Michigan's Oakland University came up with an unlikely idea for self-defense against an active shooter: hockey pucks. While training faculty members back in March on what to do should a gunman come into their classroom, Police Chief Mark Gordon advised them to be ready to throw something at the shooter if they couldn't run away or hide, since the school has a no-weapons policy. As a last resort, throw something, anything, he said—even a hockey puck. (He once coached youth hockey and got hit in the head with a puck.) "It was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment idea that seemed to have some merit to it and it kind of caught on," Gordon explains to the Detroit Free Press. Now the university is giving out pucks to faculty and students.
A professor led a union effort to purchase 2,500 of the pucks at 94 cents apiece, and the school started handing them out earlier this month. Some students tell WXYZ the idea of puck-as-defense is "absurd," but they serve another purpose: They're imprinted with a number that can be entered on the university's website to donate money toward a campaign to install interior locks on classroom doors; the student body VP says the pucks are raising awareness about that need. As for the pucks themselves, "It's just the idea of having something, a reminder that you're not powerless and you're not helpless in the classroom," says the professor who led the effort. Gordon says "anything that has weight" would work in a similar way, including staplers and laptops, noting that if 20 or 30 people in a classroom were to all throw their pucks simultaneously, "it would be quite the distraction." (A Pennsylvania district handed out baseball bats.)