Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Civilian Response To Active Shooter Event (600th Post)

I have two good friends. We are like brothers in many ways. One has extensive military and law enforcement background, the other extensive military experience. The three of us have been having an e-mail discussion on a civilian response to an active shooter incident. We’ve discussed several scenarios and the legal and social ramifications. All three of us have a military and instructor background in weapons so we are toying with what to teach. We have come up with a list that may, or may not, be used to train civilians in dealing with an active shooter if put in the situation where you cannot get away safely from the incident. We’ve seen many discussions on forums online to answer the civilian response to active shooters. Many of them are dangerous and obviously discussed by some individuals who have never had to defend themselves in a firefight of any kind. This list is given only as a starting point for someone interested in the information or an instructor searching for direction in teaching defensive shooting. Use this information with great caution and under the advice and direction of an instructor.

First and foremost, know the laws where you live and where you carry. Learn what the deadly force laws are to avoid legal, criminal, and civil problems. Know how to deal with law enforcement and what to say or not say in the event you are involved in a shooting. Don’t end up in prison defending someone all because you opened your big mouth. With all due respect to my law enforcement friends, this is what I have told my family members regarding the police: “Talking to the police can never turn out good. Exercise your 5th amendment rights.”
Understand what the police will do when they show up at an active shooter event. They will secure the area and make sure the shooting is done. If you did the shooting last, this means you! You must survive so make sure you comply and are not perceived as the threat.

To become the sheepdog in a situation like this you must have a certain kind of mindset. It will be aggressive with a capacity for violence. If you do not have this capacity, do not train to fight an active shooter. Don’t get me wrong. If there are no other options, anyone must fight for their life. But to be sufficiently trained for this specific event you must have a different mindset than most. You will be moving toward to shooting not away. If you fire at a criminal shooter you invite him to return fire. You become a target. The idea of shooting and possibly killing another human being must be dealt with ahead of time not when the lead is flying. You cannot hesitate. The saying “He who hesitates is lost” applies here in reality. If you carry a gun you have probably gone through this thought process but it is imperative before a firefight. Envision yourself in this firefight situation. Go through it in your mind. It’s too late when you hear the crack of a bullet going by your ear. Go through these scenarios in your mind and go through your response and actions. Be real about it. Think about shooting from true cover and knowing what is beyond or around your target. We can imagine a perfect situation but make sure your imagination factors in not so perfect conditions. If you will do this, when presented with the actual event, you’ll have “done” this in your head and will have an idea of what to do. With this mindset you will be able to act with appropriate violence needed without hesitation. It’s kind of like muscle memory but with your mind.
Tactics are the difference between a reaction and a response. Everyone has a reaction when they hear gun shots. Most do not have a response. If you’ve ever seen a fight, a shooting in public, even a car accident, the bystanders that witness this usually stare for a while. Their response is usually shock to see violence played out in front of them. Even those who are entertained by violence freeze in the face of real violence. Tactics teach us cover and concealment, position and angle, movement, response when the lead is incoming and more.
To get into the fight you only need a reliable gun that goes bang when you want it to, and the courage to go toward the gunfire.
Shooting at the range is nothing like a gunfight. Learning to shoot well in a variety of positions is important. You never know what a fight will bring and how you will have to shoot. Combat accuracy is a little different than paper groups. Stopping the threat is the goal. As you go through the heart stopping process of having bullets whiz by you, you will see a large disparity in your shooting. Hits count when shooting at a criminal, but stopping the threat is still the goal. You need to be able to hit what you intend to. Many of these so-called “shooters” wimp out and give up or better for us, shoot themselves. So getting rounds down range can stop the spree.

How often should you train?
When I was competing I would practice every other day. Defense is a different matter. I would like to train 6 hours a day to be the best defender I can be. Most of us are lucky to get to the range once a week! But what is at stake? How prepared would you be if a mugger made an appointment with you for a mugging next Friday at 6 PM? You would train like crazy! You will more than likely never encounter an active shooter event. But if you did, would you be ready? Most of us have to plan and schedule our lives to exercise. Exercise is an important health issue so we make time for it. As things stand right now, I can train once or twice a week. Training requires time and ammunition. Training courses can be expensive and require our time. You must decide how important this is to you. But know that shooting is a very perishable skill. You may learn the basics and never forget them, but if you don’t practice it won’t be there when you need it. I’ve heard the excuse that you shoot the same every time you go to the range whether it’s weekly or monthly. I think you are fooling yourself. I’ve shot for over 30 years and know that when I miss a week, I have to force myself to go back to basics and can get back to where I was in a short time. But if I trained only once a month, when the pressure was on, I’d not do that well. You do not rise to your skills, but you revert to your practicing. How you practice is how you will perform under pressure. Fine motor skills go out the window in combat.
It’s not a bad idea to look at past active shooter events and see what you can learn from them. Study what exactly you should do to stop a killer. You might ask yourself how you can change your own training program, or that of your students if you are an instructor, to better reflect what is actually stopping these crazies.
We came to the conclusion between the three of us that of all the training we ever received and practiced was a bi-annual CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) warfare course. It was frequent enough, and because of its frequency it was a smaller course, in terms of information. We retained this information better because it was small bites, more often. In talking to that instructor in the past he told me that he updated the information but it didn’t change that often. He tried to make his course intense to plant the information in his student’s minds. He was right because I still remember what he taught after several years of being away from it. The military gave him 8 hours to teach this subject but he actually only taught a 4 hour class. He would review actual cases of this warfare and their results. He did extra things that were not really part of the class but were good information. He said that any longer than 4 hours of information would be a waste. So our breaks were long and lunch was long. I’ve thought a lot about that instructor and what I learned about teaching from him.
This is our suggestion for learning how to deal with an active shooter event as a civilian.

Active Shooter Response For The Legally Armed Citizen
(prerequisite: Basic Handgun Safety and Marksmanship)

Laws and Your Protection. (2 hours)
Local, state, and federal laws covering lethal force and stand your ground laws if applicable. Dealing with law enforcement and everything that may follow a legal shooting.

Tactics (2 hours)
Tactical theory and the practical uses of movement and angle. What constitutes true cover and what is concealment and the use of both. Target acquisition and collateral damage mitigation. Situational awareness and overcoming auditory exclusion and tunnel vision would be included.

Three Live-fire Range Sessions (2 hours each)
Shooting 500 to 700 rounds of practice ammunition. 50 rounds of defensive ammunition is also used to know what it does and that it works as needed. Distances are point blank to 20 yards. Emphasis on marksmanship and unconventional shooting will be made. This is NOT preparation for a firefight but only a familiarization of weapon, ammunition, and marksmanship.

Laws & Your Protection 0700-0900
Legal discussion and scenarios 0915-1000
1st Live fire 1030-1230
Lunch 1230-1330
Tactics 1330-1530
2nd Live fire 1600-1800
3rd Live fire (shooting tactics and low light) 1800-2000

This is a one day course but we believe it should be repeated. Maybe it could be offered in a package of 3 days (repeating each day) over a 3 week period.
This may not be as sexy as some tactical classes offered out there but this is a real life course that could make a real difference in the case of a mass shooting. When someone is doe with this course they should be confident enough and hopefully competent enough to make a difference.
After almost 40 hours of training and practice, 1650 to 2250 rounds, you would approach being better prepared for an active shooter event. At any rate, remember that leaving the scene as soon as is safe is the best choice if possible. Police departments have been training this for a while now and are pretty good at their response. A civilian needing to call upon this training is pretty farfetched, but we have evidence of it happening with good and bad results. Being prepared is always better than trying to wing it.
These are just the musings of three over-aged, has-beens. None of this is legal or moral advice and I’m not sure anyone would consider us “experts”. So take it as it was given, suggestions for more training.

Semper Paratus
Check 6