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Reacting to an Active Shooter Situation

May 06, 2017 0 comments

If you pay any attention to the mainstream media, it seems like the rate of shootings is skyrocketing. That isn’t really true, at least not as far as statistics are concerned. Even with the popularity amongst some circles of going out in a blaze of glory in a mass shooting and the risk of terrorism, the rise in shootings here in the USA is slight. It’s just that the media is making it sound worse, in order to create fear and push their gun control agenda.

The more spectacular mass shootings we’ve seen in the last few years has caught a lot of media attention, which just encourages other disturbed young men to do the same. They’ll seek out a gun free zone, plan their attack thoroughly and see how many bodies they can take with them to whatever Valhalla they believe in.

More alarmingly, shootings in Europe and the countries with a strong Muslim presence is on the rise. That’s mostly due to extremist Islamic terrorism. We are in what is known as the third jihad age and Islam is on the move, both militarily through terrorism and culturally through social jihad. They are bent on conquering the world and they don’t care how many infidels they have to kill to succeed.

Then there’s the whole problem of the progressive-liberal Democrat party and their collective outrage that Hillary Clinton did not win the presidential elections. You’d think that after more than six months, they’d get over it, but they obviously haven’t. The shooting of Republican Whip Steve Scalise by a former Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer proves that.

We really shouldn’t be at all surprised by that shooting. For myself, I’m more surprised that it took so long for such a thing to happen. With all the inflaming rhetoric coming out of Democrat politicians, Hollywood and the mainstream press, such things are bound to happen.

So while the actual statistics don’t make it seem like you and I are any more likely to die of a sudden ingestion of lead, the chances of finding ourselves in an active shooter situation are higher than they have been in years. Perhaps they’re even higher than the Hollywood version of the Old West (which is much more violent than the real one was).

As we’ve all seen a number of times, these active shooter situations are quite deadly. But the bigger problem from a law-enforcement point of view is that the shooters are learning from each other, with each one adopting things that worked from the previous one. That is making them deadlier still, as well as being harder for law-enforcement officers to contend with.

Much of the militarization we are seeing in our nation’s police forces is due to this specific danger. Whether dealing with a disturbed youth who has devised a spectacular way of committing suicide, or dealing with terrorists who are willing to put their lives on the table, the situation isn’t much different. In either case, the shooter isn’t expecting to get out alive, so they will do whatever it takes to make sure they take as many as they can with them.

This is Why I Carry

It is this very risk all around us, which is why I have had my concealed carry license for a number of years. Even though it’s an inconvenience, I carry every day, not only to protect myself and my family, but because I see it as a social responsibility also. By protecting myself, I am protecting society at large from dangers such as these.

A concealed carry license doesn’t give you any more right to shoot someone or to brandish a firearm and threaten someone, than anyone else has. All it does is state that you have a right to carry a loaded firearm on your person, concealed in your clothing or whatever you are carrying.

Had it not been for the Capitol Police officers who were guarding Steve Scalise when that shooter cut loose, the event would have been much more serious. Rather than the shooter being the only one who died on the scene, there would have been bodies everywhere. His intent had been to shoot Republicans and he picked a target rich environment to take his stand.

Thanks to the quick actions of the Capital Police, the situation didn’t get to that point. But you and I don’t have assigned security guards, hovering over us with their guns close at hand. Since the police can’t be everywhere, we must be prepared to protect ourselves. Otherwise, there’s just too much chance of us becoming a statistic.

An armed person has the ability to defend themselves, something the sheeple can’t do. That’s all there is to it. In today’s modern world, there is no other weapon you can carry, which will give you the same degree of protection that carrying a gun will.

Get Yourself Some Training

Of course, carrying it isn’t enough. Gun’s don’t operate on their own. It takes quite a bit of practice to develop the skill necessary to shoot accurately, especially in an active shooter situation. So don’t think you can just buy a gun and shoot like John Wayne with an attitude. Not only did John Wayne practice a lot, but he didn’t have to hit his targets anyway, he had the special effects department available to do that for him.

So, how much should you practice? To the point where you can bring your shot group down as small as possible. I can shoot a one inch group at 7 yards on slow fire. But the more important grouping is that I can shoot a 2-1/2” group at 7 yards on rapid fire. Of course, the faster you shoot, the harder it is to be accurate.

In an active shooter situation, you must be ready for your body to be pumping adrenalin into your veins by the bucketful. That’s necessary for the “fight or flight” reaction. But one of the things that adrenalin does is to debilitate our fine motor skills, such as trigger control. So, you won’t be able to shoot anywhere near as good as normal. Figure on shooting at about 20% of your normal shooting ability, especially where accuracy is concerned.

What that means is that my 2-1/2” rapid fire group will be five times that big, or 10” in an active shooter situation. That’s actually not too bad. With that sized group, chances are that the majority of my shots will hit my intended target. But what if I had a 5” rapid fire group, double that size?

Applying the same percentage of effectiveness to that five inch group, I’d end up with a 25 inch group. Few people are actually that wide. So what I would end up with is the majority of my shots missing the person altogether, passing on one side of them or the other. If I actually hit them, it would be luck more than anything else.

But those bullets that didn’t hit them would continue flying downrange, where they will eventually hit something. Hopefully that will be a cement wall, or something else that can stop a bullet. If not, it might encounter a person, an innocent bystander. That would be tragic, and I would go to jail for manslaughter.

Situational Awareness – The First Step

Most people today walk around with their heads in their smartphones, oblivious to what’s going on around them. That makes it very easy for them to walk into a dangerous situation or for such a situation to develop around them, without them even realizing it. These people are the type of people who fall victim to crimes of all types, including active shooter situations.

You and I obviously don’t want to fall into that trap, so we need to develop situational awareness. “What’s that?” you might ask. it’s nothing more than being aware of what’s going on around you. More than anything, it requires looking with the intent to see, not just seeing everything as part of the background.

Understand the Environment

In order to do this, we have to start with understanding of the environment we are in. Each and every place we go will have its own look, its own sounds and its own feel. We must understand what that is, in each of those places, so that we will recognize when something is out of place. This is one of the easiest tools to spot potential problems, whether caused by criminal activity or terrorism.

The first time you go to an area, you should take some time to get a feel for it. Walk around a little bit and study the people. How do they move? How do they talk to each other? What is their demeanor? Do they seem wary or worried? Are they rushing from place to place, as if to avoid contact or danger? Do they look like they fit the environment?

The people are the critical part, but you want to look at the rest of the environment too. What sort of background noises are common? How does the lighting play across the buildings and what sorts of shadows does it create? Is there animal live? If so, they can act as an alarm to danger. Where are the access and egress points, especially the less obvious ones?

All this information will help you to notice something that is out of place. On future visits to that same place, you can quickly review the environment, to see if anything is out of place. While most of us are likely to notice a new building going up, few are able to notice a new person on the streets.

Raise Your Awareness Level

But it’s not just enough to know what’s the norm in any environment, you have to be aware of and catch the things that are abnormal. All that knowing the environment does is make it easier for those to stand out to you.

Many people talk about “keeping your head on a swivel.” This refers to constantly looking around. Don’t just look down, like many people do, look all around. You want to see what’s up ahead, what might be coming at you from the sides and even what’s going on behind you. Many a person has been caught by surprise, simply because they forgot to “check six” (check what’s going on in their six o-clock position, directly behind them).

But looking isn’t enough, if you’re not looking with your eyes open and your brain engaged. Our eyes pass over things all day long, without really seeing them. That’s mostly because we aren’t actually looking. Either that or we’re looking for one particular thing and ignoring everything else.

You know how it is; the average person can pass someone they know on the streets, without recognizing them. Why? Because they aren’t looking. So, we need to change our awareness level, so that we are actually looking to see what’s around us. There are five levels of awareness:

  • White – Ignoring what’s going on around us. This is where most people live.
  • Yellow – Aware and looking for a potential threat.
  • Orange – A potential threat (or threats) has been identified and is being evaluated. Closer attention is being paid to that threat, for any indication that it will manifest.
  • Red – The threat is identified and verified. You are ready for action. At the slightest provocation, your hand is going to be heading for your holster.
  • Black – Unconscious or stunned. Unable to properly evaluate what is going on around you.

You and I need to learn to live our lives in condition yellow. All day long, we need to be looking for and categorizing potential threats; dismissing those that are not really a threat and keeping track of those that may be.

As part of this, we should be going through the mental exercise of developing a plan of action, should a particular threat manifest. I realize this may sound a bit paranoid, but the old saying of “failure to plan is planning to fail” applies. At least for all the places we frequent, we need to have some clear plans of action that we would take, should some sort of criminal activity take place.

We never want to focus on one threat to the point where we have tunnel vision and miss other potential threats. This is an old military tactic, which many criminals teams use. They present one thing to attract and keep your attention, while the greater threat is coming up to blindside you.

Improving Your Situational Awareness

Anyone can improve their situational awareness, with practice. All it takes it forcing yourself to look and see what’s around you, especially the things that look out of place. Use the following games to help you with your training:

  • Counting the number of cars of one particular color that pass you on the road
  • Looking for cars that you see every day on your commute
  • When you leave a room, ask yourself who was there and what they were wearing
  • Take a 30 second look at a scene and then try to sketch it. When you get good, start dropping the time you allow yourself to look
  • Look to see how many people are wearing glasses, a wedding ring, a necklace or a watch
  • Try to spot squirrels or birds in the trees

I’m sure you’re getting the idea. The possibilities are literally endless; and each of them will help you to see things more clearly. Then you can start going on to the next step:

  • Look to see if parked cars have their wheels straight or turned. Do it quickly, without fixing on the cars
  • As you pass buildings, look to see which windows are opened and which are closed. For the closed windows, are they covered by drapes, curtains, blinds or shades?
  • Try to catch house or building address numbers as you drive by
  • In a crowded place, pick out the people who could be carrying concealed. Look for people wearing jackets out of season, with lumps under their clothing or carrying packages that are out of place.

These sorts of exercises are harder, because they require that you notice things quickly, without giving yourself time to study them. But true situational awareness requires seeing things quickly. You don’t have time to study each and every person. You must be able to look them over quickly and determine if they are a potential threat or just someone else in your way.

Your First Action in an Active Shooter Situation

Developing your situational awareness gives you the chance to shave a couple of critical seconds off of your reaction time. If you are aware of everything going on around you, your chances will be pretty good of spotting someone about to take action. From there, you will move into condition orange and then red. When they go loud, your hand will already be reaching for your gun.

What you’ve done in that case is eliminate the element of surprise. You will already have taken the mental leap from everything peaceful, to going into action, something that takes at least two or three seconds and can take a whole lot longer.

But your first reaction should not be to start shooting. Yes, draw your gun, but hold it at the ready; don’t shoot yet. You’ve got something much more important to do. That is, moving to cover. You need to get something that can stop a bullet between you and the shooter, so that you don’t end catching one of their slugs, if they just hold down the trigger and start spraying.

If you have your family with you, you’ll need to get them to cover as well. Remember, they’ll be stunned by the situation and not reacting well. So you may very well need to physically grab them and pull them to safety. Don’t worry about being nice, you’re trying to save their life.

Ultimately, shooting might be necessary for survival; but survival is necessary so that you can shoot. That’s why getting to cover is more important than shooting the bad guys. Of course, if there is no cover available, you’ll need to start shooting. In that case, knock your family to the floor, take up a good shooting stance and open fire.

Your Second Action

Assuming you’re not in that situation where you’re caught out in the open, right in front of the shooter, you should have a few seconds, to think, once you get to cover. Take that time. Use it. Think the situation through. How many shooters are there? How far are they away? What sorts of guns are they shooting? How many rounds are they likely to have, before they have to reload? What direction are they looking? Are they shooting deliberately or just spraying lead?

Having a good grasp on the situation will prepare you for the next mental step, which is to develop a plan of action. Granted, it’s not going to be able to be a detailed plan of action, as you will only have a second or two to develop it. But that’s a whole lot better than opening fire, without thinking through. That couple of seconds could be what takes away their advantage and gives it to you.

Consider Running

Part of your decision process should be considering whether it makes more sense to hide where you are, attack the bad guys or to run and get out of danger. Obviously, you want to pick the choice which gives you and your family the greatest chance of survival. That may not be easy to determine, so you’ll have to take your best guess.

The idea of running may not hit you right. I understand, it doesn’t hit me very well either. But my greater responsibility is to protect my family, not to apprehend the bad guy. Once I get my family out of danger, then I can be a hero and take on the shooter. But if I don’t get them to safety first, I am abdicating my responsibility. The worst part of that is that my heroics could cost their lives.

Remember that in an active shooter situation you will probably be up against someone who is armed with a rifle, and all you have is a pistol. You will be fighting at a disadvantage. There is no shame in running at a time like that. That’s what any sane person would do. It also gives you the opportunity to plan an actual attack, rather than just reacting to the situation.

Finally, Take Direct Action

Yes, I believe in shooting the bad guy. I’m not a pussy trying to tell you that you shouldn’t use guns. I already advocated the idea of carrying concealed. So like you, I’d want to get my licks in and take out the bad guy, hopefully before the police could get there to stop me.

You’ve got to be careful about this. Where I live, our state laws allow killing in self-defense and in the defense of others. So, if I went back into the fray to protect other people’s lives who were at risk, even though mine was not, I would be protected by the law. But not all states have the provision for protecting others. You need to be sure of what your state law says, before charging into battle.

Another important legal factor to remember is that shooting someone in the back, even while they are killing other people, doesn’t have the appearance of self-defense. It either looks like you hunted them down to kill them or they had quit the field of battle and you shot them as they were leaving. Neither will play out well for you. Your claim of self-defense or defense of others will be thin enough to read through.

When you do have to shoot, whether as soon as the shooter goes loud or after getting your family to safety, take your time. Remember, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” It is much more important that you get one good shot in their ten ring, than you shoot up a bunch of ammo trying to hit them. So take your time.

If you can, move to a position where you are close to them, say within seven yards. That will help mitigate the advantage they have, by using a rifle. While a rifle still has more firepower, the accuracy factor at that range isn’t as much of an issue. If you can be off to one side as well, that will force them to have to turn to face you, giving you a momentary advantage. It’s not much, but you’ve got to play every card you’ve got.

Getting off to the side is even more important with multiple killers. If you can place yourself where one killer is between you and the others, you’ll be able to deal with just that one at first. Then hopefully you’ll be able to deal with the others one at a time as well. Superior shooting, one at a time, is really your only chance of winning.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave


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