What to Do In An Active Shooting Situation

active shooting

The shooting that occurred in Orlando, Florida, has been on my mind ever since I heard about it yesterday. It clarified some thoughts that have been going through my mind for some time now. First, let me express my condolences to the families of the victims, I feel for them.

In this book about surviving a mass shooting incident, the author goes into great detail, but here, I’d like to give my own thoughts.

Now, what I have to say next may make some people upset with me, but these are the thoughts that have been going through my mind. First, the government programs teach that if you are caught in an active shooter situation you should run, hide, or fight in that order. I personally have some reservations about this. I think that this is the correct tactic for women and children and men who are too far away to confront the shooter directly, but for men who are within a reasonable distance of the shooter, it should be fight.

In the Orlando shooting, we read about victims who texted messages as the shooter approached them. They would have stood a lot better chance if they would have thrown the phone at him and charged. Any type of self-defense — and perhaps, some did.

With the number of rounds he fired, he had to have done several reloads. Now, I am 72 years old, and I’m pretty sure I could travel approximately 20 feet during the time it takes to reload an AR15.  Another consideration that factors in is that regardless of how well trained an individual is, an AR15 is not a magic weapon. It only fires in one direction at a time and only one round for each pull of the trigger.

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My feelings for some time is that if I am involved in an active shooting situation and am within a reasonable distance of the shooter, I will attack. Now being a bit of a realist, even though this is my plan, I don’t know if I would have the courage to actually do it until I am faced with the situation. No one knows something like that for sure. But I know that if I get the thought in my mind ahead of time and make the decision to act, I will be more likely to do it if I’m ever in that situation.

Let’s discuss what happens if you charge the shooter. First, there is a good chance others may join you. People react to a leader. If the shooter has to deal with you, it buys time for others to flee. If you are shot, but if the suspect goes down as a result of several people charging, you will get medical help much sooner. You won’t lie there for three hours, slowly bleeding to death. I believe that fighting back will reduce the death toll in most situations.

in the Orlando shooting, there were victims who didn’t die immediately of their gunshot wounds but, rather, bled out during the time it took for law enforcement to make their move.

I hope that if I am ever in such a situation, I have the courage to die on my feet fighting, rather than hiding in a bathroom.


UPDATE FROM NOAH: For a perspective from a law enforcement officer, read this.

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45 thoughts on “What to Do In An Active Shooting Situation”

  1. Well stated and thought out sir. I feel the same way , and like you I don’t know how I would react in that situation , but, having the mindset is a start, along with realizing your limitations, and the limitations of the attacker and his weapon.

    1. Throwing chairs and other objects like beer and liquor bottles, drinking glasses at the shooter would have (there were’t any Rambo type men in that nite club w/ brains) overcome him while others could subdue him and less people shot. Not rocket science, apparently most in the club were plastered or high on drugs to act.

      1. I believe you are right on the plastered or high thing another reason not to drink yourself into oblivion……you can not think straight in this kind of situation……….I am in my late 60’s but would like to think I would fight in someway or form………I took Karate as a young woman and still remember some of the basic self defense stuff……..its drilled into you..and it did come in handy a couple years ago………Ladies if you are anything like me your purse seems like a bowling ball is in it……………USE IT!!! I am seriously thinking of getting a hand gun and learning how to shoot well………….geeze its like we are going back to the Wild West Days………..Old Motto: Be Prepared

  2. Of course, in most states,concealed firearms may not be carried into venues where alcohol is served, so you must have thought ahead what weapons could be improvised from materials at hand, the steak knife, fork, wine bottle, chair, the rapidly repeated woodpecker stab to the neck, eyes and temples… If patrons flash-mobbed the shooter when he reloads, he may get a few of you, but many lives could be saved.

  3. Well said. Too often people will run and hide and never fight. Why wait until its a last resort? Seize the initiative and attack with everything you have; teeth to the jugular work. Stay safe

  4. We should all remember the duress phrase of the 9/11 martyr Todd Beamer,

    “Let’s Roll!” means, everybody together now lets stomp the guy~!

  5. Many lives could have been saved if police did not wait THREE hours to storm building. How about a small tank go in there the first 5 minutes ?? Why aren’t armored vehicles dispatched as fast as Fire trucks? You can be put on don’t fly list without commiting a felony.
    Should be same for no gun list.

    1. Should be the same for a no-muslum list. Fixed that for ya.
      It is high time we had a national conversation about muslum control.

        1. You can’t name a real Christian that would murder people. He was not a Christian.
          Jesus died to save people that they could become Christians. Jesus teaches love not hate. Allah…..Muhammad teaches kill the infidels!
          Islamic die for Allah. There is no comparison!!!

  6. Jan Weisenborn

    Thank you! Being prepared is part of the battle, and this article certainly helped me with that. I, too, like to think that I would be among the “fight” crowd. And I’m a 75 year old female! Government has done a superior job teaching us not to fight back from an early age–hey, you might get suspended, you know. Or arrested. Or offend someone. I’m old. I don’t care. Bring ’em on.

    1. Jan, I agree with you wholeheartedly and I am a 77 year old female. I just can’t imagine I would be still and not fight, but, as others have said, I have not been in that situation so I can’t tell for sure what I would do.

      1. I am a 65 year old woman and now carry a gun in my purse all the time. If weapons are not allowed well guess what, i would rather face a charge of having a weapon where it is not allowed rather than have my family planning a funeral. Plus i would hope to save other families from planning a funeral. I hope i am never in that situation but i was taught not to start the fight but i damn well better finish it. People now days will go nuts hearing that…lol

  7. Jan Weisenborn has hit the nail on the head. We are taught from an early age to run, hide, don’t fight back, don’t question, don’t offend. It is easier remembered by the older generation that has not been programmed. Time to man up America, start calling people on their bogus crap and holding them accountable for their actions. Including, and especially those in elected or appointed office, local, state, federal.

  8. Step 1-duck down and hide behind a metal or concrete object
    Step 2- calmly but quickly remove gun from your holster/pocket
    Step 3- carefully aim gun at shooter
    Step 4- shoot and do not miss
    Step 5- when shooter is down and has stopped firing, walk up to him/her and MAKE SURE THAT HE/SHE IS DEAD by using your gun.
    Step 6- dial 911 on your way out the door. Do not speak to anyone.

      1. These are all very helpful and thought out, as Americans we must be prepared for anything the way things are going! Stay out of Hell holes except to help some one in need as Medical people we have to be ready to die before we are able to do our job for the benefit of saving more lives! I am 76 yrs old with 25 years of Emergency Medical experience!
        PD P June 24 2016 8 am.

  9. glenn velasquez

    I am a CCW instructor . These comments are how I thought when hearing of this terrible attack . All I can Say if Im going Ill take you with me if I Can. Stand and Fight! Well said Folks!

  10. sam has the right 5 step plan..step 6, do not use your phone to call pick up a downed persons phone and call 911 away from the area, leave as soon as step 5 is complete. do not speak to anyone. self satisfaction is all the recognition you need.

  11. I have an idea that may not work in all situations, but it would have been applicable to the VA Tech shooting many years ago. The shooter tried, and ultimately succeeded in gaining entrance to a room where people had barricaded themselves. If everyone were to remove their shoes, they would have 2 weapons each to hurl at the shooter as soon as he gains entry. This could have at least distracted him long enough to allow a few people to subdue him.

  12. Run…hide is good survival guidance for school children in a large school. I’m with you on attack if you have even reasonable proximity.

  13. Ollie... former AF fighter pilot...

    Maybe it’s my military background but if would yell something like “Throw something at him and let’s charge on the count of three!” He may get a few of us but that would be much better than cowering on the floor and having him walk up to put a bullet in your head as the shooter did in Killeen, Tx a few years back…

  14. Can you imagine how many clips the shooter would have been able to get off before being pounded if that club had been one full of cops or Marines?

  15. Sam has a good plan. Now we need people in government who realize the 2nd Amendment is about self defense and quit infringing our constitutional right to defend ourselves.

  16. I was a correctional officer for 16 years, so I can tell you that it’s difficult to run toward the danger. But as many have already pointed out – if numerous people step up, the shooter will go down. Be prepared for the assault at all times; know where the exits are; see where cover is available. If you remain aware of your surroundings at all times, you might spot a suspicious action by someone or a group. If you don’t see yourself as the initial one to strike back, vow to be his or her backup!! Strength in numbers. Always a better chance to win the fight if you have more than one!!

  17. Nobody knows how they will react in any given situation, the tendency , however, is to react as you were trained to react. Every situation you will encounter will vary, but the tendency is to react as you were trained to react. The key is training, the better trained you are the better chance that you will react in that manner. Training works in acting, sports, military action, fight situations, and on and on.

    Always fight back! As some have stated, you and others may go down, but many more will survive. That is the herd mentality, and it works for all.


  18. I’ve been in a shooting situation like this upon leaving a restaurant 10 years ago while on a date night with my husband. Tragically, my husband was murdered and all I could do was run and get help. After the shooter blasted my husband in the face with a 12 gauge shotgun while I was sitting in our car he fled the scene, then had a shoot out with cops. While all of this was going on all I could think to do was run for help. I must tell you, it’s a scary situation and your right you don’t know how your going to react if placed in this situation. This conversation was very informative and like one of the other ladies comments about purchasing a gun. I’ve been contemplating for the past 10 years since my husbands death whether I should purchase a weapon to protect myself. In closing, I’m also a women of faith and a strong believer in God and prayer.

  19. Terry Lunsford

    I have always believed that if you are going to die anyway a person might as well FIGHT. You might have a chance, at least, rather than lay there and be murdered for sure. That’s certainly a hard decision to make as the first impression is to run and hide. And yes, there is always strength in numbers.

  20. Bill b made a good suggestion about the police or fire dept sending in a small tank or armed vehicle to go after the shooter. We need to let our President know he should release extra military vehicles to the police and fire departments not take them away.

  21. Howard. This is the first time I heard that the shooter could only fire one at a time. When watching CNN they interviewed a boy that said and made a motion that the shooter fired the full clip at one time as if it was an automatic. Possible false flag anyone?

    1. If he bought the Sig a week or so before, as has been reported, it is extremely unlikely that it was a full-auto weapon. So, one pull, one round fired.

  22. Howard. This is the first time I heard that the shooter could only fire one at a time. When watching CNN after the shooting they interviewed a young man that said and made a motion that the shooter fired the full clip at one time as if it was an automatic.

  23. At the school I teach at, the staff as well as the students have gone through ALICE training. The first thing to do is throw things at the attackers head/face, then charge and get him and keep him down. The normal reaction is to cover your head from objects being thrown. When possible, put the weapon into a waste basket or even a tissue box so when police arrive, you are not the person holding a weapon.

  24. A gun in the hand is better than a policeman a few minutes away. I am with the attack minded people. I would rather die fighting than die cowering. I agree that we have been programmed to run rather than fight. My personal experience and opinion, this has been cause for many, many of our troop casualties. In combat(or any dangerous situation) if you hesitate to pull the trigger, you will die, unless the opponent your facing does the same, so train your mind constantly with this one simple word. ATTACK,ATTACK,ATTACK, with whatever is at hand! you might survive and help others to survive. those wanting tanks or whatever your still drinking kool aid. One or two well trained persons could have stopped it. He was only one shooter, for God’s sake. Interestingly, I would bet that in that crowd of people there were a bunch of women who had maze or pepper spray that was never thought about when it could have made a difference!

  25. We are all different in how we would react to someone firing a gun in our direction. Military members and police are trained and practice to respond as a unit. Our individual survival instinct is to run away from danger and there’s no dishonor in that. However, things change when we or a loved one are trapped in a situation. That’s what motivated Tod Beamer and his fellow passen-gers to storm the hijackers on 9/11. It was a do or die situation that took leadership — but even that took time while his and his fellow passengers discussed their plan. The victims at the Florida nightclub were individuals frozen in fear waiting to be slaughtered. If only one leader would have attacked the shooter while he was reloading in it’s likely others would have joined in to take him down and save lives. It’s a matter of mentally preplanning our actions in the unlikely event it happens to us.

  26. Difficult to say what anyone of us would do in the Orlando shootings. I have given some thought and offer the following advice. If within striking distance you need to distract the shooter somehow and attack. If not, within striking distance get low and seek cover. If possible, try to maneuver to shooters far right or left or even better behind him where you can attack or at least distract him so hopefully others can follow. Lastly, plan to be close to the exits and run for your life.

  27. Thanks Howard for expressing exactly how I felt after this terrible incident. As a 26 year active Soldier, 10 of those in the Corps I know that re-loading isn’t a snap, even for the most experienced shooter. I re-load at an average of 4 seconds, and that is a rehearsed process where I flip the snap of my carrier, pull out the mag, drop the spent mag from my AR and insert the loaded mag; even tougher when your hocked up on adrenaline. MAGPUL mags are even harder to load cause they have a tight clearance[my law enforcement contact says that’s the type the shooter used]. Plenty of time to mount an offensive by sending a barrage of bottles and chairs in the direction of the shooter to distract then attack. Sadly they froze and died. I don’t hang out in clubs but that night I would’ve attacked first and hoped someone followed thru if my attack failed.

  28. Jeanette Lauritzen

    I am a female not quite 71 yo and I agree. Thinking about the scenario and fixing a plan in your head is a great idea. A person can use just about anything they can grab. If you start others will come.

  29. I don’t know that anyone can say exactly what they would do in a situation like Orlando. I have a family member who survived that horrific night. He survived by running when he had the opportunity to do so. It was very dark and he didn’t know where the shooter was. He and a friend were trapped in the bathroom and heard the shots getting closer. They ran some distance to an exit as they were being shot at. He could smell the gunpowder and blood. Four friends went in that night and two came out. When you are unarmed and in the dark not knowing where the shooter is, you have the option to try to find the shooter and disarm him or run for your life. I think I would be running for my life as he did. RIP those souls that didn’t make it out.

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