The new millennium’s “duck and cover” is here except this time, the threat is within. The City of Houston has produced an unsettling six-minute videoon what to do if someone starts shooting in a public place. And, to my surprise, soiling yourself isn’t one of the steps. Neither is shooting back - so we know that the NRA probably didn’t contribute any money to the production. (The video was made with funding from the Department of Homeland Security.)
The video is set in a nondescript workplace, although I suppose the advice applies to any public space. It advises a three-tiered strategy: run, hide, fight. The obviousness prompted one commenter to ask, “Is the next one about what to do when the power goes off?”
But remember that nightclub fire where most everyone rushed to the same door, even though there were four possible exits? People don’t always behave rationally in emergency situations.
You should get out as quickly as you can, the video says. Try to get others to leave with you, but don’t let them slow you down, either. If you can’t get out, hide - and silence your cell phone so the noise doesn’t give you away. If you have no other choice, “fight,” the video says. “Act with aggression. Improvise weapons. Disarm him. And commit to taking the shooter down, no matter what.”
“Improvise weapons”? Looking around my desk right now, I see tissue, hand lotion, and an outdated list of phone extensions. Maybe I can use my ear buds as a garrote.
The video’s production values are pretty good - better than anything Joel Schumacher has ever put out, for my money. The most startling thing is the absolute vulnerability of the victims. Everyone likes to complain about the state of the country, but no one expects a one-man armory to breach their cubicle walls. Really, how could you live that way?
The most disturbing thing to me, though, is the video’s existence: the need for such a thing implies that spree killings are here to stay; more or less a permanent part of American culture. And that makes me never want to leave the house again.