A school in Georgetown is considering a plan that would teach the school kids to "strike back" of fight off an armed gunman. In a word; great. No sarcasm here. You can read the short story and see the video clip at http://www.myfoxboston.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail;jsessionid=D7CE2F05AA1470936E27974F10A5B9E3?contentId=8028327&version=2&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1 (hat tip to Hot Air at http://hotair.com/archives/2008/12/10/video-massachusetts-school-may-train-kids-to-fight-back-against-gunmen for the story) before continuing if you want, but it is not necessary to understand the rest of the post.
When I was in high school, we had a plan to deal with a gunman in the school. The plan went something like this. Step one, gunman enters the school. Step two, that fact reaches the principal's office. Step three, the principal gets on the loud speaker and says a code word/phrase alerting students to the danger. Step four, students go to the nearest "safe zone" (designated rooms within the school) and once their the doors would be locked. Their we were to stay until help arrived.
Upon hearing of this plan I went to talk to the principal to voice my concern and to tell him outright that not only would I not follow this plan, but I would never advice anyone to do this. Their are a few main flaws in this plan. The first is an unspoken assumption that the attacker would be an outsider. Anyone who knew the plan would know exactly where to go to massacre people. Even someone that did not know where groups of students would be clumping would likely figure it out fast by watching where people were running off to. Potentially banging on doors and screaming "let me in". While some of the designated areas presented the potential to barricade from the inside, a definite plus for this plan, most could not. Effectively meaning that should one be discovered, the gunman could get quick and easy access to the room. Indeed, it may be easier for the gunman to get access to some of the areas then the students. For argument sake, lets say their is no problem for the students getting to these locations.
This brings us to the second main problem, clumped masses of cowering students. Now I have no experience shooting at people with real bullets, and to the day I die I hope that fact never changes, but I imagine it is harder to hit a lone student running away in a zig-zag pattern then a stationary clump. Cowering together in a group just makes the gunman's mission of killing people that much easier.
I told the principal that if at all possible, I would look to put as much distance between the gunman and myself as possible. If I could not be sure where the shooter was, I would stay put or if in a bad position, head to the nearest defensible spot. From there I would play it by ear. If I thought I could escape then that is what I would have done. If not, I would try to remain unnoticed while preparing to fight back. Hopefully, with other willing and able people trapped with me. I refused to just stay put and pray that the gunman would spare me or run out of ammo before it was my turn to die.
Ultimately, the principal said that he understood and even agreed with me, but the plan had been crafted and passed a few levels above him meaning he could not do anything about it. The point remains that you should fight back; what do you have to lose? I am not suggesting that waves of school children be sent at the gunman. The first goal is exactly the opposite. Children should be taught to allude and escape or hide. If trapped and discovered though, you should fight back. It is likely the only way you will make it out alive.
If you are physically able (preferably have some sort or training) and find yourself in a position to take down the gunman, you should do so without hesitation. Your actions will likely save a life.