What does the Active Shooter mean for a CCW holder

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We have all asked ourselves what if. You know, when you see the latest active shooter event scroll across the screen. What would have happened if we were there? What do you do in that situation? Especially if you are concealed carrying. What then?

What is an active shooter?

The US Department of Homeland Security has defined an active shooter 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 and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims."

These events include the Newtown and Columbine school shootings, the Aurora theater shootings, and the Fort Hood shooting in which Malik Nadal Hasan, a Major in the U.S. Army, killed 12 soldiers and 1 civilian.



The Standard response

The FBI came out with their video on civilian response to active shooters a few years ago . This was expanded upon by FEMA who offers a one-hour course online at their Emergency Management Institute that is free to the public (after you sign up).



This course is being spread everywhere across the country and entails a three-part plan for if you have an active shooter event in your immediate area. The basic concept is "Run-Hide-Fight." Meaning that you should first try to get away from the situation, then try to hide if you cannot get away, followed by the worst-case scenario of fighting back.


(Remember, FEMA is the inheritor of the legacy of the Federal Civil Defense Administration-- who taught the country to Duck and Cover back in the 1960s)

What about that whole fight thing?

Let's be clear, a hero is, in the words of Oddball, "some kinda crazy sandwich." There is no such thing as a legal obligation by any gun owner to uphold the law or defend life. Heck, when you have a second read up on the Supreme Court ruling on Warren vs. District of Columbia, which says that the police are not obligated to protect the citizens by law-- even if a dispatcher promises that help is on the way.

Now if the cops are not legally obligated to intervene, what does that say about your obligations?

Now a moral obligation is different. I've trained enough CCW permit holders over the years to know from my own experience that most holders are not carrying to become a hero. They are carrying to defend their own life in a 'me or you' type of encounter. This is correct. With that being said, if you reach a point in an active shooter situation where you have decided that running or hiding is not the proper response-- and remember you have to be able to explain this in court if needed-- then the fight is yours.



Remember that there is an awesome degree of civil liability that you are taking on yourself should you get in a gunfight. Every round fired will end up in court at some level, both from your gun and the bad guy's. Remember that and fire only if you are sure of your target, positive in your actions, and fully ready to commit. Also, keep in mind that law enforcement, when they arrive, will be looking for a shooter, so with that in mind you will want to reholster or place the gun on the deck as rapidly as possible and avoid any sudden movements lest you make yourself a target of friendly fire. Let me be the first to tell you, friendly fire isn't.

Is it worth it?

At the Clackamas Mall near Portland Oregon in 2012, an active shooter incident unfolded in which 22-year old Nick Meli, a CCW holder, found himself face to face with a gunman armed with a rifle. The choice to Meli was clear; he drew his own gun, positioned himself behind a pillar, and watched the shooter as the man reloaded his rifle.

"As I was going down to pull, I saw someone in the back of the Charlotte move, and I knew if I fired and missed, I could hit them," Meli said of the incident. Although ready, the concealed carry holder elected not to fire.

Seeing Meli, the last shot the gunman fired was into himself, electing to self-terminate as some 40 percent of active shooters do when confronted with an armed response.

San Antonio Police Department video

The SAPD recently produced a training video that is available online to help civilians understand the proper response to an active shooter. Using the scenario of a gunman armed with an AR-style rifle (which studies show are rarely used in mass killings) attacking an office building without warning. The video spends the first few minutes detailing the "run" and "hide" mantras. The SAPD Chief relates, "Know when it's time to run, know where you are going to hide, if necessary be prepared to fight."



At the four-minute mark is where a concerned office worker, who is a legally permitted concealed carry practitioner, makes his choice in the run-hide-fight trinity of active shooter response. The video is very carefully laid out to detail the very basics of proper weapon retention, moving to engage a shooter, realizing the nature of your shooting zones, and what to do when law enforcement does arrive.

The likelihood of being in an active shooter event is thankfully very low. Hopefully you will never have to make a choice in a situation like this to have to run, hide, or fight. However, remember that your choice is up to you, and you have to live with it no matter what you choose.

What would your choice be? Comment below.

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6 COMMENTS
Posted: 
March 14, 2014  •  08:49 AM
Nice thought provoking article Chris! As a motorcyclist in crazy California traffic, I am always playing "what if" in my mind and always plan to have an alternative "escape" route, so to speak, should a (usually) distracted driver gets too close for comfort. I think a person should play "what if" no matter if they are carrying or not, whether it be at work, in a mall or wherever. If you train your mind to be aware, then when the time comes, you will know what your alternatives can be.
 
Posted: 
March 14, 2014  •  09:03 AM
Well i was trained that when caught in a ambush to charge the enemy with great fury and vigor. Dying, uselessly sitting on your ass is no way to leave the world.

The clackamas mall incident is a textbook case of how its done by a ccw person doing the right thing.

I know that if i had a clear shot to stop a mass murderer and didnt take it i couldnt live with myself after he went on to kill more people.

Thats just me. What you do is up to the person present when the elephent enters the room...
 
Posted: 
March 14, 2014  •  11:37 AM
@JonM, You stated my exact feelings on this matter. Many people have the attitude of avoid getting involved. In my mind, if an armed assailant is killing or posed to kill in my presence, I'm already involved.
 
Posted: 
March 14, 2014  •  02:29 PM
Because the active shooter situation is rare, I do not carry a full size large capacity automatic. I would not be comfortable packing something like that on a daily basis. I do not go out looking for a running gun battle, so I carry the smallest, easiest, and most comfortable to carry five round revolver. Armed as I am, I would not maneuver to engage the active shooter,especially a shooter who has me out-gunned. My weapon would remain in it's concealed condition to keep from being shot mistakenly by the first responders I would probably assist others to Hide, and find cover. If there is no escape, and it came to stopping the shooter with aggression,only then I would use my weapon only if there is no danger of hitting an innocent. I would fight dirty, I would shoot without warning or being seen, no fair fight. I am not a police officer, I am not a savior, the primary reason I carry my small weapon is to get myself out of the shit-storm, not for getting in deeper
 
Posted: 
March 15, 2014  •  03:55 PM
I would most likely be armed with a small caliber pocket pistol. I would have to get a head shot at point blank range or in a do or die situation to act.
 
Posted: 
March 25, 2014  •  07:59 PM
Hope I never find myself in that scenario, but if I am, I cannot do nothing. I carry a commander size 1911 and a spare mag. If I never have to use them in a life or death situation I would be happiest, but I refuse to be anyone's victim.
 
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