80 Seconds: No Time For 911
On Friday, December 13, 2013, a student entered Arapahoe High School armed with a shotgun and at least one Molotov cocktail. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson held a press conference the following day asking for prayers for victim Claire Davis. The suspect set off one Molotov cocktail and reportedly took his own life when a deputy sheriff cornered him.
The entire incident reportedly lasted 80 seconds. This is not surprising. Studies are beginning to emerge making the case for the immediate response of even a single LEO as most active shooter attacks are complete in under 10 minutes. According to studies promulgated by the FBI, the average active shooter incident lasts 12 minutes with 37% lasting under 5 minutes. Given these figures, the Arapahoe High School active shooter incident was over very quickly. The question is, “Why?”
Logic points to one factor that has affected the casualty rate in every Active Shooter attack; an armed response to the attack. In many attacks, the armed response comes from LEOs who are dispatched or present on the scene. In others, the armed presence is a private citizen. One thing is certain. The Active Shooter will continue his rampage unchecked until he is done or confronted.
As the debate continues about Active Shooters, people will look for answers and politicians will look for sound bites. LEOs must remember they have an obligation to keep the public safe. This includes carrying off-duty. This also includes honoring the rights of active and retired LEOs under the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act to carry in every state. Finally, this includes recognition and acceptance of the right of law-abiding private citizens to carry firearms.
Your agency may have a great response time to critical events. However, you will not respond in 80 seconds. While we all look for ways to prevent these tragedies in the future, remember that a mad man with a back back full of Molotov cocktails is just as dangerous as an Active Shooter with a firearm. The former are already illegal to make and possess however, the killers in Columbine carried and deployed IEDs. No law will prevent a homicidal attack.
The response to Active Shooters must remain a swift and decisive armed response. LEOs and law-abiding citizens form the core of that response. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise and never let anyone take away your ability to protect the public in any venue.
The average person reads 250 – 300 words per minute. In the time it took you to read the blog post, the Arapahoe High School Active Shooter attack was over. Stay safe.