At the beautiful White Hall Community Center in White Hall, Arkansas, on September 29, 2023, concerned citizens gathered for a thought provoking lecture by Ed Monk titled “A Broad Study of the Active Shooter & How to Minimize Victims.” Monk shared the chilling wisdom of Dr. William April that has resonated in my mind ever since – “To properly plan for violence, you must first admit and accept that the world is not as it ought to be” – Monk illuminated crucial insights into understanding and mitigating the threats posed by active shooters. Sadly, very few of our churches, schools, and businesses have adequately prepared for the evil present in our world. It’s only a matter of time before the next attack, so how should we prepare?

The lecture began with a stark reminder that criminal violence exists and may confront us unexpectedly. Monk emphasized that there are no time-outs in life; it’s a “come as you are” event, so we must be prepared at all times. Armed with this reality, he delved into the common trends of active shooter incidents, drawing from hundreds of active shooter events at schools, churches, and businesses in the United States. This historical data painted a clear picture of the typical perpetrator: a young male who meticulously plans attacks in so-called “Gun Free Zones,” armed with multiple weapons and an abundance of ammunition. The attack typically starts with a long gun and ends only when confronted with armed resistance, often culminating in the attacker’s self-inflicted demise. From this it was clear to me that “Gun Free Zones” are nothing but easy targets for criminals as all they do is disarm good, sane, sober, moral, law abiding people.

What struck me most was Monk’s emphasis on the importance of basing active shooter response plans on tangible metrics rather than fleeting emotions or political agendas. Too much of our society operates with closed minds and high emotions when we discuss these difficult topics. The problem here is that feelings will not change the outcome of these violent events, but math and proper planning will! Monk quoted a chilling excerpt from the manifesto of the Umpqua Community College Active Shooter, underscoring the notoriety sought by these evil humans…notoriety that the media is all too ready to give. The shooter handed the following remark on a thumb drive to one of the victims.

“A man who is known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day.”

Umpqua Community College Active Shooter

By contrast, Monk advocated for a practical approach grounded in mathematical analysis. He emphasized that hope, though essential, is not a substitute for a plan., and urged us to embrace “math and time” as the cornerstone of our preparedness efforts. Simply put, on average a victim is shot every 10 seconds. So the question we need to ask ourselves is “How many dead and wounded people are we willing to accept while waiting on a response?” The answer to that question designs the plan for us. The longer we allow the shooting to last, the more victims we will have. The sooner we end the shooting, the fewer victims we will have. Monk’s utilization of simple math to forecast potential victim counts based on response times was eye-opening. His emphasis on stopping an active shooter within the first minute resonated deeply; it’s a small window that offers the greatest opportunity to save lives. And that fast of a response can only come from armed citizens already in the place where the shooting occurs.

The urgency of Monk’s message resonated with everyone as he posed a poignant question: if someone were to enter our room wielding a firearm, how swiftly would we want the shooting to cease? The unanimous answer echoed his sentiment: right now! Yet, as Monk astutely pointed out, wanting an immediate end to violence is not enough; we must have a concrete plan in place to make this hope a reality.

One of the most thought-provoking aspects of Monk’s lecture was his challenge to conventional thinking regarding acceptable casualties while awaiting law enforcement intervention. By urging leaders embrace realistic planning, he highlighted the need of proactive measures in minimizing harm during active shooter scenarios. Monk’s invocation of combat principles was particularly poignant, reminding us to expect casualties, but also to swiftly transition from one-way combat to two-way combat, thereby limiting victim counts through timely response. We can let the violence happen to us while awaiting help (one-way combat with high body counts), or responding with swift violence to end the threat (two-way combat with low body counts.)

As I reflect on Ed Monk’s lecture, I am struck by its profound simplicity, and massive potential impact in our schools, churches, and businesses. “Gun Free Zones” are an abject failure that has done nothing to help stop mass shootings. Since President Clinton passed the Gun-Free Schools Act in 1994, our schools have only become targets for violent attacks. Laws banning firearms in houses of worship has only made them soft targets for cowards looking to inflict damage on others. Businesses with signs barring firearms are only inviting armed robbers into their defenseless stores.

Laws will not fix this. Hope and good feelings will not fix this. Armed men and women trained in how to respond quickly will fix this. I highly recommend Ed Monk and Last Resort Firearms Training. Train hard so that you can protect (tereo) yourself and your loved ones!