by Todd Walker
“Shooter in the building! Lockdown! Lockdown!”
The resource officer is dying on the lobby floor. With the only other human in the building with a gun bleeding out, the shooting spree continues, unabated. The shooter, clad with body armor, deliberately makes his way down the main hallway firing his weapon at unarmed targets.
He approaches the locked door of your child’s classroom…
“Quite,” her teacher barely whispers to her class huddled in the corner.
Imagine this scene playing out in your child’s school or your office building. We don’t like to think about the possibility of such a horrible event. But we have to. It’s the world in which we live.
It’s quite possible you, a family member, or a friend work in a Weapon Free Zone. It’s highly unlikely that teachers, properly trained to use a firearm, will ever be allowed to carry this tool to protect innocent lives. So we are forced to use what’s available.
I work in the epitome of victim zones. A place where hoplophobia is instilled in young minds by our ever-expanding zero-tolerance regime. The inconvenient truth about these “evil” tools is not lost on many of my fellow teachers. They too value their life and the lives of their students and refuse to be a victim, cowering under desks, hoping and praying the good guys with guns show up before an active shooter sprays bullets across bulletin boards.
We plan to fight back, smarter.
Gun-Free Killing Zones
Our present shooting-fish-in-a-barrel strategy is deadly… and should be abandoned. Immediately!
Signs of hope do exist in the rational thinker realm. My hint is located a few paragraphs above. In mass shootings, defenseless prey, stripped of modern weaponry in No-Weapon-Zones, frantically wait for officials (even a non-official would suffice) with guns to stop the violence.
In my earlier Teacher Self-defense Toolbox post, I made the case for creating a non-victim zone – if you work in a fish barrel (Weapon-Free-Zone) like me. The comments from that post and another brilliant source I follow spurred me to update my school survival strategy.
Disclaimer: Some school systems and employers are more hoplophobic than others. Even chewing a slice of pizza into the shape of a gun could land you in deep-dish doo doo. Employ your work place survival strategy at your own risk. This is what I do – not necessarily what you should do. Think for yourself and find ways to camouflage (hide in plain sight) your tools of self-defense if necessary. Any step you take is better than waiting for good guys with guns to rescue you. Refuse to be a victim!
Weapons of Mass Instruction
Armed with only weapons of mass instruction, my MacGyver gene goes in full effect. To justify self-defense tools in the classroom or office to the boss, you’re improvised weapons should fit your environment.
Take a tour with me through my classroom and steal ideas. Start at the gateway…
The gateway for an active shooter is your door. In our school, solid wood classroom doors swing inward. My door is always locked. This new county-wide policy took effect after the Sandy Hook shooting. I’ve followed this protocol for many years.
Don’t depend on door locks to keep shooters out. To beef up my door security, I cut wooden door wedges from scrap 2 x 4 lumber. [Note: Cut with the grain or length wise. Cutting short wedges across the grain will cause the wedge to splinter when hammered under the door.] I’ve made these available to all teachers and staff.
A roll of Gorilla Brand duct tape is in my drawer for so many reasons. One use is to tape the folding arm at the top of the door to prevent it from opening. There are commercially made straps designed for this application. Gorilla tape is less expensive and strong enough for the task.
In lockdown mode, drive two or three wedges under the door from inside the classroom. Do this with one of your other tools, a hammer. A spray-on rubberized coating ensures friction on our tiled floors.
Door Plan B, which my students and I have tested, is to build a barricade extending from the door to the back wall. This consists of two teacher’s desks, a computer cart, a door I converted into a table, and one book shelf. The assembled furniture creates a solid barrier from door to wall.
Hat tip to Straight Forward in a Crooked World for the following strategy. I’ve finally found a good use for vegetable oil. On lockdown, the only person on the tiled hallways of our school will be the shooter. Before securing my door, I plan to remove the lid from a plastic cooking oil container and give it a stomp, spewing its contents over the hallway tile.
Add a bag of kitty litter and a scoop to your cabinet in case you and your students need to get out of the room over the oil spill. Or a rolled up rug could be unrolled over the slippery stuff. I stand on a yoga mat at my stand-up desk which would bridge the slippery stuff to exit the building.
A concerned commenter was worried about good guys with guns slipping on the oil. A lot of carnage can be inflicted in the several minutes it takes for first responders to show up at the scene. That is the least of my immediate concerns when I only have improvised tools of self-defense to protect the lives of my students. Once I’m allowed to carry real tools of self-defense, I won’t deploy the oil slick.
Blind and Disorient
If my door is breached, I have a fire extinguisher ready to spray to disorient the shooter.
Also, Vikki suggested a can of wasp spray on my last toolbox post. The insect killer shoots over 20 feet. Bear spray and pepper spray are not allowed in our schools. Wasp spray is in my desk drawer.
Be Ready to Inflict Violence
Temporarily blind or disorient the threat and begin your assault. First order of business is to disarm, disable, and/or kill the shooter. I’d rather die fighting than be shot while curled up under a desk.
There are many items that can be used as improvised weapons in an office or school. Granted, they not as effective as gun, but, for now, that may be all you have available.
You need striking tools. Here’s a few of mine…
1.) Jawbone of an Ass
Samson, of Biblical fame, smote 1,000 Philistines with this improvised weaponry. Comes in handy for Science, too.
Bone tools and weapons have been used for thousands of years. It’s sad, but true, that we’ve been transported back to the Stone Age in our Weapon-Free-Zones.
2.) Annihilator™ wrecking tool
Any metal tool or bar can be used as a striking tool. I’ve opened stuck lockers and hammered stuff with this beast. In close quarters, a blow from this tool to the head or neck would neutralize the threat.
Some have suggested a golf club. In my experience as a “golfer”, the shafts are not solid enough to deliver repeated strikes to an intruder. A section of metal rebar standing in the cabinet would be a solid metal option.
3.) Hoe Handle
Pictured above with the spade removed. Self explanatory. The length of the handle generates power for the metal end when swung.
A baseball bat (aluminum or wooden) works. You could display it on your office wall as the bat that won your State Championship. You’re limited only by your imagination.
Until I’m able to legally carry real defensive weapons on campus, I’ll keep MacGyvering weapons of mass instruction. If you have thoughts you’d like to add, please do so in the comment section.
Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,
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Love the oil!
I saw the wasp spray idea recently, also. Since I have a problem with wasps at home, I always have a couple cans on hand. Something probably not of concern in the school is wind. Outdoors? Be mindful. That stuff stings!
Great post, Todd!