Active Shooter!!!

What do I do?  How do I protect my family and loved ones?  What are the recommendations?  How do I get away?  What does Law Enforcement tell us to do in a mass shooting?  How do I not get shot if I act?

Mass Shooting Survival Guide

It seems that the term “Active Shooter” is now a common and unfortunate term in our society.  Madmen and terrorists have taken active shooter survival guideadvantage of our open and trusting society, twisting our 2nd amendment rights for their perverted intent on causing murder and mayhem with mass shootings.  Where will this lead our society?  Now more than ever, law abiding citizens need to stay vigilant and be prepared to protect themselves and their families.

The four things you must consider in an Active Shooter scenario:

1.  GET OUT!!!

Keep your Situational Awareness (SA) and find an exit – Try not to draw attention to yourself.  Don’t move to an exit where the shooter is focused on.  Look for a window, door, primary and alternate, tertiary routes out.  If you are with someone you know, take charge!!!  Lead them away from the danger.

Leave everything behind – purse, groceries, bags, etc – those items can be replaced

When you exit – keep your hands clearly visible and up:  You do not want to be confused as a threat if Law Enforcement (LE) is already on scene

*Note: If you are a conceal carry weapons permit holder, I feel you have a duty to your fellow man to engage an active shooter assailant.  A good example of this is the Trolley Square shooting.  Keep in mind, you will more than likely be facing a long gun with larger capacity magazines.  Depending on the situation, the element of surprise is more than likely on your side.  Adequate cover and well aimed shots are a must in this situation.

2.  HIDE OUT!!!

Hide out of view – behind cover.  Cover is something that will stop a bullet, concealment is something that will hide you, but not active shooter survivalnecessarily stop a bullet.  A large oak tree is cover, leafy bushes are concealment.  Many people confuse these two, do your best to get behind good cover.  Unlike TV, a table, filing cabinet, chair, or bookshelf will more than likely not completely stop a bullet if at all.

Block entry to your hiding place – barricade, lock, obstacle the door, nook and cranny where you are hiding

Stay in your hiding place and wait for Law Enforcement to arrive – contact the authorities if you can, stay as quiet as possible.  Once again, try not to draw attention to your position


Last Resort when in Danger – this is obviously a last resort.  Many of us are not Law Enforcement, but you might have access to something to throw, distract, or rush the active shooter using a blind corner or concealment.

Stop the Threat – if you act, do your best to take out the threat.  Once again, try to do it from a position of cover or at least concealment.

Act with Aggression – throw items (salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottles, tables, chairs, rocks, etc…) act decisively!!!  Fortune favors the bold.  If you are a CCW permit holder, you should know what to do.


Secure the Active shooters weapon and your weapon – you don’t want to be seen as the Active Shooter by Law Active ShooterEnforcement.  Beware of your environment, there maybe more than one shooter (Columbine High School Shooting).

Raise your hands – When Law Enforcement arrives, you don’t want to create confusion.

Remain Calm

Avoid making quick movements – don’t be a perceived threat to Law Enforcement when you exit and/or they enter the scene.

Keep your hands clearly visible and follow instructions

These are recommendations that are taught by many Law Enforcement agencies, Department of Homeland Security, the military, and many CCW courses.  Remember many of us are not Law Enforcement or Vigilantes.  Secure yourself, your family and loved ones by first GETTING OUT, or HIDING OUT, and only as a Last Resort – TAKE OUT the Active Shooter.

Stay vigilant, maintain situational awareness at all times, plan for the worst, and stay survival fit – body and mind!!!

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Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

47 thoughts on “Active Shooter!!!”

  1. A very well done, 6 minute video that covers the above text very well. The video was put together by the Houston Police Department (not 100% positive on that).

    The FBI and DHS have postulated that a Beslan-style school siege or a Mumbai style rolling active-shooter event are probably the most likely forms of terrorist attacks to be mounted in the future. Especially with a Mumbai style attack, the level of planning and coordination required is far less extensive than previous terrorist attacks on US soil, although the yield in terms of casualties is not usually nearly as high.

    My EDC includes my weapon (Kahr CW9 or 1911, depending on the weather, what I plan to wear and my mood), two additional magazines, a knife, a flashlight, my badge, my ID (LEO and DL) and my wallet. If you don't carry additional magazines, you should consider it.

    • Apologies, apparently I type too much.

      You also should have a couple of different plans for how you are going to handle a violent situation should it unfold in front of you. If I am by myself, I've already made up my mind how I am going to respond to an active shooter. The trouble would come when I am out with family or friends. Although some of my friends are have received some advanced firearms training, many of them have not or do not carry religiously as I do. No one else in my family carries. If I am out with them, I am a good witness. My weapon is to get my family out of the "hot zone" and to safety, and I would only employ it if OpFor was in our path.

    • Your Youtube link looks to be a video produced by Huston's Emergency Management Agency or such organization. They're correct. When escaping or hiding keep low and keep heavy solid objects between you and the shooter(s). Remember office cubical walls and most interior walls aren't solid and don't offer cover, concealment yes, but not cover.

      In my case my EDC kit includes my RIA M1911, a spare magazine, a Gerber Paraframe lockblade, a small LED flashlight, my KSDL and KSCCH permit, I have three 7 round mags in addition to my spare 8 round magazine, but I only have FMJ to load those with. Only my two 8 round mags have Hornaday Critical Defense rounds. Should I just carry the ones with the FMJ rounds anyway?

      • FMJ rounds are definitely much better than no rounds! I would say carry as much as you can comfortably conceal…having 6 extra magazines handy is great for a gunfight, but is more than likely impractical for EDC. However, I feel that you're doing yourself a huge diservice if you don't carry at least one extra mag. In the Trolley Square incident, if I recall correctly, the off-duty officer who was on scene had a .38 caliber revolver with him with no reloads. He had, at best, 6 rounds to hold an active shooter at bay with. Even with the best police response time, you'll be on your own for at least 2 minutes. When was the last time you took 2 minutes to fire 6 rounds from a pistol, unless you were practicing double-feed drills and having a hard time with it?

        • I've not been to a range since December of 2011. I'm currently unemployed and have no income beyond food stamps which I use to help my mother with food in exchange for a place to sleep and live. Sadly in the town I live in there aren't any fee free ranges and I don't know any land owners with their own shooting space.

    • I find one of the more interesting parts of that video is the 30.06 sign on the office door. (Also known as a "gun free zone" sign).

  2. If you're in a Mall keep behind any concrete and brick planters, benches, etc. Solid objects like these provide cover. Tables, chairs, display cases, etc. don't proved cover, concealment yes, cover no. Cover is any fixture or feature that provides protection from bullets and shrapnel.

  3. Great article Mark! This is consistent with active shooter training I received as a Police Officer. When we did this training at local schools, faculty and students were instructed to take cover and stay low (anyone standing would be considered a direct threat). Good info!

  4. I would be wary of always running or hiding. I attended a Lt.Grossman conference last year and if even 5 people would of rushed the VT shooter he could of been stopped. I have an advantage over most because I am a LEO, so I am trained for these situations. However, if an active shooter is walking through a food court, dont you think if thirty or forty people throwing chairs and tables at the shooter while rushing him would be effective? Some people are going to get killed while rushing the shooter, but the number will be less as the shooter is now off balance, instead of taking easy calculated shots. My wife teaches at a college, and she tells her students that if anyone ever comes into the room with weapons everyone is to throw things and rush the shooter. This type of violence of action WILL save lives. At some point people have to stop being sheep, and start being sheepdogs

    • Charley, I think that if you're unarmed and at a decent distance from the shooter you should evacuate the area with as many as you can get out with. Now if you're too close for evacuation, and still unarmed you should help others seek shelter in a room that is solidly built with a lockable door (utility rooms, mechanical room, phone rooms, etc.) Now if you are armed and close enough to make a difference find a place that offers cover and concealment, arm yourself with your weapon and wait until you have a clear shot and then end the hostilities as soon as posssible. In all of this please by all means call 9-1-1 or whatever the local emergency number is.

    • I disagree. Obviously if you are near an exit and a considerable distance away from the shooter, the best idea is to leave if you are unarmed. However, if you are in hot zone with an active shooter, running away to a room with a large number of people is just going to make the shooters job easier because everyone ran to one spot. A locking door isnt going to do much because the shooter is just going fire rounds off through the door. Active shooters are popular because they expect people to hide and run. The shooter does not have to fight anyone, until the police arrive. Why is a gun the only weapon someone should use. Why not a chair? Table? Hard obeject? Blunt force to the skull will do the same damage. The fact is men need to start acting like men. Protect some folks. If there are enough fighting men on an active shooter the situation will take care of itself.

      The only thing evil needs to prevail, is for good men to stand and do nothing.

      Cant remember who said that, but it still rings true

    • I wish more folks would acquire there CC permit and use this right. The type of people committing these crimes are, in my opinion, cowards. They are usually not walking into a police station or NRA meeting and committing these crimes. Instead they prey on the unprotected and weak. It is my belief that if these terrorist knew that one out of five possessed a firearm and would in fact use it, they would find another venue of terror. And if they did proceed and were illuminated, it would be one less burden for the tax payers of this country to keep up.
      thanks for the good read.

  5. Getting down will go a long way. I watched the video of the robbery at the internet cafe in Florida where the old-timer shot the perps. What I found interesting is that the store patrons did not get down when the robbers entered or when the CCW holder started shooting. One genius even went so far as to wander into the CCW holder's 4 o'clock and almost get himself shot.

    • I remember this video and use it in my SA classes. What I believe is going on is the following: when all hell breaks loose various people have a variety of responses. Some freeze, some scream, some drop and cover their heads, some grab their chest etc. And in this instance the lady you are talking about has a "shell shock" reaction. Her brain just shuts off and she begins to wander I would doubt that she has much, if any recollection of the entire event. This is why the Army trains and trains and trains the "react to contact" drills. Even once trained you still have joes that gotta have their squad leader grab them and pull em down. If you are able to keep your head, grab someone and get them down also! A little training and some guts and leadership saves lives when it gets thick.

  6. The military doctrine for dealing with an ambush should be considered as well. The military teaches to assault into the teeth of an ambush. It seems counter-intuitive at first glance but you want OUT of the kill zone. The fastest way out is to charge the ambushers. While they are adjusting to the new situation they are less likely to be accurately shooting at you.
    Trouble with civilian situation is that it is loaded with folks who are not part of your team and may react unpredictably.
    Also remember you're on an adrenalin high and may not respond well to the commands of the arriving LEO. It would really be bad to be shot by your rescuers because you forgot you had your firearm in your hand!

    • CaptBart, I agree, however in a situation in most civilian environments people are usually not armed and those that carry are few and far between. Usually in a bank, goverment office, or some commercial settings only the security are armed. In many states including Kansas it's illegal even under concealed carry laws to take a gun into a bar, bank, church, government office or other ficility, and some stores and other businesses if marked. If you don't have the training to safely disarme a shooter the best bet is to depending on relative location to the shooter is to evacuate or hide. Now if you are in a venue that allows you to carry and you are close enough to make a difference then assist your fellow citizens by eliminating the danger. In Kansas if Law Enforcement know you're carrying they can draft you to assist. This maybe just helping to get others out of harms way and using your piece to protect them and yourself.

      • Absolutely agree. In most cases, I won't go into an establishment where I am not allowed to carry. Texas law allows the pastor to grant carry rights to his congregation; as a member of the clergy I can carry and I know of others the pastor has OK'd to carry. You are correct; of course, if a group assaults a BG, the issue will be no worse and most likely better than if they cower in fear or run (exceptions for protecting the innocent and family apply). Remember Flight 93 did not make it to its target thanks to the brave action of the passengers.

        • I like this idea of a boycott of sorts of any establishment that does not allow conceal carry. This is an ongoing occurance in my city's aminstration building. It is being challenged in the state's supreme court. The masses must realize that conceal carry permits are issued after a background check and in most states only with proper training. These people are not bad guys. In fact they may one day be the one who saves their lives.

  7. In a restaurant or cafe your space is limited and the best way out maybe the back door unless that is the way the bad guys came in. I've been in some assault situations in my early thirties, but not an Active Shooter situation. I made myself the victim back then and vowed to never again be one. Situational awareness like Mark said is one way not to be a victim in any situation. If you live in a CCW/ CCH state by all means go take the classes, get your permit, and carry what firearm you can carry and shoot for your protection and that of your family. If you find yourself in a situation like an Active Shooter scenario first try to find a way out, then try to stay out of sight and out of mind, if you have no other choice by all means available defend yourself and your loved ones. Then if you were armed even it it was to disarm a perp and take his/ her weapon put it down before rushing to safety and the Police, don't be shot being stupid. There is no need to be proof of Darwin save by being the best suited to survive.

    • NEVER assume you're going to have a one-shot incapacitation. If you have a handgun, the bottom line is one shot simply won't stop your threat: the last study I read determined that one-hit stops with handguns occurred almost unanimously when the bad guy was hit and decided to give up so he wouldn't be hit again. One-shot incapacitation with a handgun is mostly a movie myth. You stand much better chances of a one-shot stop with a rifle, but it is far from guarenteed.

      • exactly in fact if the shooter is still holding his/ her piece or pieces and is still moving it is wise to shoot him/ her until he/ she can't use their weapons anymore. In the Louis L'Amour novels the best advice for gun fights I ever saw was to take your time to be sure of your shot and to keep shooting so long as the other person is still standing and armed.

        Obviously if he or she is still standing and armed he/ she is still a danger to everyone around. Remember in most states that allow conceal carry or even open carry those that carry are obligated to protect themselves and those around them who aren't armed when someone presents as a danger to others. In the concealed carry class I took the instructor advised making sure the other guy/ gal was dead so that it is your story that is told when things go to trial. IN KANSAS YOU HAVE TO PROVE IT WAS SELF-DEFENSE IF YOU USE A FIREARM IN DEFENSE OF YOUR LIFE OR OTHERS.

        • You are talking about my favorite author. The 'one shot stop' is a Hollywood myth that has been known to get people killed. A gun fight is NOT won by the guy who shoots first. It is not won by the guy who hits his opponent first. It is not even won by the guy who fires the first fatal shot! A gunfight, every gunfight, is won by the guy who fires the first 'fight stopping round'. Sometimes the guy firing that round may already have received a fatal wound; there are a large number of cases where folks have been killed by someone who is already 'dead'.
          You don't shoot to wound, you don't shoot to kill, you shoot to stop the fight, eliminate the threat. If you opponent dies in the process, that was his choice, not yours. Your job is to neutralize the threat; that also happens to be the most defensible purpose in most courts of law.

          • CaptBart, so true. Though it may be best if you are the only one around to tell the tale of a fight of the participants.

  8. The hardest thing in a situation like that (any crowd really) is the high probability of an over penetration or miss harming a bystander. I don't have an easy answer here; an effective concealed carry weapon may also be one likely to over penetrate and hit someone behind the shooter. I tend to favor low velocity, heavy rounds with high expansion to minimize that problem but it must be considered BEFORE strapping on your carry weapon.
    Most shooters are not, unfortunately, trained to see what is behind their target before they pull the trigger.

  9. Hooyah Mark good job! Situational awareness has saved more lives than the medivac. Following the KISS rule the military standard for ambush is very basic. First determine the type of ambush. Is it near or far? Texas tower sniper or Colorado theater shooter?
    In a near ambush if you are armed and in the beaten zone (kill zone) assault through the ambush. Manuver to the shooters flank if possible. Be aware of soft targets around the shooter. If everyone is standing take a knee in order shoot upward and reduce colateral damage. Use anything that can obscure the shooters visiual of you such as bushes, racks of merchandise, killing the lights. If unarmed throw objects that can get in the eyes such as sand, gravel, dirt, or anything at hand. Protect your eyes as much as possible.
    In a far ambush you should seek cover then try to maneuver out of the beaten zone. Identify the firing position if possible. If there are more than one of you pinned down run from cover in different directions. Move to the next closest place that offers cover or concealment. Then the next closest and on and on until you are out of the beaten zone.
    Even in elite units immeadiate action drills (IA drills) are practiced before going on patrol. Plan shooting time that includes IA drills. My CCW training did not include anything about contact with an active shooter… At all. It was all about gun laws. Want some real training? Go to a shooting course. PSD / VIP protection courses are geared for CCW engagements and include a variety of common ambush scenarios.
    Practice mental IA drills… Check out avenues of approach, evacuation areas, choke points, areas of cover and concealment. Plan what the best tactics would be in engaging shooters provided the environment. Then relax… Looking uptight makes you look like a threat.

    • The beaten zone is not the same thing as the kill zone. The beaten zone is a machine gun term. The beaten zone is basically the pattern of rounds as they strike the ground.

  10. It won’t ever happen here!
    How many times have we heard that? How many times have we thought that? Guess what it truly can happen anywhere that is the lesson I learned yesterday. I live just outside a small Missouri town where nothing ever happens. Yesterday I learned that the local police had arrested a young man for a planed mass shooting. This man allegedly had planned to shoot people at the local theater during the Twilight premier then changed his mind to shoot people at Walmart (due to the idea that if he ran out of ammo he could grab more from sporting goods). Thank God that the man’s mother called police to warn them that she thought her son was up to something. The national news picked up the story saying that a “copy cat” of the Colorado shooting planed to shoot up a local theater and store. What they failed to say is that it is the only theater and only department store in the entire county! The point is this is small town USA not a major city or even the suburbs if can happen here to us it really can happen anywhere.

  11. That is why I wear a concealed bulletproof vest, I am currently awaiting my 21st birthday in August to get my CCW and a Glock, until then I'm stuck with the vest and a Gerber survival knife for defense, also some Krav Maga CQC training.

  12. Great article on this. Such a scary thing that could happen. That's why you always want to have a weapon on you. Always tough to choose the Best Handgun for the job, but any one that you can actually use if the situation depends on it!


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