The following is by TTAG reader Accur81
Newtown. Aurora. Columbine. This article is written in partial response to RF’s post on response to active shooter scenarios and is informed by my personal experience and the ongoing training that I have received in firearms training and active shooter scenarios. I fully realize that the armed citizen has no obligation to engage an active shooter. I also know that off-duty LEOs are discouraged from doing so. However, the following is a guide, something to think about if you were to engage an active shooter met during an escape, to assist in your family getting out, or to minimize loss of life prior to police arriving on the scene . . .
1. Preparation and Evaluation
I don’t claim to be the world’s expert on this topic, but I have responded to actual shooting incidents in a law enforcement capacity. Your state of mental preparation is important. Have you ever operated in a stressful environment? Do you have confidence in your ability to quickly make decisions when lives are on the line? Preparation is vital to responding quickly. Most regular members of the Armed Intelligentsia have probably considered how they would respond in the face of a violent encounter.
The scenario that you will respond the most quickly and effectively to is the fight that you have already won in your own mind, given decisions that you’ve already made. There are many good resources on this subject such as The Bulletproof Mind by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman.
Physical fitness, firearm maintenance and experience with your personal firearm are your allies. On those, I’ve found TTAG to be an excellent resource.
Here’s one you may not have thought about: mind your appearance. Is today the day the days you dressed in black hooded sweatshirt? Are you sporting your cool black 5.11 tactical pants and a camouflage shirt? You clearly don’t want to be mistaken for the active shooter.
Ideally, you would be dressed in “normal clothes,” something casual or “business casual” which would allow fast movement while maintaining the concealed carry of your firearm. When out and about, I usually wear a button-down shirt, jeans, and leather shoes. My short hair and appearance allow me to look like an off-duty LEO, frankly, because I am. Active shooter training teaches officers to distinguish their targets, but each officer or SWAT member has a different level of training and competence.
Evaluate your weapons. A snub-nosed .38 special or .380 mouse gun has far less ballistic capability than the Glocks, AR-15s, and shotguns toted by some of our most recent recent active shooters. I personally consider those firearms to be defensive only. The tactical reality is that virtually any handgun is far inferior to a long gun or AR-15 in a violent confrontation.
Handgun calibers will require multiple hits for faster incapacitation and your adversary may be wearing body armor. Still, speed and violence of action win fights. I have shot handguns, AR-15s, and shotguns extensively and would not want any of them fired in my direction regardless of how I am equipped.
2.Locate the Active Shooter
In a movie theatre, school, or public place, lives can be lost very quickly. An active shooter is typically defined as an armed person or persons in a public place with nearly unlimited access to potential victims.
When I train in emergency response, I use the fast, slow, fast philosophy. When moving to an incident, I train LEOs to travel quickly. Any speed and path of travel is legitimate, so long as it does not place the public at undue risk, damage the patrol car or cause a collision.
The armed, or potentially armed, civilian can likewise respond quickly if they are in the very near vicinity of an active shooter incident. Move quickly, on foot, and maintain your concealed carry. Notify your family and friends to move quickly back to the car, or back home as quickly as possible. If your family contacts police, ask them to describe you and the clothes that you are wearing. Tell your family to clearly advise the police that you stayed behind to try to stop the shooter and give other people time to escape.
Using cover and concealment, move fast in the opposite direction of the running. Civilians will likely move outward from the epicenter of the event. If you are so bold, move towards the gunfire. Scan your environment. Listen. Ask those who are running what the shooter or shooters look like, and what he is wearing. Ask if there are multiple shooters. It’s likely that the shooter will be recognizable by wearing tactical gear, but slow your response enough in order to be sure of your target.
If possible, gain a tactical position of elevation and/or cover prior to contacting the shooter. Move slowly enough to know your target and what is beyond him. Every hit is a victory, and every miss is a liability. Try to engage the shooter(s) from a downward or upward angle to reduce the possibility that your rounds will strike a bystander. Fire until the threat stops, or until your ammunition is depleted. Re-holster, conceal your weapon and quickly move away from the shooter(s).
Do not attempt first aid and re-evaluate your immediate environment for additional threats. If your ammunition is gone, consider dropping your handgun in a trash can or mail box to minimize the possibility of confusion when encountering law enforcement personnel.
3. Immediately comply with all commands of uniformed LEO and SWAT personnel. Lawyer up and STFU.
Keep perspective. It’s possible that United Flight 93 did not strike our Capital because the passengers fought back. No passengers survived that flight, but no one on the ground was killed. I consider them all heroes. Anyone who stops an active shooter can potentially save dozens of lives, and I would rather die trying to save a life than in a host of other ways.