Are you prepared for an active shooter?
You see and read about, both fiction and non-fiction, police shootouts on TV, print, & on line. Police and military think about and train for them. But what should you do if you ever encounter one yourself?
Every situation is different. And most of us aren’t security or police officers. Even ex-military, we may not be fully prepared for such an event in civilian life, as if anyone really is. What should you do to save yourself, friends, and loved ones if bullets start flying in your business, or the one you’re visiting? Let me tell you what I think is best to save your life, even if you’re just out shopping.
Some states allow their citizens to openly carry their firearms. If you want to, and you live in such a state, by all means do so. States with the least restrictive firearm laws are usually the ones that see the fewest firearm crimes. Rarely do mass shootings occur in a state that allows open carry.
But if you’re at work or school, that may not be an option for you and your friends, especially in schools, at all levels. While the states may allow you to do so, many companies, municipalities, & universities won’t allow you to carry into their facilities. The 2 main reasons are that they are afraid of causing a panic or that they are against firearms at all. But those are for later discussions.
There is an option, developed by the Department of Homeland Security a few years ago that works. Run, Hide, or Fight and some are amending that to say defend – which is the same thing as fight. And I will tell you about them, with one added step before.
It will be difficult to do. And most won’t be able to suppress the natural inclination of flight. But you have to try and steady yourself and your shattering nerves and DON’T PANIC! That’s right, you can’t panic and become rooted where you stand or sit.
That is the most normal instinct for us. Fight or flight, and in this instance it would be flee from a ‘crazed gunman’. But panic necessarily needs to last only a moment before your instincts to protect others needs to kick in. Because there will be others that need your help to uproot their feet and move them along to safety.
Now, here is my take on the R H F/D;
If you can do it safely then Run. This is the safest thing to do. If you can get out of the line of fire and away from the scene of the gunfire, do it. This is why evacuation plans exist in most businesses. Although only 17% of businesses have an active shooter evacuation plan, it still makes sense.
If your employer doesn’t have such a plan, then do what you can to make up your own. If you know that the shooter is a current or former employee, DON’T take the planned evacuation route, no matter what.
You may ask How crazy is that? But think: who knows the evacuation route better than an employee? If that shooter is going to target specific people, then they’ll know which routes to go to & begin shooting at those attempting to escape. You need to find another way that may not be on the official evacuation plan or as well known to the shooter.
If you can’t escape but can take cover to hide… Find a good “hidey hole” and stay there until emergency personnel arrives to rescue you. It doesn’t matter where this “hidey hole” is, just as long as it will keep you safe and sound.
A couple of things to keep in mind when attempting to find a ‘hidey hole’ during this nerve rattling and panicky situation:
- behind a cabinet, ensuring it’s sturdy and can withstand bullets
- behind or under a desk, and don’t peek out
- inside a closet that locks, and stay low to the floor
- in a storm cellar, if newer buildings even have them
- The restroom, standing on the toilet in a closed stall, hunkered over
- somewhere similar
Once you’re there, stay quiet. It does no good to hide away from a shooter, but make noises that will attract him to you, because If you do that… And for the sake of your friends, find another place to hide, if you have a respiratory issue that could cause you to breathe or wheeze loudly.
You have a couple of options with this. The 1st, obviously, is to stand your ground and confront the shooter. And if you decide to confront them be prepared to fight. Use whatever is at hand to distract them and get the gunsights off you. Throw things at him, hands, feet, staplers, cups, vases, books, folders, binders, even chairs, anything can make a weapon.
the 2nd option is, again, to run if you can. If you decide you can make it out of your ‘hidey hole’ and be safe, then do it. Keep in mind, by leaving your hiding spot you may still have to fight the shooter and you lose your only advantage.
Despite what people you hear would have you believe most shooters will not just randomly start shooting at anyone and everyone. More than 95% of incidents are targeted. Many times, shooters will walk right by someone, for no apparent reason, and shoot others. Rarely, are the victims chosen at random. Unless their rage is unfocused and it was ‘everyone’ who was against them.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear