I just returned from a speaking event where I addressed approximately 50 women with ages ranging from 40-75 years old. This was a great group of intelligent women who listened intently as I talked about awareness, safety and how to think like the men in their lives (who were or are currently law enforcement) think.
As I got to the Q&A part of the presentation, I was asked a very compelling question. One that inspired me to write this post because the question and the answer are worth sharing.
The woman mentioned a political figure who had recently commented (in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting) that groups of people, be it students or other, should rush an active shooter in the event they come face to face with him. She went on to ask me my opinion about the matter asking, “Should the group rush the shooter”?
You have heard me say it before, YOU are your own first-responder. However, that means you respond the way that is appropriate for the situation and for you and those around you.
I thought this was a brilliant question and I was glad to have a platform on which to share my answer to it. I answered her like this.
There are people in this world who are Sheepdogs and there are others who are Sheep. The Sheepdogs are there to protect the herd, even if they are not highly regarded by the herd. The Sheepdog types are those people who run into the face of danger, who have an innate response to defend those who cannot or will not defend themselves. Sheepdogs are law enforcement, military, security forces and other regular Joes who just have that protection gene seemingly built in.
Go back to Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. The fateful words of Todd Beamer, “Let’s roll!”. There were a few sheepdogs on that flight that knew what the price would be, but decided it was worth the cost to save lives. They told the sheep they were going to rush the terrorists and they did. The sheep joined in the fight because they were led by sheepdogs.
Look at the recent terrorist on a French train. Four brave men didn’t think twice about rushing the gunman. Even in a foreign country, they did what Sheepdog do, they went into the danger to protect the herd.
There are many other mass shooting incidents where nobody rushed the gunman, and many with a lone teacher or principal who stepped up and took on the role of Sheepdog.
Not everyone is wired this way, and that is perfectly alright. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t. It is a natural thing to be afraid and run away from the danger, or feel like you are helpless to it. There are also those who cannot defend themselves, ones who are not prepared, those who choose to ignore that evil lives among us. That is the reason we have police forces and military forces, to protect the homeland on a large scale.
However, in some classrooms, in some boardrooms, in some theaters, in some restaurants there are occasional Sheepdogs. They are the ones who will instinctively, without question, go toward the danger to save lives.
The sheep can sleep easy and roam freely without worrying about the wolf. The Sheepdog is ever watchful of him. Do not get a false sense of security just because there is a person with a uniform, a gate, a marked car, extra lighting, alarms or anything else we view as “safety”. It takes vigilance and the ability to recognize that wolves live and prey among us.
I consider myself a Sheepdog, as a personal protection officer, I have to. And as I was giving the presentation, I picked out another Sheepdog among the group. A woman that was a protector. She may not have been the only one, but she was easy for me to spot.
So to answer the question, you have to ask yourself, am I a sheep or a sheepdog? If the group is made up of at least one sheepdog, there is a good likelihood that He/she or they will decide to stop a mass shooter. If there is no dog in the field, the sheep are on their own when the wolf comes calling.
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