“Guns are everywhere, and if you don’t know that guns are everywhere we need to teach people that guns are everywhere. If you go to Walmart, you’re gonna see someone with a gun on their hip. And, a gun on their hip is much different than a drawn weapon or a person who is threatening to use a weapon and it’s holstered. Those scenarios are very different…”
Angela Nally, Director of DePauw Public Safety
In an interview with DePauw Public Safety’s Angela Nally, she outlines the differences between permitted gun ownership and a potential active shooter situation on college campuses.
In recent years there have been many active shooters on United States universities and colleges. Everytown, a gun safety awareness group, reported 87 deaths were the result of 76 shootings on college campuses from 2013-2015.
While we DePauw students may live in the coined “DePauw Bubble,” the potential for an active shooter to come to campus could always happen; we aren’t separated from this possibility.
Although “Less than 2% of college students report being threatened with a gun while at school,” noted by Smart Gun Laws activist group, the sporadic, random and deadly nature of school shootings make the threat of gun violence real for all.
So, here’s what we should do and how we can protect ourselves if an active shooter situation were to ever arise on our campus.
The Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as:
“An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”
Nally of DePauw Public Safety describes the motivations of an active shooter as randomized and in mass.
“To have as many victims as they can…there is no target, there’s no individual people, or maybe there is a target and then as many people he can get with them,” Nally said. “They [shooters] are typically white males, that are trying to do as much destruction as they can in the shortest amount of time.”
She goes further to describe the active shooter as a planner, having extreme detailed planning if they come, which allows for police and civilian intervention.
“They have planned, and planned…and that is why, when you interrupt their plan, they are so focused …that they can’t re-adjust quickly,” Nally said. “That’s when we interrupt their planning; that is when we can save lives.”
DePauw University is a private institution, where we do not allow weapons on our campus grounds, per our student handbook. DePauw defines a weapon as:
“Possession or use of firearms and any weapons, ammunition, explosive materials, pellet guns, bb guns, toy air soft guns or other items deemed to be perceived as dangerous on University property or any student approved living facility is prohibited. Violations of this policy will be processed through the Community Standards Program and are subject to criminal prosecution where applicable. Penalties may include suspension or expulsion.”
However, Indiana state law allows carrying a gun with a permit on public property. Because of this binary between campus rules and public law, DePauw Public Safety must balance between our private institution’s rules and the state law when handling situations with gun usage.
Smart Gun Laws reports that “twenty states restrict firearms on college and university campuses.”
“7 have banned both open and concealed carry of firearms, 9 have banned open carry but allow concealed, loaded firearms to be carried inside cars that are parked on campus, and 4 do not ban open carry on campuses, but may allow individual colleges and universities to do so. Most of the remaining states leave the question up to the college or university, but 10 states prohibit public colleges and universities from banning concealed carry of guns in some or all areas of campus, or by some individuals (e.g., staff or faculty) anywhere on campus”
Despite many states becoming more restrictive on gun policies on college campuses, some have done quite the opposite.
“In 2015, Texas became the eighth state to allow concealed carry weapons on college campuses. In December 2016, Governor Kasich of Ohio signed into law SB 199 which lifts the ban on firearms on college campuses and leaves the decision to individual institutions.”
Other schools in Indiana have a similar policy to DePauw’s, but still have had on-campus shooter incidents.
Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN prohibits guns and weapons of any kind on campus, but Indiana public roads still run through Purdue’s campus. Meaning, people carrying guns are legally allowed to be in close proximity to campus. Fox59 news reported that on January 21, 2014 Purdue student Andrew Boldt was killed by other student Cody Cousins. While the definition of whether or not Cousins was an ‘active shooter,’ is up for debate, this is still an example of recent gun violence on a U.S. college campus.
Although students, faculty and staff cannot bring weapons on campus, Nally says they are in the process of revising the student handbook, to clarify what students can have on campus, to protect them if necessary. “Stun guns that are no tasers, personal protection devices that you can buy in stores…those are fine with me…so let’s outline those things a little bit more, so students know what they can have,” Nally said.
If an active shooter were to come to DePauw, Nally says there are a variety of ways students should go about protecting themselves, depending on where they are in relation to the gunman.
The “national strategy for [a] response to active killer situations, regardless if it’s on a college campus or at the mall,” is what Nally calls Run. Hide. Fight.
The strategy’s origins come from an increase in active shooter situations in the United States, and a troubling response from people involved as a result. [CITATION] Nally said in past situations, people were sent emergency notifications to “shelter in place or lockdown.” Except, Nally alluded to the lack of clarity in strategy during a “lockdown” situation.
“There is no magic button where all the doors are locked–that is not what locked down means,” Nally said. “It means more like ‘stay where you’re at, lock your door’…but what they found was a lot of people were sitting and waiting…when they could have ran out of the building and gotten away from the situation.”
Per DePauw’s “Active Shooter and Violence on Campus” page, it lists what Run. Hide. Fight. mean for situations in dangerous situations.
If a safe path is available, run. Always try and escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying. Encourage others to leave with you but don’t let the indecision of others slow down your own effort to escape. Once you are out of the line of fire, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 9-1-1
nd call 9-1-1 If you can’t get out safely, find a place to hide. When hiding, turn out lights, remember to lock doors and silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone.
As a last resort, working together or alone, act with aggression, use improvised weapons to disarm the shooter. Commit to taking the shooter down.
Nally says Run. Hide. Fight. is a revision of the old strategy during these emergency situations. She goes further to say the strategy is nonlinear, and depends on your situation.
“[Run. Hide. Fight.] really relies on each individual taking in as much information as they can, and making an individual decision to save their life,” Nally said. “[It’s] doing what they can to avoid the proximity of this person.”
Nally says that if an active shooter were to come to DePauw, they would release an information alert with the person’s location and Run. Hide. Fight. She says Public Safety has increased its information alerts within the past year to get the facts on incidents and educate the students.
“When we either anticipate that its a heightened concern or we get information that it’s a heightened concern, then we want to send out information to kind of make sure that the facts are out there,” Nally said. “…or we can use it to educate…Just because a person has a gun doesn’t mean he’s gonna use it, or use it in a way that is bad.”
Angela Nally, Director of DePauw Public Safety
Nally encourages students to critically visualize what they would do if an active shooter came to campus. If an incident were to happen at DePauw, Nally said the response would be large and more intense than students might think.
“Officers are going to come, and they are going to be dressed in tactical gear…they might bring armored cars,” Nally said. “There’s a police response that’s necessary if you have a threat of a person that they’re gonna use a gun on campus.”
She goes further to describe how the officers would appear, which is much different than the everyday Public Safety officer appearance.
“In an active shooter situation, I might not be in my uniform but I have my bullet proof vest right there, and if I had to run out there i’m gonna grab that vest and I’m gonna be carrying a long gun when I arrive,” Nally said. “That’s not the picture that I think DePauw has in their mind…we have to just bring reality to the students so they’re not so shocked and confused when something like that actually happens.”
Nally says the Public Safety Office is planning to begin an initiative starting next semester that will educate students and faculty about Run. Hide. Fight. on DePauw’s campus, as well as “shelter and place” drills, similar to fire drills.
Depending on where you were at the time, maybe your classroom, studying at the library or eating at the dining hall, think about if you would run, hide, or fight and how.
Project by Lindsey Jones and Charlie Behr
Active Shooter and Violence on Campus. DePauw Student Academic Life Handbook. Retrieved May 4, 2017 from DePauw.edu.
2000 to 2016 Active Shooter Incidents. FBI Repository. Published September 8, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2017 from FBI.gov.
Active Shooter How to Respond. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Published October 2008. Washington, DC. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
Guns in Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://smartgunlaws.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/firearms-in-public-places/guns-in-schools/
Guns of Campus: Overview. (2017, May 5). Retrieved May 9, 2017, from National Conference of State Legislatures.
How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations. U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, OSHA 3088, 2001. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
Indiana Gun Laws. (2014, November 12). NRA-ILA Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved May 9, 2017, from NRA-ILA Institute for Legislative Action (https://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/state-gun-laws/indiana/)
Adams, M. (2014, September 19). Purdue University shooter Cody Cousins receives max sentence of 65 years. Retrieved from http://fox59.com/2014/09/19/cousins-to-learn-fate-today-will-public-learn-motive-behind-purdue-campus-shooting/