Active Shooter-Think before you act.
I was asked to write an article for an active shooter situation. My conundrum is where do I start? There are so many variables involved, I’m just not sure I can give enough information in this article to be truly useful.
For this article I’m going to make some assumptions. The first is that you the reader are sufficiently armed with a 9mm or .45. You are trained in it’s use and have a backup magazine and you are not the immediate target of the shooter.
Location. Where you are changes how you may react to the threat. In a Mall you have multiple choices whereas if in a small restaurant, school or church you have fewer available choices.
Exits-Where are they, how far are they, and where is the shooter? If moving towards an exit does it put you in the shooters arc of fire? If the shooter is drawn to the crowd can you maneuver away from the crowd towards another exit? Sometimes you may be able to use the flight instinct of a crowd to maneuver away from the shooter. Never move directly away from a shooter if you can help it always move perpendicular left or right. It’s easier to hit a target moving directly away then it is hitting one side to side.
Concealment vs Cover
What is concealment and what is cover. Concealment is hiding from view.. think hide and seek, while cover is safe from enemy fire. In a mall or store hiding behind a rack of clothes is “Concealment” that type of concealment will not stop a bullet. However, hiding in a back office with concrete block walls is cover, most rounds won’t penetrate this type of cover. Always look for cover don’t just hunker down like a deer in the headlights.. Move, move fast and with purpose away from the shooter and look for cover.
Engage or don’t engage
Are you by yourself or with your family?
Ok harsh reality time.. Your first responsibility is to your family. If you can get your family to safety without engaging the shooter this is a best option scenario. Yes that means others are dying, but yours and your families safety is priority one. Only engage at this point IF you and your family are in the immediate zone of threat.
Once your family is out of harms way or you are by yourself and you decide to engage the active shooter. Now what?
More variables.. is it one shooter or multiple, handguns vs rifle vs shotgun one location or more then one.
In order of threat Rifle, Shotgun and then handgun. Once you have determined the threat level you need to approach the shooter using proper cover based on the threat presented. Running out into the open towards the gunfire only makes you a target.
Locate, Isolate and Target.
Locate-Once you locate the shooter DO NOT IMMEDIATELY ENGAGE. You don’t know if the shooter is alone or is there someone backing them up.
Isolate-You must observe the scene, is there someone behind or near the shooter that is not running but may be hiding yet appears observant of others? Again running out shooting only makes you a target for another waiting for the “hero”.
Target-Ok now it’s time to put that “assumed” training to use. If your weapon has a safety is it off? Is there a round in the chamber? Are you close enough to give effective fire?
Fire from cover and don’t stop firing until the shooter has ceased their attack.
Part of your training should have been what we call the body armor drill.. “Two to the chest…one to the head… body armor or not the shooter is dead”.
You are going to be scared, you will most likely be hyperventilating, you will miss. It’s not like the movies where you see the good guy while dodging bullets from multiple automatic weapons..holding a pistol in one hand firing round after round taking out the bad guys.. and their bodies goes flying backwards is slow motion death spirals. This is why it’s important to fire and keep firing until the shooter is down. Once you fire the first round you will become the highest value target of the shooter.
You MUST maintain situational awareness.
The reason you fire from cover and not just stand out like you are at the OK Corral is..what if you missed the shooters backup or you missed the target with your first few rounds they are going to immediately fire back. You will need to return effective fire or retreat to a safer location. You may be forced to fall back.. DO SO. Dying in some grandiose last stand is for the movies. Dying does nothing to stop the shooter and only adds to the body count.
Also remember Law Enforcement is either on the way or onsite you may become a target of friendly fire if you continue to engage the shooter once they arrive.
As soon as you see the Police lay down your firearm go prone on the floor and DO NOT MOVE.. Don’t try to tell then your are not the bad guy. You will only confuse the situation further and may get yourself shot.
The recent shooting is Texas is a prime example of “What do I do if” and “How do I survive”? In that Church one armed person could have ended the rampage before it fully began. That’s a cold hard fact. The fact that there was a off duty deputy makes this even more tragic. He could have saved them if he carried his sidearm.
Additionally, the neighbor who is a NRA Instructor that shot the shooter ending the assault failed to accurately engage the suspect. He fired only two rounds one hit the shooter in the leg and in the side. Now some would say “but he dropped the gun and ran” thus the threat was ended. Was it? The shooter had more weapons in the car and he left the scene where he could have killed others if he wanted to. I’m not faulting the guy at all. Many people think that when someone is shot they go flying backwards and their done for.. No that’s Hollywood again giving you the false impression that the battles over when it really hasn’t even begun sometimes.
Shooting at a real person and not a paper target is hard. For the most part most of you have never done it, so you might hesitate you might try to wound and not kill. The neighbor should have kept shooting until the shooter was down. What if he had on a suicide vest or the vehicle packed with explosives?
When engaging a suspect in the open you “Advance Fire” meaning you continue to close the distance while firing on the target until the target goes down and you stay on target until the threat is removed.
I guess the best advise I can give you is this. If you are not ready to fully commit to the encounter.. don’t engage.. unprepared heroes are just people waiting to die. Think cover vs concealment. Try to get to cover if possible and use your firearm only if necessary should you come face to face with the shooter. Do it quickly, don’t hesitate. Waiting only allows the shooter to switch targets towards you and places you in the zone of fire.
If you are immediately in the zone things change if you are hit and are still combat effective you will have to engage immediately. Fire and don’t stop firing from whatever position you find your self in. Self preservation is your only option.
Try to remember this one thing. If hit, and you are not immediately taken out of the fight you may still survive. In fact most do. So if you are shot, don’t lie back and accept death fight the bastard with everything you have.
I know, I’ve been in a couple of firefights and I’ve been shot. I’ve seen people who were fatally shot and yet keep firing and I’ve seen people who could have survived the shot lie back and wait on death.
Illegitimi non carborundum is a mock-Latin aphorism meaning “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. Don’t let the bastards take your life without a price. Fight don’t cower don’t let them win.
BE PREPARED. Make them pay for every life they take by not letting them take yours.