I’ve been working on another project that involves educating folks about various dangerous scenarios. I currently have seven of them – things like date rape, home invasions and stalkers. I’ve been working on adding an eighth scenario for this project: Active Shooters.
A remorseless, instant gratification mass murderer. This is important to remember.
A part of this education is on how to defend yourself. Active Shooters – people whose primary purpose is to kill as many people as possible – always pick locations with a high volume of people and a low tolerance for self-defense. They don’t sometimes pick these types of locations – they always pick these types of locations. Society has taken the trouble to pre-select these targets for the Active Shooters, by prominently identifying them as “gun free zones” – schools, shopping malls, the workplace, movie theaters.
As much as this galls me, this policy isn’t going to change any time soon. How do we deal with this now? We’re preparedness-minded people, and we won’t willingly forgo our safety and independence.
It’s time to think this through.
With what is discussed below, it is assumed you have not had the ability to escape the situation. That is ALWAYS the best avenue. Sadly, it is not always available, and you must defend yourself.
An active shooter is defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a conﬁned and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use ﬁrearm[s] and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”
This online class by FEMA offers a tepid overview of what you should do. In my opinion, it relies too heavily on waiting, and letting the police take care of the problem. As it notes, most of these incidents are over in a relatively short timeframe – 15 to 20 minutes.
That may seem quick when watching it on a cable news station, but it’s a very long time to wait for someone to save you while someone else is intent on killing you. Especially if the bad guy is trying to break down your door at the 5 minute mark. No thanks.
A much more aggressive – and I believe ultimately more successful – approach is offered in a post at Straightforward In A Crooked World. While this post primarily focuses on keeping the Active Shooter away from you, it does go deep into how to act once the protective barrier has been breached. Here is a gem of a quote –
One must understand that it is not the attacker, the killer, the would be murderer as a whole that must be defeated. A killer is only as dangerous as his hands and brain. If you begin doing systematic damage to one or both he his forced to cease an attack.
Tag – you’re it. You may not have known you were going to be in, “the game,” but you are. Through chance, bad luck or poor choices, you have been dropped in the middle of some psycho’s fantasy. If the defensive barriers have been breached, and the avenues of escape have been closed, you’re left with the choice of fight or die.
If you are not willing to defend yourself, then by default, you are willfully accepting your death. It is truly that simple.
Remember, you’re not dealing with a rational person. Calm discussion and a cup of camomile tea aren’t going to work. This guy’s sole purpose is to increase the body count. That’s all you are to him: Another notch on the gun stock. Nothing more. Your corpse is just a token of his success. The more bodies he can stack, the bigger his legend.
His count goes up whether he kills you while you’re curled up in the fetal position under a chair, or if you died while charging him with a letter opener or a wrench in your hand.
BUT, if you attack the psycho with that letter opener, you’ve got a chance. And you give everyone else that’s being attacked a chance as well. Heroism begets more heroism.
The point is to act. Playing his game and cowering at his feet gets you nothing but dead.
When you get close enough to inflict damage, have a plan as well. In all of my classes – be it a defensive pistol class or a pepper spray/stun gun class – I teach the same process: Strike – Move – Assess.
Strike – Deliver strikes – continue applying until the threat has stopped. Bullets to the head or chest; a wrench or fire extinguisher to forearms, hands or knees; pepper spray to the eyes and mouth; a fist to the Adam’s apple, or fingers gouging eyes, or a knee to the groin.
Move – He may be down, but not out. If your first strike was not fully successful, and the bad guy has the opportunity to react, he’ll do it in the direction from which your attack originated. Don’t be there. A stationary target is an easy target. After striking, step to one side (out of his path), not backwards.
Assess – Is the threat really stopped? Does he still have his weapon in his hand? Are there other threats in the vicinity (ala Columbine)? Re-apply the strikes if necessary, or direct them towards other threats. Then get the hell out, if possible. You’re not a police officer there to make an arrest.
Always keep in the front of your mind that this is NOT supposed to be a fair fight. You must mentally accept the fact that you may harm, maim, injure or kill someone who is intent on doing the same to you. The person or persons attacking you are predators. They will show no mercy – no forgiveness – in their dealings with you.
You must NEVER give up.
Go to our Independence Library, and download a free copy of the DHS guide: Active Shooter: How To Respond