On April 16, 2007, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, a solitary gunman, armed with two handguns and extra ammunition, methodically killed more than thirty people and wounded dozens more. This was the worst mass shooting in United States history, according to reports.
Only a few weeks earlier, I had been visiting in Blacksburg, and I rode my bike for the six-mile length of the historic "Huckleberry Trail," which winds through some of the beautiful property owned by Virginia Tech. It was hard to imagine then that this very same university could ever be the site of an atrocity such as has now occurred. But dangerous crazy people are everywhere these days, and you never know how and when they might strike at you or your loved ones.
During the massacre, there were many outstanding acts of spontaneous heroism and bravery. Numerous people protected each other, barricaded doors, helped each other escape, gave medical assistance to each other, and willingly put their lives on the line for the benefit of others.
For me, perhaps the most notable example of heroism was when 76-year-old Professor Liviu Librescu, a holocaust survivor, gave his life when he barricaded a door so that his students could escape. And a notable example of bravery was when student Jamal took his cell-phone video camera right into the danger zone, thereby providing the world with its only record of the massacre as it took place. (MEDIA TAKE NOTE: This man has the heart and instincts of a first-rate photo-journalist. I don't know what his major is now, but I think he should switch to Journalism, if he is not there already.)
But unfortunately these spontaneous acts of heroism and bravery were not enough to prevent the carnage that occurred. People had the right instincts and the right attitudes, but they did not have any organized plan of action for the tragic situation they were unexpectedly facing. And as a result, I believe that dozens more people were killed and injured than would have been killed and injured if an organized plan had been in effect.
There is strength in numbers. If the people who are attacked do not fight back immediately, the attackers will kill whomever they please.
Here, then, is my Plan Of Action For Self-Defense Against School Shootings And Other Armed Attacks On Groups Of Unarmed People.
The Flight 93 Group Resistance Plan - "Be prepared. Plan to resist."
* 1. The basic idea is for group members to overpower and subdue the attackers at the very first sign of serious trouble. The group must not allow the attackers to gain any kind of control over the group or any of its members.
* 2. The strongest and most courageous defenders should lead the charge, and the others should follow as they are able. Everyone involved should yell as loudly as they can, making as much noise as possible. This will surprise and distract the attackers and give added courage to the defenders. It will also alert outsiders to the fact that there is trouble.
* 3. If any defender has a weapon, he should help to lead the charge, using the weapon as needed.
* 4. All those involved in the charge should be prepared to die, if needed, in order to save the lives of others in the group. If any defender does die in the charge, he will become a martyr and a hero. His family will be sad, but very proud.
* 5. If possible, discuss this plan in advance within your group, and decide which people will lead the charge, which people will follow, which weapons will be used (if any), and which people will simply make as much noise as possible. Also, you should have at least one designated person to use a cell phone to call the police. And you should agree on a verbal signal to begin the charge, something like yelling out, "Let's get him!" or "Let's roll!"
* 6. In some cases it is impossible to organize the group in advance, for instance if someone enters a restaurant and starts shooting. In these cases, it will be up to whomever chooses to start the charge, hoping and trusting that others will recognize what is happening and join him. If this plan is well publicized, many people will be aware of it and should join in the charge, if the time comes for it.
The best model and inspiration for this kind of group action was provided on September 11, 2001 by the heroic passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, who banded together to attack the hijackers. The airplane crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing all aboard; but the terrorist attack was defeated, and the passengers saved the United States Capitol building and the thousands of people who would have been killed if the terrorists had been successful in their mission.
All of us should be ready to do the same.
Blessings to you. May God help us all.
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