Active shooter (courtesy gunworldmagazine.blogspot.com)

In Armed Citizen Response to an Active Shooter: A Law Enforcement Perspective (click here to read) Sgt. Patrick Hayes points out the perils of an active shooter who surrenders to an armed civilian. “If the active gives up, you are now in a very dangerous situation. You are pointing a gun at a person laying on the ground. Consider how this will look to the police or another armed citizen.” Sgt. Hayes says “If you can physically restrain the shooter without your gun, do so.” What he doesn’t say: shoot the bad guy and reholster. But really, isn’t that the safest course of action? Would you, could you do it?

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177 Responses to Question of the Day: Would You Shoot an Active Shooter Who’s Surrendered?

  1. Id never give him the chance to surrender. He’d have 7 or 8 new holes before he could process “get on the ground”.

    • This is actually a pretty reasonable response. Dan McKown was paralyzed for trying to let Maldonado surrender.

      • Maldonado was shooting at the time. If there’s gunfire, shoot!

        That incident does belie the idea that the presence of an armed citizen always stops a bad guy. Sometimes it does. Sometimes you gotta shoot.

    • Yep. Someone shooting up the place is an immediately threat. Just make sure he’s actually an active shooter and, you know, not just an armed citizen like you…

      But no, you don’t shoot people who have surrendered. If you can’t deal with this you should be running away from the shooting and not towards.

      • Agreed. You are not the police; you are not under any obligation to take someone who is posing an immediate lethal threat into custody. “STOP! Get on the ground!” or other vocalization is more to cover your own ass after the fact than it is an attempt to actually stop the shooter from more mayhem.

        The last thing you want to do is draw attention the shooter’s attention to yourself – PUT him on the ground, then scan for additional threats.

        • I haven’t seen much evidence to show that a cop would even TRY to take an active shooter into custody; even a person that isn’t actively shooting; somebody delivering news papers; just standing there with a phone in their hand or a cane is enough to get filled full of holes by a cop.

      • Not to mention if he has surrendered and dropped his weapon that you have just committed murder in the eyes of the law.

      • I knew if I waited long enough, we would one day agree on something, Hannibal. Though I bet we agree for different reasons.

      • “Drop it, lay face down on the ground, arms out, palms up, face away from the sound of my voice!” At that point, make sure firearm is out of reach. Hopefully someone else is there by then to corroborate and I can safely re-holster before the cops perforate me. If he gives me a reason I will shoot. If he’s already dropped the gun no freaking way.

        • Are you a police officer? Then why try to take an active shooter (implying by “active” that he’s actually shooting at the time) into custody? If he’s shooting – stop the threat. If he’s not shooting, then get the heck out of dodge. If he’s “between shots” – then he’s still a threat, so option 1 still applies.

      • You don’t shoot a perp who has surrendered. If you do, you’re just as bad as they are.
        However, you do need to make sure that his surrender was not a sham to make you drop your guard. In that case, assuming I wasn’t shot myself, I’d keep firing till he stopped twitching.

    • This is the constant mistake you see in all action movies and TV shows – people talking when they should be shooting.

      If you are confronted by an active shooter you have exactly zero obligation to engage them in any sort of dialogue. Your entire communication should be in the form of small lead and copper particles. The only time you should even consider conversation is when the Active Shooter is down and either dead or incapacitated and disarmed.

      Does anyone really think they are going to talk this guy out of continuing his rampage? If he is not hit and/or dead, and you are not out of ammo, the proper action is to keep putting rounds on target until he dies or gives up. With any luck he will suicide and solve your dilemma for you. I would strongly recommend against trying to interfere with him in this effort.

  2. Unless you can somehow guarantee that your jury would be comprised of blood relatives, do not shoot an unarmed perp. The law looks poorly on that scenario. Of course, were he to twitch suddenly, as if reaching for an ankle weapon you had better hope is there, then shoot him without hesitation. Refer back to having a jury made up of blood relatives.

    • “Unless you can somehow guarantee that your jury would be comprised of blood relatives….”

      In other words, if you live in Georgia or North Carolina. 😀

  3. How would this be any different from any other SD situation where the threat surrenders? You shoot to stop the threat….not execute someone. Generally speaking once someone has thrown away their weapon, and prones out, they aren’t considered to be a reasonable threat to life or great bodily injury.

    • That is the standard by which you will be judged in most states.

      It also comes down to what would a reasonable person do. If you have a decent lawyer who can persuade a jury that you don’t have training to restrain a suspect. You still have a reasonable belief that the suspect is still potentially dangerous (just because he dropped his gun doesn’t mean he can’t pick it back up or try to take yours).

      I would keep a gun on the suspect until the police arrive. As they approach, lay the gun down and raise your hands. Expect to be treated like a hostile threat until the cops figure out whats going on. Expect a little physical restraint/roughing up. Expect to get your gun confiscated.

      If you can tell the 911 operator what you look like/dressed in and what bad guy looks like. let them know the bad guy gave up and you are waiting on police. May help you a little.

      Will you still get shot by the cops? Maybe. But if you drop your guard you can get shot by the bad guy who decides he doesn’t want to go to jail today. Point is you have to weigh the risk/benefits and roll the dice. Either decision isn’t going to be perfect.

      I don’t carry a gun so I can one day have the opportunity to shoot a bad guy. I carry a gun so I can be with my family longer. If I’m stuck in jail/away from my family, I haven’t succeeded in my purpose. Could I take a life to protect myself or family…. I truly believe I could, and could live with myself afterwards. If I took a life that I didn’t have to… I’m not sure I could look at myself in the mirror.

    • Above all other considerations, ALWAYS keep in mind that you are surrounded by surveillance cameras and people with smart phones. Act accordingly because these recordings WILL end up in the courtroom.

  4. I’m not going to yell at an active shooter to drop his gun and surrender. I am going to shoot him and then possible accept his unconditional surrender as he lies on the floor.

    • My thoughts exactly; I am not a LEO; I have no obligation to identify myself, warn them to drop the gun or otherwise say “freeze”.

    • *bang* *bang* *bang* *bang* … “Freeze or I’ll shoot”

      because you never know who/what may be watching

      • holding somone at gunpoint post active shooter police on the way HELLL NO that’s how you end up dead…. way safer to just shoot him and wait for cops…. no gun on you…..

    • Because you have no guarantee that he’s actually surrendered or that you won’t be shot for holding him at gunpoint by responding cops. I say don’t give him a chance to surrender. Two to the chest, one to the head, call it a day.

      • Well then why don’t we just execute everybody by that logic? Maybe the ‘blade runner’ had a point, you can’t be sure it’s not a burglar and can’t be sure he’s unarmed and can’t be sure he won’t come out and shoot you… better blast away!

        • My point is that calling on an active shooter (or intruder in your home) to surrender can never end well. Don’t bother. After you have confirmed target ID, simply open fire. Note the “confirmed target ID” part. That’s why there’s a light on my nightstand gun.

      • two to the chest and one to the head…. after the shooter has dropped his gun… I call that 10-20. Years in prison that is getting ass-raped . even the best lawyer isn’t going to be able to convince a jury of Democrats on unemployment and couldn’t get out of jury duty that you were “reasonable” when you thought he/she was still a “reasonable” threat and had to be killed. Especially if the bad guy looks like he could be Obama’s son, and well… you don’t. If Zimmerman (on the ground getting beat to death by a known violent street fightin’ drug dealing-LEAN, theif) had as much trouble and is still having trouble, just think how bad you would get it if a security cam taped you shoot a dude 3 times after he dropped his gun and had his hands in the air?

        • Why would I be silly enough to wait for him to drop his gun? I don’t call on people to surrender when they are engaged at actively shooting at myself or others. This question starts with a silly premise. One that we hesitate to put him down after first drawing and give him time to decide to surrender. If the perp has a weapon and I need to draw mine, the time between me drawing and the third shot is not enough for him to notice that I am armed.

  5. Of course not. That would be murder. You can shoot the active shooter as long as he’s armed and dangerous. But if he’s down and has no weapon or doesn’t reasonably appear to be going for one, then you should cover him from cover,if possible. Use your “3 rings of safety” as Ayoob teaches, so the cops have a description of you going in. when the arrive, point out the bad guy a follow all orders precisely and instantly.

  6. If the shooter has taken my family out then what do I have to loose by killing him?? Otherwise no way!

    • What you have to lose is that you may spend the rest of your life living in a cage with a bunch of men who probably have more sympathy for the active shooter than for a generally law-abiding armed citizen.

      As painful as the event might be, you would not be the first, nor the last person to lose their family and then rebuild their life. In your scenario you might as well commit suicide after taking your revenge.

  7. I won’t lie; if I saw someone shoot women, children, etc at random, just unbelievable horrors and I got my gun on him I am not sure how I would react. Would I put him down even if he gave up? I can’t answer that question. I doubt I would give said bad guy a chance to surrender; in a perfect world the first indication an active shooter gets that I am armed is a 147gr gold dot burrowing through their center mass.

  8. To be honest, if I find myself in a school rocking an MP5 pistol I’m going to be shooting any and everything just for the lulz.

  9. I don’t think “active” means what you think it means. Once he surrenders, he is by definition no longer an active shooter:

  10. Depends on the situation. Was the perpetrator actually shooting at people or just waving his weapon around?

        • In addition legally, at least in CA, if the shooter has communicated that s/he has abandoned an assault, and you start shooting at him, he can now legitimately defend himself from you as you have become the agressor.

  11. No? Shooting him when he’s no longer active is murder, pure and simple. If you’re unable to restrain that impulse, you should not be carrying a gun to begin with.

      • Are you willing to go to jail for possibly the rest of your life? That judgement in our legal system is made at the trial by the jury, not the person on scene with a firearm in their hand pointed at someone who’s surrendered.

        • Like I said in a previous comment, if he has taken out my family, I have nothing else to loose!!

        • @Jon: if right/wrong is dependent upon the well-being of your friends and family, I’m glad this is only a hypothetical for more reasons than just the obvious. You’re saying murder is okay because “F*ckit, why not?” That’s mind-boggling.

        • @Matt…You could hold all your emotions in check if your son/daughter or wife were just killed? You sir are a better person than I.

  12. Assuming:
    (a) You personally watched a spree killer shoot multiple people that were obviously victims, and
    (b) The spree killer is still armed and you can see him/her …
    Then I see no benefit to yourself or society in verbally challenging said spree killer. Drop the spree killer with as many shots as are necessary to incapacitate him/her. That course of action is legally justifiable and avoids the liabilities associated with verbally challenging a spree killer and dealing with him/her if they surrender.

    • This is a very important point to consider since in our law-enforcement climate, no matter how badly the Active Shooter needs to be/should be killed, if any investigator finds evidence that you shot and killed the AS(s) after he declared surrender and was no longer a credible threat they can and legally MUST attempt to prosecute you for murder. I would not sacrifice my life to the legal system just for the satisfaction of having killed the bastard after his surrender. Much better to make this question moot by taking quick and decisive action before he has the opportunity to surrender.

  13. No.

    If I can actually get him to drop his weapons and surrender, I’m not going to murder him. Owning a gun does not make me a vigilante. …I’m not going to lower my weapon, either, and I’m sure as hell not letting him out of my sight–but I’m not going to shoot an unarmed person.

  14. I’m not a cop/LEO therefore am not trained in proper procedure to restrain a suspect. Probably take the active shooters gun away and holster my own(while keeping a watchful eye) and wait for the police. Hopefully I wont have to be in this situation.

  15. hide behind cover/concealment. . . while covering him and continue to bark orders at him. Read him his rights. Yell police a lot. make the real po-po think about shooting you.

  16. It all depends on one other question. Did he kill a member of my family? If yes then yes I would. If no then no I wouldn’t.

  17. If you’ve somehow gotten yourself into the unlikely situation where the bad guy has surrenders to you, congratulations, you now get to choose between risking your own butt (which you were already doing), running away, and murder.

  18. I am a retired LEO.
    Assuming I am in the situation as described, there is not going to be any offers to let the perp surrender. Find cover, shoot from concealment, honor the threat by shooting to end the threat.

    A citizen is not a LEO. He/she is not under obligation to offer terms according to some rule of law.

  19. Hell no. I’m not the judge, jury, and executioner. Given the scenario it’s certainly not worth the trouble.

  20. As we have seen over and over, active shooters are bent on killing others and themselves. Things unfold in seconds an even police constantly error on the side of safety.
    As an armed citizen, I would NOT attempt to capture an active shooter. If I was about to fire and he tossed all firearms on the ground and spread eagled, then I may not fire, but is he alone? Is someone going to come up behind you while you have your sidearm pointed at the suspects head?
    Very very dangerous situation to be in.

    I would have to conclude that in a active shooter situation, the best action would be to do whatever it takes to stop innocent people from being victims in the safest way possible.

    ******A dead good guy with a gun is no good at all********

    Who says that during an active shooting, you didn’t have fear for the the safety of yourself and those around you. That’s a pretty tough standard to dismiss after an active shooter incident.

  21. Remember this folks. Most spots where an active shooter is likely to turn up are swarming with ccctv. Any action you take is going to be scrutinised by the system.

    As said up thread. If you would execute a man that has surrendered you shouldn’t be packing a gun. And the DA may decide not only you don’t need a gun, but jail time as well.

  22. There’s sure a lot of machismo in this post. I’m guessing that maybe one in ten of the “he’d never get a chance” folks have ever heard a shot fired in anger. Of the remaining nine, maybe one has actually had any level of training whatsoever.

    I know you don’t “need” training to successfully defend yourself or others, but that’s a lot of dick-swinging from some folks who’d be lucky to hit a a paper plate at 15 feet on a square range.

    • Of course there is a lot of machoism in this post, what do you expect from a question like that on a blog like this? Myself personally I have stated what I “think” I would do, but nobody can tell you how they would react unless they were in it and are telling you the after story.

    • Matt, I don’t often agree with you so strongly, but I am with you 100% here. The scary end of the firearm is just that; scary as f*ck. I have an educated guess as to how I’d respond if I was also armed, but it’s still just a guess.

      What the majority here are describing is f*cking murder, and it ISN’T doing ANY of us any favors. This article is not only tasteless, but it will be seen by exactly the kind of people we don’t want to be handing (proverbial) ammunition to. Reckless blogging at the very least…

    • Well having the distinction of already been shot (once) blown up (mortars, twice) and stabbed (it was actually a potato peeler which did an amazing amount of damage) and also having been involved in a LOT of gunfights where i actually shot and killed people (probably doesn’t count though because most were in a war, right?) then I believe my comment is both justified and supportable.

      I am not a law enforcement officer (any more) I am legally armed for self-defense and my State law says I can use deadly force if I believe my life or another’s life is in danger of death or great bodily harm.

      It doesn’t say anything about having to take any prisoners.

      • Mattinfl is correct about the dick swinging here. Lol. Considering most have never or ever will fire a shot in anger what makes you think you can put 2 in the chest and 1 in head. If police only hit 30% of the time what makes you think you will be able to. Is there I am the shit pill you can take?
        I am ex military and have been shot at and let me say I was scared and not just a little but holy shit frightened. It is my belief that you will be so jacked up that if you see the weapon you will shoot and miss initially but will hit with one of other rounds until empty. Highly unlikely you will have presence of mind to order them to disarm etc etc etc.

        I damn well will not have my weapon out when LE rolls up to the scene because u know what they see. Male with gun at the scene of a shooting. Please do not forget that this scenario is “active shooter” and if you are the only swinging dick holding a weapon I doubt you will have the opportunity to explain your good intentions. The shooter will either try to shoot you or he will kill himself and then it is time for you to kick your weapon away and lay on the ground arms out. If not you will not be around to bask in the hero glow on fox and nbc!

        Please remember that you need to train to adjust to the adrenaline rush. So, take the shots and be sure of what is behind the target, hope you hit and get your ass down until the ref can review the tapes! Lol

  23. It seems that most you Fudds are missing the point. The fact is, if LEOs show up and see you holding a gun on someone, there is a damn good chance you’ll be ventilated.

    So how are you going to keep him restrained while the cops get there? The comment about yelling “Police Police” is the best plan I’ve seen

  24. Without question I would take out the shooter. Besides the high risk to self, the chances of getting executed would be slim. If put on trial, part of the defense would be to portray publicly the prosecutors and police as criminal apologists and supporters of criminals. That should make it very difficult to get a conviction.

    • I know of no case in which an apprehended active shooter has successfully used such a defense. You may think, yourself, that an active shooter may think he’s taking the law into his own hands, which is the only reasoning upon which your stated defense would even be coherent, though not the least bit effective. Can you site any case in which your notional defense was successfully asserted?

  25. It’s not your job to apprehend a shooter. Stop the threat. That’s it. Get them face down, interlock fingers behind the head, and keep back 10 feet or so, then reholster and keep your hands visible while watching the perp. That’s best case scenario. If they get up from that position you should have plenty of time to get your gun back out. Shooting a surrendering perp is murder, period.

    That being said, if someone is loony enough to attempt a mass shooting, what are the odds they will surrender peacefully? I’d say not great.

  26. This is how a surrender should go assuming you somehow determine that the spree killer is interested in surrendering:
    (1) Tell them to immediately drop their weapon.
    (2) Tell them to immediately lay down spread-eagle facing away from you.
    (3) Sit down on the ground with cover behind you and hold your handgun on the floor aiming in the safest direction possible … and cover your handgun if at all possible.

    That last point is extremely important. First of all, your handgun is in hand and you can bring it to bear pretty much immediately if the spree killer reneges on their surrender or if an accomplice shows up to help the spree killer. Of equal importance, when the police arrive at your location, they won’t see you standing over someone with a gun in your hand pointing it at them — which could very well result in them shooting you first and asking questions later. Rather, when the police arrive, they see someone sitting on the floor with no obvious weapon … which conveys intuitively and instinctively that you are NOT a hostile. Meanwhile, the spree killer is on the floor facing away from you and has no idea that you are no longer pointing a firearm at them. And the police will see his/her weapon on the floor next to them.

    This is about the best possible way to handle an incredibly horrible and dangerous situation.

    • You forgot steps (4) & (5):

      (4) Help the active shooter see the error of his ways. Advise him that Christ died for our sins, and we can all be free, if we just surrender our hearts to Him.
      (5) Blow his f—ing brains out when he isn’t looking

        • Sorry but no one is going to tell him to drop his weapon! You would be lucky to hit him when and if you shoot, your mouth will dry like the desert, adrenaline will be coursing, you will have tunnel vision like a mo fo and if there is a second shooter you will be very lucky to see him if he is not directly in your line of sight. Now compound things if you actually do manage to hit them because now you have the holy shit I just fucking shot someone thing going on. How many ever have smelled a stomach wound or the spatter from a head shot. Not like the video games and then you had damn well better hope you remember to put down your weapon as the police roll in. You would be lucky not to piss yourself and if you do you would not be the first. There is how we think it will be and it really is.

  27. Wait wait wait….

    The question is whether or not to shoot somebody who no longer poses an immediate threat of bodily harm to yourself or someone else?

    What the f*ck? Whatever you are smoking, keep it. It’s clearly bad sh*t.

    • Okay, so I have my EDC Ruger, a spare mag, an EDC knife, a flashlight, a small first aid kit, a cell phone, and now I have to find a place to stash some zip-ties large enough to be used as handcuffs AND approach an obviously deranged person and attempt to apply those cuffs while keeping him covered and dealing with an adrenalin dump and the impending arrival of law enforcement?

      Batman doesn’t carry that much shit, and I’m not going anywhere near that Active Shooter, surrendered or not, unless I’m pretty sure he is stone cold dead. Maybe not even then.

  28. No, of course not. I would only shoot the BG if they posed an immanent threat of death or grave bodily harm.

  29. ACTIVE shooter. If I draw on him while still ACTIVE (gun in hand), he’s going down with no verbal warning.

    • That sounds w-a-y too complicated, Mike. How about we form a committee, debate the issues, allocate time for cross-examination, and vote for a recommendation on the matter?

      Shall we?

      BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

  30. If the perp appears to my reasonable eye to have surrendered and dropped his weapon, then the threat is over, he’s my prisoner, and shooting him would be murder.

    I don’t really understand the disagreement on this point. Your weapon is for defense, not so you can sit in judgement of the world around you. I would hope everyone carrying could understand that.

    • I can definitely see myself sitting in judgment of someone so obviously guilty that they are operating as an Active Shooter, and acting accordingly. Once the “Active” part has stopped, for whatever reason, the only person likely to be judged for their actions will be ME. Revenge killing for what he may have done before stopped m or he decided to stop is NOT my right or responsibility, nor is asking him politely to surrender in the active portion of his attack.

  31. In Texas, the legal justification for using lethal force is identical to that of threatening its use. The idea, I surmise, is to establish one bright line up front, so that people don’t tough talk themselves into a threat situation by waving a gun and make things worse, unless it really is that serious from the start.

    So if I’m drawing on an active shooter, it’s with the intent to fire and stop the threat. If at the last second, say somebody runs between us and blocks my shot, forcing me to pause, meanwhile the bad guy gives up and disarms, now I have a problem. I’m assuming it’s a trick and he’s still armed, but if he’s not, I don’t want to shoot someone who’s no longer a threat.

    So, no, I won’t shoot at that point. I’d try to get others to restrain him, if anyone’s still around and can understand what’s going on. Otherwise, try to restrain him myself, if possible. Failing that, try to take cover, keep aimed on the bad guy, and try to yell out to the cops when they arrive. There’s no perfect script for this stuff, so just try to stay alive.

  32. Dirk Diggler, remember concealment is a bush or something that doesn’t stop bullets, cover is something that stops bullets.

  33. As an employee of two different schools, I can honestly say that were I to come upon a shooter who then surrendered to me, it would take every ounce of self-control I had not to do something outside the boundaries of acceptable, legal behavior. I could control myself, I know that, but I would lose sleep over not doing what would have felt like the quickest, easiest, most vengeful thing possible. However, that restraint is what separates us sheepdogs from the wolves. And it sucks sometimes.

  34. Seems most ‘Active Shooters’ when confronted with an armed response kill themselves. The rest are not interested in surrendering and continue their assault. The question is mostly moot.

    • Agree that the question is mostly moot, not to mention bait to encourage hot-heads to build a file for their own conviction. The NYPD study of the 287 known active shooter cases (not simply part of a crime or drug gang rivalry) globally indicates 46% are taken down by force, 40% commit suicide or try, and 14% say “OK, you got me! I surrender!”

      The 287 cases the NYPD google researchers could find included North America and Europe. Given that this base has a population of more than 700,000,000 people, I think you’ll agree that you have essentially no chance of being in the circumstance. Confronting an armed criminal whose primary purpose is not shooting people, but rather robbing or otherwise violating them, is tremendously more likely.

      This question puts the TTAG viewer in the same odd frame of mind that the gun grabbers suffer from: It causes people to think about “active shooter” occurrences as something more than a minescule blip in the crime picture. Wherever there are sufficient CCW people carrying, >4%, and a gun-free zone is not involved, active shooter situations simply do not occur. Go ahead, prove me wrong with citations!

      • Historical records, no matter how accurate, do not create future probabilities. It’s all just statistics and no matter how unlikely, people do get hit by lightning every day and some actually win million dollar plus lotteries.

        There is nothing wrong with intellectually considering the possible scenario and one’s response to it. And we must keep in mind that in the changing world situation there is no guarantee that our relatively event-free present with an occasional crazed spree killer will not be replace by Nairobi-type incidents.

        So consider this question: What would you do if there were two or more Active Shooters and ONE of them surrendered to you?

        • “There is nothing wrong with intellectually considering the possible scenario and one’s response to it. ”

          No, there’s nothing wrong with that and it can be very good mindset training.

          However, there may be some danger in being Superman in your own fantasy as you play this intellectual exercise. That’s a well known phenomenon in training circles…the imagined scenario gives “best case” across the board.

          Pick any random gun forum on the Internet, look at a thread like this and notice the number of posts from guys that just assume they won’t miss and that they will be successful in immediately ending the threat from the bad guy. Hit probabilities while firing under stress (and moving, etc), terminal ballistics, etc seem to only hardly ever play a role.

          Do we think the FBI agents in the ’86 Miami shootout never pre-gamed a shootout?

          If one is going to play the “previsualization” game, it is extremely important to do it objectively and realistically. For the vast majority of us, ANY gunfight is an iffy proposition at best.

  35. …If he is unarmed, and poses no threat Ill give quarter.

    Anything less then unconditional surrender and Ill engage.

  36. The fact is, active shooters are terrorists, as terrorist is defined by one who controls through commuting acts of terror. That said, the shooter decided to kill innocent people, and that’s why he won’t get the chance to surrender. If your ever in one if these situations though, remember that your first objective should be to get those who are with you to safety. Then go on a kill/ capture mission

    • “your first objective should be to get those who are with you to safety. Then go on a kill/ capture mission”

      (1) If you get your family to safety, you’ve left the area of imminent threat. Going back may cause you some problems.

      I can only imagine what will be said in the press (and maybe at trial) for someone going on a “kill / capture mission.”

      (2) You’ve likely not got time for all that, anyway.

      (3) The other reality is that you may well be talking going after someone with a long gun against your personal defense handgun.

      Do you carry a compact or sub-compact? If so, what’s it’s effective range and how far out have you SERIOUSLY practiced with it?

      You are very likely at a HUGE tactical disadvantage to go on a “mission” in this situation.

    • You have no duty to engage someone after you and your immediates are out of harms way.. So why would you?? Let the cops have it, they are free to cause all the collateral damage they want with immunity.. you on the other hand can expect to be drawn and quartered.. if you live.

  37. I don’t know the specifics of law in other states, but Kentucky statutes say that warning shots and pointing a weapon at someone without the intent to kill will leave you without the law on your side in court. If you do decide to draw on an active shooter, you best fire with the intent to take his life. By not firing or firing warning shots you demonstrate that the use of deadly force was not absolutely necessary and the situation could have been handled without it. The act of drawing or firing without intent to kill turns against you in potentially putting those around you in danger of your deadly force when it was not the absolute last resort. If he surrenders before you have the chance to fire on him then I would say take control as quickly as safely possible by removing his weapons and restraining him, all the while trying to get to the point where you can holster your weapon and control the situation with physical force or the least amount of force necessary. It is not your job to stay drawn on an active shooter until police arrive. They have their own safety in mind and no matter how good your intentions are, you will simply be another deadly weapon in the situation and a potential threat in their eyes until the situation is sorted out.

  38. IF an active shooter surrenders, tell them to lay spread eagle on the ground, stand back 6′-10′ with your firearm pointed down but ready until LEO’s arrive, that way it won’t appear you are an active threat. When the LEO’s tell you to drop your weapon do so. As for trying to restrain someone yourself, I.e. zipties…not a plan at all, it takes two hands to secure a ziptie and takes you into too close a proximity to be overpowered. Like was said in otuer posts if they’re still shooting, shoot to end the threat and remember, read men don’t testify or sue !!!!

  39. A lot said in the above comments, some good some bad. Yes, it is murder to kill a criminal who has come after you and your family, if he has surrendered and dropped his weapon.
    There are many things to consider before you shoot the perp. One thing I would consider that I have not yet seen in the comments, is, After this dude gets out of jail, how many other people and their families might be killed or disabled for life!

    • Holy crap! He just went for it! He tried to grab his gun back!

      BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

      Wow, that was a close one, Gunr. Good thing you kept an eye on him. Now we’ll all sleep tonight.

  40. The question is whether you would execute a person who has surrendered his firearm and is offering no resistance. Or put another way, would you commit cold blooded murder?

  41. As much as I would love to put the scumbag down, its not lawful and, to a fault, ethical to shoot someone who has surrendered.

    Honestly, I highly doubt the AS would have the time to surrender in a situation like that.

  42. Olympic timing clock running here:
    Scenario 1
    You have pulled and are pointing your weapon. He is shooting and he doesn’t see you. Drop him with a triple tap.
    Sc 2
    You have pulled and are pointing your weapon, your eyes meet, he may or may not be selecting you as the next target. Drop him with a triple tap.
    Sc 3,
    You have pulled and are pointing your weapon. He sees your weapon, you hesitate he surrenders.
    Sc 4,
    You have pulled and are pointing your weapon. He sees your weapon, you hesitate to give him a chance to surrender , he triple taps you.
    Sc 5
    You have pulled and are pointing your weapon, you start firing and hit or miss, while you are shooting to neutralize the Active Shooter.
    He spread eagles to the ground. Is that an evasive move or a surrender? Keep shooting until you know surrender is his intention for absolutely certain. He should get no benefit of any doubt.

    Therefore it will be by your skill or his luck that he is killed, wounded or uninjured in the end.
    The only relevant tense is past tense, surrendered. Going to surrender? No good. Surrendering? No good.

    Tell me in what scenario you would give up your tactical advantage to give him a chance to surrender. I think you have to keep shooting during what may appear to be the process of surrender and it is your call when that process is complete. The problem with the question is, what do you define as surrendered. Hands up with a sidearm in a holster? Hands up and his AR slung behind his back. Or as mentioned before, spread eagled with an ankle holster.
    So maybe the question should be “ would you shoot him if you knew he had surrendered”. It is in the uncertainty of the process where we may error, not the certainty of the post analysis. I hope the burden is not on us to be 100% accurate with the Olympic timing clock ticking off the thousandths of a second where the duration these decisions reside.
    BTW, the government is the only entity that has the privilege to kill someone after they have surrendered.

  43. Is it legal for civilians to use restraining devices like as handcuffs on a “surrendered assailant”?’

    If so I would probably utilize it, but I won’t order him to surrender. Adrenaline and training would dictate me to end the threat as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

    • Ed,if you restrain and move him so much as a foot, Kidnapping charges can be levied, .. if he surrenders to you, keep him at gunpoint but never attempt to move him..At that stage, im sure cops are moments away.

  44. Folks…refrain from making things complicated. The saying goes…if your attack is going well, it’s an ambush.

    Really, you just witnessed a nut job shoot unarmed people. Breathe, relax, aim, squeeze, shoot.

  45. How many people has the shooter injured? Are there security cameras watching me? Has the shooter dropped ALL of his weapons?

    The faster I can get aid to the injured the better. Is babysitting the shooter going to help with that? I wouldn’t trust him. He just opened fire among civilians. I also have to consider what was said about putting my weapon away ASAP. I don’t trust him, I won’t approach him. I don’t want to be the one armed responder that got taken out and had his weapon stolen to allow him to keep killing. If I let the shooter put down his weapon then I deserve this difficult situation.

  46. Sgt. Hayes says “If you can physically retrain the shooter without your gun, do so.” What he doesn’t say: shoot the bad guy and reholster. But really, isn’t that the safest course of action? Would you, could you do it?

    To answer the question, the answer is ‘no, it is not the safest, but instead exposed you to serious jail time.’ As for ‘would you?’ No. I wouldn’t. As to ‘could you?’ If I wouldn’t, what how could I ever reflect on ‘could I?’ Could I do what, something I would not do? I suppose I could if I would, but I wouldn’t. Does that mean I couldn’t? I suppose so. Next case.

  47. Most likely not. But, it depends.

    How about this hypothetical: After dropping your five year-old son or daughter off at school you’re walking toward the exits when you hear gunfire coming from behind. You turn, rush back to the classroom your child is in and find some wild-eyed nutjob standing amongst the eviscerated bodies of the entire class, including your loved one. You draw and aim at him. As you’re about to shoot he sees you out of the corner of his eye, drops his guns, and surrenders.

    Would you let him live?

    That’s much harder to answer, isn’t it?

  48. Sgt. Hayes says “If you can physically retrain the shooter without your gun, do so.”

    If I could indeed ‘physically retrain’ the shooter, I think I’d make him a circus clown, or perhaps a bathroom cleaner at Walmart. What choices have been made made in the past?

  49. Tooo complicated for me to game a scenario. If I am in a position to use my firearm, I wouldn’t expect to wait once I was on target. I am in no way trained to force or accept a surrender. My friends’ & family’s safety will be my concern (oh yea& mine). If the shooter chooses to surrender after I’ve fired, I’ll attept to organize some kind of response ad hoc with whomever is on hand. Then communicate to 911 where we are & the current situation.
    Then I’m likely to need EMS treatment for stress.

  50. Let the cops restrain him. They get paid to do that. I would just remain hidden until the all clear signal and be thankful to still be alive…..

  51. JR, you are right, probably shouldn’t have used “kill/ capture”.

    This is what I should have said;
    Nobody will think less if you if you get your family ir people around you to safety, tour next step should be making sirenian secure and you have a proper egress route.

    As sit what I carry, it varies, lately it’s been a SIG 220 carry with a few spare magazines. I really like the M&P Pro series, now that it’s warmer I’ll switch over to my HK45c. As for blades I typically carry a benchmade mini presidio ultra or an Emerson mini commander. I also carry my Rambo kick of death.

    I think the longest distance, I’ve trained at was maybe 25 yards, that said unless it’s a large area, I would never want to engage at that distance with a handgun or beyond 30 yards, just because at that point, your better off moving your group to safety.

  52. Your also only at a disadvantage if you engage a shorter from the front, from the sides or from behind is the best bet. Train hard, fight dirty.

    • This assumes that you will any control of that at all in a very dynamic, chaotic active shooter scenario.

      You may be able to approach from behind. You may not.

      Let’s remember some of the lessons of the ’86 Miami Shootout. Eight FBI agents (variously armed) against two active shooters…good guy to bad guy ratio of 4:1, not 1:1 (or worse) like most of us would likely encounter. Good guys fired approximately 650 rounds and two of them were killed before the two bad guys were killed.

      And before we get screaming about the calibers the FBI were using, one of the first (if not the first) rounds to hit one of the bad guys caused a fatal injury…just not immediate, as can happen with ANY handgun. I think we would be wise to remember those fancy ballistic gel tests that show how great our new ammo is are from “normal” SD distances, not the longer ranges that may be necessary to “take out” an active shooter.

      These were armed, presumably trained agents looking for a confrontation and not folks going about their day getting surprised by a shooter; in fact, the agents initiated the confrontation. There were no innocent bystanders running around screaming. There was cover and back up weapons.

      And still, it was a very bloody shootout.

      Am I saying don’t engage? Nope. Just some food for thought….

  53. The problem, here, seems not so much with dealing with an active shooter, since we know we are taking a chance once we announce our intention to confront him, but rather with those meathead LEOs who shoot first and ask questions later. Bear in mind, not all LEOs are meatheads, trigger-happy or part of the problem, but it’s the OTHER half of them that are psychologically unfit for service and only different from the people they put behind bars because they happen to have a badge and a gun.

    Like a doctor or a mechanic, what good are their credentials if, when it comes time for someone to require their professionalism, they fall victim to acting out all their unresolved childhood issues against the first person they manage to sight in?

    I’m more than confident about managing myself under stress, but the wild card here is a trigger-happy douchebag in a uniform showing up and conveniently failing to yell, “Police, drop your weapon,” while his weapon is pointed at me.

  54. I would make sure no cameras and no witnesses, and then empty a magazine into the shooter with the final round going straight into his brain. $$ on one magazine of bullets is far cheaper than the $$$ money spent on the justice system . Besides we all know folks will be glad he died by the way he killed.

  55. Tell him/her to lie on the ground with their hands on their back. Then call out that the shooter is down and ask for assistance restraining the individual. If no one comes I would raise one open hand in the air and repeat, “shooter down” every few seconds.

    • I think you could probably avoid being shot by responding LEOs by yelling their typical orders at the top of your lungs.

      “HANDS! LET ME SEE THOSE HANDS!”

      Or “STOP RESISTING!” as you stomp the murderous piece of trash in this hypothetical.

    • Exactly. Pretty sure he had another gun in his pocket, Kafir. You saw it too, didn’t you? Looked like he was going for it. We all agree then. Active shooter. We were legitimately in fear for our lives.

  56. BR549, absolutely, the whole restraining thing is not nearly as simple as it seems. Speaking from expierience, dropping your weapon in a safe manner when the po po show up is always the best way to, then explain what you did

  57. Should be “restrain”; I’m not gonna “retrain” him, even if he waves a hundred dollar bill at me!

  58. Surrender is just a word-if they make sudden twitches, that’s going to cause me to shoot, even of they are face down.

  59. Comes down to if he already was shooting before I was aware (shoot him until he’s not a threat) or I just witness a person coming into a mall with a rifle (pre-active shooter possibility) and all of a sudden not only do you have to worry about shoot/no shoot, you have to worry about if you should even clear leather?

    If I’m in a mall and hear gun shots, I move towards the threat with my gun drawn and eliminate the threat completely. If I’m at a mall and see a guy holding a rifle but not shooting – that’s where things REALLY get muddy.

  60. if someone is taking innocent lives I would stop the threat without commands. if said psycho has disarmed and surrendered, you shouldn’t even have your gun unholstered.

  61. I was taught to assault through the objective. Double tap the bodies on the ground to make sure they really are bodies. Infantry, hooah!

  62. We are allowed to carry a weapon to defend our families or ourselves when in fear of death or great bodily harm. Once that threat has ceased, we can no longer use deadly force. We aren’t law-enforcement, and not obligated to use force to stop an attack on anyone else. That’s a fairly small window to legally use deadly force.Hopefully will never be in that position, please have it clear in your mind when or if you pull your weapon it;s for the right reason.

  63. The problem with this scenario doesn’t underline what a human does under stress. If you were confronted with someone shooting people you are going to on theory launch a counterattack. You are highly unlikely to communicate or ask for a surrender or even see the attempt. Life isn’t some crime drama poker game so the idea of meeting eyes with the shooter and finding him wanting then him backing down is the stuff of cinema. Not reality.

    I said this to say the obvious. If people in a simple robbery scenario can’t keep track of the rounds they fire or what the bad guy was doing at the time of the trigger squeeze then you are vastly overestimating the gross motor movement sequence and adrenaline.

    The last order you gave your body was to survive. The milliseconds it takes to discern murderous behavior from a surrender or more murderous behavior is overly hyped as 100% controllable reaction time and can get you or other people killed. It is not so easily controlled or remembered even. You will do what you feel you need to in order to survive and protect your own.

    Hopefully it will not involve shooting an unarmed man or waiting for him to shoot someone else before you figure out there isn’t a surrender.

  64. I’d never shoot somebody who surrendered his firearm. Of course, I’m sure I saw him make a suspicious movement and reach for the gun.

  65. I would shoot my way out of situation and make my escape. I’ll deal with cops later, once they call me in for questioning because they saw me on camera, rather deal with detectives a week after, then trigger happy SWAT.

  66. If a guy just got done shooting up a mall or something I don’t think it’d be a stretch for the jury to understand that when he twitched and I emptied an entire magazine into him that I did so not only because he posed a threat to myself, but also to those around me.

    Besides, the family won’t have a dime left for legal fees to come after me by the time the real victims’ families are done with the estate.

  67. The only hypothetical given is that the shooter has surrendered, not how that came to be. Surrendered means they have given up, and are no longer a threat. The question isn’t “Would you shoot someone that has pretended to surrender?”…if someone makes a furtive/reasonably threatening move, then I’d do anything in my power to stop that threat, that is exactly why I carry. (To protect myself and family) So again, no I wouldn’t shoot someone that poses no threat to me. Just the same as if I returned home and found an intruder in my house, and upon drawing on them, regardless if they are displaying a weapon, they immediately surrender, I’m not shooting. (it’s happened to me, fortunately they were downstairs, and fled when I entered the house…all I heard was a door close). More recently I surprised a man in my back yard (we actually surprised each other). He had stoled booze from a local store, and had run from police/loss prevention. I’d heard snow crunch, and assumed it was a deer in the yard, I peeked around the corner and he was 8 steps from me. I just yelled at him “stop!”, and he turned and fled. Had he approached me, I may have shot him. (I’d started to draw when he ran), had he actually stopped, I’d have waited for the police, and followed their instructions.

    When I was much younger and we lived in Detroit, in an area mostly of cops and firefighters, an off duty cop caught a burglar in front of our house. He was in plain clothes, and held him at gunpoint until the Calvary arrived. His badge wasn’t out, he immediately ID’d himself as a good guy, and wasn’t shot.

    With all the concern raised by this site’s admins about proper conduct, due to the fact that things said here may be used to portray gun folks in a negative manner, I’m actually shocked that this subject was even posted….really, just shocked.

  68. depends on size of assailant. depends on distance between us. depends on if he is trying to flee or act as an agressor.

  69. Frankly a non lethal shot would be better than a kill. Either keep him/her down or immobilize them.

  70. If i was at my children school and i saw an active school shooter going in to the school i always carry my Smith & Wesson M&P in 9mm with a spare magazine i went into the school after him if i told him to drop the gun that he is holding and he does not do it then yes i would runn him to the ground so my children or other children or school staff does not get hurt i carry everyday for the last 21 and half years i am teaching my kids i about what to look for when we are out they know there are evil people out when we are and thats why i carry So to answer your question yes i would shoot to save lives

  71. Fantasy. If I want fiction I’ll read Stephen King. None of you will ever be in a scenario like this. Would I allow active shooter to surrender? lol Whatever Farago.

  72. It wouldn’t be such a problem if cops didn’t carry guns. As it is, they’re more likely to shoot first and ask questions later.

  73. 1. Agree with Highvoltage. Really poor topic choice.
    2. A lot of people talking big here who have never had to shoot another human being. It isn’t much like the movies and you wake up sweaty and screaming your lungs out from time to time for the rest of your life, no matter how justified your actions were. A lot of justified shooters later end up divorced.
    3. Defenders are not Junior cops. You are only allowed to use deadly force to stop an immediate deadly threat. If that threat has surrendered, and you shoot and kill, you will be prosecuted and you should be. There will be no medal ceremony. You have just committed murder. Like it, don’t like it. Whatever floats your boat.

  74. In 1973 a friend of mine was driving back from a deer hunting trip in Texas. Ahead of him on the highway a State Trooper had pulled over a vehicle, as he passed the driver who had been stopped was fighting with the trooper.

    My friend slowed down and pulled over just as the trooper was laying on the ground and shot in the head with his own gun. My friend took out his deer rifle and blew the cop killers head off.

    He was tried for murder in Texas and was acquitted. He passed away last year at 86 years of age and six Texas State Troopers came to his funeral in Oklahoma.

    I would think killing an active shooter would land many of us in the same boat unless we were being shot at.

  75. Lotta hard internet operators out here.

    That said, you are under no compulsion to demand a surrender. You are not a cop. And announcing your presence is a tactical mistake. If just the sight of your terrifying visage propels an active shooter to the floor and his gun ten feet away in less time than it takes to pull a trigger, then I guess yeah, you probably shouldn’t shoot him. Seems unlikely though.

  76. If he is active, shoot him make the shots count, unload your weapon put it on the ground, put your hands up.If he surrenders , get witnesses , put him on his knees hands behind his head.Secure his his guns holster your gun with dilligence.Put your hands in the air.

    ure his gun (s) holster uou weapon with dilligence!

  77. No, I’m going to try to kill him if my family members or loved ones are near. If it’s just me I’ll leave the area unless he’s shooting at me. Take cover and return fire if he’s closing in.

  78. It’s very difficult to foresee all the variables possible in this situation. If – if my family is threatened- if we can’t escape- if I don’t have a clear shot- if the cops aren’t there- if people are dying- if – if – if.

    Here’s the bottom line, IF there is an active shooter attacking unarmed innocent people and you have the ability to stop him/her you are under no obligation what-so-ever to offer the killer any opportunities to surrender. You’re not a cop! There are no Marques of Queensbury’s rules, the Geneva Convention does not apply, there are no rules at all in fact. The only obligation is, if you can, to stop the killer……dead. That is the only way to be sure that they can not harm anyone further.

    You don’t know if the killer is carrying more arms. You don’t know if the killer is still dangerous. You don’t know if the killer has an accomplice. You don’t know if the killer is trained in martial arts or has any other means to attack you even if they APPEAR unarmed. If the opportunity presents itself take your shot and keep shooting until the killer is obviously dead or you’re out of ammunition then quickly reload and be prepared to shoot the killer again. You don’t know if the killer is on drugs or something. They are a threat until they are either behind bars or six feet under….not before. After which if there is no more threat, holster your gun and raise your hands. Kick any weapons away from the killer and keep your hands in the air and your eyes wide open for any further threats until the police finally arrive.

  79. A shooter who has surrendered is no longer an active shooter. No, I would not shoot, but I also would not lower my guard or my weapon. Not until relieved by LEO. Who, hopefully, would recognize the situation.

  80. I don’t know.

    Confronted by a roomful of dead kids? Maybe, as a reaction rather than a decision.

    Were I in control and he didn’t stumble and accidentally lunge at me, probably not.

    Better that things go badly for him than that they do so for me.

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