“I’m a Concealed Carrier. Should I Engage an Active Shooter?”

04Sep16

With the spate of mass shooting attacks the last couple years, I’ve had a few people ask my thoughts on responding to a mass shooting as an armed citizen. Someone else asked the same question on a forum recently, and I’ve decided to give my opinion.

When someone asks, “If I wind up in a mass shooting, should I go after the shooter?”, my answer is, “You’re the only one who can answer that.” Only you know your level of skill, experience, toughness and willingness to act. If you know you’re not skilled enough, don’t engage. If you’re not experienced enough, stay back. If you know stubbing your toe makes you fold like origami, keep your distance. If you’d like to engage the shooter but are worried about missing your favorite TV show later that evening, chances are you’re better off doing what most armed citizens would do: getting yourself and your family the hell out of the area. That’s not what I would do, but it’s not wrong.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume you’re confident in your abilities, you know there’s a big difference between drawing on a convenience store robber armed with a knife versus going pistol against AR-15 in the crowded Pulse Nightclub, but you’re not real clear on what factors are involved with engaging a mass shooter. So I’ll identify a few things I think you should know and consider. My opinion is based on 22 years of police work, a couple trips to war, and some time spent training police officers how to respond to mass shootings. Please read it, decide for yourself if it’s valid, and do what you think is best. The points below aren’t all-inclusive; there are numerous other factors to consider. This is just a brief summary to get you thinking.

24136406_BG3

Clackamas Mall, where a concealed carrier advanced on a mass shooter who then committed suicide

POINT ONE: YOU MIGHT GET REPORTED AS A BAD GUY.

A mass shooting is pure chaos. That chaos leads to bad or contradictory reporting. Bad or contradictory reporting means arriving officers don’t really know what’s going on, or even worse, makes them think a good guy is actually a bad guy.

Imagine this: a middle-aged woman with no tactical experience whatsoever is eating lunch at a mall food court. From the other side of the food court she hears sudden screaming, then rapid gunshots. She looks that direction in disbelief and sees a crowd of people running in all directions. Behind the stampede she briefly glimpses a white man in a black jacket standing still, hands out of view behind a table. He’s the only man calmly standing among the panicked crowd, and looks to her like he’s holding a gun. Her immediate impression is “He’s the shooter.”

She makes it outside to her car, calls 911 and reports her description of the suspect. That description is broadcast to responding officers. But the man she saw was actually a victim, shot in the abdomen and clutching his wound in shock. Now every responding cop will automatically lock in on any white man in a black jacket, even if the shooter was actually an Asian man in a red t-shirt.

Multiply that one woman’s report by the number of people who were near the shooter and think they saw something. That’s about how many bad reports can be generated during a mass shooting. Now, if you have a gun in your hand, imagine how many people will report you as the bad guy. Even if you’re doing everything right, even if you’re obviously going toward the sound of the guns, even if you’re directing others to safety, even if you’re yelling for police, some people will see your gun, freak out, ignore everything else and think you’re the shooter.

For you as an armed citizen responding to an active shooter, you have to remember that your actions will make you stand out, and standing out means you’ll likely be reported as the shooter.

How do you minimize the risk of being mistaken for a bad guy? Don’t act like one. Contrary to popular belief, cops aren’t trained to immediately shoot at anyone with a gun. We’re trained to engage those who reasonably appear to be an imminent threat to us or other innocent people. If you’re spraying unaimed rounds, cursing like a sailor, using a gangster one-handed pistol hold and strutting like you just got paroled, you’ll look like a bad guy. If you look, act and move like a professional, you’ll make responding cops think twice.

POINT TWO: DISTANCE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

In most lethal force encounters, you want to create and maintain distance. In a mass shooting, you don’t. Or I should say, you don’t if you expect to take the shooter out.

The average concealed carrier has a small or mid-sized semi-auto in their waist or pocket. Maybe they’ll have a spare magazine. Even if you’re a pro with your CC weapon and hit targets at 75 yards on a square range, your accuracy is going to suffer badly when you introduce fear, tunnel vision, fleeing bystanders and a moving target. Dumping .380 or 9mm rounds at a mass shooter from nearly a football field away will probably result in nothing more than wasted rounds with no effect, but could also cause friendly fire deaths or draw accurate return fire from a rifle-armed shooter.

Yes, it’s possible to make an accurate shot from a distance, even under stress. I’ve even written about a couple instances where it’s been done in active shooter situations (https://chrishernandezauthor.com/2014/12/09/austin-pds-104-yard-pistol-shot-real-or-not/). It’s just not likely, and definitely isn’t what you should expect.

If I’m ever unfortunate enough to be present in an active shooter situation inside a structure, my plan is to send my wife and kids running in a safe direction, draw and keep my weapon in sul (tucked against my chest muzzle down) covered with one hand, and bound from cover to cover until I’m close enough to mag dump on the shooter. Or if he’s moving toward me, I’ll set up somewhere I can ambush him, the way a brave Turkish cop did in the Istanbul airport.

But I won’t stay far away and expect to Glocksnipe him. That’s a fantasy. In some situations it makes sense to keep distance and just report, but if your plan is to put “bullets on bone”, you have to close distance. 

ap_virginia_tech_shooting_630x420_130103

Virginia Tech, where an untrained but completely unopposed coward murdered 32 innocent people

POINT THREE: GO FASTER, YOU FRIGGIN’ SLUG

Unless a cop just happens to be close by, you can expect several minutes between the beginning of an active shooter incident and the arrival of the first officer. There is a world of difference between the first officer arriving to find you standing over a dead shooter with your weapon safely concealed and your hands over your head as you yell “The suspect is down!”, versus the first officer turning a corner and seeing you shooting at something the officer can’t see. So if you decide to act, act fast. Try to resolve the situation before officers arrive. The best way to avoid being mistaken for an armed bad guy by responding officers is to not look like an armed bad guy when officers arrive.

No, you should never rush into anything blindly. Yes, it’s always better to assess for a moment before acting, and especially before shooting. But in this case, you need to minimize assessment time and maximize speed. The best way to do that is to have a plan, wargame situations, and get ahead of the curve by knowing how to react before you have to react.

20120729__20120730_C3_FE30SMSHOOTSAFEAp1

Jeanne Assam, a former cop who shot an active shooter at a Colorado church

POINT FOUR: SPEAKING OF HAVING A PLAN…

My biggest worry in an active shooter situation is my family. Of course that’s everyone’s worry, but mine is a bit bigger because I have an autistic son. Because it’s sometimes difficult to get my son to do what we want him to do, I don’t plan on ordering my wife to drag my autistic son a quarter mile out of a mall to the car while a madman is shooting at her. So my orders to her are to get to the nearest safe place; in a mall, that’s usually the employees-only area in the back of a store or restaurant. An active shooter is searching for the largest number of easily-accessible victims, not looking to clear back rooms.

On the other hand, most businesses probably tell their employees to immediately go to those back rooms and lock them. That’s another reason to react quickly. Most untrained people will have “normalcy bias”, which significantly extends their reaction time. That is, when something out of the ordinary happens, their first reaction is to convince themselves it’s not what they know it is.

I saw this when I responded to a shootout between a cop and a bank robber, in broad daylight in a residential area, and heard witnesses say “I thought someone must have been filming a movie or something.” I’ve also experienced it myself, when I walked up to an apparently undamaged car at an accident scene, saw a decapitated child’s head on the back seat floorboard, and tried to convince myself the child was just stuck in a weird position so I could only see his head. When shots first ring out, untrained people will freeze, look toward the shots, and spend precious moments telling themselves they’re not seeing what they know they’re seeing.

You’re not untrained. You’ve taken the time and training to get a concealed carry license, you’re reading articles like this to help you better prepare for a lethal force encounter, and if you ever face a mass shooter you shouldn’t waste precious seconds denying you’re actually seeing what you’ve trained for. If you see it and hear it, react to it immediately. Implement your plan. My plan is:

  • Send my wife and kids to the nearest safe place. Force a door open if I have to, but get them out of view and behind cover.
  • Draw (if I haven’t already) and briefly assess the situation from behind cover. By briefly, I mean within seconds.
  • Threat scan for secondary shooters.
  • Bound from cover to cover toward the sound of the guns, or toward the identified shooter if I can see him, staying low and trying not to be seen. I’ll also keep my weapon in sul and covered by my off hand if I don’t have a target. Keep bounding until I find the shooter.
  • Engage from the nearest accessible covered position until he’s down.
  • Threat scan again, reload as necessary.
  • Separate weapon from shooter (kick it out of arm’s reach).
  • Holster my weapon.
  • Communicate by phone and wait for arriving officers.
  • Hold hands high and announce that the shooter is down as soon as I see the first officer.

Of course, no plan survives first contact. That’s fine, I’ll adjust as necessary. But when I hear the first shots, I won’t be bumbling around wondering what the hell to do.

umpqua-college-shooting-oregon2

The Umpqua, Oregon Community College, where at least one concealed carrier chose not to force his way into a classroom to engage a mass shooter

And lastly, the most important thing to remember…

POINT FIVE: EVEN IF YOU DO EVERYTHING RIGHT, YOU STILL MIGHT GET SHOT BY A GOOD GUY. ACCEPT IT.

Cops aren’t supermen. In a critical incident we’re making life-and-death decisions, based on a tiny amount of often-wrong information, in an incredibly short amount of time. Since we’re lucky enough to not have daily mass shootings in America, we can assume that officers responding to a mass shooting will never have responded to anything like it before. They’ll be high on adrenaline. They’ll be confused. They’ll suffer from survival stress reactions like tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and critical incident amnesia. They’ll know that every shot they hear could mean another innocent life lost, and they’ll be in a rush to find and engage the shooter. They might be experienced veterans who’ve heard thousands of shots fired in anger overseas, or terrified rookies who’ve never dealt with anything scarier than a parking violation.

And they might make a very human mistake.

I could follow all the steps of my plan, ensure I’m moving and acting like a cop instead of a criminal or terrorist, fire only a few accurate shots, clearly communicate my identity and intentions, and still get shot by an officer (or CCer) who mistakes me for the bad guy or is acting on bad information from a panicked witness. A mass shooting is a crappy situation, and all you can do is reduce but not eliminate the suck. In that crappy, sucky situation, an officer under stress can make an understandable error. If you’re willing to accept the risk of being shot by a cop in addition to the risk of being shot by the bad guy, you should take action against a mass shooter. If you’re unwilling to accept reality and irrationally expect perfection from people struggling to do the right thing in the worst situation they’ll probably ever face, keep your distance and only worry about yourself and your family.

4452_1084593231917_5914735_n (2)

Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).



50 Responses to ““I’m a Concealed Carrier. Should I Engage an Active Shooter?””

  1. Good write up Chris. Since it follows the thought processes I’ve been using for years, it is obviously a work of genius! 😉

    I’ve had this discussion with co-workers over the years and I have 3 points I use in almost every one:

    Anything you do, including nothing, can get you killed (Murphy’s Laws of Combat)

    A bullet in the chest is not going to hurt any more than a bullet in the back

    As to a possibility of a Blue on Blue: Some days it’s just going to suck to be me. See point one.

    Currently my basic wargamed plan is to get my family and/or innocents out, and engaging the goblin(s) only if I have a reasonable chance of success or have no choice. With neuropathy and arthritis in the spine, I’m past the point of automatically going on the offensive, but I want to be able to look in the mirror the next day and know that I did what I could.

  2. From what I’ve read, active shooters almost always cease when shot at, often by suicide. Based on that, it seems to me that shooting at them would usually be worthwhile if it can be done without endangering innocents even when the probability of a hit is low. I’m not law enforcement, my main goal is to escape–but if I can complicate the shooter’s plans while escaping I think I’ll at least weigh the risks vs rewards.

  3. Point Five: spot on.

    Well done, well written, and well thought out. More so – well and truly a difficult topic to address. I myself have often though about what would happen even in a situation such as a simple robbery. I’m not in Iraq anymore. I don’t have backup. What if I were just at a gas station when in walked an armed robber?

    I think about these things from time to time. And in a situation of an active shooter you’re absolutely correct. Only the person on the ground can make that call. Personally, given the way life is, how often I get to train and maintain proficiency, and when and where I can carry my sidearm – if I did not have the assailant (robber, terrorist, or active shooting psychopath) in my immediate sight to observe their movements and actions – I’m not sure I would run towards the gunfire. Old Army instinct may kick in if it really happened – I dunno. But at least in Iraq I was easily identifiable by my uniform and body armor. Not just another Joe-six pack on the street.

    Thanks for this great thought piece.

  4. Personally, I decided I will not draw at all until I am in a good position:
    a) less chance to be misidentified by third parties as the shooter
    b) less chance to be prioritised higher by the shooter
    c) Sul is a weak retention position and all stronger ones are kinda sorta obvious
    d) both hands free for movement

    • Why do you think Sul is a weak retention position? Weapon is flat against your body, held with both hands.

      • 7 Tierlieb

        Sul required you to hold the gun with an angled wrist. That means a simple grab & rip costs you the gun. Yes, you can theoretically use your elbows to block a grab attempt, but in pratice, action beats reaction

        Since I am usually the usually the strongest guy in a given course, I get to demo that a lot. “T-rex retention” (1) looks stupid, is way more tiring but much safer with a potential grabber close by. It is also very obvious and looks too much like you’re supposed to be in a SWAT stack (2), which is why I would not run around with that when there’s active shooters around.

        Sul is an awesome position to stand, check your surroundings and be safe, though.

        1) I think that’s what Craig Douglas calls it – or I made it up thinking of him. Depending how you number the parts of the 4 point draw stroke, it is either 2 or 2.5: One hand, straight wrist, thumb indexes the nipple. The one where you shoot from retention one-handed, if needed. You’ll have to bend your upper body forward to move the muzzle down closer to yourself, so it depends on the distance to other people how much you do it.

        2) I do not know how you guys stack up next to a door, but around here it is the common way to do it as not to muzzle your partners.

  5. 8 Norwegian

    Very nice write-up, I kind of realized that my own thought process was very similar to your points, but I admit that I never thought it through in such a structured way!
    One thing that bothered me every time I was thinking about potential encounter and that I’d really love to ask you is this – you mentioned “scan for secondary shooter”… How realistic do you think this scenario is? (i.e. having a sleeper among the crowd who is armed, crazy and as dangerous as the “main” shooter, but is determined NOT to show it unless necessary)
    Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that any good guy is almost defenseless against such a bad guy #2… Is it still something (even statistically) that one can expect from bad guys or is it just not their MO in general?
    (just to clarify, by sleeper I do NOT mean another good concealed carrier who might have missed the beginning of the whole ordeal, but rather another bad guy who was intentionally “planted” in the restaurant, mall etc. to blend with the crowd and act when/if necessary following the general plan)

    Thanks!

    • A good example (not exactly a mass shooting, but same principle) was the Nevada police ambush a little ways back. Two wannabe revolutionaries, a man and woman, ambushed and killed two cops at a pizza restaurant. They then walked into a Wal Mart, and the male fired a shot into the ceiling. A CCer immediately drew, followed the male, took a covered position and attempted to engage, but never scanned for a secondary threat. The female shot him in the back and killed him. If he had taken that extra two seconds, he would have seen that she was literally the only other person present not running away, hiding or showing any fear.

      • 10 Steve Gentry

        Thank you for pointing that out. Saying scan for 2nd shooter is one thing and too often or brains file that away as “unlikely”; however, now I have a visual image burned into memory! Good writeup.

  6. 11 Josh Johnson

    Only other thing I can think of is to send my family against the walls to keep them out of the herd. That’s where most shots would be directed.

  7. 13 Mike B

    Even though we haven’t seen suicide vests or belts on mass shooters in the US, I think is only a matter of time. It’s used by different groups in other parts of the world. I’m not a cop, so I don’t know how much cops train or look for such threats.

  8. Good article,makes one think what he/she would do in such a situation.I have planned and trained for situations but I still wounder what I will really do. Hope I never have to find out even though I think I would do the right thing.

  9. Great article. One thing I’d add is to use caution even after it’s over. Setting booby traps outside for first responders, or even inside for people still in there is not uncommon. After it’s all over, you still need to stay aware of your surroundings, and keep your family away from the first responder area…hopefully still in an employee area where the shooter could not have planted something. Sad that we have to think this way, but it is what it is.

  10. 16 Tony Filippelli

    Great article!!

  11. 17 Simon

    Point 4 is excellent, I have an autistic and deaf son, trying to get him to do anything is a a chore in itself but if you add in the overstimulation of a crowd he isn’t doing anything. Our plan is get somewhere safe and covered and try and help people nearby.

  12. 18 OldLawProf

    The author is an ex-cop (bless his soul) so he thinks in terms of subdue and capture. The immediate need is for much less hazardous action.

    In EVERY mass shooting in this Century, the shooter STOPPED murdering at the FIRST COUNTERFIRE whether hit or not. Once he faces counterfire the dynamic of the situation changes, his reverie is broken and he must “honor the threat” to himself. His fight or flight response will kick in and experience shows that he will flee (often into a bathroom and commit suicide). These cowards are not interested in a gun fight with armed people.

    You do not have to hit him, just get his attention. An armed civilian can do that from behind cover, with few shots, and without advancing on him. Stop the shooting — let him run away. Capture is a job for the well-equipped Police.

    • I’m actually still a cop. 🙂

      But I know of two cases right off the top of my head where an active shooter continued an attack after being engaged. The Columbine shooters were engaged outside, returned fire, retreated into the school and continued killing. And in the Houston Memorial Day incident, the attacker exchanged fire with police for some time and still fired at civilians.

      • 20 OldLawProf

        Columbine and the Texas Tower happened in the last century. 😉
        I did not know about the Houston situation. I will look it up. Tanks.

    • Having said that, most active shooters will immediately retreat when engaged. Because they’re cowards.

    • OldLawProf, “… You do not have to hit him, just get his attention. An armed civilian can do that from behind cover, with few shots, and without advancing on him…”

      Are you actually advocating for what you SEEM to be advocating, that just throwing a shot or two in the general direction of an active shooter – even when there is no guarantee of actually hitting him because of distance – is acceptable? If so, this is way beyond responsible and actually puts YOU in danger of being arrested for reckless endangerment at the very least. You NEVER squeeze the trigger unless you have high confidence of hitting your desired target and know that no one else is beyond your target.

      I hope I’m just misunderstanding a poorly worded response, and that you don’t actually believe that unaimed fire is justified if it stops an active shooter. Those bullets you fire have to strike something or land somewhere.

      • Susanna Hupp, one of the survivors of the Killeen Luby’s massacre, said one of the first officers who arrived outside fired one shot through a window into the ceiling. That was enough to make Hennard stop killing people and retreat to cover. No, you never fire blindly. But yes, sometimes it makes sense to fire toward the shooter, even though you don’t think you’ll hit him, if you’re sure you won’t hit innocent people, because lethal pressure on the shooter will force him to stop murdering innocent people and pay attention to the person trying to kill him instead.

        Yes, I realize that’s a controversial proposition. Anyone making the decision to shoot when they don’t think they can hit had better be well trained and experienced, and understand the law. But in a situation where a suspect is a fair distance away and/or somewhat behind cover, and I’m not likely to hit him, I’ll still fire at him *if I’m sure I won’t hit bystanders* (for example, if a solid blank wall is behind him) in order to force him to pay attention to me instead of innocent, unarmed victims.

  13. 24 Donna

    Wow! Great article. Definitely food for thought. Although my husband and I both have concealed carry licenses, we are getting a little too old to be aggressive in an active shooter situation . This article gives some great input for what actions you might or might not do based on your level of training and skill, etc. I will definitely share this article. Thank you.

  14. 25 Cookie Hepner

    Thanks for the write-up. I’ve decided I will escape if possible. There are too many court cases where good guys got into deep trouble because they were ‘safe’ then went back into the scene to engage. In some states, that is premeditated murder. Stupid way of thinking, I agree. However, I will be able to tell the police my life (or my family’s) was directly and immediately in jeopardy when I fired. Thank you for being one of the good guys running toward the bullets.

  15. 26 Robert A Koger

    Excellent write up on planning and knowing that at first contact the plan you have will be lost to circumstances. Always be prepared to institute a secondary plan. Check the Dallas Police sniper attack a few years ago, that was a lone gun man intent on killing the BLUE. It took a detonation of explosives to stop him, so thinking that just shooting back will stop an armed and shooting individual doesn’t always work, so have a backup plan ready to go to immediately in any situation. Other than this small consolation to an armed individual intent on destruction, exceptional information for anyone that carries, be it a person with years of experience or a rookie just coming out of the academy or LTC (license to carry) class. Always know your surroundings and especially you limitations!

  16. 27 Keoni Ronald May

    I am a retired NY Law Enforcement Officer and living in another state.

    I would clearly identify myself as a civilian, and, not the active shooter. I would also say that I am legally defending myself, as well as other civilians.

    I would be saying this, many times. Especially when I come into contact with new faces.

    • 28 Tim

      Yeah, howd that work for the Chicago bouncer wearing a “security” cap standing over a bad guy? Still got himself shot. Cops didn’t give him a chance to identify himself, just say black dude with gun and acted. If your white, they may stop and listen to tell your life story first.. go ahead and bet your life on it. I won’t, and I think its negligent to advise others to do it.

  17. 29 Hunter

    Remember that handgun is there to protect YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. No 9mm concealed carry weapon has a chance of taking out an active shooter with a rifle by yourself unless you completely ambush him and he had no idea you were even there. Even so, your job is to protect yourself and your people, that is it. Pretty much everything in this article presupposes the idea you should engage an active shooter by moving towards him, with an inferior weapon, in an area that you are not prepared to fight in, against a person who has probably already cased this location and has a plan with superior firepower.

    I dont even have the words to describe how bad of an idea that is.

    • “Pretty much everything in this article presupposes the idea you should engage an active shooter by moving towards him, with an inferior weapon, in an area that you are not prepared to fight in, against a person who has probably already cased this location and has a plan with superior firepower.
      I dont even have the words to describe how bad of an idea that is.”

      That’s exactly what we cops are expected to do. Is that a “bad idea”?

      • 31 Hunter

        Are you talking to cops or civilians?

      • 32 Hunter

        As last I checked regarding this article you are talking to civilians . . .

        How about as a LEO, (as am I, retired) you relate to them the importance of to protect their own family and themselves with their weapon, hunker down behind some cover, only fire in their own self defense and when it is absolutely necessary to protect themselves, and let Law Enforcement do their job?

        • Because “letting law enforcement do their job” involves giving control of the scene to the murderer for at least several minutes until police arrive. The way to save lives in an AS incident is for people already there to immediately apply lethal and aggressive pressure on the shooter. If a cop happens to already be there to do that, great. But in the other 99.9987 percent of AS incidents, no cop will show up for at least five minutes. “Waiting for LE to handle it” as a tactic has been a failure almost every time it’s been challenged, and it’s ridiculous to expect an utterly failed plan to work next time. Besides that, we cops aren’t always the best trained. Many, many civilian shooters and CCW holders train more than we do, and since we’ve been at war for the last 18 years we’ve got at least tens of thousands of combat vets with CCWs carrying in public. It makes no sense to tell such people not to take action and instead allow numerous innocent people to be murdered.

          Your attitude reminds me of the obsolete “set a perimeter and wait for SWAT” idea that failed miserably at Columbine and Parkland.

          • 34 Hunter

            So you want civilians to pursue active shooters and potentially either get them shot by the perp or the police . . . got it.

            Because that is literally what you are advocating.

            The reality is that the job of dealing with an active shooter for Law Enforcement is containment and waiting on special weapons, (SWAT) to work the scene as that is the safest thing that can be done to protect all others OUTSIDE of that area. It sucks, but that is the reality of the situation, as you as a street cop nor that civilian is equipped or trained to deal with this, unless you get to be an extremely lucky civilian and he just happens to walk by and put his back to you, (if you are a hostage within that perimeter and if you are armed.)

            It is a shit sandwich all around but that is the nature of these situations. Doing the wrong thing has the consequence of killing or injuring more people. It is just the truth. Running and pursuing the active shooter as a civilian in this situation is a BAD IDEA and it is likely to get yourself or more people killed.

            You best bet is to hide, hope for the best that he doesn’t get near you, and if he does, do your best to take your shot when it is a total surprise to him, in his back, and put him down IF AND ONLY IF YOU ARE LEFT WITH NO OTHER CHOICE to protect yourself. Otherwise you need to find an escape route and let the cops handle the situation.

          • “So you want civilians to pursue active shooters and potentially either get them shot by the perp or the police . . . got it.
            Because that is literally what you are advocating.”

            Exactly. I’m advocating that trained and dedicated concealed carriers take immediate action against active shooters, most of whom are unskilled cowards, rather than running away and allowing the shooter to murder as many people as possible until police arrive.

            Keep in mind that during an AS, the shooter IS killing people. Telling armed, trained, willing people not to take action because “someone might get hurt” is closing the barn door years after the horse ran away. People are *being* murdered; a trained concealed carrier using good sense isn’t going to make that situation worse.

          • 36 Tim

            The FBI put out a study of all active shooter events from 2002 – 2012. Of 200 incidents only 20 were stopped “by the victims” and of those 20 only 3 used firearms. Its cowardly to only engage an active shooter if your armed. Even if your not, your still more likely to stop the shooter. Case study: the gabby Giffords shooter was taken down by an unarmed “little old lady” with the help of others. Also on the scene were concealed carriers, two of which drew their weapons on unarmed victims attempting to flee. Also, the best advice for a concealed carrier still applies: dont do anything armed you wouldn’t do unarmed.

      • 37 Tabitha

        As a US military veteran, it is my DUTY to protect the American People as a whole, not just myself and my direct family.

        As a former Corrections Officer, it’s my DUTY to act in self defense and in the defense of others.

        As an American, it’s my DUTY to step up, and set the example of courage and if needs be, sacrifice..

        My Hero isent the athlete, it’s not the actor or rock star. It’s not the Nobel prize winner, or the conservationist. It’s not even the Police Officer or Fireman. MY Hero is the ordinary citizen, who is willing to lay down his/her life, to protect, to save, others, even total strangers.

  18. 38 Hunter

    Your best bet is to hunker down and you get behind something big, heavy and will provide cover, and get your gun between you and the shooter. If he comes your way and you get a shot, take it to protect yourself and your family. Otherwise you stay put, stay quiet and only leave that spot till you get the all clear from Law Enforcement or you see a good possibility to escape.

    • 39 PW

      Hunter, I think you need to give up your CC as you would hide and let innocents get killed when you may be able to save lives. I imagine most AS do not expect return fire until the Law enforcement gets there. I for one would try to stop the AS even if I sacrifice myself to save many innocents… I would rather not die so I would be as careful and stealth as possible. Having said this I have never been put in that situation and one can only imagine how they would handle it.
      Thanks for the great article, it has made me think even more than I already have.

  19. 40 Tim

    Ok, one question, if it’s possible for “some woman” to mis-identify the shooter leading the police on a wild goose chase, couodnt you make the same mistake? What if you identify another “good guy” as the shooter, put him down, then tell the responding officers that you got “the shooter”. Couldnt that allow the actual shooter to get away? Wouldn’t it be more responsible to advise gun carriers only to respond to an active shooter if (1) they’re in the immediate vicinity of the shooter when he starts shooting or (2) they encounter the shooter as they’re escaping or sheltering?

    • It’s possible for anyone to make a mistake in any high-stress, volatile, dynamic situation. If you’re looking for the perfect solution that precludes the possibility of anyone making any mistake, you won’t find one that applies to mass shootings.

      Nothing I’m saying even hints that a mistake can never be made. Even if all the concealed carriers back off and wait for the perfectly-trained SWAT team to arrive, a good guy could still be shot by another good guy.

      The best way to save the most lives is to accept the possibility of error, and apply overwhelming lethal force against a mass shooter before he has a chance to gain control and seek large numbers of victims.

  20. 42 Trader Ben

    Consider your capabilities, experience and the likelihood of being mistaken for a shooter

  21. 43 whydoubt

    A couple reality checks: First, in mass shootings, randomness rules. As many WWII vets returned with zero interest left for combat, perhaps the fatalism came from seeing how little control they had over fate – the best trained buddy was taken out while the klutz made it home. Mass shooters step into the scene ahead of the game, as it is their game, and they already come with no concern for innocents, or fair play. They stride purposefully because they feel in the moment invincible, and they know they are the only indescriminant killer in that place and time.
    The rest of us may be in the wrong place to effect the attack, too far away or blocked, while an unarmed “hero” instinctively grabs the gun barrel or joins others in wrestling the perp down. Endless training courses which prepare in artificially concocted settings scripted to encourage rapid draw and fire may be worse than no training at all. “First, do no harm” is a respectable motto for any CCW holder to consider carefully. Training realistically should focus on the likelihood of never needing to fire a weapon in a lifetime, and so refraining from the inclination to shoot may save more innocent lives.
    Carrying a loaded gun day in and day out, year after year, in Condition 1, may introduce a form of PTSD that may become toxic, altering, until you become the armed threat.
    A level of situational awareness makes sense, in general, and just represents a heightened “Be Here Now” presence. But living in constant vigilance, in what is essentially a peacetime nation, is not being a sheepdog. It is being paranoid, and surrendering your life to fear. And that, dear friends, means the terrorists have already won.
    If I choose to carry, or not, round chambered, or not, all or some or none of the time, it is about choosing not to live in fear. If my life becomes nothing more than constant attention to the weapon hidden under my shirt, and whether every face represents a threat that may warrant action, I have diminished my ability to function outside of a narrow focus, obsessed with the exaggerated sense of eminent threats all around me. I personally find this to be an unhealthy way to exist, and that is an immediate personal threat to my mental health far greater than the rare possibility of being a mass shooting victim.

    • What instance can you cite of someone getting PTSD and becoming an armed threat because they were a legal concealed carrier?

    • 45 RandyGC

      This is not meant as an attack, but from your post we probably both agree on one thing: you should not carry a CCW on a regular basis.

      I’ve been carrying for the last 15 years, and putting on and carrying every day is the same to me as putting on my watch and making sure I have my wallet, pocket knife, and keys. The only decision point before going out is determining if I am going to a place that does not allow carry before I put the holster on.

      My situational awareness, evaluating for threats (of all kinds, animals, unsafe stairs, falling hazards,fire, not just active shooters or other criminals) keeping an eye on exits, etc., is the same whether I am carrying or not.

      Quite frankly I feel (and its a feeling, not a fact) that not maintaining that level of awareness is dangerous and I can’t fathom how people can stand living in that bubble of ignorance about their surroundings. I’ve personally witnessed disastrous, even fatal results of not maintaining what I consider adequate situational awareness.

      All that changes when I am not carrying is that I lack options and tools for certain situations. Again, I have been doing this for years, even prior to getting my CCW permit, and I usually don’t notice it. It’s part of the baseline background noise of daily living for me. Probably due to years or working in environments that inattention can get you or someone else hurt or killed.

      As for “constant attention to the weapon hidden under my shirt”, not an issue for me. Again, it’s part of the background noise for me the same as the weight and pressure of my wallet in my pocket or the keys clipped to my belt or the cell phone in my pocket. My awareness of them is in the background, I notice when I think of them, I’d notice if they weren’t there, but other wise I don’t think about them.

      Your background is probably different from mine, your environment is probably different from mine, your experience in carrying a weapon is probably different from mine, and it is obvious our conclusions and concerns are not the same.

      You raise good points for anyone to consider before assuming the responsibility of legally carrying a weapon.

      I just ask that you not assume that everyone is you, and that therefore your answers are the only ones for other people. I know my conclusions are not for everyone, even in my close family.


  1. 1 Armed Citizen Corner: As A Concealed Carrier Should I Engage An Active Shooter? | The Tactical Hermit
  2. 2 Your Hump Day Reading List for November 30, 2016 - www.GrantCunningham.com www.GrantCunningham.com
  3. 3 Derek Ward | Concealed Carrier Versus Active Shooter
  4. 4 September 2019 | Riclin Firearms Training, LLC
  5. 5 Should you engage an active shooter? | Riclin Firearms Training, LLC

Leave a Reply to DAN V Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: