(Guest blogger: Mad Rocket Scientist from Afternoons With the Mad Rocket Scientist)
I recently got into a discussion over at Aunt B’s about Campus Carry (i.e. allowing students who are qualified and permitted to carry a concealed weapon on a college campus, which I support). One of the counter arguments that was raised against Campus Carry is that it would either not do enough (due to a campus not having enough adults willing to carry), or the cost would be too high due to students being irresponsible with a firearm while on campus. Now, I feel the first argument is wrong since even if only 5% of the students carried, that would be 5% more students who might be able to respond immediately to campus crime. Every little bit helps and all. If you want to read more, follow the link above.
Now, this post is not about Campus Carry, but rather, it is about this attitude amongst many that “things should be left to the professionals”, which was the thrust of the second campus carry counter argument. Got a crime problem, call the Professional Police. House on fire, call the Professional Fire Fighters. Medical Emergency, call the professional EMS. House floating away and you have no supplies to live off of, you must have forgotten to call the professional disaster people, FEMA. But whatever you do, DON’T BOTHER TO DO ANYTHING TO HELP YOURSELF. Just step away, call the professionals, and hope for the best. I think what offends me the most is that certain organizations, communities, and governments actively PROMOTE this attitude of helplessness and victimhood.
However, there is something you can do. Get trained to not be a victim.
Despite the fact that some may discourage it, the training to help yourself and serve as an asset to your community, rather than a liability, is out there, and in many cases it is free for the asking! My CERT classes that I am taking now, for instance, which provide training so citizens can assist Emergency Services during a disaster. Not only is the initial 8 session class free, so are any and all of the seminars that the Fire Department holds. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster can also help with disaster preparedness.
**Get First Aid and CPR training through the Red Cross or the Save a Life Foundation, and Advanced Community Health training through the Medical Reserve Corps (for medical professionals), learn more about fire fighting and EMS through your local Fire Department, the National Volunteer Fire Council, or the Fire Corps. Become active with your police department by volunteering with them or contacting USA On Watch or Volunteers in Police Service.
Live near places where people get lost often, want to help, check out the National Association for Search and Rescue, see if they offer training in your area, or can direct you to local organizations who can. You might also want to check out the Civil Air Patrol if you have a pilot’s license or are interested in flying, or the Coast Guard Auxiliary if you live near a significant body of water (including major rivers).
Want more advanced training, check out your local Tech Schools. Many of them offer EMS, Police, and Fire Training. It might be possible to take such courses, or audit them, or maybe non-professional level courses are offered. Look around, see what is available.
One other area you can get training is in the tactical use of firearms. Schools exist all over the country which offer such training, and just like any martial arts or self defense training, the quality varies and it is important to shop around. Some schools are run by highly trained and responsible instructors, and some are run by folks who are little…umm, how can I say this nicely?…OH!, ummm…high strung (yep, that’s it, that is a good way to say borderline psychotic). If you want firearms training beyond basic handgun or hunters safety, ask at your local range or gun club; if you have a police department that is CCW friendly, ask someone on the force; search online for student reviews; see if you can visit a class in session and observe the instructor, see for yourself if his or her style and philosophy is appealing to you. You might need to travel a bit to find a good school, but if it is worth it to you, take the time and do it. Once trained, the danger you pose to your community lessens, since you now have training and experience using your firearm, and the likelihood of a negligent discharge goes down.
And finally, if getting this kind of training is important to you but you can’t find any, work within your community to raise awareness. If your Emergency Services are hostile to citizen involvement, see what you can do to change that, remind them that the more people in the community trained to respond to crime, an emergency, or a disaster, the easier it will be for them to help the most people possible. Then get out there and get people trained. Tell your neighbors to get trained, tell the parents of your kids friends, tell the local news, tell everyone you can get your hands on, and tell those that get the training to spread the word as well.
If you get resistance toward the training (police tend to be more resistant than fire and EMS), if people are resisting the idea of getting trained, or if “the professionals” are making light of it, remind everyone that even the professionals got training somewhere. Everyone starts out not knowing how to do this, the only real difference between a professional and a trained citizen is experience, since all of the training a pro gets, a citizen can get. The pro just gets to practice more often and refine his craft. This does not mean the citizen is useless, but it does mean that the citizen needs a little guidance in order to be able to help. This moves the professional from the only guy doing the job, to the guy leading the citizens in doing a job. Remind the professionals that if they support the training, they still get to be “big damn heroes”, but they get lots of help doing it.
Once you have the training, volunteer with groups who can use it. All of this training is hard, it requires effort and commitment, but it can also be a lot of fun and a great way to meet people and become a part of your community. I mean, serving food in the soup kitchen is wonderful and all, but anyone can serve soup, it takes a person who has studied well and worked hard to really get your their hands dirty helping people out during what could be the worst day of their lives.
All this training has an additional side effect, beyond just helping your community be prepared. Once people are trained to handle emergencies, even small ones, they stop feeling so helpless. If they aren’t feeling helpless, they tend to feel confident, empowered even. They see in themselves a person of strength, who can help his or her self, family, community, the become someone who can make a difference. Something happens to people who put themselves on the line, even if just a little bit, to help others, to face danger, to try and be a part of something bigger. They begin to gain self-respect, and they begin to understand courage, and honor, concepts that are not part of the public school system.
They become citizens.