Active-shooter expert Ed Monk speaks during a Buckeye Firearms Association seminar March 23 at the Makoy Center in Hilliard.

BFA seminar: Active-shooter expert Ed Monk shows why 'run, hide, fight' is all wrong

Ed Monk is an expert in analyzing active-shooter, mass-casualty events.

He's a former law enforcement officer, schoolteacher, Army officer, and firearms trainer who has researched and provided training on the active-shooter threat for over 16 years. He has trained LEOs, including school resource officers, as well as staff of public schools (armed and unarmed) and church security teams on countering an active shooter and has been a consultant for school districts, churches, and businesses as they develop policies, plans, and training.

So when Monk told a crowd during the Buckeye Firearms Association "Active Shooter Threat and Response" seminar March 23 that the "run, hide, fight" approach employed far too often is wrong and then showed lots of on-the-scene video evidence — some of it graphic — and verifiable statistics to back it up, he spoke with credibility.

It comes down to the "time and math" principle, Monk repeatedly told the audience of over 200 at the Makoy Center in Hilliard. Based on those two factors, it is critical that school, church, and business leaders "be adults" when thinking about an "acceptable" number of victims in an active-shooter situation and develop a plan to achieve that number.

Sure, everyone wants to say "zero," but is that a realistic goal if an active shooter were to enter a building or even a parking lot? Could they really plan for zero victims?

No, but they could realistically plan for single-digit counts, with emphasis on "planning."

Monk noted several events, dating back to the late 1980s, and a consistent theme was obvious — time and math do not lie. If they realistically want to keep the victim count to single digits, they must plan to stop the attacker within 30 seconds of the first shots being fired, he said.

Such a plan must involve people who are present, trained in armed response, and willing to respond.

Time and math: Fight first to keep victim count low

Monk was a guest on BFA executive director Dean Rieck's "Keep and Bear Radio" podcast recently and pointed out why outsourcing the problem to, and waiting on, SWAT or even an officer is problematic.

First, it usually takes a 911 call. Then you have to wait for an officer to arrive and then hope the officer or officers won't delay in moving in, he said. And while SWATs are more equipped to handle the threat, it's likely to take at least 30 minutes for them to arrive and set up.

"So what people don't want to hear is, you can't outsource this problem if you want a low victim count," he said. The only way to keep the count low, he said, is to have somebody there who can counterattack because the shooter is going to hit a victim every few seconds. Victims cannot be treated until the threat is neutralized.

The chances of keeping the victim count low are much better if the shooter is stopped within the first 30 seconds, he said.

"There is absolutely no way to call somebody who's not currently here and get them here within 30 seconds, which means we have to stop this thing," he said. "The only response that will work is immediate counterattack."

In one incident, it took the raw courage of a 17-year-old boy who had been shot in the shoulder in a school hallway. He was lying on the floor when he realized the killer was reloading. He quickly stood and tackled the shooter to the floor. Other students then piled on.

Comfort is not responsive security

Monk said leaders aren't comfortable with violence and prefer the lockdown approach.

He showed the audience several examples of weak plans involving locking students in classrooms and having them duck down on floors, as though a tornado were approaching.

"Parkland (Florida shooter) shot 18 people inside their classrooms. He was out in the hall. He shot through the door," he said. "So locking yourself in your classroom if your doors and walls aren't bullet-proof are not going to help you."

One video showed an active shooter on a school's first floor, approaching one locked door after another, firing the lock off the door, and shooting those inside.

Another video showed a teacher being interviewed who had been in lockdown with students when a gunman entered. She said that while lying there and hearing and watching it happen in real time, all she could think to do was maybe stand up and tell the shooter, "I love you."

Most schools have metal detectors, and that's fine. Many have SROs, though some are unarmed, and some even have a handful of armed administrators in the front office, he said. Almost all are gun-free zones with locked building doors.

A metal detector and locked doors won't stop a shooter who blows out the windows and walks past the detectors, he said. An armed front office won't stop a shooter who enters through the cafeteria. And of course, shooters with ill intent don't care about gun-free zones.

Monk also pointed out that many heroes in active-shooter events are common citizens who happen to be present, armed, and willing when the shooting begins. Many of those incidents don't get the media coverage they deserve. He also mentioned that in many cases, LEOs delayed their approach because they were "outgunned." Conversely, many private citizens didn't focus on the gun the shooter was holding but instead knew what they themselves had and knew how to use it — and they used it to save lives.

It all comes down to time and math, and it counts on someone being present, armed, and willing to fight immediately. Therein lies the problem with "run, hide, fight."

"So we're refusing to see the time aspect is the biggest mistake that we're making," he said.

BFA is committed not only to fighting for and advancing Second Amendment rights in Ohio but also to educating Ohioans, and these seminars are among our efforts to prepare citizens.

"The medical community had an ah-ha moment when they realized CPR performed by ordinary people could save lives," said Rieck. "The best doctors in the world can't help you if they're not with you. But anyone who can press on a chest for a few minutes can keep you alive long enough for the professionals to arrive.

"When will our society have that kind of ah-ha moment with active shooters?"

Joe D. "Buck" Ruth is a longtime small-game hunter and gun owner who spent nearly three decades in the news industry.

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