A police town hall meeting is teaching residents of a small Georgia city to fight back during mass shootings, advice that experts don't necessarily condone.
In its most well-attended town hall meeting, the police chief in Douglasville, Georgia, offered about 80 people what The New York Times called a mix of "folksy pep talk"
and "pragmatic self defense" last month.
The meeting was entitled "Active Shooter: A Citizen's Guide to Planning for Survival," and Chief Gary Sparks, an Army veteran who has been on the police force for 29 years, reminded attendees that they're living in a changed world, according to The Times. He advised them to study the layouts online of stadiums and know where to hide or exit quickly from grocery stores and other regular haunts.
“You can’t go out here and not have a mind-set to win the fight,” Sparks told the crowd, according to the newspaper. “Can’t go around here with no sheepish-type mind-set. There ain’t no sheep dogs. Everybody in Douglasville, we tigers, lions, bears, elephants, whatever you want to be.”
When a middle-school teacher asked Sparks at the meeting what she could do besides tell her students to hide and be quiet in the case of an active shooter, he answered that she could "jab that guy in his eyeball" with a pencil or "bite his nose off." He even said the students could kick the attacker after he was knocked down.
The possibility of fighting back during mass shootings is part of a guideline promoted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, often referred to as "Run, Hide, Fight," though the third option is listed last for a reason.
"It requires a lot of judgment in terms of whether to fight or not,” David Esquith, director of the federal Department of Education’s safety office, said. “And this is a judgment that only an adult can make."
Bennie Amey, 50, of Douglasville, told The Times that he was glad to see a fight response promoted by police, hoping that terrorists would understand that Americans "are people who fight."
In light of mass shootings in San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, and Charleston over the last few years, the demand for instruction on how to react in such situations appears to be surging, The Wall Street Journal reported
“Basically it’s just being prepared and being aware of things happening in today’s world,” Joel Peacock, owner of a local security company who attended a session in Marietta, Georiga, recently, told the newspaper. “This is not one of those seminars that will teach you how to be a hero. It will teach you how to go home to your family at night.”
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