Yep. That would be right. Lots of good common sense here. Urgent. So:
Yep. That would be right. Lots of good common sense here. Urgent. So:
The above video is illustrative of how criminals deal with those who have guns but are not adept at using them or psychologically or spiritually ready to use such stop-the-threat-tools. Those criminals will wipe the floor with you, and, unless someone else stops them as in the video above, they’ll just take your gun and shoot you with it.
This priest sometimes writes posts about guns on this blog. This could give people who are NOT ready to use guns the impression that they can do it: “If Father George can do it, we can too!” Why is that? Because I’m a priest?
I wrote about what the Department of Homeland Security says about this:
Added to that was the following comment of mine. In case someone missed it I’ll put it up again here. It’s desperately important for everyone’s safety:
I would NOT like to see parishioners participating in this program who have a concealed carry permit but who, other than their first qualification have never fired their stop-the-threat-tool, or have only rarely done so. I can see it now: fumbling around in a purse or ultra-complicated safety holster and with all sorts of unnecessary safeties employed on the gun itself, trying to figure out how to use for the first time red-dot sights or lasers with all their switches or not (depending), with batteries being useful or dead, with zero scenario training, zero indicator awareness, zero situational awareness, and therefore little possibility of recognizing and isolating a target and therefore being caught off guard with a lack of confidence and therefore way too much hesitation and liability to foggy confusion, and therefore with an increased possibility of causing friendly fire casualties.
I’m afraid someone is going to shoot their own foot.
Or even worse, meet Howard and not have the foggiest idea of how to deal with him.
The forest in the background is very near the hermitage. It’s where I also go to plink, that is, practice with the Glock 19. A friend in the parish gave me a couple of oversized targets he was discarding anyway, so I put one up at 75 feet out. No center-10-X…. Hmmm… But I have another to put up perhaps this coming Tuesday. I almost never put a target out so far as that involves work in climbing the ridge. There’s no flat area. A detail:
Low and to the left. Hmm. The black is from an oversized marker that indicates shots already taken. This was more than one magazine, obviously. So, now you know how bad I am at some distance with a pistol. Yet, with a bit of practice, I might be able to keep it within the “9” range (for these targets). The distance is more than three times the normal civilian qualification. I was happy to note that at seven yards out, after the above exercise, the groupings were much tighter on the little foam pie plates that I use for the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal Course, with just two out of thirty wide, giving me a 96.6% on the reduced targets, though overtime on a couple of stages. But it’s fun for me to try to keep edgy.
The reason I rarely practice at 25 yards out is because I just don’t think it’ll be a very necessary skill to have. If you’re that far away, you can hide, escape, at least in most cases, perhaps, depending. Most incidents are at close range. The incident in which I had to start drawing up with my Glock was a car-jacking which I couldn’t let happen as my passenger was a disabled cop I was bringing to the hospital. He would have been a great hostage for this guy who had just taken down the rest stop on the highway. The distance on that occasion was four to five yards. The cop exclaimed: “This is a car-jacking.” That’s not what you want to hear. Thankfully, all the LEOs in the region arrived just at that second.
If I now and again put up a post like this, it’s just to say that priests are people too. Some of the most violent places in the world are not only our schools, but also our churches. Look up the incidents. Factsandtrends has the following:
“HOW COMMON ARE U.S. CHURCH SHOOTINGS? – May 21, 2018 – By Aaron Earls
[…] Here are the locations of all the fatal church shootings since Columbine.
- 1999 Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas
- 2001 Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky
- 2002 Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Lynbrook, New York
- 2003 Turner Monumental AME Church in Kirkwood, Georgia
- 2005 Living Church of God in Brookfield, Wisconsin
- 2005 World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia
- 2006 Zion Hope Missionary Baptist in Detroit, Michigan
- 2006 Ministry of Jesus Christ Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- 2007 First Presbyterian Church in Moscow, Idaho
- 2007 First Congregational Church in Neosho, Missouri
- 2007 New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado
- 2008 First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois
- 2009 Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas
- 2012 World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia
- 2015 Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
- 2017 Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee
- 2017 First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas
- 2017 St. Alphonsus Church in Fresno, Texas
[…] As of last year, Chinn identified 617 people having been killed in deadly force incidents since 1999 at faith-based properties, including churches.
Despite these numbers, many churches do not make security a priority.”
Of course, there have been more since. I call to mind the Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Tree of Life. Seven killed. Seven injured. Yep.
Our little church is only about eight yards, maybe ten, front to back, not twenty five. If a shooter came in and started up and he was wearing armor, I’m guessing I could get an accurate head shot at that range and instantly stop the threat. I would never have the chance, however, as about everyone else in the congregation would stop the threat quicker than I could begin to stop to the threat.
Tintinnabulations and plinking are not mutually exclusive.
It’s an act of charity to serve and protect. See:
Upshot, as it were: Help the police do their job in this dangerous world.
There were warning signs about the shooter: Ignored, of course. The Canadians want to think that everyone is nice all the time. How dare we ever even insinuate that someone might not be nice. Everyone is entitled to be thought of as being nice! And then tantrums and hissy fits ensue. Just like in these USA these days.
The upshot of that ignorance: train up not only to see the warning signs but to act on them. It’s called situational awareness. But it’s not as easy as all that. Quick and easy solutions are usually the fast road to death and grieving. Sure, arm the police. Sure, pay attention to the guy who says he wants to kill people. Easy. Do that. But those aren’t the only things.
For instance, what about the Stephen Paddock or whatever his name is, who shot up Las Vegas? To this day “no one knows the motive.” Really? Cowards! How does one get people to face reality? See my rant on the cowardice of some of our intel community:
Humility. Humility. Humility. Start with oneself. Sure, we all have unrepeatable circumstances by which – right now anyway – none of us would do those terrible things. But that’s an occasion for us to congratulate ourselves to the point where we don’t know that by so doing we give ourselves a licence to do those very things. Ah, the irony of it. People are afraid of irony. It’s too hard hitting. It’s offensive. It’s to be dismissed as literary trickery. And because of that arrogance that we are all better than the rest of men, people will die either because we won’t catch out those who are murderous or we ourselves will fall into that violence. Impossible, you say? Just following “orders” you say? Where have we heard that before by people who have congratulated themselves? It happens more quickly than you think.
Solution (in case you missed it): Look at the link about Stephen Paddock above.
And if you fail to understand irony. Think of Jesus on the Cross, standing in our place, the Innocent for guilty, He bearing the weight of our evil, becoming like a mirror of our evil. And now, with that in mind, read over this frightening bit on irony from the great Hilaire Belloc:
“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.”
[Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]
People forget the reality. These are just a few pictures of victims in recent church shootings all around these USA, East and West and South. Lest we forget that we’re dealing with real people who didn’t have to die in such numbers.
My 82nd Airborne neighbor was speaking to me about going out shooting with yet another of our CIA friends now contracting for Main State, um, right locally, with the local part not being so weird since there are untold numbers of special people on both sides who come here. Some of the pilot-terrorists of September 11, 2001 infamy trained here and so many from our intelligence agencies and bureaus and branches of the military come here. We’re out of the way, but it’s not. It is what it is. Before going out to a private range with them, he said I should hone some skills with with the drill of two to the body and one to the head, he demonstrating how quick this should be: BaDa-BAM! Just that quick. And on target. And from the holster. Intriguing, thought I, not having practiced anything like this in a long time. I had to look up how it should be done.
Typical “A” boxes are used, so I print these out on a 11″ x 8.5″ sheets of paper, which are then taped to a piece of cardboard, and held up seven yards out by “pigtail” wires (see above) which one can get at Lowes (see below). The vertical box represents the most stop-the-threat-ish part of the “body” (probably exaggeratedly a bit wide as it should be only about 3″ wide) while the little horizontal box at the top represents the size of the most vulnerable part of the “head” (the whole right-between-the-eyes thing: about 2″ x 4″). The SEALs allow themselves less than or equal to 2 seconds to get off all shots with accuracy, at least that’s what a SEAL guy said. Somehow I doubt that length of time as being purposely overlong. You can’t give all your secrets away, right?
My first attempt clocked in at something like 3.5 seconds. After a few magazines, with accuracy, the last two attempts for my first session clocked in at 1.84 seconds and 1.81 seconds hot barrel. I’d like to get that down to 1.5 seconds cold barrel, but to do that, practicing relatively little, I’d probably have to get a speed holster, in which case I might be able to get it down to below one second. I saw one guy to this in 0.96 seconds with a speed holster and from only six feet away, meaning his target wasn’t reality between lower and higher hits. I ain’t goin’ there. You gotta practice with what you use for everyday carry, right? And not at just six feet, but at the normal statistical average for dealing with such aggression, which is 21 feet out, which is just about what would be the case anywhere in our tiny church. Otherwise, it’s all foolish. For me, this is about self defense and for the common good with what is basically 24/7 carry. I would never walk around with anything but a locked holster as it’s virtually impossible for a bad-actor to unlock and is still relatively easy for the carrier to use. After writing all this I did go out again for a few minutes on the day off and got it all down to 1.7 secs. So far.
Full disclosure: “accuracy” for me means I hit the “body” twice and the “head” once each time, but the hits are, since I’m a beginner, wildly spread out haphazardly within the allowed limits. That’s still effective. But for our CIA friend, one would see one bullet hole in the center-center of the “body” with both bullets hitting in the same place, while the one to the “head” would hit the center-center of the “head” box. And he’d still be quicker. Competition is always a hilarious thing to me. But in this case I would be the total student.
No matter what, if I ever had to deal with such a situation as an active shooter killing off my parishioners, men, women and little kids, one after the other, non-stop, and I went ahead and did the 2+1 for real, stopping the threat, stopping the grave wounding and maiming and killing, an unscrupulous prosecutor will undoubtedly put a post such as this before a jury saying that I didn’t want to just stop the threat, but that I had actually intended to kill the terrorist outright, making myself the judge and jury and executioner (if the perp dies), bringing America to the brink of tossing out the judicial system so as to promote vigilantism, thus putting me on death row.
So, let me just say this: I would never ever intend to kill anyone. No. I would, however, surely intend to stop an imminent, active threat: the active shooter. Two to the body for a guy who might well be wearing body armor is going to do nothing. Even if he’s not, and even if my two to the body take his heart right out of his chest, he’ll still have a good four seconds to pump bullets into my parish family, possibly taking out half my little congregation. The shot to the head immediately turns out the lights, so to speak, not necessarily killing him, but shocking the nervous system enough whereby he can’t pull the trigger anymore, that is, from that very instant. That’s stopping the threat with the immediacy called for by the particular circumstances.
We all surely feel sorry for the guy pulling the trigger, knowing that surely he had a difficult upbringing (not everyone with a difficult upbringing is a terrorist), that he surely had been going through rough spots in his life (not everyone going through rough spots is a terrorist), that he’s a coward (indicating all sorts of psychological problems) and that he deserves another chance: Dum spiro spero as the South Carolina motto says on behalf of the hope one can have if one is still breathing. Yes, to all of that. There is no sin we can commit that is greater than the forgiveness Jesus can provide to us if we want it. I would terribly regret if such a terrorist would die with no chance to repent of his actions.
Here’s a post with links to various initiatives of the Department of Homeland Security specifically for churches. I’ve included in that post some other useful comments and graphics.
Rule One: When a shooter appears, everyone in church, if they cannot immediately escape, hits the deck. The shooter will remain standing, but now he’s the obvious target for those tasked with security; he is “acquired” and “isolated” with no one to hide behind. Those tasked with neutralizing the threat will know what to do depending on the policies of the church, either rushing him until he is immobilized (with possibly lots of people needlessly being killed in this scenario) or by – on their own authority in this diocese – using the proper tools to deal with him (with possibly much fewer people being gravely wounded, maimed or killed).
Rule Two: When a shooter appears, everyone in church, if they cannot immediately escape, hits the deck.
From DHS: Active shooter incidents, in many cases, have no pattern or method to the selection of victims, which results in an unpredictable and evolving situation. In the midst of the chaos, anyone can play an integral role in mitigating the impacts of an active shooter incident.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides a variety of no-cost resources to the public and private sector to enhance preparedness and response to an active shooter incident. The goal of the Department is to ensure awareness of actions that can be taken before, during, and after an incident.
Active Shooter Preparedness Program
DHS maintains a comprehensive set of resources and in-person and online trainings that focus on behavioral indicators, potential attack methods, how to develop emergency action plans, and the actions that may be taken during an incident.
Active Shooter Online Training
This one-hour online course (IS-907 Active Shooter: What You Can Do) provides an introductory lesson on the actions that may be taken when confronted by an active shooter, as well as indicators of workplace violence and how to manage the consequences of an incident. To access this course, please visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute online training website at http://www.training.fema.gov/is/crslist.aspx and type Active Shooter in the search bar.
Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop Series
These scenario-based workshops feature facilitated discussions to inform participants on the best practices associated with preparing for and responding to an active shooter incident. Through a dynamic exchange of information, these workshops provide participants an understanding of how to plan and aid in the development of an initial draft of an emergency action plan for their organizations. For more information on these workshops, please contact the Active Shooter Preparedness Program at ASworkshop@hq.dhs.gov.
Active Shooter Online Resources
There are additional resources available online to inform individuals on how to prepare for active shooter incidents. These resources range from booklets and pocket guides, to a 90-minute webinar that explains the importance of developing an emergency action plan and the need to train employees on how to respond to an incident. To access these resources, please visit http://www.dhs.gov/activeshooter.
For general information regarding the Active Shooter Preparedness Program, please email ASworkshop@hq.dhs.gov.
That’s from the DHS website. I would add here that…
For myself, I’ve been trying to keep practiced with my Glock 19 by using the pre-September 11, 2001 Federal Air Marshall Tactical Pistol Course, using just a detail of a combined FBI QIT (97-99) printable on legal size paper. I include that graphic below with another graphic printable on letter size paper which includes a score sheet to track one’s progress in training. Accurate feedback is encouraging and standards can be set.
ISIS is threatening terrorist events at Christmas time on specifically Catholic churches. Distinctions are necessary. Priests should be clear-headed about such things. Fear in the face of terrorism isn’t always a bad thing. But there are a number of kinds of fear, some good, some bad. Let’s take just a peek at both, starting with bad fear:
Love casts out bad fear by having us depend on the Lord’s good love, not our own. Just to say, there is good fear and love can put that good fear to good use. Let’s take a peek:
Now, such analysis doesn’t mean that one doesn’t love one’s enemy, the active shooter, who is injuring or killing innocents. Our dear Lord can well sort out the results of one’s intervention in which one has put oneself at risk to stop the perpetrator. Recall what our Lord said just before being tortured to death, laying down His own life, the Innocent for the guilty: “Father, forgive them! They don’t even know what they are doing.” Defending the innocent doesn’t mean anything about the judgment of the perpetrator. Defending the innocent doesn’t mean that one is cruel or mean. One can retain one’s love of God and neighbor even when pulling the trigger on a perpetrator who is actively injuring and/or killing others or oneself.
Being a priest myself, I was asked whether or not, after myself hypothetically pulling the trigger and neutralizing any immediate and mortal threat, I would then proceed to absolve the sin of the criminal involved, if, for instance, the same fellow, being Catholic, did not refuse the sacrament as he might be actively dying, or was, in the same state, also unconscious. I would, of course, offer such an absolution. For instance, present insanity, in which case he is not guilty of any malice, does not exclude the forgiveness of any past sin at the possible moment of death. There is no sin too great that God’s mercy cannot provide forgiveness. But unrepented presumption of mercy is a sin against the Holy Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness, but that’s on the perp, not me. God’s the Judge.
“Defending innocents and loving enemies” — They’re not subject to the law of non-contradiction. Jesus is just that good and just that kind. Amazing, huh?
P.S. The flip-side of this last scenario would be whether or not a defender, having neutralized a threat against innocent, should be absolved from sin. I would never absolve such a person for doing such a violent thing because it is not sinful but rather virtuous and indeed heroic to defend the innocent from catastrophic injury and death. People wrongfully feel guilt for any number of things, including merely having happened to see a violent incident. Wrongfully forgiving that which was always innocent only seals people in wrong-headed guilt, which action on the part of the wrongful “forgiver” is IMHO a sin. It’s that kind of puritanesque being-above-the-fray judgment on good defenders which throws good people into the hell of PTSD, making them victims of holier-than-thou bullying instead of helping them to be one with everyone, which they were to begin with, and certainly much more so than any self-appraised do-gooders.
The Saint Gabriel Possenti Society recalls the time when the now canonized saint saved a young lady from being raped by employing the tools he had at hand.
The need for using tools to ward off untoward violence even in Saint Podunk parish church that seats 25 people isn’t a thing of the past. Active shooter critical incidents and terrorist attacks are happening as frequently in these USA as they are anywhere in the world, whether in the podunk church or the mega-church. It’s time to harden the softest of all soft targets. ISIS is promising hits on Catholics on Christmas.
Choosing to familiarize oneself with the proper tools so as to be of service to one’s neighbor is a life decision, a life-style decision. Getting class-room training and being legal with any permits isn’t enough. One has to do drills and hopefully also scenario training with some frequency.
As I myself begin to become familiarized with my G19 (it’s only been a year and some since I fired my first shot out of a pistol), I’ve practiced with any number of target sizes and distances, moving and stationary, but have never seen anything like the pre-9-11 Air Marshal qualification put together by Tom Bullins. It was severely dumbed down after 9-11 since almost no one was able to pass even once. Few instructors in the nation were able to make the grade. So it was dumped. But the original course can still be pieced together and put into practice on a private range using the QIT-97 (the QIT-99 if you want to show off). This is the best explanation I’ve seen for the “old” Federal Air Marshall TPC Course.
On the day off the other day I tried to pass all seven stages 100% twice. But that, mind you, was just to get used to the times and what needed to be done. This wasn’t coming in cold before a flight or set of flights as was otherwise the case back in the day when Air Marshals were Air Marshals. Mind you, I bet today’s Air Marshals most likely practice on this old course on their own. For myself, there were many failures of time and accuracy in between getting familiarized with the seven stages. 1/10 second overtime failure on even one of the seven stages would disqualify an Air Marshall from flying. Wow. That’s jaw dropping. Trying out each stage was truly hilarious, what with spinning about and dropping down while changing out mags and shooting, etc. All stages are insanely difficult, but because of that, a challenge and therefore enjoyable.
A Navy vet in the parish recommended that I trade in my Glock for a Sig p320 (with the voluntary military upgrade). I’m considering that. There are many versions of the p320. I hate the idea of safeties. I really like the Glock “safe-action.” But, as I say, there are different versions. That needs investigation.
Meanwhile, there is much discussion about churches having “plans” which also include those who carry. I would like to approach this with some preparation and common sense with input from law enforcement. I understand that some law enforcement has been encouraged to provide programs for churches by the FBI. I’d like to look into that.
What I would like to see among parishioners who carry with permit is that they are well practiced, are level headed, and know what they are doing.
Or should Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows just said a Hail Mary while the girl was getting raped, you know, in case his actions with tools might otherwise escalate the situation? It is instead virtuous to contribute to the virtue of justice with the defense of the innocent when this is appropriate and prudent and possible to accomplish in appropriate and prudent and possible ways. While use of guns is a last resort, it is sometimes the only possibility.
People who deny this want to use Jesus and the Church to deny reality, and smash down anyone who gets in their way. Whatever. Jesus was and is a realist. And Saint Gabriel is still a canonized saint.
New update: The FBI Criminal Investigation crowd used to regularly check in on this post for about the first year and a half after it was first published as pretty much every school district and university and hospital came here to investigate the possibilities and then forward their questions on to the creator of the program to see what they could do. As that traffic slowed down while programs were established, it’s not so much the FBI that checks in as the new Trump Department of State. Time to sign up.
=== Original post follows with added videos at the end ===
The FBI put out a 30 minute training movie (was 40) to help local law enforcement be prepared for active shooter situations, when logistics on the ground can save more lives than actual men on the ground. The idea is to get everyone to work together to bring an incident to a dead calm that rejoices in the greatest possible number of those who remain alive. We need to do what we can to help in whatever way we can. There is, as it the title suggests, by all human calculation, a “Coming Storm.”
Here’s something a fellow priest shared with me. The FBI Citizens’ Academy course might be helpful in dealing with those who manifest sometimes predictable if unhelpful critical incident reactions. That’s important to ongoing rescues, gleaning information from survivors, getting those losing it focused. It only takes a word or two rightly placed, but that’s the tricky part. For that tricky part, some of the course has been prepared by The Johns Hopkins University and Loyola College in Maryland.
I could have used that knowledge way back in the day when I was taking a TWA flight from Rome to New York, and twenty some Arab-looking terrorists (sorry for the profiling) reported while we were flying over Iceland that they wanted to blow up the plane then and there. Obviously they didn’t down the plane. I’m writing this now, right? But, at the time, all the stewards and stewardesses crowded around my seat and asked if I could have just a wee chat with the terrorists. I was forever after great friends with everyone at TWA. I’m sorry to have seen them go bankrupt.
The point is, some of you can do something. And you never know when it will be you who needs to come forward. At this stage, however, it is more about when than if. You know, “The Coming Storm,” and all that. Don’t say that there are professionals to do all that for us all the time. No, that’s just not how it works out in the real world in real time. And you know it. Ask about this program. If it’s not something you are up to doing, they won’t hesitate to tell you.
For myself, while going through the meat of the course, I don’t know if I’ll actually sit through the program and go through the adjunct certification for weapons, etc., which is a necessary part of the course. The truth is that even if someone said I’m a sharpshooter since I was a 12 year old kid (but that was a long-rifle), I think I have terrible aim with a gun, especially the CCW type, though I’ve never tried. I just have a mental block about it. I think I’ve seen too much hell in my lifetime. I do have a good dozen people, of all backgrounds and faiths, who want to help me out with training in these days. All experts, some with ineffable military backgrounds. Maybe I’ll take them up on the offer, if not just for the good time of it all… Maybe.
O.K. Did I get you? It is also this kind of mental block that the course is designed to deal with, getting behind critical incident reactions, however delayed, however persistent, however much presenting at inappropriate times, as mentioned at the beginning of this post. :¬) Just ask about the course.
Another update: I now have my concealed carry licence and have been practicing up. No more mental blocks for shooting. Getting better all the time. If I can do it, anyone can. See Guns and spiritual stability in adversity.