One hundred and forty minutes. That’s the amount of time between when gunmen at the Bataclan theater began rounding up survivor-hostages after their initial killing spree, and when police began their successful assault on the theater. All told, it was over 160 minutes from the first shots to when the first responders were able to reach those inside the venue: more than two and a half hours.
ISIS’s attacks in Paris offer an extreme example of a general principle of active-shooter attacks: Even the best emergency personnel cannot reach shooting victims until the threat has been neutralized. For a period of time that is very often going to be longer than it would take someone with a serious wound to bleed out, the victims are on their own.
This vulnerability is, in part, what motivates some to call for arming citizens for self-defense. Whether or not giving every Parisian a Glock, as Donald Trump might like, would be either practical or effective is unclear; leaving aside any unwanted side effects of increased gun ownership, one needs at a bare minimum to go through an awful lot of practice ammunition at the range and be carrying the gun at all times to be of much help in a shooting. But even supposing every terrorist attack was met by a civilian-led shootout, that still wouldn’t solve the problem presented by a victim shot in the thigh, dying on the floor. Whether professionals or amateurs are involved, taking down multiple shooters can take time. Active-shooter incidents present both a security and a medical challenge.