Be Prepared: Active Shooter

Posted on: January 6, 2015

It has sadly become more and more common to hear about active shooter situations playing out all over the country. It can happen at schools and universities, office buildings, movie theaters, just about anywhere you can imagine. As with most other types of disasters and emergencies, understanding ahead of time what you should do can help you remain reasonably calm and able to take action rather than freezing up.

First, if at all possible, flee the area. Do not look to engage the shooter in any way, whether you are armed or not. All too often, keyboard warriors indicate they will take down the shooter in a heartbeat. Unless you have been trained in combat shooting, which is far different then just sending some rounds downrange on a sunny day, forget about it. Odds are good that you’ll be dealing with chaotic, low light conditions.

If, despite that advice, you decide to shoot back with your legally permissible concealed carry weapon, be damn sure you know what you’re doing. If the round you fire misses and hits another victim, things are not going to go well for you later. Same goes if the round you fire goes through the assailant and hits someone else.

Now, before my inbox explodes, let me also say this. If you feel you have no other choice but to immediately defend yourself against the shooter, do so using whatever means you have available to you.

As soon as you can, call 911. While you likely won’t be the only one doing so, don’t make the assumption that someone else is going to make the call. Give the dispatcher as much information as you can — location of the shooter, description of the shooter, number and location of victims if known, and where you are located. Your description of the shooter will ideally contain the following:

–Approximate age
–Race or skin color
–Color of hair
–Presence or absence of facial hair
–What they’re wearing
–How they are armed (handgun, shotgun, knife, etc.)

If you and the shooter are in a building, try to get outside and away from the area. If that is not feasible, find someplace you can hunker down, such as an office or closet. Do what you can to barricade the door. Turn off all lights and remain quiet. If there is something to hide behind or under in the room, do so. Either way, do not remain in front of the door. Stay out of the likely line of fire should the shooter enter the room. Stay there until you are rescued or until you hear an all clear sounded.

It is also important to have a basic understanding of how law enforcement will respond to reports of an active shooter. For starters, the first officers on the scene are going to be focused on locating the shooter and eliminating the threat. They will not be stopping along the way to check on injured victims. There will be rescue teams following that will take care of that. If you know where the shooter is, by all means inform the officers. But otherwise, just stay the hell out of their way.

Stay down until you are specifically told otherwise by an officer. Remember, this is a high stress situation and you don’t want to do anything that could cause an officer to think you are possibly involved with the shooting. Keep your hands visible and drop any packages or bags you might be carrying. Do not get offended by any rough treatment by an officer, such as them grabbing you and pulling you out of the area. Do what you’re told when you’re told to do it.

Being involved in an active shooter scenario is no one’s idea of a good time. It is terrifying and stressful. But, knowing what to do ahead of time can help you stay calm and reduce your reaction time.

[Original photo obtained here and modified with title font and such.]

4 thoughts on “Be Prepared: Active Shooter

  1. Nice job presenting a basic understanding of the dynamics of an active shooter situation, fast, fluid, chaotic, confusing and dangerous. A lot of the points mentioned boil down to situational awareness and having a plan of action. Plan A is “don’t get shot”. I appreciate the fact that there are armed citizens who are willing to take out the bad guy(s). The willingness to defend others is the trait of the “sheep dog” and refusing to be a victim. An important point to remember is that the responding officers are also under stress and that stress causes physiological changes. It would only add to the tragedy if a good guy was taken out by an officer who saw a man with a gun and thought he was one of the bad guys. Even off duty officers and plain clothes officers are shot by responding uniformed officers in high stress situations. One other thing to keep in mind is that if an active shooter situation evolves into a hostage situation the police will also adjust their tactics to a more traditional mode of containing the threat, establish a perimeter and calling in the tactical team. Main point is that you should have a plan of action, isn’t that what being prepared is all about?

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