Friday, October 9, 2015

The Active Shooter Scenario

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission. 
The events of last week have me thinking about how I would react to an active shooter and what steps I would take to prepare for that. While I am far from an expert on these matters, here is the advice I would give to anyone wishing to be prepared for such an event.

Avoid Gun-Free Zones Whenever Possible
From last year's Crime Prevention Research Center report, 92% of all mass shooting have occurred in gun-free zones (that number has likely gone up since then).

The simplest way to avoid having bad things happen to you is not going to places where those bad things commonly happen.

Some GFZs are better than others. A courthouse, for example, has metal detectors and armed guards at entrances and hallways, so this is a "good" GFZ. Compare this with a Post Office, which deals in cash money, has no guards at all, and prevents you from even keeping a gun in your car if it's on their parking lot.

Carry a Self-Defense Weapon
Carry the most effective means of self-defense you can legally bear. (If you choose to carry illegally, that's between you, God, and the courts; for legal reasons I'm not going to advise you to violate the law, but neither am I going to judge you for it.)

Whatever you carry, make sure you have both the training and the will to use it. A gun you don't know how to use is worthless. A killer you can't bring yourself to shoot is going to have a new weapon within a few seconds.

Maintain Situational Awareness
I and others have talked about this in great detail. The more you know about your surroundings, the more efficiently you can react to a threat. 

Know where the emergency exits are. Know where the stairwells are. Know where the first aid kits and fire alarms are, and how they work. 

Know What Gunshots Sound Like
If you've gone shooting, this isn't a problem, but most people don't know what one sounds like in real life. Hint: it doesn't sound like what TV or the movies lead you to believe. 

A gunshot is a sharp crack, not a bang, and most of the noise comes from the expanding pressure wave through the air caused by the ignition of the gunpowder*. In other words, gunshots are felt more than they are heard, unless you are far enough back that you don't need ear protection. Since it's impossible to accurately record what a pressure wave feels like, Hollywood makes recorded gun shots sound far more impressive. 

Go to a range and experience what a gunshot sounds and feels like. Learn what multiple gunshots sound like, preferably from different kinds of firearms from different calibers. That way, you can hopefully tell the difference from a gunshot, a car backfiring, and something falling onto a flat surface. 

* The rest of it -- the sonic boom of the bullet breaking the sound barrier -- is too loud for most recording devices to adequately capture. Either they wash out as the pickups are overloaded, or they're condensed down into a channel that sounds like a rather anemic "bang". 

When It Happens, Take Decisive Action
And by decisive I mean "make a decision and execute it instead of waffling."

What you should do:
  • LEAVE. Evacuate via the safest, most immediate way possible. If that requires you to throw a chair through a window, do that. Move as quietly as possible, and remember that if you can see the shooter, he can probably see you. Stay low, stay hidden. Get out, get your family out, and don't be a hero. (See below.)
  • Call for help. I don't recommend you run while on the phone, or staying still while calling 911. Instead, pull a fire alarm on the way out. Not only will this summon the authorities, the noise of the alarm will 1) distract any gunmen and 2) make it harder for them to hear you escaping. Many buildings will also implement security measures when such an alarm is sounded, like closing fire doors. Anything which puts obstacles between you and a killer is a good thing. 
  • When you're out of the building or area, keep moving. I wouldn't stop unless I was at least 100 yards away, with cover and concealment between myself and anyone who might shoot me. This is a good time to call the authorities. 
What you should not do:
  • Hide. I am very much opposed to "sheltering in place" as that renders you immobile and therefore susceptible to all sorts of environmental hazards -- you don't know if the gunman has set fires, or has planted bombs -- and if he comes into the room where you're hiding, you are trapped. The only time I can advise hiding and playing dead is if he's right on top of you and you have no way to escape without drawing attention to yourself.
  • Seek the gunman. You are not a police officer; it isn't your job to risk your life for others. You don't have kevlar vests, armed backup or sovereign immunity; besides, if you are wandering the halls with a gun drawn and the police find you, odds are excellent you will be shot because you look like a bad guy. 
  • Hesitate to kill him. I realize this is in opposition to what I just said above, but the difference is that you shouldn't go looking for trouble when you ought to be evacuating. However, if you happen to run into him -- or worse, he comes into your classroom first -- YOU KILL HIM. If you have a gun, shoot him until he stops moving; if you have a melee weapon, charge him. In fact, have EVERYONE charge him (unless you're shooting), take him down under your combined weight, and kill him. 
    • Yes, I keep saying "Kill Him." This is deliberate. If someone is trying to kill you, then you kill them right back. 
    • Normally this is where someone says "What if he's unconscious or bleeding out?" and in that case, I suppose you don't need to kill him because he's no longer a threat... but speaking only for myself, I would not want to take the chance that he might have a backup weapon and regain consciousness before the authorities arrived. Personally, I would make sure the threat was 100% neutralized for the safety of myself and others, and I don't think there's a cop in the world that would arrest me for it. 
    • But make sure that's actually the gunman. You don't want to be shooting at another concealed carrier who is trying to evacuate. My personal rule of thumb is "Someone who belongs here, and who is trying to leave, looks and acts a lot different from someone who is looking for victims." If in doubt, don't attack. 

Get down. Get out. Get help. Mess up anybody who tries to stop you from getting out, but don't be a hero.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to