What to do if a gunman is on campus

Back in May, tragedy struck Seattle in the form of a gunman who shot and killed five people in a coffee shop. Also in May came the controversial Tacoma area code gun symbol by Jesse Arneson, which many believed to encourage a culture of gun violence in Tacoma. Random gun violence is rapidlybecoming a larger part of our culture, and if you are anything like me, you’ve probably thought about what you would do if a gunman appeared in your classroom or some other unexpected place.

Luckily, the campus does have a plan in the case of an active shooter on campus. According to the campus security website, an active shooter is definedas “an armed suspect(s) [who] is discharging a firearm at community members or law enforcement or randomly firing into an area where it is reasonably expected that persons could be struck by suspect fire. These situations require law enforcement units to take immediate action to end the danger.”

If an incident involving such a person does occur, the best thing to do if you are inside a building is get to the nearest exit; if no exit is readily available barricade, yourself in the nearest classroom and move away from the doors and windows, unless the windows will open and it is safe to climb out. If you are outside, simply find the nearest cover. Once the police arrive make your way to their cars if possible.

The most dreaded situation is most likely being trapped in a room by the shooter. There are three actions you can take: sit quietly and don’t provoke them; run towards the nearest exit zigzagging; or take the chance and attack. Attempting to attack the shooter is undoubtedly the most dangerous of these three options, but it may also be the most successful. According to secretsofsurvival.com the best strategy for attacking the shooter is to crouch down and circle them then charge from behind, or throw things at their head as a distraction.

Before using any of these strategies, however, “Slate” recommends you assess the situation. If the shooter is a robber, cooperate with their demands, however if they are a psychopath, such as Cho Seung-Hui of Virginia Tech, their goal may be to kill everyone in the room. You would obviously be best off fighting back.

Although every situation is different there are some definite “Do Nots” that apply to any active shooter situation. Don’t hide in the restrooms or any other place that will restrict movement or trap. Also don’t huddle with others, as more people have a chance for escape if they aren’t all hiding in the same place. Don’t assume that someone else has called the police; call persistently if lines are jammed until you can get through and report the situation.

While all of the above is good advice, it’s best to have an immediate plan in the event of such circumstance. Campus security, in partnership with Student Affairs, Human Resources, Academic Affairs, and the Advancement Office provides violence prevention training for students, faculty, and staff. While it may not be statistically probable, being involved in an incident with an active shooter is possible. It is always best to be prepared.