Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Preparing For An Active Shooter Event

There are many events that have changed how law enforcement (LE) operates. Some are debacles that should never be repeated, Waco and Ruby Ridge. Some have changed weapons, caliber, and equipment, Miami and North Hollywood. Others have changed how shooter events are handled, Columbine, Mumbai, and India. Most of these famous firefights have little to teach the concealed carrier. Except if you are going into a firefight, bring a rifle. And bring several friends with rifles.
There was, a few years ago in 2014, a rampage in Las Vegas. A married couple ambushed two police officers in a restaurant and killed them. They then moved across the street to a Wal-mart. There, the man shot into the ceiling and told people to get out and that this is a revolution and that the police are on the way.
That's when 31-year-old customer, Joseph Wilcox, who was standing near the checkout area with a friend, pulled out his legally registered pistol and told his friend he was going to confront the suspect.
He immediately and heroically moved into a position. Unfortunately, he didn't realize Amanda was with Jerad.
Amanda shot him in the ribs, where he immediately collapsed. Wilcox didn't fire off any shots at either of the suspects.
This is a tragic story. The couple ended up killing themselves in the Wal-mart. Joseph Wilcox is heroic because he thought little of himself, but wanted to protect others.
What we learn from this is that if you are ever in a situation like this with active shooters, be very careful how you operate. Don’t just jump in without observing from concealment or cover. Get as many people out as you can. Then, to be honest, get out yourself! But if you feel the shooter will take others lives and that you must act, do it with intell about what’s going on. The Army has an acronym to help you. It is SALUTE which stands for:
Size. How many are in the enemy force?
Activity. What is the enemy doing?
Location. Where is the enemy?
Unit. Who is the enemy?
Time. When did you observe the enemy?
Equipment. What equipment, weapons does the enemy have?
With this information, which can be gathered quickly, you can plan a better response. Who knows who Mr Wilcox saved by engaging the enemy? Did civilians get away? Were police able to get in positon because of his action? I don’t know, but he could have saved others with his life.
What we as concealed carriers can learn from these shootings that care must be taken defending yourself and others. We are the responsible ones. We care who gets hurt. The shooters don’t have that burden. We must think about what is going on around us. We must assess what our chances for success are to safely take out a shooter. Most of the time I would say leave that to the professionals. Law enforcement has the training and the experience for this type of situation. But if they are not on scene yet, do you let a nut job just continue killing?
Take care to not be perceived as one of the shooters. If police arrive they can only make a judgement by what they see. So be aware of this. Make sure you are not part of the problem and get yourself shot. Also, if I am with family members that changes my response dramatically.
The government will teach “Run, Hide, Fight” which is not bad advice and it is similar to a new active shooter approach which is “Avoid, Deny, Defend.” I think I like the wording of this training a little better even though it is the same advice and training.
Avoid is in essence run. Get as far away from the shooter as possible. Even if you have to hide, such as locking the shooter out. If these aren’t possible defend yourself by confronting the shooter directly with force. If there are several of you all the better.
There are some statistics about active shooter events of the last decade that give some insight.
Active shooter locations have been 40% in businesses. 29% have been at schools. 19% are outdoors and 12% are in other places.
98% of the shooters have been alone. 96% are male. 40% of the time the shooter kills himself during the incident.
Defending looks better all the time. Please don’t think I am advising you to skip the first two steps just because you are armed. Absolutely NOT! Get out of the kill zone! Evacuate! In the words of our illustrious government, “Run! Hide!” Take as many with you as you can. If possible, and you were able to gather some intell, contact police about the shooters. If you were able to observe the shooter take note of how they are dressed, how many shooters there are, what weapons you can see, do they have armor, anything else that might be important to LE.
But if you must defend, do it intelligently. Don’t show your hand until you have to. Use cover and concealment. Remember to safeguard others who are in your line of fire. Use angles correctly. You have the element of surprise, the shooter thinks he is unopposed. As soon as can, conceal your weapon so you won’t be mistaken for a shooter. Render medical attention to others if you can safely do so. Observe if there are witnesses that may have been able to watch your defense incident. Above all, don’t overestimate that the shooter is down and out. Get out of there as soon as possible and contact LE.
Being armed is a big responsibility but remember you are not duty bound to take on a shooter. Only under certain circumstances should you attempt to.
Playing out scenarios in your mind can give you that defensive mindset. Active shooter events are so uncommon the chances are in your favor that you will never have to use this information. But these events are also so random that you could find one unfolding right before you. Be prepared.
Semper Paratus
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