Previous Post
Next Post


Day one of SIG SAUER’s three day Active Shooter course was dedicated to introducing me to me. Specifically what I can and can not do with a pistol and a rifle. After a brief Powerpoint intro to active shooters—they exist and they need shooting—the rabbi, a cadre of cops and I did the live fire thing. Moving and shooting. Shooting and moving. Trying not to hit the innocents on the targets. What my teammates and I discovered: a rifle is a whole lot better an anti-active shooter weapon than a pistol. Especially for the not-so-active people downrange. At the conclusion of the drills, SIG SAUER gun guru Scott Reidy asked the police participants a simple question . . .

Would you feel comfortable running the same drills with your troops? Sensibly enough, a couple of cops in the group shook their heads no. The proto-active shooter instructors reckoned some of their auxiliaries and bailiffs wouldn’t have the skill or stamina to make it happen. (A man’s gotta know his Clint Eastwood quotes.)

So that’s the non-pros out then.  Or is it?

As our instructors pointed out, the days of waiting for the SWAT team to show up, strategize and form a diamond-shaped team to take out the bad guy or guys are long gone. Post-Virginia Tech, the goal is to get rounds on the killer ASAP. In urban areas, that can mean a two-man team going in hot within minutes. In rural locations, it could be one guy with a rifle an hour after the onset of carnage.

But no matter how quickly the cops arrive on the scene—be it a school, government building or office— they’re flying blind. They don’t know the who, what, when or where of the thing. They have to gather intel even as they use speed, surprise, and violence of action to try to neutralize (i.e., shoot) the killer before he kills or kills again—without harming a single hostage or bystander.

No sarcasm here: good luck with that.

In an ideal world, a police officer responding to an active shooter would know everyone in the location (e.g., teachers, students, administrative staff) and the exact physical layout (including likely places for cover and concealment). Even better, the cops would respond within seconds of the attack, rather than minutes.

Of course, the only way for that to happen would be . . . if the people already there were trained in the art and science of taking out an active shooter.

I know it’s a highly contentious idea: green lighting private citizens to deal with active shooters as they rear their ugly heads. For some. Gun rights advocates consider arming “average” citizens to terminate an active shooter as entirely obvious and highly desirable. Hence their complete antipathy to gun-free zones.

Gun control advocates view the concept of arming citizens to guard against (or deter) active shooters a ludicrous fantasy. A dangerous delusion—especially in schools. Their worst nightmare is not, as some suspect, that the armed guardians would turn into psycho killers. They worry that the defenders would shoot innocents by mistake.

Which brings me to today’s class. Unlike the rabbi and my fellow attendees, I am not a cop. Nor do I play one on TV. I am a private citizen with a grade school-age daughter who I cherish more than life itself. I want to know if I could deal with (i.e., eliminate) an active shooter in her environment. ‘Cause if I could do it, so could you. Or people like you. In your world, with your loved ones.

So far I can tell you one thing (that I already told you): if I was going up against an active shooter I’d sure as hell want to do so with a rifle rather than a handgun. Not that I could. Can you imagine what would happen to an average citizen who responded to an active shooter with an assault (a.k.a., modern home defense black sporting) rifle when the cops showed up?

Anyway, it’s an interesting exercise. And the really tough bits start tomorrow. . .

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. What’s the saying? A pistol is your last chance to get to your long gun? It’s what I’d want to be carrying in truly SHTF situation.

  2. So, given the prerequisites are

    “This is an advanced level course and is restricted to credentialed armed professionals.”

    How did you guys get into the course?

    I only ask because I am jealous

  3. Although a rifle is better than a pistol, what you are really likely to have when the SHTF is your pistol and maybe one reload. If you are into wishful thinking, you might as well wish for the SWAT team to be deployed on site before it goes down.

  4. I was mowing my lawn a few weeks ago when my neighbor gestured to my holstered pistol and asked if I were expecting trouble. “Of course not. If I were expecting trouble, I’d have a rifle. And friends with rifles.”

  5. Nothing says “F*** you!” quite like the .30-06, and I’ve got the glass to make it happen.

  6. “Trunk gun.” A vastly under-used term in the gun subculture. Maybe after this class you’ll find reason to help rectify that state of affairs.

    • Trunk guns are fine, if properly secured and maintained. Car break-ins are a pretty common crime, you don’t want some kid busting a window, popping your trunk, and stealing your rifle/shotgun because it was sitting loose in the trunk. Also, constantly being in a non-climate-controlled setting is going to wreak havoc on many guns… I’d cycle ammo and clean the gun regularly.

      IOW, it’s a lot of responsibility and work to have a proper trunk gun.

      • Good point ChainsawWieldingManiac. I would keep such a rifle in a zipped-up soft case. I should be fast and easy to get it out. And the soft case should go a long way to keeping moisture and dust out of the firearm.

    • I have thought about keeping one of my hunting rifles (my only semiauto is a Savage model 64/22lr) in my trunk but I worry about someone breaking in and stealing it. You have to take security into consideration if you live in or are forced to frequent high crime areas.

      • 22lr against an active shooter? I guess it’s better than a pocket full or rocks…Barely. Might be time to go shopping.

    • Yup. I rock a “Cowboy Assault Rifle” – a $200 30 year old Marlin .30-.30 carbine with forward and rear ammo cuffs. Slim, easy to store and fairly light and durable, it’s not as menacing as a “black rifle” and accurate to 150 yards with good iron sights. I think everyone should have one.

  7. I just left a comment about this on another post a couple days ago. While formal training is nice, for those of us who cannot afford it, a simple trip to the nearest state forest or national forest (or national grassland for some people) is an excellent low cost training possibility.

    All you need are some old t-shirts, string, paper plates, stapler, and a marker. Use sticks in the forest and some string to make “t”s or crosses. (Or makes these with sticks from home ahead of time.) Slip the old t-shirts over them and staple a paper plate to the top. (Use the marker to draw a face on the paper plate if you like.) Stick them in the ground or prop them up — some in the open and some behind cover — and now you have your own shooting course. You can practice moving and shooting in various fashions. And if you want moving targets, hang one or two from a tree branch with string: if there is any breeze at all the target will move around.

    For me the nearest state forest or national forest is a three hour drive. While I can certainly make the round trip in a single day, I figure I might as well make a weekend out of it and get some time outdoors camping in addition to my training.

    I shouldn’t have to say it but make sure you set up your course in a safe location. Even though a state forest or national forest is typically isolated and safe by its nature, it is still a good idea to make sure your firing lines will not put bullets toward hiking trails, two-tracks/roads, or other human activities.

  8. By the way this is a really good argument for rifles with short stocks and barrels … as in carbines. They give you the added points of contact and longer sight radius for improved accuracy. And yet they are short enough to be highly maneuverable.

    • The only problem with this approach, however, is that people would have a conniption fit if I walked into my daughter’s elementary school to pick her up with a carbine slung over my shoulder! We might very well be stuck with pistols for a long time. That is why I carry a full size. It sucks to conceal it and it is bulky/heavy of course. The benefit is the longest sight radius possible in a pistol.

  9. A private carry trunk gun option might be the folding Kel Tec Sub 2000, in a locked case bolted to the trunk. That and 2 or 3 30 round clips could come in handy in an active shooter situation.

    While a “real” rifle would be nice, I’m guessing that at typical active shooter ranges, a .223 or .308 over a pistol round is less important than the improved handling and accuracy of a long gun over a pistol.

  10. Who OK’d the position of the camera man? Looks hand held. How in hell is that safe?

  11. This is why I have a trunk rifle. I know the chances of needing it are slim, and it wouldn’t help in the slightest if I was walking down the street and got mugged….but in certain situations (like an active shooter nearby but not on top of me), it at least gives me a chance to get to my car and have the tool I need.

Comments are closed.