Note to university: Don’t take hockey pucks to gunfights

The late Don Rickles used to refer derisively to some people as “hockey pucks,” and now published reports from CNN and other news agencies reveal that officials at Oakland University near Detroit are considering handing out real hockey pucks to be used in the event of a mass shooting.

A Michigan university is handing out hockey pucks as a defensive tool against mass shooters. (YouTube, Canadian Press)

Self-defense experts and instructors often quip that you should “never take a knife to a gunfight,” and this classroom defense scheme seems to ratchet that up a notch or two.

According to Fox News, the university has a “no-weapons” policy that may have just taken a sabbatical, because university Police Chief Mark Gordon’s suggestion just weaponized the hockey puck.

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For those who haven’t figured it out, or don’t follow hockey, the puck is that little hard, round disk that gets knocked around the ice by large people in padded uniforms using long L-shaped sticks. And, as Chief Gordon explained when he revealed this idea, they do hurt a lot when you get hit.

“I was a hockey coach for my kids growing up,” the chief told a reporter. “I remember getting hit in the head with a hockey puck once and it hurt.”

But is it faster than a speeding bullet? Some people will shake their heads and counter that you might as well throw pies at a school shooter. They could be equally distracting, and aren’t as likely to break something.

This is not the first foray into fighting back that came from the education field. Earlier this year, as noted by CNN back in April, a Pennsylvania school district started arming teachers and staff with miniature baseball bats. The drawback is that to use one of these with any effect, the teacher must be within arm’s length, and that’s a good place to be for getting shot.

While all of this is certainly well-meant, it might provide a false sense of security that could become fatal. While other school districts have quietly adopted policies that allow teachers and staff to be armed, and there is a program in Ohio that teaches educators about active shooter responses, including providing first aid to anyone who has been wounded.

Other school districts have contracted with local police agencies for armed “school resource officers” to be on campus during school hours.

The notion of mitigating responses in a gun-free zone against someone who ignores the “no guns” signs by fighting back with bats or hockey pucks may make for interesting headlines, but would it be genuinely effective in a real emergency?

Rickles made the term “hockey puck” into a national put down. Maybe that’s where it should remain.

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