Mall (courtesy wisegeek.com)

“We don’t want to get into the debate over whether more or fewer armed individuals contribute to or detract from a bad situation,” lifehacker.com avers in their how-to-stay-safe-during-a-mass-shooting guide. “However, we did ask our experts what they would tell someone who’s armed to do in a violent situation. Their advice was unanimous: If you’re armed, do the same as they suggest for everyone else [run, hide, fight]. Engaging an assailant should be a last resort unless you’re trained to deal with these types of situations (and even then, their first responsibility may be to get the public out of harm’s way before dealing with the threat at hand.)” That said, they also said . . .

“I know that some people have their own weapons but you can’t ignore the benefits of training, tactical knowledge, strategy and experience. Escape should be the primary goal for anyone who does not possess the traits listed above.”

Really? How much tactical training does it take to shoot someone shooting innocent people? Maybe a lot, maybe not so much, maybe none at all. Are you really going to stand there and think “Nope. I don’t have the experience level required for this situation. Sorry.” This advice ignores a couple of important considerations:

1. Is there anyone with you? If one or more of my daughters are with me, they are Job One. Full stop.

2. Can you live with yourself if you don’t engage the bad guy or guys? I’m not sure I could.

3. How long before the police arrive? If the cops are almost or already on scene, I’m out.

4. Can you make the shot? Depends on a large number of variables: distance to target, availability of cover and concealment, number and placement of nearby innocents, which gun you’re carrying, which gun they’re carrying, etc.

I would submit to you that all of that can and will be calculated in a the blink of an eye. The only question I want to ask here is this: if you’re all by your lonesome, the cops aren’t around, a spree killer is killing innocent people and you think you might have the shot – but you aren’t completely sure – would you still take it? Would you wait and see? Or would you run? [h/t JF]

183 Responses to Question of the Day: Active Shooter – Run or Shoot?

  1. Sure I would shoot. Since I’m a little bit older I would take the risk, especially to save someone much younger than me.

    • We must also keep in mind that while so far the spree killing in the U.S. have been limited to one or two madmen, this may not always be the case.

      I would certainly attempt to confront and stop a single active shooter, carefully, but he is going to be focusing widely on his victims and I am going to be focused very narrowly on shooting HIM.

    • Good points. I understand the Medford, OR mall shooter stopped shooting others when confronted by a concealed carrier who drew down on him, but didn’t take the shot because of people behind the shooter.

      If clear, hell yes, engage. Stopping the threat doesn’t mean even hitting him. Most of these spree shooters tend to off themselves when faced by almost any direct confrontation. Their goal is to off themselves, not to get shot by someone else. That would ruin their internal vision of themselves going out in a blaze of righteous glory. Getting pummeled by a crowd or shot by a cop/bystander and taken out screaming in pain on a stretcher to face arrest and public condemnation are their deal breakers.

      • ^ This!

        While I cannot recall the exact percentage, I do remember that a supermajority of spree killers immediately surrender or kill themselves at quite literally the first sign of armed resistance.

        If I had any cover or concealment at all and there was NOT a mass of people immediately beyond the shooter, I would definitely take the shot, regardless of distance. Even if I miss, I can provide suppression fire and that alone stops the spree killer.

        It gets dicey if the spree killer is in the middle of a crowd. I would still probably take the shot for two reasons:
        (1) If I miss the spree killer and hit a bystander, where my bullet strikes the bystander is a random spot on their body and random shots are rarely life threatening.
        (2) If I were in the crowd, unarmed, and faced a high probability of the spree killer killing me, I would want the Good Samaritan to take the shot even if it meant the Good Samaritan misses and unintentionally shoots me in the process of trying to shoot the spree killer. Would I be angry? Of course. Would I be angry at the Good Samaritan? NO. Would I press charges against the Good Samaritan? Definitely NOT.

      • 505markf wrote: “I understand the Medford [Clackamas], OR mall shooter stopped shooting others when confronted by a concealed carrier who drew down on him, but didn’t take the shot because of people behind the shooter.”

        I would have taken that shot. Why? Because the odds are better that fewer innocents would die if I shot (even if I missed), than if I didn’t and the active shooter kept killing people.

        None of The Four Rules for gun safety are absolutes. There are rare times when one or even two of The Rules can and should be violated. This was one of those times.

        [Putting my flame-proof suit on now.]

        • FLAMING!!!! …. not. The call about whether to shoot or not shoot is unique not just for every situation, but for every moment within a situation. In the mall shooting, the gunman quit when presented with a firearm in another’s hands. But how can anyone know in advance what such a sick person would do? Short answer is no one can know. Maybe he just instead dumps twenty rounds and hits six or seven more people…

          No second guessing, nor any Monday morning quarterbacking, can ever suffice to judge a decision made in milliseconds for the right reason, regardless of the outcome. All anyone can do is their best at any given instant and trust their training, their equipment, and frankly their guts, to make the best decision they can.

        • “I would have taken that shot.”

          You’d have been wrong.

          “Why?”

          Because the active shooter had stopped firing and stood down.

    • All rules MUST have exceptions. In most cases the four rules are extremely important, BUT in some cases blind adherence to dogma can get you and other people very dead.

      In the case of a (single) active shooter intent on inflicting mass casualties it should be your primary concern to make him stop shooting, or at the very least direct his shots towards you rather than innocent victims. Since he WILL keep shooting people until he is forced to stop you must consider that if you have a sight picture you must take the shot, regardless of what is behind the shooter.

      Yes, there is some chance your shot will miss, or over-penetrate, and kill or injure someone downrange. This would be unfortunate, but the primary goal is to protect all the potential victims by stopping the attack and you must consider how many people might be killed or injured by the active shooter if you DO NOT take your shot as opposed to the remote possibility that you might injure an innocent if you take the only possible shot you can.

      This becomes even more important in the case of multiple shooters. The question becomes not if you might injure an innocent accidentally, but how many might you save if you take the shot.

      YMMV – this will always be a difficult decision.

  2. The term “active shooter” is part of brain washing propaganda to condition people to think that all people who shoot for sport and have guns are killers. Think about it, aren’t you “active” and aren’t you “shooting” when you’re at the range? Aren’t you a “shooter” who is “active” in life? You should use the term “active killer” as not to support their brainwashing propaganda. Its like the gun grabbers never stop with this nonsense of programming peoples subconscious minds, even effecting the minds of gun owners with these brainwashing techniques.

    • Agreed. More appropriate terms would be “spree killer,” “mass murderer,” or good old fashioned “terrorist.”

      • I am sure terrorist is the very best name that is out there.We must start using it at all cost. Label them for what they are.

        • Not sure about the “terrorist” label. Farago has a post about CT in which he postulates that the powers that be will start labeling the unregistered gun owners as domestic terrorists. The correct term should be “mass murderers.” My $.02.

        • For a long time a terrorist was defined as someone who attacked civilians in order to achieve a political aim, which is true of none of these mass murderers.

          More recently, in the US it’s come to mean anyone who doesn’t do what Mordor on the Potomac wants. I don’t think a mass murderer even really fits this definition, as mass murder benefits the government.

        • Wrong! Terrorist is just another label. Disagree with the government….Terrorist! Own firearms…..Terrorist! Believe in the Bill of Rights and a Constitutionalist….Terrorist! Want to take toothpaste with you on a plane…Terrorist!

        • To Ken above, “Mordor on the Potomac” is just about the perfect label.

    • I’ve also found the term, “active shooter,” rather curious. It’s really a redundant phrase. It’s like saying, “active runner” or “active jumper.”

      As opposed to what? A “passive shooter?”

      I agree that the language is neither accidental nor benign. It is very much intentional.

    • Active shooter refers to the guy still actively shooting in a spree killing or like in that NJ mall shooting, just shooting, if he stops and holes up somewhere and/or takes hostages it changes to a barricaded suspect….. It changes how the police respond from seek and stop the shooter mode to secure the perimeter contain the bad guy and start to negotiate if applicable.

    • I don’t know if I can lay claim to it, but the phrase I use in my training is ‘Active Killer.’ They don’t all have guns–sometimes they have knives, as in China. In any case, what they are doing is actively killing–until someone or some thing makes them inactive, hopefully permanently. Then, the killing part stops.

    • I get what you’re saying, “active shooter” in the since of active skier or active hobbyist of any kind. Even similar to avid reader. I’ve just never found that term to be an intentional play on words, conflating activity in the shooting sports with spree killing, albeit only by subconscious word association. I’ve always considered it strictly in its intended meaning, namely a murderous shooter whose rampage is ongoing, not just one and done and fled the scene.

      It’s like throwing a dart at the wall, then drawing the bull’s eye around it. Suggesting a wordplay plot to disparage firearms owners, among the many actual plots out there designed to do just that, strikes me as writing a coincidental term on the wall, then drawing the conspiracy theory around it.

      • I understand where you are coming from. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a conspiracy theory , that’s a bit paranoid. It’s just Nuero Linguistic Programming. It’s the science of using words to shake your unconscious perception. It’s used everyday in marketing and by politicians that talk to you. You conscious mind sees it for what You believe it’s intended. However your subconscious mind sees it differently. The conscious and subconscious work differently. It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s just a cheap tactic to shape your perception. It’s a technique used by used car salesmen, lawyers and pick up artists and people who come up with the term “active shooter”, it’s about shaping public perception. It’s not a conspiracy theory of some shadow group , it’s a technique you can learn in a library and actively practiced by marketing firms

        • Nah, cooperation to conduct a conspiracy is a separate issue from what tools and techniques they use. The idea of word association may be quite old and familiar itself, but that’s its own issue.

          There’s no conspiracy out there, no effort conscious or otherwise, to link the shooting sports with shooting sprees by use of the term “active shooter.” That’s just paranoia.

      • And mayors against guns don’t want your fire arms, they would never try to get face book to remove gun posts, registration doesn’t equal confiscation, the media doesn’t ignore positive gun stories in the news, and there is no conspiracy to use words to shape public perception. That whole term “assault weapon”, thats just another coincidence, its all just “coincidence”……
        Everything is okay ….just go back to sleep….its going to be okay…

        • No, those are legitimate examples and each can be supported with evidence on their own. This “active shooter” business, however, cannot. If it could, one of you would have made a reasoned argument by now, instead of just snotty, little know-it-all bromides, no?

          Yes, they play games with terms like “assault weapon” and “high capacity magazine”, but that doesn’t by itself mean that “active shooter ” is some secret code word to denigrate all shooting sports enthusiasts as spree killers. That’s just paranoia and hypersensitivity on your part.

          Geez, just because “A” is real and “B” is kinda sorta similar to “A”, that doesn’t automatically make “B” real, too. By your logic, just because horses exist, I must automatically believe in Pegasus and unicorns, too. It’s asinine and over the top. Get a grip, man.

  3. I first responsibility is my family. After that, I’ll do what I need to do to protect the lives of others.

      • +1

        If engaging the shooter means me making it home, I will.

        I’m only taking a shot in that situation if the threat is immediate or it’s a Sollozzo/Corleone shot.

    • True, your family is your number 1 priority but sometimes the best defense is a strong offense. An “active shooter” is less likely to shoot someone when worrying about who’s coming after him.

  4. First thing I remind students of is this: having a gun makes you a bullet magnet. Active shooter? As soon as you start shooting back, you draw his focus away from everyone else and you become his primary concern. He will either run to evade you or make you his #1 target. Police arriving on the scene only know that shots are being fired. You have just become a magnet for their bullets too. Same thing if there’s another armed citizen.

    If you draw your gun instead of fleeing, you may well save lives, but there is a very high likelihood you’ve committed yourself to martyrdom. if you’re trapped, there may be no other choice.

    • I wouldn’t worry about the cops. They’ll be securing a perimeter and prepping the body bags while they wait for the shooting to stop. As for the shooter, they almost without exception turn their gun on themselves at the first sign of resistance. They are cowards, after all. If you’re not going to shoot in such a situation, why carry concealed?

    • Again; go by what has been the history of mass murderers; not conjecture. The mass killers in almost every situation; if you don’t shoot them first; they will shoot themselves once they are confronted with “active resistance”.

      So, yeah; family first, then I’ll “run to the sound of guns” to stop the killer as best I can.

    • +1 with Kris, if there are off duty officers or security how do you determine this? If your gun is out then no one knows if you’re friend or foe. In this situation I have my CCH to protect myself and family and would have to fall back on this.

  5. 5. Are there any innocent third parties behind the shooter, and will any of my shots hit any of them? And will I lose everything I own when they file a lawsuit? And do I happen to be in a “gun free zone” mall, in violation of the trespass laws?

    I do not agree that it is my personal responsibility to protect adult strangers who have the same opportunity to carry a firearm as I do, but choose to depend on the state for their personal safety.
    I would not hesitate to protect a school yard or playground full of kids from a nutcase/terrorist shooter, but a mall full of adults? Sorry – if I can get out of that situation without using my firearm to defend myself, that is going to be my course of action.

    • The nearest unarmed adults should rush the guy. If five rush him, three or four will probably survive. They don’t want to carry? Their choice. They aren’t willing to chance being the one who dies? Why should I?

      If I’m five feet away I’ll shoot.
      If I’m ten feet away and Shannon Watts is five feet away, I’ll run, keeping her between me and the active murderer.
      If I’m fifty feet away I’ll run to cover and reassess. Simple.

    • In general, I don’t disagree with you. However, with your willingness to protect young innocents, I will remind you that every mall I have ever been in has been full of kids and teenagers. Now what?

    • Except the mall is usually a magnet for young kids; I would bet better than half would be young teenagers.

    • I’m with you. Field trip of kids at a place I’m at and someone starts shooting? I’m going to look after them. Place full of grown ups that have chosen not to do for themselves? I’m pushing me and mine to safety and that’s that. I don’t wear a uniform and I’m not obligated in any way to intervene. If they try to engage me that’s when I’ll get violent.

  6. Depends.

    And after I’m done filling the Depends, if no one is with me that I need to care for, and I have a good, clear shot I can make without exposing myself, then sure.

    But taking a shot and missing draws bad attention. Bad idea.

  7. To your last question: I guess I’d have to consider the risks of missing and hitting an innocent AND (and versus) the benefit or distracting or breaking the stride or resolve of the shooter – and whether that would allow others to escape to cover or make the f@cker slow down and hold still enough for me to get him with the next shot.

  8. Mass shootings are often characterized by absolute chaos. If may be difficult to distinguish between the bad guy and (other) armed good guys, unless you directly witness the bad guy shooting someone. (And, even then, how does one know that the person doing the shooting isn’t an off-duty cop that just happened to be present and is responding as trained?) If you respond, will you be mistaken for the shooter by other armed citizens? Will you be mistaken for the shooter by responding officers (witnesses may have seen only one person holding a gun: you.)

    It sucks: there is no easy answer here.

  9. Having not read the article, my general rule is: if I can get out with mine, I go. If I’m cornered, I come out blazing. Otherwise, if there is no quick exit, play the odds. If the shooter seems to have designated targets (former employer) and I’m not close, I’m out. If they are shooting people randomly, I’ll probably be more inclined to shoot, if i have a clean shot.

  10. It may depend on what you are armed with, and how accurate the gun is. There are times I have nothing but my 22 Mag mini revolver. I would not engage a shooter unless he was in my face, and could get in fallow up shots.
    Having your family members would also effect your position. They would come first!

    • Good point. If I have to worry so much about printing that I don’t bring a service-size pistol and I’m not within ten feet of the active murderer, I’ll let the people who freak about guns printing deal with the situation. That would be most of the nearby people.

    • Yeah if he’s got a rifle or body Armor and all I have is my glock 26 I’m probably only shooting if not doing so would mean my death.

  11. I would say the first thing for the Civilian With a Gun to do is to GTFO with the rest of the sheeple, full stop.

    Reason #1 :that gun on your hip is a self defense tool, not a Talisman of Righteous Justice.A spree killer shooting thirty people 100 yards on the other side of a large complex is a tragedy, but for the most part you’ll have no grounds to intervene in court -because, natch , the bad guy wasn’t a threat to you when the exit was ten yards away.

    Reason #2: in the movies, the hero gets the girl when he wacks the bad guy.

    In real life, wasting a bad guy gets you sued, your reputation slandered, your family exposed to media and left wing BS, and your bank account to a swift death. You can’t call a bullet back- and that’s what you might want to do after every media outlet in the country’s turned you into a public pariah, your job has disowned you like Mission Imposible, and youre facing a lawsuit from the psychos family . Your kids college fund, your business, your family’s peace of mind and quality of life, everything you’ve worked hard to build over years or decades, flushed down the toilet.

    In Texas a man intervened when he saw his neighbors being robbed. Because of the legal and civil aftermath and the fallout, he was later quoted in saying ” I’d wished I’d stayed inside.”

    I’m heading for the exit, unless the bad guy is in the same room as me and escape is impossible. Real life isn’t a Mel Gibson action movie.

    • Hate to be the moral one (I have been defined as the devil with a halo) but I can’t live with some things on my conscience. Knowing I could help someone and didn’t, knowing that I indirectly killed innocent people would be too much for me.

      Now I do agree you don’t have much chance at 100 meters with a pistol but at least make a distraction (put a loud song on your phone or music player and throw it in some direction away from people). Would probably go for an ambush tactic (wait behind corner throw something to make noise opposite of my direction).

  12. I’ve have, more than a few time, met my brothers and sisters and/or their kids at shopping centers, malls, etc., without any of us knowing the others were there. I should let some maniac kill them because I didn’t know they were there?

    And what kind of sociopath runs when he can stop a psycopath from killing innocent people? None I want as neighbors or fellow citizens.

    • If it was clear to a CCW person that she could in fact stop the murderer, she probably would. In many cases the presence of other people makes that difficult to accomplish. Taking out the lady behind or to the side ofthe shooter can absolutely get you a long prison sentence.

      What does running from an active shooter have to do with sociopathy? Nothing. If he has a carbine and you have a little Sig 238 and you are more than 20 feet away (or your number given skill level), and you think you can get to cover, it is probably a good idea, not sociopathic.

    • I dislike their advice under “Take Action”: Throw items, improvise weapons, yell. Commit to your actions.
      This category should start off with shooting back. VDEM is assuming a populace of unarmed sheep. My .40S&W is going to produce better results than a committed yeller.

      • If I’m gonna be yellin’ at the “active shooter,” it’s going to sound something like this: “BANG! BANG! BANG!” 😀

  13. I would kind of like to know where they got their “experts”. If they are the same “experts” who supposedly helped Facebook with their recent policy change, their unanimity is neither surprising nor particularly weighty. That said, facially the advise may not be too bad. You might save more lives by “covering” a crowd of people through an exit than by moving forward to engage and getting yourself shot. THAT said, in response to the specific question.–I can’t say for sure til it happens, but I like to think I would at least stay put (maybe behind cover) until I could see whether I might have the shot, and if I might, go ahead and take it. My usual carry gun is a very short-range proposition, however, so it would have to be a pretty clear field of fire, “friendlies”-wise.

  14. I’m in my late 60’s, I’m not going to run very far, or very fast. I can get down on the ground, but getting up is sometimes a little tricky. And I’ve always been a rotten pistol shot. But to your question, yes I would try to engage. And I would say a little prayer that he will see my gun and run away. I don’t think I would be happy with myself if I was armed, and left others to die.

  15. I would take a shot, if for no other reason than to distract the shooter, until a follow up shot can be taken. I could not live with “what if I”

  16. Rule #1. Don’t die.
    Initially I would (hide, run, or fight) depending on which option seems most likely to uphold rule 1.
    If hiding or running to cover, keep in mind the difference between cover (can’t bee seen, will stop a bullet) and concealment (can’t be seen, will not stop a bullet).
    Then it’s time to assess the situation, do I help others escape, or am I in a position to take action, keeping in mind RF’s good questions to ponder. If I can do something without violating rule 1, it’s game on.

  17. My CC instructor said “your not a cop” & I can’t argue with that. If the life of a small child was on the line I would step in. Otherwise not having a gun will turn out to be a fatal decision for some, thats just not my problem.

    • Yup, mine said the same thing. Protect your nuts. Unless it involves children or your immediate family is involved, gtfo. There’s a variety of reasons:

      1) You’re not a cop. It is not your job nor duty to protect people you do not know.

      2) You are risking your life. You could be killed by the shooter or police responding to the incident who misidentify you as the shooter. Risking it for who? People who didn’t spend 8 hours of their weekend and wake up two different days at 7am to sit through a class for a ccw. People who didn’t spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars into purchasing and training with a firearm for self defense. People who might even be completely against guns. If they didn’t have a care to protect themselves by getting a ccw, why should you?

      -Again, unless children or my family is involved, or I have a very good chance of QUICKLY stopping a shooting, I’m out. I’m gonna protect myself, and anyone who wants to follow me out of the area. You wanna try to be protected from a shooting, then carry. That’s it.

  18. A coward dies a thousand deaths; a soldier dies but once.

    Get my kids to safety inside a mall store on the phone to 911 telling them what daddy looks like – me at the front door keeping the sheeple safe until 5-0 posse shows up. if shooter comes my way, phucker is gonna take a few rounds of hornady. But no way do I go looking for him. . . . . gives up too much tactical advantage.

  19. How many of those spree killer types have trained for their rampage. If you practice a couple times a month versus them going to a self imposed training plan, you might have a bad day being unprepared. That said, fight if you need and channel the devils fury to survive. If no other choice is there, do what you must – plan to cheat above all.

  20. I’m sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that if I were killed trying to protect somebody that I didn’t know, the person I saved wouldn’t even show up at my funeral. If I survived and was arrested, they wouldn’t contribute a nickle to my defense. If I was injured, they wouldn’t pay a dime of my hospital bills.

    Sorry, but I protect me and mine. Everybody else is on his own.

    If and when I am faced with a deadly situation, I’ll assess it and make a decision about what to do — fight or get out of Dodge, or fight to get out of Dodge. But I’m not going to put myself in harms way for somebody who doesn’t care about me and never will.

    • Not only that Ralph, if you save brady type people they may very well testify at a civil trial that they don’t feel that you needed to shoot.

    • I find that hard to argue with…

      If you take of others, is anyone of them going to take care of you afterwards…

      Most likely not. You’ll end up with a “Thanks man, sorry about your luck…” at best.

      No 21 gun salute and bag pipes for Ralph.

    • Ralph, I understand your logic. However, one must ask themselves: If someone was carrying concealed and for some reason you weren’t carrying in a mass killing situation, what would you want them to do for you? Personally, I don’t possibly think I could live with myself if I fled and could save someone by engaging the killer, who would most likely off themselves when faced with armed resistance.

  21. How do I know whether it’s a spree killer or a Defensive Gun Use?

    Unless I have eyes on from the beginning, I’m out like a … thing that is out quickly while using cover.

    Is there a good analogy for this?

  22. Too many variables, hard to say.

    My family and myself are my number one priority, if we are in clear and present danger, I’m coming at the dude/s like a spider monkey.

    If the shots are far off and clearly less of a threat, it’s likely time to beat feet in the other direction.

    Hiding isn’t really an option for me, more like posted up, waiting, and ready to fight.

  23. Shoot him? Nah. To do that I’ve got to go to the other side of the world, ‘Nam or Afghanistan, and shoot people attacking people I don’t care about, saving people who might blow me up tomorrow anyway. Can’t risk getting shot defending, well, just ordinary Americans…can I? I mean, does that make any sense? Hey, the cops aren’t going to run in there alone. Might get shot, not get home that night. If he’s a bomber placing a bomb? Well, he might be a wonderful university professor in twenty years, and trusted presidential confident. Are you really going to take out that kind of talent? And anyway, the shoppers milling around in the mall, the parents of kids in elementary schools, don’t have the time or inclination to prepare their own defense, so why should I take the hit?

    Something is wrong at multiple levels with the reality the paragraph above reasonably conveys.

  24. My first priority is to GTFO. And, that goes whether I’m alone or with family in tow. Even if my family is not with me, I am STILL obligated to their safety / well-being. Accordingly, I’m getting my ass out of there and home in one piece.

    I do not feel any moral obligation to stick around and protect strangers (who, as has been pointed out by another commenter, have CHOSEN to not protect themselves).

    If escape is not an immediate option, cover / concealment is #2 on the list for me.

    If cornered or forced to confront, then it’s game-on.

    That all said, if I happen to be in the immediate area / proximal to the bad guy, and the identity / context is VERY clear to me… AND I could take a clear and “safe” shot…. I might just do that. But, I don’t see that confluence of circumstances being very likely in a crowded and chaotic scenario. “Beating feet” rules the day in most cases.

  25. If it’s happening right in front of me, the decision is made for me: I fight. Good guys fight.
    If it happens elsewhere, I provide cover, gets as many folks out of dodge with me as I can. Like Dirk, moving to engage a bad guy that I haven’t seen is a recipe for death and disaster.
    Work is the same problem- in order to be armed, I would have to run like hell to the parking lot. Once I get there, I have sacrificed all of my information and awareness of the situation, and would have to reenter cold. Sorry, coworkers, I’m not going to do that.

  26. If I have my family with me then I’m getting them out as fast as I can…if I’m by myself and the shooter is not close by I am also getting away as fast as possible…the gun I carry is to protect my family and myself nobody else…shellfish, maybe ?

  27. My friends and family come first. If they’re with me when crap goes down, I make sure they can get to safety above all else. “Stay low, stay quiet, move as quickly and as quietly as you can away from the shooter”.

    If no loved ones are present and I happen to be armed, slightly different story.
    First priority will ALWAYS be, for me, to get clear. GTFO as quickly and quietly as I can. If escape is not possible, I’ll look for cover or concealment (in that order). I will fight if I have to. It’s not something I want to do and it’s a situation I hope I never find myself in, but it is a possibility.

    I do not carry a weapon in public right now, because I don’t feel I”m proficient enough to hit my target reliably. I need more practice. Once I feel I’m capable enough, I’ll be carrying.

    • Accuracy is a function of distance. At bad breath distances accuracy isn’t much of an issue.

      • If I am bad breath distance from a spree killer either God hates me or I have the worst imaginable luck.

        • If that’s true, then god must have hated all those children and teachers in Newtown — all shot at point blank distances.

          Bad breath distance is where most of the killing happens.

      • RF, if you’d posed the question as “if you are bad-breath distance from the active murderer, would you shoot?” then few comment writers would say “no.”

        How many spree shooters have opened up in non-gun-free zones? Almost none within this vast nation.

        I think I’ll keep my out-of-house goal simply to ability to stopping a mugging or armed robber in a store, or dangerous animal on a hike. When it comes to spree killers in malls, there is no generic answer other than “the more law-abiding people who carry, the better our chance that somebody very near or behind the shooter has a chance to take him down.”

      • If you are within bad breath distance of the shooter there is a 50% chance that you are the first victim.

  28. I would circumstantially do whatever was in the best interest of my people and myself. If other adults around won’t take on the responsibility for protecting their people and themselves, I’m not going to endanger mine one bit for them or theirs.

  29. I find it ironic that the “anti cop” type on here are the first to say “I’m de-assing the area with a quickness. Let the cops take care of it. All those people are on their own.”

    After all this “we are the first responder” chatter. You should amend that to “I’m the first responder, for me but you are on your own”…..

    Ya might want reassess your beliefs.

    I know the hate responses are coming.

    • Who’s anti cop here? It’s hard to get all warm & fuzzy(no pun intended) about the newspaper ladies being shot, etc etc etc. Some here are anti stupid cop.

    • My responses are colored, not doubt, by the fact that I was once a soldier (no matter how unvoluntarily) and raised among, and by, free and self-reliant people.

      A soldier, a policeman, a private citizen–Not any one of them has a greater or lesser responsibilty to protect the public than the other. If we as private citizens don’t have that responsibilty, then we don’t have the right to hire someone else to do it for us. We only hire and train them to do better what we ourselves should do.

    • No hate, Greene, but circumstances vary. The phrase “you are your own first responder” applies to defending your own person and home, and is usually true. In a public forum it is still true if you are very close to the active murderer. Defending yourself in that case suffices, quite by accident, to protect others. The police, and more importantly the law, do not offer us any of the immunities a licensed (sworn) cop is granted. We are told, “you are not a cop. You should not try to apprehend a criminal even if you witness the crime.” And so forth. Opening up with a pistol in a crowded mall at range is a fool’s errand.

      The chance we will be in a mall with an active murderer is infinitesimally small. Active murderers obviously almost always attack in ‘gun free’ zones. I won’t be carrying in a GFZ. The topic of the post draws forth big talk about “protecting the sheep” and so forth, but when it comes down to it non-cops will protect themselves and their family. Protecting themselves will necessarily require shooting if the active murderer is within very close range.

      “Stay safe out there!”

      • Not really. “First responder” means you’re the first one there. I once came upon a neighbor I didn’t really know, laying on his sidewalk who had been shot. Do you really think I shouldn’t have tried to stop the bleeding? The emergency “first responder” arrived a half-hour later, by which time he would have bled out.

        You know, I was attacked by a pit bull once. Don’t you think I was grateful some stranger jerked him off and held him back until the owner could get him under control. In those days I didn’t carry all the time. I was just walking over to the post-office and couldn’t have carried anyway.

        • Don’t you think I was grateful some stranger jerked him off and held him back until the owner could get him under control.

          Oh my…. must…. resist….

        • Well, he was wagging his tail all the time he was ripping my shirt up. Should have been wearing one of those tear-away jerseys.

        • Sam, my comment doesn’t shed any light on whether you should have patched up your shot neighbor. The slogan “you are your own first responder” is used, at least in my experience, to refer to the fact that you will be the one there to take care of your own defense (and patching up…), that the so-called ‘first responders’ are not actually the first that can help you, so you must help yourself. Perhaps in your experience the usage has been otherwise?

          As for offering first aid to someone you stumble upon, the law in your sate may be different than mine. We do not have “good Samaritan” liability waiver statute in my state. Judgment is obviously required. Glad it worked out for you!

        • Wait….a stranger jerked off a pit bull that was attacking you!?

          …oh. I think I read that wrong…

    • Okay, I’ll say it PROUDLY: “I’m the first responder for me but you are on your own.” Is that effing clear enough for you?

  30. If the bad guy was within 50 feet of me and I had a clear shot I would take it. Usually you are not afforded such things but I would take the shot so long as it was clear.

  31. I have read a lot from this page. Being new I am learning a lot. Before being a gun owner and reading some of the articles I would.have said yes. But now not likely unless I had no other way I am out.

  32. My response in that thread:

    “Good stuff except if you’re armed. If you engage the shooter you improve the chances of all the others who are unarmed. If he’s ducking and diving and attempting to hit you he’s ignoring everyone else. Best case scenario, you disable or kill him. Worst case, you die, but give others a chance to escape.

    In active shooter scenarios cops are now taught to engage as soon as possible to stop the bad guy. You have the jump on them by 2 to 5 minutes and you know exactly who the shooter is because you’re on site from the start.”

  33. Assuming he’s in range, under the conditions provided, of course. If I’m not in range, I would not attempt to close with unless the situation was particularly nasty, maybe police response simply not being likely for some time and innocents in the kill zone. Not likely. If it looks like a really bad day, such as that mall attack, try to cover the escape of who you can. You’d probably end up dead anyway. But what do I know…

  34. If I’m with loved ones and we can get out, we are GTFO quick. If trapped I will shoot.

    The courts have ruled the police do not have a responsibility to individually protect us (except for politicians). Too many variables to figure out: Are there other CHP’s in the area? Do I look like a bad guy? Hell cops are so trigger happy they shoot old guys getting a cane out of a pickup truck! Or a couple of women making little money delivering newspapers (not even the same color or make of bad guys vehicle).

    If a cop sees you in a shooting situation with a gun I’d put money you are going to get ventilated.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    But I will be a good witness!

  35. It all depends.

    If you are at the point where the shooter opens fire and you aren’t in the immediate line of fire you probably should draw down on him and take a shot if you are sure you won’t hit innocents in the process. Remember his objective is to kill as many people as possible including the ones you or the police shoot. You cause collateral you are going to jail whether you stop the bad guy or not. (Sammy, that’s called a Rule of Engagement) If you get to be the hero, holster your gun when it is safe to do so or when you hear police approaching and get your IDs ready. You don’t want to be seen standing over a couple of bodies with a gun in your hand

    Now if you hear shots at the mall and can head for the exit then by all means do so. Your decision to draw your weapon could lead to you getting shot if the cops show up while you are displaying your pistol. You do not move toward the sound of gunfire and the reason is simple. You make yourself a target if the cops show up. All they are going to see is a guy with gun and people getting shot. Plainclothes and off duty officers have been shot and killed in these kinds of situations. The Rule of Engagement as taught in force protection classes is defending others is noble but your job is to clear the area. You may suffer long term guilt but that is preferable to knowing you were protecting others as the SWAT guys fill you full of 5.56 sized holes.

    If you can’t clear the area then find a defensible location. I still wouldn’t display a firearm unless the bad guy shows up. You don’t want anybody who has taken refugee with you to tell the cops “that guy over there has a gun.” If you haven’t had a need to use it you can just walk out of the mall when it’s over no one the wiser. If they are searching everybody on the way out then take out your drivers license and your permit. If they are going to search you anyway you might as well be proactive. Don’t get pissy over your 4th Amendment rights because in the aftermath of a mass shooting the police have probable cause to search you.

    I am not a professional, I don’t play one on TV nor did I stay in Holiday Inn Express last night. However, I have had required courses taught by professionals and none of them would bring up superiority of a rifle over a shotgun because it can shoot 300 yards in 30 yard scenario.

    • thx tdi. Cogent and compelling as usual. I’ve heard same at a seminar put on for civilians by Col Dave Grossman. Who also studied vets in war and teaches LEOs.

      He gave 2 tips from mall shootings and Beslan:
      1. Consider moving w hand on holster vs gun out if not in proximity to shooters while getting to cover then otiented on best exit and getting out. That will reduce blue on blue from being mistakeb as bad guy w gun in hand.
      2. Dont always follow the crowd as they may be channeled by multiple attackers into a pre planned kill zone.

      • PS: Col Grossman also posited the idea that you can be a distraction, and a source of vital intel, armed or not.

        For example, if there’s one or two shooters in a defined area, for example in a multi-story mall, where you can see down into the plaza area where they might be- and you can safely do so- make a big noise, throw a trash can off the balcony, anything to get their attention off the victims and hostages so they can break free.

        And you could also stay in contact but concealed or far enough away to be at low risk, and be calling in descriptions of attackers, weapons, locations, direction of movement, wounded civilians needing immmediate aid, etc – all updated real-time to dispatcher on 911, or better –

        you can and should program your local LEO dispatch NON-EMERGENCY numbers as you will likely find 911 overwhelmed and your call going to the public service announcement on hold for sometime.

      • Personally- my ROE is: with Family, GTFO. Armed or not.
        (right now in SoCal “armed” is limited to with wits and bare hands)

        On my own, armed or not, after the family is safe, then I’d consider the situation, in view of being able to help get people out, to be a distraction and intel, only if my chances of getting killed are manageably low, as my kids still need me.

        OTOH: On my own, having said that, I expect it would be very hard not to come to the aid of ANY kids being shot right in front of me, at close range, and if my life was at high risk anyway, then it becomes a wash- you have to fight.
        Remember Todd Beamer the hero of Flight 93- “Lets Roll!”.

        I can only hope I would have the fortitude of the Sandy Hook Principal, or the school teacher Michael Landsberry (USMC ret) who confronted the NV middle school kid with a gun, unarmed to try to talk him down, and paid for it with his life, and I honor them as I do the two contractors working on the playground who, unarmed, charged and tackled the Kelly School shooter, saving who knows how many kids there.

  36. in ca we have been told to throw books at the shooter and pee on ourselves in these types of situations. so until the 9th circuit completes their magic, I’m not going to tell others how to act.

  37. I’m not usually with loved ones around here, and I would feel an obligation to make the shot and save lives. So the answer here depends on 2 variables.

    1) Distance. If the spree killer is within 20 yds, I can make the shot. That is just a fact that I trust. If the shooter is beyond that. I might hide behind a corner or concealment in his eventual path and wait until he closes to 5 yds. A mag dump of 14 .45 Critical Defense rds does a lot of damage within 5 yds.
    2) What is behind my target. If I can make the shot, it should be clean, but It would have to be very congested for me to not take the shot. Dropping to a knee or the ground gives a good safe angle which only becomes safer the closer he gets. Just make sure you hit, because you can’t move quickly if you do this.

    Remember. The faster the shooter is down, the less people he hurts, and the faster you can help give aid to the injured. You are the first responder. That doesn’t just mean covering security. Carry supplies in a small belt pouch to help with gunshot wounds. You may save more than you think.

    • Do you use one of those Para-Ordnance doublestacks? Not meant to derail but I am genuinely curious.

        • I would not be hesitant to take the shot under 25 yards with an XDM. I never thought of myself as a great shot or great hunter until I saw other people miss the target completely at shorter ranges.

        • I feel confident enough to take a shot at 25 meters because that is the distance I learned to shoot a pistol at. Is also the reason why I am baffled why people practice at 7 or 3 yards.

  38. The only question I want to ask here is this: if you’re all by your lonesome, the cops aren’t around, a spree killer is killing innocent people and you think you might have the shot – but you aren’t completely sure – would you still take it? Would you wait and see? Or would you run?

    I believe I would. I believe that because: As an EMT, Firearm Instructor and Industrial Firefighter all my training has taught me to Help. To run towards the danger and not away from it. I have the tools (Firearm, spare mags, etc) and have the ability to use them (Training) As Robert stated you will go over all those things in your mind in a very very short period of time (Two blinks of the eye) and then make the decision. I believe I will react as I have been trained!

  39. My policy for anywhere I go, for any situation.

    Can I get my family out? If yes, then I’m out.

    If I can’t, I’m going to fight like hell to get them an escape hatch.

    The rest of the people I don’t care one way or the other about. Only family and close friends matter

  40. Ideally, I would fight from out of sight. Find cover/concealment and shoot him from the back/side. If I was unlucky enough to be out in the open in the vicinity, I think the only choice is draw and dump.

  41. The question can only be answered by the individual, depending on his/her willingness and ability to engage an active shooter. Much depends on the circumstances as well.

    Tough call to make, no matter what.

  42. +1 Dirk Diggler. Precisely my thoughts. And I HATE going to my local malls. Gang heaven,let alone a so-called “spree killer” figuring in the equation.

  43. No wife, no kids. Can’t run very fast. Bad back, so I won’t be carrying any injured people or little kids. That said, it depends. I will definitely shoot if I am able, especially if the cops are a long way off. But, if the shooter is in another part of the mall completely I would first try to herd the sheeple in my part to safety. Then work my way back to herd some more.

    If when I get to the shooter’s area and everyone is already dead, I would have to take cover and wait.
    If he kills himself, good, no lawsuit for me.
    If he starts moving in my general direction, shoot him.
    If he starts moving the other way, as to kill more people, shoot him.
    If there are any people still alive in the area, especially kids, shoot him.

    Can’t help the dead. Ideally I’d prefer if he killed himself. Don’t need those complications in my life. It doesn’t help if I leave the sheeple in their little groups to be targets. If I moved to shoot him first and he kills me instead, then I just left a bunch of scared, confused people to huddle down and die instead of getting them outside.

    Also, the less people in the immediate area to criticise my shoot after the fact, the better. Gives the situation time to calm down too. Rushing gets you shot.

    Don’t like leaving people to die in the first place, but that’s the way it is. Trying to save everyone just gets more people killed.

  44. Recently I began conducting longer range handgun classes,,, for just this sort of thing. Previously, I may have suggested that if you were practicing with your defensive handgun at 50 yards you must have been practicing to be an assassin. Face it, the largest percentage of defensive handgun encounters happen at bad breath distances. Now, having collected data from many of these mass shootings I have seen that in most all the cases the shooter tends to arm themselves with rifles & shotguns. How close will I get if I must be involved?

    Face it, for most folks with an average carry/handgun, if you are facing a rifle, you are outgunned.

    While I may feel that I won’t want to standby and watch innocent folks be killed, I may not have too many other options either. The variables will forever remain endless. Innocent bystanders and good folks scrambling in every direction just might make it difficult to know your target & what is beyond.

    If we are to be as prepared to deal with this sort of event as many here claim to be, then I suggest we all start some hard, realistic training. I’m not talking about a relaxed Bullseye shooting stance neither,,, been there & done that for many years. I’m suggesting shooting from UNGODLY positions, not normal to typical square range environments.

    It’s going to require much more than sitting at your favorite electronic device typing out a reply to a blog post,,, just in case you are a wondering. I submit that one will not just “rise to the occasion” in this type of encounter either. It’s gonna take training people,,, and lots of it too.

    I personally have been at this sort of training for the past 5 months. I see the need. I see weak links within my carry/handgun capabilities that need tending to. I can honestly say it is a bitch,,, harder than I first thought it would be. This is the type of training where you typically don’t exit the range at days end with targets you are real proud of.

    Don’t misunderstand what I am saying,,, I am not preaching doom & despair. I just kinda feel it will be much harder than what we may imagine.

    Just my take, my approach. YMMV. I am open to hear if anyone else is already underway with such training.

  45. The first thing to do is to try talking to the killer. He’s probably just misunderstood. Heart of gold, really. When he’s not gunning down strangers, he’d give you the shirt off his back. Try empathizing with the poor soul you might be surprised at how quickly the situation resolves itself. Plus, you’ve made a new friend! If that doesn’t work, shoot him in the eye.

  46. Actually the new terminology is “Active Aggressor”. The bad guy could be chopping heads off with a samurai sword, (there can be only one) and not shooting at all, which would or could result in the same level of response a crazed shooter would bring.

  47. Am I the only one to point out that you might not see the shooter, and the whole “wait around the corner and pump him full of lead” strategy might just result in you ventilating a plain clothes or off duty officer…or maybe even a fellow CCW citizen? In fact…if you shoot anyone, you are probably just about as likely to do this as shoot the actual bad guy..I’d probably give you even odds.

    People keep saying “if the cops are a long way off” or something to that extent….how do you know where they are if you are in a mall/Walmart? For all you know there were already officers in the building or parking lot.

    I’m not voicing my opinion, just adding a few more things to considering in making your own.

  48. Given what information is available. Run (Remove people from the target area). If possible re engage. Protect innocent, try to hold suspect for proper authorities if possible. Remove threat if required.
    A gun fight is just that. You are fighting for your life. Once it is known you are armed you will automatically become a prime target. By being armed it is a moral decision to protect the innocent. That is why you chose to carry.

  49. #1 is always the… first consideration for me and the primary variable that dictates tactics. If I’m alone, I’m going to engage. If I’m with someone who’s safety is my person responsibility (women, children, unable men), I’m rear guarding their escape first and running myself second.

  50. Back in the 90s a guy sitting in his car at the mall saw a guy run past being chased by a guy with a gun. Mr TakeCharge proceeded to jump out and run over to where the guy with the gun had the other guy on the ground begging for help. Mr TakeCharge put a round into Mr Gun and saved Mr HelpMe on the ground.

    Turns out Mr HelpMe was a wanted perp and Mr Gun was a US Marshal trying to arrest him.

    Mr TakeCharge might still be serving his 20 year sentence for shooting Mr Gun, albeit with the best intentions.

    Mind your own business until the barrel is pointed at you.

    • Not comparable. There is a difference between a situation where you do not know what is happening, and a guy comes in and starts shooting. The scenario given can leave no doubt about who the bad guy is.

      • This is assuming that you know what is happening, even if someone is shooting. Think about your typical walmart or mall store, even if the shooter starts one aisle over from you, you can’t see him. You don’t know what he is wearing or what he looks like. If you rush over, the first armed guy you see could be a CCW or a plane clothes officer. Also, another CCW may see you running opposite the exit with a gun and decide to take you down with his weapon.

        • So a guy is shooting at different people, running and cowering for their lives but, oh can’t know for sure what is going on, better not help.

          Stop being so nonsensical. Of course one should not rush into an unknown situation. Your response is just a red herring.

      • My example was absolutely comparable. Go ahead and be Robocop since you have Total Awareness. I could care less. Every man for himself.

  51. “1) Am I alone?” I agree. My family is Priority 1. If they are there, then: a) collect them; b) find cover, or get out; c) if unable to exit the area, defend as necessary. (Note: this does not preclude the idea of taking the shot if it becomes available/necessary.)

    “2) Can you live with yourself if you don’t engage the bad guy/guys?” As one who has chosen to get trained/certified to carry, I have taken the responsibility for the defense of myself, me family, and possibly the community upon myself. I have a moral duty to do so.

    “3) How long before the police arrive?” If I see blue shirts and/or SWAT gear, I’m staying put with my pistol and permit ready. Once the police are on scene, I don’t need to be getting in the way. Not sure about the “almost” bit; it’s almost impossible to know if the police are “almost” there, and one 911 dispatcher’s “almost” is another’s “it’ll be a few.”

    “4) Can you make the shot?” Col. Cooper’s Four Rules still apply. If the situation says “engage,” do so with the safety of yourself and the public in mind. It may be a defensive situation, but you are still responsible for every bullet you fire, and bullets do not have rewind buttons.

  52. “… you think you might have the shot – but you aren’t completely sure – would you still take it? ”

    Not completely sure? Then I’m not shooting.

  53. A very large number of comments here prove the point I make quite often. We need cops. While the legally armed concealed carriers are stomping on the “sheeple” to get to safety, which makes them sheeple also, or worse as they are armed, the police can enter and engage the unimpeded mass killer.

    • Yes, police can enter and engage the unimpeded mass killer. But most of the time, by the time they enter, the mass killer has offed himself. So sure, we need cops. Who else is going to make those clever chalk marks around the bodies?

      We’ve heard it too many times to deny it now: the cops’ principal job is to get home safely, not to make sure that we get home safely. They made that rule, not us.

      • You’re not willing to engage the bad guy because some stranger might not attend your funeral or contribute to your legal fees. The police are useless in your estimation. So what does that leave? We let the killer die of old age or get bored and go home?

        Or do we completely abandon the line said here often enough that we are the first responders and should be armed for these events? Next time an anti states that we POTG would be worthless or even worse a hindrance in a mass shooting do we admit he’s right?

    • jwm: Of course we need cops. They’ve been immunized against liability for accidentally taking down the shooter plus the two nearest grandparents. That isn’t a joke. That’s the law. And even those immunized cops generally stand off until approaching the guy with gun up doesn’t appear to them to be asking for certain death. The state is generally only willing to immunize licensed cops. The rest of us face magnificent costs if we hit anyone but the guy trying to shoot us or nearby others.

      In other words, we need cops because their employer made the rules that govern us. I’m not complaining. I’m describing.

      When we have a chance at stopping a perp without high risk of hitting a little kid right next to him, and without a chance that a cop is approaching from behind us and won’t mistake us for the perp, I’m sure most of us would try for the stop.

  54. It all depends on opportunity and the situation at hand. I carry a 380. If the bad guy has a rifle I will escape and evade as I am outgunned. If I have the element of surprise I will engage.

    If there are bystanders and the shot is dubious no shoot. I am not going to pull a John McClane and hunt down the bad guy if escape is possible. Especially if I am with my family.

    If I am backed into a corner or trapped I will definitely return fire.

    It all depends on the tactical situation.

  55. Family comes first.

    If I’m by myself I’d probably be more likely to act. If there’s a shot, I’m taking it. Shooting at a bad guy through groups of innocent people isn’t the best course of action. What am I? An officer of the NYPD?

  56. There are two elements right? One ethical, one legal. And they are not always coextensive. E.g., I would take the shot, even at risk of hitting an innocent, if it was evident that in not doing so more innocents are going to get struck and I have to act now. If I was not noticed and could move to a better spot, I would do that.

    I would hope that any unarmed people would be staying low.

    As far as the legal. Not sure about every state. As far as criminal liability, there is the doctrine of transferred intention. There was a self defense shooting a few years back that I remember. One guy gets buzzed into a gun store and then holds the door open letting in two armed associates. The owner draws and ends up firing back. One of the owner’s shots went through the window and struck a kid killing him. The owner was not charged. Instead the robbers were all charged with 1st degree murder of the kid. The logic being that the owner’s intent was self-defense, and this was lawful in the circumstance, and hence his culpability in the child’s death is measure by his lawful intent. Whereas an armed robber by definition threatens or uses deadly force, his intent is unlawful and he is responsible for the consequent of his actions even if he didn’t pull the trigger.

    Never looked up any civil lawsuit though. The gunstore is still there, same owner.

    This was in California FWIW.

  57. I won’t act recklessly or negligently and get others or myself killed. If I “might” have the shot, I’m taking it.

    After action reports on these events reveal that most killers end their spree, and often their own lives, upon the first encounter with armed resistance. You don’t necessarily have to hit the killer, let alone kill him, to shut the spree down. My main concern, assuming I’m there all on my own, is not to injure anyone innocent while I take that shot.

    That said, if I’m just now arriving at the mall and throngs of people are fleeing and yelling there’s a shooter inside, I am NOT going to enter the mall and track him down. My answer applies only if I’m already in the heat of the action and “might” have a shot.

  58. Agreed on all four points, and an addendum to point #4:
    If I can’t make the shot, I will close the range until I can if at all possible.

  59. When I run this situation in my head, i hear gunshots before I see anything. In the crowded confines of a mall I wouldn’t be able to determine the direction they are coming from. At first people take notice but fail to react. After an agonizing few seconds people start to panic and run towards the nearest exit.

    I grab me and mine. I hope to be de-assing the area before the panic sets in. I Shelter the baby and my wife with my body and guide them to cover. I expect to have to fight through crowds of panicked or frozen people. In my MIMD they aren’t hen first threat to the safety of my baby unless the shooter happens to be near by. If I can, I head towards the back of a store, and into a store room. I expect to find an emergency exit to usher the family and whoever else I grab out of. The first thing once outside is to find cover and call 911. If there is no exit, we would be in a defensible position with good cover or concealment. The wife would stay as covered as possible with the baby and I would find a spot with good cover that gives me defensive ambush potential. If the shooter comes in sight. I do what I can to put him down. My gun ideally would not be drawn until the shooter was in sight but the reality is that I would likely deholster as soon as I get to cover. I hope I have the presence of mind to keep my firearm low, ready, and out of sight until needed.

    If he happens to be in site when the shooting starts the game plan is to find cover or concealment. Shoot as soon as the panic clears enough to shoot, or when he is distracted.

    I cannot afford the luxury of putting myself in harms way. My family depends on me and I owe them to make sure I come home in working order. This means no hunting down the shooter. However If I have the option to end the situation I would not hesitate.

    An active shooter or terrorist attack is one of the major reasons I got my cpl. If I have the option to save the life of my family or of myself or a bystander I would absolutely not hesitate to do it. I could not live with the thought of knowing I had the ability and tools to help and did not.

  60. My CHL is for me and my family. I’m not a cop or trained safety officer. Run, hide, defend. What’s bound to happen eventually is an active shooter engages a CHL holder, but during the fog of combat, the “good guy” is mistaken by either cops, witnesses or other CHL holders as the bad guy. You could then have friendly-fire through confusion. But the point is, most people can obtain a CHL and are either ignorant of it or unwilling; that’s their fate. Don’t drive your car empty and expect someone to offer gas. Take care of yourself and your family.

    • Phil, I agree with you, however your post got me thinking. We should all be armed to protect ourselves. But if everyone felt as we do, who would shoot the bad guy?

  61. Job one: Get yourself and those near you to cover ASAP.

    Job two: this is difficult. The bottom line is that upon encountering someone shooting back this killer will either kill themselves, run away, or shoot at you. All of these possibilities have one thing in common: unarmed bystanders are no longer being shot by a psycho.

    For me…that is why I would fire my weapon. The trouble is that you would likely be forced to choose to fire in such a way that you cannot guarantee your bullets won’t hit innocents. Not sure what I would do if forced to make that choice. Clear shot with no innocents beyond my target…no doubt I shoot.

  62. I thought about it. It took me a minute then I decided no. I owe it my family to protect them and that means avoiding trouble when I have the option to. I am obligated to them to do so. So many, many things could go wrong costing money and time.

  63. Tuck tail and skedaddle? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…?!?

    If I manage to save my [yellow, useless] self, I’ve saved myself.

    If I pull another one or two to [possibly temporary] safety, perhaps two or three are saved.

    If I duck, draw and fire, I’ve potentially saved dozens – and at the very least I’ve done the Right Damned Thing.

    As an actual rocket scientist, I can tell y’all that rocket science this ain’t.

    • And if you engage, save some people and get killed for your trouble, who’s going to take care of your family or the people you care about?

      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the people you saved won’t give a tiny sh1t about you and yours. They’ll say, “what a great guy. Glad he’s dead instead of me. What was his name again?”

    • Russ, send me the ‘video at 11’ when you, with your carry pistol, face a berzerk ‘mass shooter’ perp firing a carbine at a distance of 100 feet or more, a common mall or parking lot distance, whether you drop a knee or not. I’ll make sure it gets play on the major Philadelphia stations.

      If more people carried, the average distance from the nearest CCW person to a potential nut case shooter would drop dramatically, and the nut cases would find some other way to vent their madness. Oh, but I forgot, they almost always attack in gun-free zones….created by popular demand.

  64. If you have the capability to save innocent lives, you have the responsibility to save innocent lives. I agree with all of the points of the article. If you have good cover(or excellent concealment) and a good shot. Take it, get the Active shooter into a protracted fight with you until police show up, or end him/her if possible. The more he’s shooting at you or hiding from you the more he’s not shooting at the helpless sheep.

    • my only responsibilities are those I choose for myself. If it were in my power to do so, and I was 110% sure it was a good shoot,I would take out an active shooter.

  65. Good article. Job 1 is to get my family to safety, Job 2 is to take out the shooter.
    If I’m solo I’m doing my best to take out the shooter. I’m trying to get the Mrs. To get a CCW so that she can be more effective in the incident of a public shooting.

  66. I won’t look for it, if it comes…I”ll Take the shot…really don’t care who’s behind….yeah I’m that good.

  67. As a Police Officer i am trained to actually charge and confront an active shooter. To engage and remove the threat. We train specificaly for that scenario.
    An Armed citizen would have to decide if they could do that. The truth is an armed citizen is by far a better solution due to police response time. It could mean the difference between 1 person shot and fifty.
    I encourage all who carry daily to be prepared to defend themselves and others should they find themselves in an active shooter situation. Train with your sidearm. SHOOT…SHOOT…SHOOT until you are confident in your ability to stop a shooter. Practice shooting from behind cover. Know what actual cover is. Will your cover stop a bullet?…How about 10 bullets?
    Do you carry high quality personal defense ammo? Do you carry extra magazines?
    When you go out start looking around you, Identifying cover. Make it a habit so that you do it everywhere..At the mall, at the grocery store, at the daycare…
    What if the shooter sees your sidearm and drops his? What do you do then?
    These are some thing all who carry should consider….

    • “What if the shooter sees your sidearm and drops his? What do you do then?”

      Good question. What do we do?

  68. The Tacoma Mall shooting had an armed citizen that tried to stop the shooter. He drew and yelled something like “Stop or I’ll shoot!” By then the shooter gunned him down.

    Unless you are able to shoot without warning, don’t.

    • If I was completely sure the shooter is a bad guy- ie active shooter in the act of shooting at kids cowering, not running, etc-

      and not: an ambiguous situation-
      like some gun fight between gangs, or
      something that looks like plainclothes disarming a criminal…
      or even a nut wandering around with a gun, shots fired randomly,

      then I would NOT give a warning. I’d circle around and close to take him out.

  69. So let me get this straight. Prior to me taking on the mass murderer, I’m a paranoid, gun-totin’, danger to society. Right after the mall murderer starts a’shooting, I then have some kind of societal duty to take him out???? Sez who? Society provides police to protect society. They can’t protect me and mine personally, so my duty begins with me and my family and ends there too.

  70. There is virtually NO data on what to do regarding an active shooter incident as it relates to how to
    stop the threat. With rare exception the active shooter commits suicide upon learning that they face
    effective resistance or else they simply quit and meekly allow themselves to be arrested. There is at
    best only a handful of instances where an officer has used force to end an active shooter situation
    while it was ongoing. This means that there is simply no source of realistic data to rely on to formulate
    and promulgate any realistic advice.

    • I disagree. According to references in a seminar by Col Grossman,

      this topic has been the subject of a lot of study in the LEO community. Since Columbine the general guidelines for LEO is first one on the scene move quickly to the gunfire and engage, vs wait for backup as it was generally agreed before.

      The Beslan school shooting, the Nairobi mall shooting are only a few examples of how intensively this is being discussed, and tactics evolved.

      I just dont think there is one answer that fits all scenarios. Each is so full of variables that its situation dependent, and statistics dont prove what works.

  71. Hmm, I think in a situation in which there’s someone blowing everyone away, and a civilian having a weapon in hand demands both restraint and staying calm. I list these as a single person with no family. The thought process should work like this.

    Priority 1) Cover. Identify exit routes away from the sound of gunfire.
    Priority 2) Is the shooter within eye sight? If so, are they within accurate effective range of your firearm? If not, what’s the estimated amount if time to get everyone away from the shooter. If I have a concealed weapon, I’m going to try to get those that don’t have a means of protection out first. Its kinda like sitting in the exit row on an airplane, you agree to do so because you are willing to help people off, not for the extra leg room.

    Priority three) My own exit. I’ve done what I can in the area I was in. If its safe to do so, exit the area so the cops do pop bullet boners and smoke the first guy with a gun they see.

    Thats just a rough approximation. There is tons of things that could change the scenario rapidly. Is the shot clear in front and behind the target? How many injured? Do you have sufficient medical training and supplies to control bleeding? Etc etc etc. This whole question is a big what if. Which leads to more what its…

  72. I believe that these spree shooters are Bullies and sick, they want dominance over you. That’s why they shoot children and when nobody can defend themselves. If I had this shooting thing happening around me and he has a lot of targets, I would most likely charge him with my pistol drawn and make good hits. Now keep in mind he is not quit amming at me, but is shooting people. This coward ass belongs to me. I could never live with myself if I didn’t do all I could have done. Go in peace all “Colt made us all equal”.

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