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Terrorist Machine Gun Attack: How to Survive

By on October 6, 2017

The Las Vegas attack on Sunday could easily be classified as a machine gun attack – automatic weapons at an extended distance.  Even better for a machine gun is an elevated position, just like the 32nd floor of a hotel.  This article is not to refute or give more information about the attack that just happened.  This article is to give you ideas about what you can do to survive a machine gun attack.

Run, Hide, Fight is a bunch of bull set up by the government to make you feel better.  Just like having three days of food and water on hand is to make you survive a natural disaster, it’s part of the truth but not the whole thing. The wording is backwards and wrong.  It should be Fight, Escape/Evade, or Barricade/Ambush.


Fighting can be broken into three distances during a machine gun attack:
Close enough to touch;
Inside your weapon’s range; and
Outside your weapon’s normal range.

If the person with the machine gun is close enough to touch, including within a step or two, grab them.  It is time to fight with everything you have.  Your life and the lives of countless people depend on it.  Here is your chance to really make a difference.  Use any and all weapons you have or can get your hands on, including the ground.  It is the biggest, hardest thing around.  Pound the person into it.  Ask for help and give help during the struggle.  If someone is already on top of the person or holding onto the person, help!  Get into the fight and fight with everything you’ve got.  Only stop when that person has for sure (without a doubt in your mind) given up or cannot fight anymore.

This is an extraordinary circumstance.  Remember, a person that undertakes such an attack does not plan to survive.  They want to kill as many people as possible and will do anything they can to further that goal.  Another thing most people do not think about or know is that about half of these attackers have explosives as a secondary device.

If the killer is in range of your firearm, take cover first.  You may be one of the only things standing between this mass killer and all the innocent people in the area.  The stop watch of death is running, a term coined by Ron Borsch at SEALE Training Academy, and is the number of people injured or killed per minute in a mass killing.  At Virginia Tech, the number was 7.9 people shot per minute.  You don’t have time, but you need to stop the killing, so take cover first. When he sees you, he will turn his attention to you as well as the machine gun, which makes you hopelessly out gunned.

After taking cover, return fire.  Make your first shots count.  Once you start firing, the gunner will probably know where you are and turn on you.  Keep shooting until it is over.  Keep going until you are absolutely sure the fight is over.

If the machine gunner is out of the normal range of your firearm, it is okay to try anyways.  Take cover as before.  Incoming fire generally draws attention.  Since the range is extended, you probably will not be able to make a first shot hit.  Take your time.  Since the distance is greater, you have more of it.  Consider your background and your probability to make a hit.  This includes your skill, the weapon, and caliber’s capabilities.  Firing a 9mm handgun at 500 yards is possible.  The bullet will still be lethal once it gets there, but your probability of hitting something at that range is slim to none.  If the hotel on the Vegas strip is your background, maybe you should not take that shot.  If your background is the middle of the desert with nothing else around, go for it.

Use a spotter.  There is a reason why military teams across the world are taught and use spotters.  It works.  Grab someone that knows anything about shooting and ask them to spot for you.  Hopefully they will be able to call your hits, but don’t count on it.

Lastly, when you get involved, know that you may be sacrificing your life for others.  As a general rule in a normal mass killing, I give myself about a 50/50 chance of survival.  Half the time I’ll be killed by the bad guy, and the other half by responding police.  In a machine gun attack, if you have a long gun, your chances of getting the bad guy went up, but your chances of being killed by responding officers also went up significantly.  Know your odds going in and make an informed decision.

Escape and Evade

If you are not going to, or cannot fight, get out of there!  Escape from the gunman.

First, get away from the crowd.  Machine guns are highly effective against large groups of people, but hard to control and get small targets.  If possible, run away from the crowd.  Don’t run directly away from the gunner if possible, run at an angle.

Machine guns work on what the military calls a “beaten zone.”  It’s longer than it is wide.  If you are running straight away from the gunner, it will be easier for the machine gun to shoot you.

BEATEN ZONE – “The cone of fire striking a horizontal target forms a beaten zone which is long and narrow in shape.” – Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMFM) 6-5

Hitting an individual target at longer distances takes a very skilled gunner.  Most cannot do it well.  If you escape the crowd your chances of being hit come down to good or bad luck.  But your chances of getting hit in the crowd are much higher.  Any military person worth their salt knows this.  Spread out and move away from the crowd.

If you take cover, crowd it.  Normally we are taught to back up from cover for a dozen reasons, but in this case, especially at longer distances and if the gunner is elevated, get as close to the cover as possible.  With bullets falling down at an angle, if you back up, the gunner and gun will see over the top of cover and it will not help you.  Get close.

When you are escaping, also evade.  Evade large groups and obvious bottle necks.  Law enforcement may be pushing you towards it, but that does not mean you should go.  Lots of attacks have secondaries lately.  It could be a second gunner that is ready at another spot or a bomb set up in an assembly area.  Either way, you don’t want to be in a large crowd for a long time after the shooting stops.  Avoid crowds at almost any cost.  Including disobeying a police officer that can’t do anything about it at the time.  You can apologize later, if you survive.

Barricade and Ambush

Hiding is bull.  Hide and wait for what?  A savior?  You are on your own during the foreseeable future in any event like this.

Before you barricade yourself someplace, pick up any and every weapon you can get your hands on.  Anything hard and heavy is good.  Look around your area, you can always find something.  In office spaces, there is always a fire extinguisher.  It is hard, heavy, and even creates a cloud of smoke that could be useful.  Some places even have fire axes still on the wall.  A woman’s purse, a discarded cane, a baseball bat, or even a wrench would be better than nothing.

Go into someplace you can defend.  Lock the door (people always forget for some reason).  Put as much stuff as you can between you and the shooter.

Pile everything in that space in a manner that it will help you.  Pile a bunch of stuff in front of the door to keep people out.  Pile a bunch of stuff between you and the sound of gunfire.  Most walls are not bullet proof, but enough stuff is.  Keep piling.  Then pile stuff so that someone has to walk into your ambush if they get into the room.

Your saving grace is that once this is done, most active killers will by-pass anything they can’t get into easily.

If someone comes in, and it’s a “bad guy,” use everything you’ve got to win.  You have to, your life depends on it.  If you lose, the gunner will kill you.


Once the shooting stops, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.  Be prepared.  The carnage a machine gun can inflict on a crowd is almost unspeakable.

If you are able to, help another person.

Triage will need to be started.  Law enforcement will secure the area before they help anyone or let any medical personnel into the area. This could take a while. You are on your own until then.

If you know how to triage people, do it.  This article cannot cover the intricacies of triage, but know that it is the worst possible job anyone could ever conceive of.  The people doing triage need to decide who gets help and who doesn’t.

If you don’t know how to triage people, you can help by setting up four areas for the triage people: Non-injured, injured and can wait for assistance, injured with a little help can survive, and injured that you cannot help.  Get the non-injured to help the lightly wounded or the ones that you can help.

If you start this process you become the “Incident Commander.”  The Incident Commander is in charge of everything until the incident is over or he/she is relieved.  You will be relieved pretty fast, and need to do a hand off.  All you need to do in the hand off is tell the new commander what you have going on.  Once you take control, take control, and make things happen until someone else with more knowledge, experience, and skill comes along to relieve you.  Direct incoming emergency personnel to where they are needed and tell them what you know as they enter.  If you do it well, you will be in command.

Once law enforcement totally secures the area and you have medical personnel entering the scene, they should be safe enough to start following law enforcement direction.  They will want to keep everyone on the scene to start an investigation.

You may be searched and told you cannot leave.  Now is not the time to argue whether or not they can search and seize you.  That will come later and you can argue that in court if you think you should.  At the moment, if you don’t comply, you are liable to get hit or shot.  Do what you are told.

You will be there for a long time.  Law enforcement will want statements from everyone there, individually.  You will be asked not to talk to each other.  They want a statement of what you know and saw.  They don’t want it added to by other people that are standing around you.

If I could at this point, I would already be gone unless I was shooting, helping with first aid, or ended up as Incident Commander.  You can always go away and call the police depart later.

If you do get outside the police cordon (their secured area), get someplace safe.  Then sit down and write down everything you saw, heard, or know about the attack.  It will be very helpful for investigators later and you can give it to them later at your leisure.


Fight, Escape and Evade, or Barricade and Ambush.  Your life will depend on the things you do in the moments following the start of the attack.

If you are close enough, fight.  Stop that person from killing you and anyone else.  Go with everything you got.

If you can’t fight, Escape and Evade.  Put distance between you and the gunner, and you and the crowd.  Keep putting distance, and then, stuff (like buildings) between you and the gunner.  Just keep going.  Once you think you are safe, go further.  Max effective range on most medium machine guns is 1,800 meters or about 1.1 miles.  Just keep going.  Don’t stop or get hung up in crowds or questions (that’s the evade part).

If you can’t fight, and you can’t get away, Barricade and Ambush.  Put as much stuff between you and the gunner as possible and then set up an ambush if someone does get through your barricade.  Once you think you are set, remember an old military saying, always be improving your position.  Keep looking around for things that will make your barricade and ambush better.

Stay Safe,


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