentation was too intimidating. We don’t want to scare people away from classrooms or public places entirely… There is a difference between being realistic and being downright morbid.

    1. You’re actually the perfect person to respond to this, Emily, since the email and PDF file and video were intended to be ready by a student like you.

      What would you do if a gunman entered your classroom and there was no second exit? Would you fight or flee or something else?

      1. In “fight or flight” situations, I tend to flee, and I think that this would go the same way. I would try to get out and away from the situation as quickly and quietly as possible.

        If the shooter did manage to confront me and I could not escape or barricade myself, I hope that as a last resort I would have the presence of mind to “fight,” e.g. throw a textbook to throw him off, as you mentioned to Nicola. Reality can quite different from our idealistic minds, though, and I worry that I would freeze up from terror.

        1. We, on the urban core East Coast, always tend to be on alert at all times — we have to be — because there are so many more people and things and threats so close to us than there are in places like the rural East Coast or Midwest. Every time I go for a walk on the sidewalk I have to deal with multiple bicycles, garbage cans, skateboarders, dogs, dog residue, cars, trucks, busses and other whackos trying to run me over and knock me off course! It isn’t a relaxing exercise, it’s an obstacle course! SMILE!

          Being on higher alert helps us, I think to not freeze, and to be more proactive, and I agree it is much smarter to flee a gun than try to fight it — unless you’re within grabbing distance of the gun. Let’s hope we never have to find out if we’d pass this test or not.

  5. David- I didn’t think of that! Our location has trained us for problematic situations, so to speak, although I agree that I don’t want to test this theory. I’d rather deal with a hundred annoying people on the street– they might ruin my day, but not my life.

    1. What’s tough about these campus threats is they really do boil down to “every person for themselves.” It will be chaos and havoc and only the spritely and smart will have a chance of survival. There will be no time to help a friend, or go back for the wounded. It will be, “Run for your lives!”

    1. That’s why you need to practice! Active Imagining! We both know you always have at least one secondary exit found for every environment and situation you will ever be in… now just take the next step… what around you could be used as a shield, or a weapon or as a means of escape… soon, it will all be second nature.

  6. you know me so well ……………. INTJ strikes again ,…….. was thinking of changing handbags to more weapony like ……………. and of course shoes are excellent weapons which we have discussed before …. working on it ,,…….. grin

    1. Yes, that’s it! That sort of delicate, necessary, rough planning for the worst possible scenario imaginable — it’s second nature for us! SMILE! Just remember, you always run from a gun unless you’re close enough to touch it and it’s aimed at you — then you have to grab it and fight for your life.

  7. have very small house and its full – plenty of “stuff” that can be pushed over , thrown and two dooers and five windows I can get out of ………………….. and a man who can ,……….. kitchen – own exit door , large collection cooking pans, frying pans, knives empty bottles ….. also gas cooker and water as well as vinegar, household cleaning sprays etc etc and a surprisinglt light fridge freezer that can be easily moved to make barricade . Like those monkey fists ……………………

    1. Perfect! As much as I hate to say it — surprise is best on your side — and tossing a cat or two at an intruder would do a lot of damage! The cats would be fine — the intruder wouldn’t know what hit him! SMILE!

      If you make a monkey fist — use a steel ball, not a marble as indicated in the tutorial.

      If you have to fight in-close without anything but your body — use your elbows! They’re sharp, and hard to stop because few people know how to defend against them in close fighting. Elbow blows are good at drawing blood.

      1. they have to get past the cats to get in the house ……………

        black one will leap from her new favorite spot on top of the book case by the door on anyone ………………….. grin

        I have just the ball in mind.

        have usually used feet – but take not of elbows.

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