The first step in surviving an active shooter is recognizing that no one is more responsible for your safety then you are. It is your responsibility to learn the steps you need to take to save your own life in the event you’re ever in such a tragedy.
According to studies published by the FBI, most active shooter incidents are over in under two minutes. The average law enforcement response time is much longer.
First respondents are incapable of being everywhere at the same time. And as the events in Parkland as well as other active shooter incidents have clearly shown, some first respondents may simply refuse to take any kind of action to protect others that endangers themselves.
Prepare yourself to deal with an active shooter
You must prepare yourself mentally to survive and active shooter incident and develop a plan of action to take. Examine your daily life and places you visit each day. Look for the exits in every building you enter, making a mental note of their locations if you need to use one of them.
If something happened while you were at work, what actions would you take? How could you get out of the area depending on the location of an attacker? What things are around that you could use as improvised weapons?
Something else you should consider is, what are some things near you that could stop a bullet? A backpack or briefcase of books has the potential of stopping many types of calibers and saving your life. Hiding behind a bookshelf or heavy piece of furniture may also work.
Run Hide Fight
The technique taught by most organizations include run, hide and fight. This is good advice. However, there are limits we can’t ignored. If you are able to get out of the area then you should. If you cannot leave then try to hide, silencing your cellphone so it doesn’t alert an attacker to your location. And the last option is to fight for your life.
Unless you are certain of the direction of the attacker you may run directly into him. Gun fire can echo. This may cause someone to think there are multiple shooters. It may sound like it is coming from a different direction. This thought process is heightened by being in an extremely stressful situation and may lead to bad judgments.
Locking the doors to your office, hiding under a desk or in a closet where the active shooter can’t see you is another option. If the shooter does find you, the only option you have left is to fight for your life.
Use anything you can as a weapon against the attacker. Work as a group if others are with you. You have a greater chance of survival by fighting an active shooter then you do of laying down waiting to get shot.
According to an FBI report entitled Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017 there were a total of 50 active shooter incidents during those years. Ten of those incidents were stopped by citizens who engaged the shooter. Armed citizens stopped the majority of those attacks. The report says:
Citizen Engagement and Casualties
In 10 incidents, citizens confronted the shooter. In eight of those incidents, one or more citizens safely
and successfully acted to end the shooting.
■ In four incidents, unarmed citizens confronted or persuaded the shooter to end the shooting. In two
incidents, school staff confronted and restrained the shooter. In one incident, the citizen used
his car to thwart the shooter. In one incident, the citizen persuaded the shooter to surrender via
telephone during a police chase; she ran up to the shooter’s car as he came to a stop and pulled him
out of his seat, bringing the chase to an end.
■ In four incidents, citizens possessing valid firearms permits successfully stopped the shooter. In
two incidents, citizens exchanged gunfire with the shooter. In two incidents, the citizens held the
shooter at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived.
■ In one incident, a citizen possessing a valid firearms permit exchanged gunfire with the shooter,
causing the shooter to flee to another scene and continue shooting.
■ In one incident, a citizen possessing a valid firearms permit was wounded before he could fire at the
Self-defense training is very important also for anyone who wants to protect themselves. The training you get should go beyond one single discipline. For example, getting firearms training is great but what happens if you are in a building where carrying is not an option? What do you do if you’re in a crowd of people where there is a great risk of hitting an innocent bystander if you use your firearm to protect yourself?
Beyond firearms training, another program I support but am not affiliated with is the ALICE Training Institute which works to help organizations and individuals learn techniques that can save their lives. Expand your training to include multiple things if you want to be truly effective.
There is no single thing we can do to ensure these tragedies will never happen again. Your personal security should be made from levels of various techniques and strategies to keep yourself safe. After developing your plan and getting the training and tools necessary, do not neglect regular practice of your plan in the event you ever need to use it.