Fear the Future…Prepare for the Future

School shooting

Today, as I look at my young daughters playing together near our chicken coop, and I feel relatively safe. I feel safe knowing that I am doing the best I can to raise them for the world that they are to inherit. I know that I currently have a good start on food storage and prepping for what the future may hold; and that my children are better prepared for the world that is quickly coming upon us than the vast majority of their peers. I am doing my best to teach them self defense, fishing, hunting, gardening, and so much more. But then a small voice creeps in and whispers to me about how, maybe, even with all I am now doing it just will not be enough for what the world has in store for them.  That little voice is my fear, and fear when accepted for what it is and moved past can be an incredible tool of motivation.

As part of my experience with the Oath Keepers last year I went to Oregon in the first week of October with Stewart Rhodes. We had flown from Montana then drove through the valleys of evergreens that seem to impossibly dwarf our own-forested mountains of Montana. As we made our way to small the community of Roseburg, Oregon, there was the just a hint of cold biting in the air. The real cold came from within when we heard the stories of death, survival, and heroism that had just rocked this small community to its tough mountain core. The tragedy of the Umpqua County Community College shooting had just taken place. Some of the local Oath Keepers chapters had been asked to help provide security at the funerals as the Westborough Baptists had threatened to protest in this shattered community.

While Stewart Rhodes and I were there we had the honor to sit down and have dinner with Sheriff John Hanlin. (Ironically this was the night that President Obama had asked to meet with Sheriff, which he denied to avoid politicizing this tragedy.) During dinner we had a chance to see into this event, in a way that really helped to open my eyes to just how a dire situation our children are truly in. During the shooting enrolled student 26-year-old Christopher Harper- Mercer fatally shot an assistant professor and eight students in a classroom.  Nine other students were also shot that fateful morning. The truly frightening piece of this tragedy was relayed to us by the Sheriff; These kids were told by the shooter to line up in the classroom where they were each in their own turn asked if they were Christian or not. If they answered no they were shot in an arm or leg, if they answered yes they were shot point blank in the face.  What really upsets me is that these kids were always taught to just do what they were told to, to be a good victim, and do what you’re told. There was at least one person that I know of that did what I hope to have the courage to do myself in that same situation. US Army Veteran Chris Mintz, who was studying fitness training, heard the first shots ring out from an adjacent classroom, he then went and blocked a connecting door with his own body allowing his fellow students to escape. Chris then went to another building helping students to escape from the library and then returning to the shooting scene to continue to help his fellow students until he was ultimately shot 5 times for doing the right thing. This was on his son’s birthday and thank God that he survived. Even the Sheriff thanked him for his sacrifice. I heard the next day at a local Oath Keepers meeting from an elderly woman, one of the students grandmothers relay the story of her granddaughters ordeal and while fighting to regain her composure and push back  tears as she told us all how her granddaughter would no longer be alive if not for the actions of Chris Mintz. I hope that I would have acted to save my fellow students and myself. I know it’s easy to have courage when writing about something and not having lived through it. But I know that through discipline and training we can learn to use courage and take the hero’s stand we all would hope to.  As with any event that involves the younger generation, I find myself wondering if I have adequately prepared my own children for a similar situation. As is always the case, yes I can do more. We all can.


With the advent of so many active shooters in our modern culture, we have had a lot of people in law enforcement and security looking at better ways to approach this type of shooting. One of those people is John Karriman, who trains Missouri police officers during their tenure at the Police Academy in active shooter situations.  He is also a lifelong martial artist. Each class that comes through the Academy is presented very early on with a mock active shooter that enters the classroom and begins to shoot at the professor and students with blanks. Even with these law enforcement students, that in a short time will be police officers, the reaction is too much like a deer in headlights.  In this situation, there are always a high number of students that would be killed or injured. John has really keyed into what I feel is the correct answer to helping our future generations survive these active shooters, and that is to foster their survival or warrior spirit. Train them to react, react as if their lives depend on it because they truly do. John uses this example to train the Police Academy Students and every year, within a few more surprise visits from a mock shooter and the students begin to click. They react and move to attack the attacker. Without fail, this type of training works, and by the end of the year when they are again faced with this situation there are usually only 2 or 3 of the students that are hit and usually in a way that is not fatal. Think of how instilling this type of survival, warrior mindset, and just a little bit of realistic training could literally help turn back this tide of active shooter situations.

One of the reasons these predators are attacking so often is because they have a docile and even submissive victim pool. Our children have been brought up and taught by society that violence is never the answer. As most of my readers already know the correct answer to this is that sometimes (when lives are on the line) violence is the only answer.

We certainly have our work cut out for us as parents, grandparents, and family members. It will fall to us, the families, to do what we should have been doing all along. Teaching our children about the life they are beginning, and preparing them to thrive in it. We must teach our children how to survive! And we must do this by example. I challenge anyone who is reading this. If you are not already trained in martial arts and defensive tactics (including weapons) then it is well past time to man up. There is so much that we, as a generation of parents and teachers, must learn for ourselves so that we can adequately prepare our children for the world they are now inheriting from us. This world will be radically different than the one that we grew up in. There is a martial arts dojo in virtually every small town across America. Go learn to fight, go get back into shape, go get the skills that your children and grandchildren will need to survive and take them with you on your new path of learning. We owe it to them.

We also need to talk to our children about what is happening in our world. It does them no good to shelter them from the horrors of the world (like a shooting at a school) when they very well might have one happen at their school. We must teach them that it is important to fight the right fights, and that their lives may someday depend on not being a good victim.

Please take the time to watch this first installment of an active shooter course that we were able to film with John Karriman. John is a true warrior and has a whole lot of wisdom and knowledge to impart. The Oath Keepers will also be in the next few days launching the College Oath Keepers. This will be open to any college age student that is enrolled in a University, whether they are a veteran or not. The College Oath Keepers will be helping to train fellow students in defensive tactics and helping to instill the “warrior spirit” right where it is needed most, in our future.


Jason Van Tatenhove

For more information on the College Oath Keepers and how to join please visit www.oathkeepers.org for more information.


About Author

Stewart Rhodes

Stewart is the founder and National President of Oath Keepers. He served as a U.S. Army paratrooper until disabled in a rough terrain parachuting accident during a night jump. He is a former firearms instructor, former member of Rep. Ron Paul’s DC staff, and served as a volunteer firefighter in Montana. Stewart previously wrote the monthly Enemy at the Gates column for S.W.A.T. Magazine. Stewart graduated from Yale Law School in 2004, where his paper “Solving the Puzzle of Enemy Combatant Status” won Yale’s Miller prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights. He assisted teaching U.S. military history at Yale, was a Yale Research Scholar, and is writing a book on the dangers of applying the laws of war to the American people.