Much is being written about active shooters lately. Since we had a couple in the last month, the news media is in a frenzy. I will not pretend to know why they are happening or what the murderers are thinking when they decided to kill as many people as possible.
First, I want to say that active shooter is a horrible description of what is really happening, these people are actively murdering people with a gun. The firearms industry is trying desperately to rename these incidents as active murders, but the news media, law enforcement, and now our military has picked up the term active shooter for these tragedies. I’m not sure it’s going to change, but you may be corrected either term you use.
Just as an overview, we can put active shooters/killers into two categories, suicidal and bully. The suicidal shooter is there to kill as many people as possible and will not stop until he is dead. He either decides he has had enough and kills himself or goes out in a blaze of glory. Years ago, at Columbine High School, two students killed themselves when they were done killing others. Murderers, like the UT Tower sniper, continued until someone killed them. The Other type of killer is a bully. They will stop when confronted by resistance. Most of these types don’t make the news because they only kill or injure a few before giving up. The shooter in Aurora Colorado was an exception, but still a bully. When someone confronted him, he gave up. A simple Google search and you find tons of stories of these types of killers. Just add “hero” to the search for shootings and you can find them.
We need to be prepared to deal with the Suicidal killer. The best way to deal with this type of evil is to put it down. Hopefully none of you will ever have to deal with one of these, but know if you do, you will have to stop them with force.
So if you get caught in a location with an active shooter, what should you do? The city of Houston made this video about active shooters and it is a pretty good overview.
The video says run, hide, fight. I want you to think a little more tactically. Think escape, barricade, and then fight. If you are with your family or others that you are responsible for their safety, you should be escaping first.
When we escape, we don’t run in panic, we move away from the threat tactically. Start by breaking into small groups. Four people is just about optimal. The group should be small enough to go unnoticed but big enough to help each other or take down a single attacker. If an entire mob of 20 or 30 people tries to go the same direction, it draws the attention of everyone, including the shooter. Don’t be last, and don’t be first, if at all possible. Move away from the gunfire and the noise. You will want to look and find out what is going on. The gunfire is the only information you need, just keep moving.
Leave everything that isn’t a weapon. Leave your car if it’s not on the way out, or if the parking lot is full of other cars moving. As you move spread out. It’s the hardest thing to do, even for trained military and law enforcement, but you need to spread out so that you are a harder target if anyone is trying to shoot you. Lastly when you are escaping, don’t run to police officers unless they are calling to you or giving you orders. They should be moving to stop the threat. They aren’t going to stop to help you or someone that is hurt. They need to stop the shooter. If you run at the cops, you could get into their line of fire and cause a horrific tragedy.
Second, think about barricading yourself somewhere. Don’t just hide, but lock yourself away as much as possible. Turn off the lights, lock the door, and then pile crap in front of the door really fast and then be quite. Tactical patience is the hardest thing to teach and learn. If you are hiding, you will feel panic and a need to move. You will also feel like you’ve been there forever. You need to wait. It will be the hardest thing to do in your life. If possible, barricade the door and have an escape route planned, even if it’s throwing something through a window and jumping. It’s better than staying and being executed.
Lastly, be prepared to fight with everything you have. Don’t think about karate or hand to hand, pick up anything you can find. A fire extinguisher is a good improvised weapon. It’s really heavy and really hard. Look around, a kitchen knife, a board, a mop handle, or a chair. Look around for anything that you can swing that would hurt if you get hit. Be prepared to swarm as a group if possible. Also, be prepared to hit again and again until the gunman goes down and drops the gun. Even then, be prepared to continue hitting if necessary.
Despite what you have heard on the news lately, active shooters are pretty rare. Having a plan can help you overcome the paralyzing fear that may grip you and allow you to survive. Think about what you would do if you got caught in an active shooter situation, it just might save your life.