2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Active shooters and individual responses...

I started this post last Sunday night but had kind of put this post in the back burner when I read a post by James over at Hell In A Handbasket relating to the same incident and decided to finish my thoughts on it...

Driving home Sunday night from the store (with my LCP in my pants of course) I heard about a shooting at a popular suburban shopping area in Columbus on Saturday night. It was the first I had heard of it since we had stayed home and watched Netflix most of that day. The location was a popular shopping complex in Northeast Columbus called "Easton". The shopping center was being compared to our now demolished City Center Mall in downtown Columbus due to the shooting, with many saying it signaled the downfall of the mall. Many link the downfall of City Center to a fatal shooting that happened there in 1994 that was gang related. This supposedly set the stigma of the mall as a "gang hangout" and kept many suburban shoppers away after that. There is speculation now that the shooting on Saturday was also gang related. I have it from several sources that gangs have been a problem at this center for a while but has been kept under wraps by the property management.

Truth is any place that attracts people with money and commerce is a place that will attract a criminal element. Also, it has been a trend in Columbus and other cities that we create palaces of capitalism just to watch them decay and crumble as we build other, newer centers later. After all, there is no money to be made by developers unless the kill there older projects to make money from the new ones.

Anyway, talking about my thoughts on urban decay...

The victim was a 15 year old male who was shot by his 16 year old brother...tragedy at many levels there. He died last night at Children's Hospital in Columbus, his brother will face charges in the killing. The exact details of the shooting have not been released but it was apparently initiated by an argument. Sad, just sad.

It seems initially the police are having a hard time getting witnesses as people immediately got out of the area during the shooting. Duh...people are pretty much ingrained to do just that when danger is around...run away. Luckily this seems to be a not so random act of violence directed towards one individual by another under predictable circumstances. The shooter shot his target and then make his get away. What if he had not?

I felt compelled to call into the radio station (talk radio) and offer my thoughts. What I said had nothing to do directly related to the shooting, but more along the lines of "what it" you had been there and in the crossfire of this event..or even worse in the presence of an "active shooter". An "active shooter" is the name given now in certain circles to described a loose cannon with a gun shooting randomly in public. Many colleges, schools, business and government agencies now have contingency plans and drills for dealing with them. After so many random events (Virginia Tech, Columbine or the Tuscon shooting for example) how could they not? I guess the difference between the pro-2A and anti-2A crowd is those anti-2A see the gun as the primary source of the event while those of us pro-2A see the person pulling the trigger as the cause. But I digress....

Whatever your personal views on why an event is happening, its what decisions you make while it is going on that can make the difference between life and death. Keep in mind I am not a LEO, professional security expert or what have you. I am more like most of you that may be reading this, an ordinary guy living a rather normal, mundane life that, in my case, just happens to take these types of scenarios a bit closer to the heart than others. I have undergone "active shooter" training as part of my work and while attending school...via a power point presentation...

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the subject that I wish to share...

#1 HAVE A PLAN! I have talked to my wife once about what were to happen if we were in public and something would happen around us. I doubt she remembers the conversation. There is no static plan to make when the environmental variables are changing around you constantly as you go from place to place, but you can make some decisions beforehand based on your personal life situations.

  • Have a "code word" to use between your family members to signal danger..something like "red hippo" or similar that would not come up in normal conversation. When the code word is spoken everyone should stop what they are doing and take cover or whatever action required. At a minimum dropping prone to get out of the line of fire to assess the situation may be the minimum prudent action to take.
  • Always have a cell phone charged and with you. Regardless what action you take you should notify the police and also communicate with other family members of your status, especially if you have two parties in the same area of the incident.
  • Always have vital medical/allergy info available or with you. Last thing you need is to be barricaded in a room awaiting the police to get you out and suffer an asthma attack without an inhaler. This should be common practice anyway for people medically dependent on such devices while away from home.
  • Never assume you can understand the motive behind the shooters actions and you can "feel his/her pain" and try and rationalize and negotiate with them. This most times will not be the case. They probably don't care that you can relate to their crappy childhood, society's "unjust" actions against them or why that purple cow with the leather jacket and in their head is telling them to shoot people. Just by their initial actions of going someplace specifically to shoot people is a clear sign of a sick mind and any attempt to try and interact with the shooter and communicate will most likely end up in your funeral. Always take as gospel that the shooter has a violent attitude toward your and your family's well being and act accordingly.
  • Take into consideration the physical capabilities of your family or group. Running away is not going to be much of an option if your have your 80 year old grandmother with you and her oxygen bottle.
  • If you have a CCW license and weapon, carry whenever possible. A gun is no use in defending yourself if you do not have it on you. Unfortunately, chances are that if I had been at Easton (which we rarely, if ever, go to anyway) I would NOT of been carrying because we probably would have eaten there and most establishments there serve alcohol. Under current Ohio law I cannot carry in any establishment with a "Class D" license to serve spirits, whether I consume them myself or not. Hopefully this will be changed to a more common sense statute in the near future, but for now I would not of been ready to defend my family.

Courses of action.

I basically see that there are four basic main of action you can take if you find an active shooter in your midst.:

Do nothing. (AKA The Sheeple) Yep, just like Rush sings "if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice". The least desirable of the four choices leaves your live up to fate to decide your outcome. Just stop what your doing, freeze in place and hope for the best. Hell, maybe the purple cow in the guys brain thinks your A-OK and will tell him to give you a pass...or maybe it will tell him to shove a shotgun in your mouth and free you from your mortal shell.... Think I will take one of the other three options. Baaaaa! Baaaaa!sheeple

Flee (AKA the Forrest Gump) "RUN FORREST RUN!!!"  Makes total sense to me, the best way to avoid danger is to get the hell out of where it is occurring. As stated above, this may not be a good tactic if you have people with physical disabilities in your group. Also, make sure before you sprint out into the open to get away that the active shooter is distracted or otherwise occupied. Charles Whitman, the former Marine who killed 13 people from the clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin only killed 3 people at close range in the tower. The other 10 were shot at a distance or while fleeing the area. From his vantage point and learned skills as a marksman they probably made very tempting targets for him. Hopefully your shooter isn't looking for a challenge. Also make sure he is truly alone and not one of a group of shooters (a la Mumbai, India) that is just flushing you into another persons kill zone.


Hide (with pride) (AKA The Submariner) No offense toward my Navy Vet readers out there in the silent service, hopefully you get the joke…I got it from one of your own boomer pilots…Keeping in mind what I said about having physical limitations or being with someone with physical limitations this may be the best (or only) option for some people or groups.  Finding someplace to gain sanctuary behind a locked or barricaded door your are betting your survival on a rapid and prepared response by law enforcement against the shooter(s). Keep in mind, in an extreme scenario…such as Mumbai…it may take friendly guns hours…or days…to reach you.  This is assuming that your would be rescuers know what they are doing..unlike some of the poorly trained or armed Indian police that were slow in responding to the terrorists and very under gunned in many instances against killers armed with AK’s and hand grenades.  Try and stay quiet and avoid being detected.  If you are in a room (hopefully locked)  don’t forget the difference between cover and concealment.  Drywalls commonly found in modern structures may offer concealment, the inability to be seen through…but they lack cover, the ability to provide protection from direct fire.  Try and get as low on the floor as possible and behind any additional cover you may have available.  Try to use additional materials to barricade the entrance to your hide and don’t open for anyone on the other side even if they claim to be the police, hopefully you will have a cell phone that you can use to contact the police to verify that there is somebody there to rescue you before you open that door.   If you are in a room with a window on the ground floor and but cannot escape don’t rule out the possibility that your attacker may go outside the building and be able to fire inside as well, try and stay out of sight of window and barricade it as well.


Fight Back (The John McClain) Yipee Kiyay Mother……. For some people, they relish the thought of this…for me, this is my last (or at least least most unwanted) choice in the bunch.  Yes I do carry to protect myself and my family. Yes, I do consider myself proficient enough to do this in most situations that commonly face a crime victim.  No, I do not relish the thought of putting myself in danger where my family may lose a husband and a father, nor do I wish to take another’s life as well.  But when faced with that life and death situation where it me or them, I am putting myself between my family and danger and skinning leather…I have stated on many an online forum or blog that I carry to protect myself and my family, I do not necessarily feel obligated to be a be a “hero” in any sense.  If you do, on the other hand, you will have to keep a few things in mind.  diehard

  • Real life is not like the range…behind your target(s) may be other people…the fourth rule of handling firearms still applies.
  • Only fools rush in…there is a time for an immediate and rapid response to a threat..we called it a near ambush in the military…when the bad guy had the drop on you and your ass is hanging by a thread anyway you just face (after giving your butt a quick kiss goodbye) and charge the enemy.  Otherwise, acting like this can get you killed.  Plan your attack as best you can with the time you may have. Fight dirty, get behind the bad guy to take him out instead of going head on…whatever it takes.
  • Put first things first…if you have a family take care of them, make sure YOU’RE OK before you go get your fight on. 
  • Don’t show up to a gun fight with 7 people armed only with a six-shooter……make sure you are up to the task before you go and get killed in a hopeless struggle.
  • If you are lucky enough to take the shooter out do not stand there gloating over him, ensure he is no longer a threat, separate him from any weapons and then DISARM YOURSELF!! After hearing gunshots more likely than not the police or other responders are going to initiate a hasty breach thinking hostages are being killed…you don’t want to be standing there with a gun in your hand when they come into the room scanning for targets.   Get on the floor with your hands visible and not in any type of threatening pose…identify yourself “FRIENDLY! FRIENDLY!” to them and wait for orders to be evacuated.  You can sort out the details later.  You may even be tackled and secured if any surveillance they may have had saw you with a weapon and identified you as a possible threat.  Again, you can sort out the details later.  As for your weapon, you are going to lose it for a while anyway so forget about it.
  • If possible attend to any wounded if time permits after neutralizing the threat…including the shooter if required…I, personally, would triage him as my last priority myself…


The face of terror…one of the Mumbai killers….these ass clowns couldn’t even execute people on their own, they needed a POS handler on the other end of a cell phone to tell them what to do…no wonder they “martyred” them…no place in a growing organization for men without vision….damn cockroaches…


Keep in mind I am no longer in the military, am not a law enforcement officer or a security expert.  These are my thoughts on the subject and as such I offer no official guidance on the subject.  These are just my opinions on the subject as I see fit to express them.  If you agree with them and wish to adopt them based on your own personal evaluation, fine.  If not fine as well.  You can go pay to take anti-terrorism and crisis management and interdiction courses for this subject, or take what I offer for free.  Either way I accept no personal liability for what may happen for using this information in your own situation.   Only YOU can make those types of decisions at the moment that they are required based upon your own situational evaluation and training.

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