It is Monday after class. I just finished a great discussion with David Yamane, who attended the class as an observer. As you know, on Sunday, at the same time we were training, 27 church goers were shot to death in a Sutherland Springs church. He asked me an important question during his interview.
"What would you have told that pastor the day before the shooting?"
My answer was direct. I would have told him not to forget that evil was real and earthly, and that it was in fact his responsibility to tell his congregation as much...and to protect them from its earthly manifestation while they were with him.
During the last few hours of class, the tired students were drilling in proactive-aggressive shooting. Things reserved in the minds of many gun students (and instructors) for counter terrorist operators and police officers.
Advance on the threat while you put multiple rounds into the face. Advance on the threat, shooting him in the face and then firing again into the face of the fallen target to prevent the detonation of an IED. Not defensive in nature, posture or concept, but rather direct and violent and based on the attack rather than the defense. And the tired students went through the drills.
One noted, "I don't think we can do that...I think we will get in trouble if we do that".
I said, that there were two very real paradigms when it came to our adversaries today, and each paradigm had its own rules of engagement. That the common criminal...the mugger in the parking lot, had a set of rules of engagement that were in line with the mainstream self-defense thinking of the gun community, and limited by the laws of self defense, etc. But the other paradigm was of the active shooter or the terrorist, whose very actions gave you license to out-violence him with gunfire. But more than shooting to "stop him" a man who found himself in one of these events, even, and perhaps specially if, he was not individually attacked, had license to attack the shooter/terrorist. And with the prevalence of explosives, it was perfectly appropriate and perhaps mandatory to begin the fight with aggressive proactive shooting and end it with head shots on the downed terrorists.
They agreed with the thinking, but there was still a disconnect it seemed. They couldn't seem to let go of the self-defense paradigm. We took a quick water, reload magazines, reconfigure targets break. It was during that break that one of the students asked if I had reception...that he'd received a text that something was going down in Texas. A few minutes later I read them a short briefing of the events in Sutherland Springs.
"More than 20 people were killed after a gunman walked into a church in a rural community about 30 miles east of San Antonio and opened fire on Sunday, an official said. The dead range from infants to the elderly. The scene is still developing".
Not a word was spoken as the students continued to load magazines. Something changed in their minds at that moment.
David noted this morning in our interview the change in their mood. It had just become real for them. We saw middle aged ladies, professional men, doctors, and others attacking the targets, intent not on surviving the self defense event, but on killing the terrorists. The lambs had become lions.
In the last month we have seen a rifleman in an hotel room pulling off the greatest mass murder in recent history, a jihadist running a truck into a crowd, and now a mass murder inside a church.
This is not fantasy, it is real.
We live in a time of war, and those of us who teach have a duty to prepare our students for the threats of today.
It is our calling to turn lambs into lions.