Tip of the Day: Active Shooter ? Evade, Fight or Hide! By: Dr. Martin D. Topper

Whenever you get in a crowd always look for where to go and where possible cover is in case things go bad.
This participant at the National Tactical Invitational makes uses a simulated concrete pillar for cover as he returns fire toward two active shooter targets.

This participant at the National Tactical Invitational makes uses a simulated concrete pillar for cover as he returns fire toward two active shooter targets.

There’s a lot of advice going around today about how to deal with an active shooter when a person has the bad luck to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  The current paradigm being offered by some public officials is “Run, Fight or Hide” in that order of preference.  This simple formula is a too elementary to be very useful in complex real-world critical incidents involving active shooters.

Evade

“Run” just doesn’t seem to be the right word for Choice #1.  Running is prey behavior which can trigger attack behavior, and running away in a straight line makes a person a very easy target.  Blindly running can also lead an intended victim right into the arms of an accomplice lying in wait.  Therefore “Evade” is a more appropriate concept.

Evasion begins before the incident.  It starts with living what master trainer John Farnam calls a Stealth Existence.  This involves being aware of one’s surroundings.   Who’s around?  Where are the exits?  Are there areas of cover and concealment on the way to the exits?  Keeping a low profile and being aware of one’s surroundings offers the best chance of disappearing from the shooter’s radar while quickly moving from cover to cover toward the nearest exit

Author encounters two active shooters as he tries to negotiate his way to a shoothouse exit at the National Tactical Invitational. Notice the innocent bystander behind the shooter on the left. One always has to be aware of what's beyond the target.

Author encounters two active shooters as he tries to negotiate his way to a shoothouse exit at the National Tactical Invitational. Notice the innocent bystander behind the shooter on the left. One always has to be aware of what’s beyond the target.

Fight

Option 2 calls for fighting back with whatever is available if you can’t escape.  “Fight” also is too simplistic.   Different states have different laws governing “justifiable” force. So just as evasion begins long before an active shooter incident, the first thing that a civilian should do is look up the legal standards for self defense in the states where he or she intends to carry.  It’s vital to know when and where it’s legal to carry, and then avoid places where it isn’t.  Understand the circumstances under which it’s legal for civilians to use lethal force – NOT for the defense of property and when the law requires one to stop fighting.  Reading a book like The Law of Self Defense by Andrew F. Branca or taking a course like master trainer Massad Ayoob’s Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement can be very helpful in developing the necessary judgment to know when to draw a weapon, when it’s permissible to use it and the appropriate level of force to apply.  It’s also important to understand the limitations of a concealed carry license, even in a “stand your ground” state.  A person with a CCW must understand that there is a fine line between acting in self defense and becoming an aggressor who is intervening in a situation in which one has no part.  Being under direct attack is one thing, but butting in on someone else’s problem is quite another.  On the other hand, if you absolutely know that innocents are being murdered or face a deadly threat, then the decision to intervene is up to you.

Hide

Option 3 involves hiding.  This is a last choice option, since it does not remove potential victims from the possibility of serious harm.  In Mumbai and other terrorist incidents the terrorists were frequently on the move looking for innocent civilians who were hiding in the hotel in order to kill them or otherwise use them for political advantage.  Successfully hiding involves more than just getting behind an opaque barrier.  To safely hide one needs to have an idea of where the shooter will not look for another victim.  One must also be able evaluate whether the shooter may be wearing an explosive vest, since close proximity to an explosion can be fatal to those who are hidden as well as those caught in the open.

This vehicle was used as a target for a five minute long fuisillade of fire from over fifty shooters. As seen NO bullets made it through the engine block area.

This vehicle was used as a target for a five minute long fusillade of fire from over fifty shooters. As seen NO bullets made it through the engine block area.

This is difficult enough, but one also needs to know the difference between cover and concealment.  Cover is a barrier which will stop bullets.  Concealment simply protects someone from being seen.  Unfortunately, we see a lot of things on TV and in the movies that portray barriers like automobiles as “cover.”  The Los Angeles Police discovered much to their dismay that the North Hollywood bank robbers easily shot through squad cars with their AKs.  In addition, cover is relative to the firearm being used by an active shooter.  A cinder block wall usually stops a .22, but it won’t stop some 12 gauge slugs.  Everything that doesn’t provide cover from the gun an active shooter is using is just concealment, and the object should always be to get to cover, if it can be done safely.

Conclusion

Each active shooter incident is a unique event that must be dealt with individually by the intended victims.  Simple formulas only offer a temporary and false sense of security.  If a person is truly serious about defending themselves from an active shooter, then training beyond that provided in a CCW class and developing an informed layman’s understanding of the applicable laws of self defense is clearly called for.

For more information Please View:

Massad Ayoob:           www.Massadayoobgroup.com

Andrew Baranca:       The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide for the Armed                                            Citizen; Law of Self Defense,  P.O. Box 312, Maynard, MA 01754

Big 3 East:                   www.b3e.org

John Farnam:             www.defense-training.com.

Gunsite Academy:      www.gunsite.com

1 Comment on "Tip of the Day: Active Shooter ? Evade, Fight or Hide! By: Dr. Martin D. Topper"

  1. Howard Dennard | January 6, 2017 at 5:11 am | Reply

    The course of action also depends upon ones physical abilities and training. As an older retiree with disabilities, I can’t run, and at 6′ and 250# I’m a large package to hide. But, as a retired Military Police Non-Commissioned Officer with twenty years service ,two combat deployments, an assignment as an instructor at the Military Police School, and working with numerious foreign police forces, I do have the knowledge and TRAINING to confront an armed suspect.
    But I do not suggest the untrained individual , even if armed, follow my lead. An active shooter isn’t like the movies, the injuries, blood, and deaths are real. The major objective of anyone in this situation is “DO NOT PANIC”.

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