CapArms Question of the Day: School Shooting. What Would You Do?

TTAG reader TweetyRex posed the following thought experiment underneath our post John Farnam: Are You REALLY Ready for a Gunfight?

If you are picking up your kid at school, and a couple Zombies are herding children up against the fence and shooting them with AK rifles. You are across the packed parking lot, about 150 yards away. Should you:

A) Run away and let the police handle it. They’re not ALL your kids, just one or two. Odds are they’ll shoot other people’s kids and not get to yours before the police arrive.

B) Pull out your pistol and engage at rifle ranges. You will most likely miss your targets, and may hit bystanders (children), but hey, at least you tried.

C) Pull out your pistol and charge into pistol range, hoping none of the Zombies happen to look your way.

D) Reach into the back seat, pull out your AR, chamber a round, rest it on the roof of your car, shoot each Zombie once in the head, clear your rifle, put it in the trunk of your car while retrieving your Emergency Medical Kit. Close the trunk, take the kit, and render aid to the wounded.

If this sounds far fetched, Google William Cruse Palm Bay Florida. The first 2 officers to arrive didn’t even make it out of their cars (he had a rifle). The armed citizen was so shook up he shot the dashboard and hood of his own car, but couldn’t hit the bad guy. One calm man in the parking lot with a rifle could have saved a bunch of lives.


  1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

    Option D, final answer. If a rifle is not available, then my rapidly accelerating vehicle is.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      That was my first thought. 100,000 ft-lb of energy beats 1000 ft-lb.

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      In the scenario above you’re likely to kill more kids than he is by using your vehicle.

      1. avatar John Haley says:

        Hannibal, your comment, that charging the shooters with a vehicle would be a bad move, most likely doing more harm than good, exhibits the irksome trait of anti-gunners and safety freaks that excuses their sorta chicken/irresponsible position that having a gun or “doing something” to prevent/stop violence is always more dangerous than being passive or having a gun.

        I say that because there’s nothing in the situation description above about the physical layout of the shooters, fence, and vehicle. It could have been an easy approach or a tricky one. Yet you are all over it as being stupid macho. The only obvious downside risk is the driver getting shot, and he could make a small target. At the minimum, the kids would have a few seconds to run while the shooters were occupied with him. And dodging a coasting car (aimed at the shooters!) if he were nailed is better than dodging bullets.

        Yes, charging across the playground with a vehicle does scream “reckless,” but in the scenario as given ALL the kids are dead without action.

        I say “your comment” exhibits rather than “you” exhibit because sometimes one comment does not accurately define a person. Or maybe it’s just that, as long as bullets are not flying, I prefer kindness.

    3. avatar McBell says:

      Hotchkiss 37mm revolving Cannon right through the front of his house would be my response. Followed by a wall of automatic fire from my browning 50bmg.

    4. avatar Max says:

      “Option D, final answer. If a rifle is not available, then my rapidly accelerating vehicle is.”

      This is the best answer.

      You don’t need to outright run the attackers over, you can use the car to rapidly close the distance to your target (putting you in effective pistol range) and bring cover with you (hiding behind that engine block).

      At the very least, you can distract the enemy and buy some time.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    I’d put two photon torpedoes into the Kobayashi Maru and call it a day.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      Spock doesn’t get your humor and the Academy isn’t amused either.

  3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    i would reach for my .88 magnum if was school shooting.

    1. avatar Jack says:

      Ha!! Your name is an adverb?

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        adjective pro- noun.

  4. avatar Missouri Mule says:

    Well I guess I’m bleeped! Since I am a teacher I will be sheltering in place and preparing to defend a classroom with improvised weapons. Wish me luck, I’m going to need a lot!

  5. avatar Shire-man says:

    The answer is always: “shoot the hostage.”

  6. avatar Gregolas says:

    Put my car in gear and run over the Bad Guys.

  7. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

    My kids are home schooled and my old lady has situational awareness on the level of a German Shepherd. The perps would probably have a shotgun in there face before they knew what was going on. My boy would probably be in the crows nest calling shots and I’d come home to lots of caution tape and body bags

    1. avatar Joel says:

      Same at our home. School. But my wife carries a 9mm….

  8. avatar Lance Manion says:

    Schools are gun free zones so that means zombies can’t shoot kids there. I would politely point out the sign of a gun with a line drawn through it and ask the zombies to leave. If they refused, I would report them to the Principal.

    1. avatar Rick the Bear says:


      I might write a letter to the local paper to start a campaign to make the gun-free signs bigger.

      1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        Don’t forget to mention having the signs in multiple languages. How will Lithuanian and Swiss terrorists be able to know where they can’t shoot people if all the signs are in English?

  9. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

    Zombies don’t use guns. So I would walk up behind them when they are chowing down on some kid’s brains and shoot him in the back of his head with my soul stealing 45.

  10. avatar None says:

    Something to be said for a good old .308 bolt gun or hunting semi-auto. They don’t hold many rounds, but they hit hard and with good accuracy.

  11. avatar Ilya says:

    If I have no rifle I carge with my pistol using what cover I can and pray I can make it within range. If I have a rifle I pull it out and take carful aim. When I was in college I kept a rifle in my trunk for just such a scenario.

  12. avatar Darkman says:

    Since I often have my SBR in the car with me. Yes I carry heavy… Let the games begin. Barnes 85 grain 556 will do the job nicely. Just need scoop shovel and shop vac to clean up the mess.

  13. avatar fteter says:

    I keep a rifle in my truck. I’d lay it over the hood of the truck rather than the roof, so I’m protected by the engine in the event of return fire. The good news is that, in my part of the country, I don’t imagine that I’d be the only parent firing…or even the first, for that matter. Odds are pretty good that the Zombies would be dropped long before I arrived on the scene.

  14. avatar jwm says:

    As has been stated upstream a couple of times. It’s hard to shoot someone with 2 tons of suv spinning its tires in your ass.

    Try to be calm and take steady aim when there’s 2 tons of piloted missile with a crazy old man heading for your grill. Horn a blowing and ZZ top a blaring on the speakers.

    1. avatar bobmcd says:

      La Grange, presumably

      1. avatar Ing says:

        I can see that happening like a little movie in my head, and it’s awesome.

    2. avatar surlycmd says:

      Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers?

      1. avatar jwm says:

        That’ll do til something better comes along.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          mc5, kick out the jams.

    3. avatar Gregolas says:

      ZZ Top blaring….
      Nice touch.

      1. avatar FedUp says:

        Naw, Nazareth. Hair of the Dog.
        Or Wagner. Ride of the Valkyries.

        1. avatar Lee Dixon says:

          Metallica – Seek and Destroy or For Whom the Bell Tolls

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Wagner has been ruined for me since that silly movie, A Crock of Shit Now.

        3. avatar Sheepdog6 says:

          Which silly movie? The one where they played it over the choppers loudspeakers or the one where they showed Marines watching it being played over the choppers loudspeakers?

        4. avatar jwm says:

          They’s more than one silly movie? Lawd, whateva will we do.

        5. avatar Button Gwinnet says:

          Sabotage, Beasties.

        6. avatar NYC2AZ says:

          “Sabotage, Beastie Boys”

          “Is that classical?”

  15. avatar Oliver says:

    School shooting, what would I do? Well I’m going on a school shooting tomorrow and I told my students that if they’ve never fired a shotgun before to maybe start with a 20 gauge. Although the loads will be light since it’s skeet. Also to keep in mind always the three cardinal rules of gun safety, 1. Muzzle awareness, 2.finger off the trigger….and 3. Treating every gun as if it were loaded. Oh, and to have a great time as it will be fun! I think that’s pretty much it.

    1. avatar st381183 says:

      What in the hell are you talking about? I think you need to read the entire article. We are not talking about a school for shooting, we are talking about a criminally insane person shooting up a school.

  16. avatar I Am Not a Hero says:

    1. secure my kids or die trying.
    1a.If my kids are lost, kill as many of those bastards as i can before they kill me.
    2. secure myself. I realize its self-serving but my kids growing up WITH a father is a priority of mine
    3. if i don’t have some way to intervene with little or no risk to myself, let the authorities handle it from there

    maybe it will change when my kids are older (they are 2 and 4), but right now the only people i am prepared to die for are my kids and their mother.

  17. avatar kevin says:

    Depends if I have my kids with me or not. If so, GTFO. If not, get into range and take my shots as carefully as I could.

  18. avatar High school prepper says:

    Being a student, who unfortunately would probably be stuck inside the school, I would wait behind a blind corner with a backpack full of books facing forward for whatever protection that might offer, engage only if they broke down the door to the classroom using krav maga and whatever weapons I could improvise, then treat any injuries with the first aid kit in my backpack.

  19. avatar Bob R says:

    Be a good slave and obey government (police… government school admins) and hide in a room and let the perp shoot you like a fish in a barrel.

  20. The real question is this: What decision can you live with? Personally, I could never live with doing nothing. I would try very hard to get as close as possible and to put rounds on target. I fully realize how challenging this would be – however, even if I could not hit him, every second I could distract him is that much more time for others to get away. Is there a high probability that I would be killed? Yes. However, my kids are all grown, and I just don’t think I could live with doing nothing. Other who are in different circumstances may legitimately reach different conclusions.
    (BTW, I was a first responder for many years. I have a significant degree of stress inoculation and have taken calculated risks many times.)

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      there’s a vaccine for stress? i’m in…

  21. avatar deepdive68 says:

    Obviously the question and choices are set up to argue for keeping a carbine in your daily driver. While most of us have a negligible chance of ever needing our carry sidearm outside our home, we have an even lesser chance of needing a carbine. I don’t regularly keep a carbine in the car because the risk of theft is greater than the likelihood of need, but I do have one if going to certain places at times, such as St Louis at the height of the Ferguson stuff.

    But to answer the question, since I wouldn’t have a carbine and I’m not trying 150 yd shots with my carry sidearm, I would look at the option of closing the distance with my vehicle or on foot depending on topography, cover and obstacles, or retreat. Not looking to make a bad situation worse by exceeding my abilities and creating more harm.

  22. avatar Hannibal says:

    “C) Pull out your pistol and charge into pistol range, hoping none of the Zombies happen to look your way.”

    Why this ‘zombie’ nonsense?

    Anyway, as to C, if I’m charging into pistol range I’m fine if the bad guys look my way. Every second that they’re not looking my way they’re blasting kids. Give a war cry and let em look. I’m probably a much harder target running than defenseless kids.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      “Why this ‘zombie’ nonsense?”

      I would guess he’s trying to use language that coveys the sense that it’s acceptable to shoot these people but without cursing or using other offensive language or terminology.

      Personally I prefer “Mr. Mass Shooty McFuckface” and to add numbers if there’s more than one, but that’s just me.

      1. avatar deepdive68 says:

        I would think that writing “a person shooting innocent children” would fully and without explanation convey the sense that it is ok to shoot them, run them over with a car, beat them to death with a crowbar or use any other method of eliminating them from the gene pool. But then I’m apparently deplorable according to half the nation so what do I know.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          I would agree that your description is accurate and acceptable.

          But, for some it’s not dehumanizing enough language and for other it raises questions of how the shooters self identify and therefore might be deemed “non-PC” and offensive.

        2. avatar Hannibal says:

          I agree. The fact is the guy (or woman!) you may be faced with isn’t going to be an extra on the walking dead. Won’t be that simple.

      2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        you are a jagoff for making me laugh that hard.

  23. avatar Ralph says:

    What would Keyser Söze do?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      You a bad man, Boss.

    2. avatar NYC2AZ says:

      “What would Keyser Söze do?”

      Become Frank Underwood.

  24. avatar Gordon in MO says:

    I’m old but have not forgotten that long ago training… to the sound of guns.

    Use cover and concealment where possible but don’t wait for hours like the responders did at Columbine.

  25. avatar Kaban says:

    1. Packed parking lot = cover.
    2. Gunfire = distraction.
    3. Bluetooth headset = free hands.

    Unless zombies had already feasted on one’s brain, options are here, on a platter.

  26. avatar YAR0892 says:

    Gear up with the best weapon available, maneuver to the best position possible, and engage with extreme prejudice. Render aid as best I can while pulling security after the primary threat is neutralized.

  27. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    I’m probably not kitted out to properly operationally operate so I’ll need to stop and change into my Underarmor skivvies, put on my Oakley sunglasses, put on my tactical vest, put the thousand dollar Eotech sight on my ten thousand dollar custom AR, grab a 10mm Glock or Wilson Combat 1911 (because anything less is for losers) and three or four backup weapons, and then service the targets in an operational manner. That’s what I’m supposed to do. In reality this old man will charge into the fight with what he has because kids shouldn’t die on my watch. My truck gun will probably be a Henry AR-7 but hollow point CCI .22s out of a long barrel aren’t a bad thing. I will try to get close and use the engine block and front tires of my truck or car as cover – the big V-8 of my Dodge pickup is a bit more substantial than the flat aluminum 4 in my Outback but both are better than a cotton shirt. My usual off duty pistol is a Kimber Ultra Carry II .45 so I hope that I’ll be able to do some good with that. And if the bad guys win – well at least I tried and I’ll holler to the kids and tell them to run while I’m taking care of business. I’ll be 65 next month and I’ve survived lots of stuff including a battle with the cancer monster so there’s not much that scares me. I know that when the lights go out – especially in the scenario we’re talking here – I’ll hear “Well done” on the other side so I’ll try my best.

  28. avatar anonymoose says:

    Option E) fix bayonets.

  29. avatar Tori S says:

    Nice try NSA.

  30. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    After taking Defensive Pistol classes maybe i’ll be ready..

  31. avatar justin_ga says:

    Is there an option to get out of the trunk and put on custom made vehicle gillie suite and sneak up? Just kidding! Seriously though this is why I keep one of my favorite bolt action rifle’s in my cars trunk safe. Yes I have a trunk safe, and no it’s not a truck or black SUV. It’s actually a Volvo S60 and when harassed by my gun buddies I love to point out it’s the best urban camouflage around. Especially since it has only Disney stickers and I have a support education license plate with its big red apple embossed on it. I much prefer to look like a non-threatening beta male liberal democrat. Who would expect I’m carry a concealed weapon and have a trunk full of WTF do you need something like that for firepower. Getting back to the question at hand……I’d love to pick option (D) but I honestly know that in an actual situation what you actual do and what you wished you could have did are two separate things. I’d like to get move my vehicle in a position of concealment and eliminate the zombie’s with a highly accurate long range rifle. Even if my position is compromised and the zombie’s start firing towards me and even moving towards me I consider that a win since their focus is on me now and not the children. Oh and if one of these zombie terrorists did murder my child….they as well murdered any love, compassion, empathy I ever had as well and my life’s only purpose would be to show the zombie terrorists a scale of terrorism they couldn’t even fathom.

  32. avatar gjbdjjchnh says:

    i’d wake up

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