Concealed Carry Magazine writer Kevin Michalowski tackles the very complex topic of handling an active shooter environment from the perspective of a concealed carrier.
Responding to an Active Shooter
The following article is from instructions to the faculty, staff and students of Mississippi College, A Christian University. Unfortunately, this instruction is not dated, but I believe it is current. In my opinion, it’s really disturbing that this kind of information has to be given to anyone in our schools and universities, but this is the world we now live in. Some of our schools have recently been allowing the faculty, staff and some students to carry concealed firearms on the campuses. I, for one, approve of this decision, as long as proper training goes along with it. I have a very hard time accepting the notion of “gun free zones” in these troubling times of terrorists and mentally defective members of our society. Everyone who is able and trained should be permitted to defend themselves from those that would do them harm.
An active shooter is a person who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. In most cases active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims. This document provides guidance to faculty, staff, and students who may be caught in an active shooter situation, and describes what to expect from responding police officers.
Guidance to faculty, staff, and students
The following procedures should be followed in the event of a Campus Shooting.
- If you witness a campus shooting, your primary concern should be for your safety and the safety of others.
- Attempt to remove yourself and others from any immediate danger.
- After you are out of immediate danger you should:
- If 911 is called, be sure to provide the following information:
- State your name.
- State the problem.
- State the name and location of the shooting.
- Do not hang up the phone until the operator tells you to do so.
- Call the Office of Public Safety at 601.925.3204 and provide the appropriate information.
In general, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter, bearing in mind there could be more than one shooter involved in the same situation. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a strategy for survival.
If an active shooter is outside your building:
- proceed to a room that can be locked
- close and lock all the windows and doors
- turn off all the lights
- get everyone down on the floor
- ensure that no one is visible from outside the room
- have one person in the room call 911
- advise the dispatcher of what is taking place, and inform him/her of your location
- remain in place until the police, or a campus administrator known to you, gives the “all clear.”
Unfamiliar voices may be the shooter attempting to lure victims from their safe space; do not respond to any voice commands until you can verify with certainty that they are being issued by a police officer.
If an active shooter is in the same building you are:
- determine if the room you are in can be locked and if so, follow the same procedure described in the previous paragraph
- If your room can’t be locked, determine if there is a nearby location that can be reached safely and secured, or if you can safely exit the building
If you decide to move from your current location, be sure to follow the instructions outlined below.
If an active shooter enters your office or classroom:
- Try to remain calm.
- Dial 911, if possible, and alert police to the shooter’s location
- If you can’t speak, leave the line open so the dispatcher can listen to what’s taking place.
- If there is no opportunity for escape or hiding, it might be possible to negotiate with the shooter.
- Attempting to overpower the shooter with force should be considered a very last resort, after all other options have been exhausted.
- If the shooter leaves the area, proceed immediately to a safer place and do not touch anything that was in the vicinity of the shooter.
No matter what the circumstances, if you decide to flee during an active shooting situation, make sure you have an escape route and plan in mind. Do not attempt to carry anything while fleeing; move quickly, keep your hands visible, and follow the instructions of any police officers you may encounter. Do not attempt to remove injured people; instead, leave wounded victims where they are and notify authorities of their location as soon as possible. Do not try to drive off campus until advised it is safe to do so by police or campus administrators.
What to expect from responding police officers
Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard; their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible.
- The first responding officers will normally be in teams of four.
- They may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment.
- The officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns, and might also be using pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
Regardless of how the police officers appear:
- Remain calm.
- Do as the officers tell you and do not be afraid of them.
- Put down any bags or packages you may be carrying and keep your hands visible at all times.
- If you know where the shooter is, tell the officers.
The first officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured people. Rescue teams composed of other officers and emergency medical personnel will follow the first officers into secured areas to treat and remove injured persons.
Keep in mind that even once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still a crime scene; police will usually not let anyone leave until the situation is fully under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Until you are released, remain at whatever assembly point authorities designate.
Below is the link to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Active Shooter Preparedness Video
[The following is an excerpt of an article from ConcealedNation.com by James England on 01/03/2016].
Based upon the recommendations of the Department of Homeland Security, for an active shooter environment, participants are encouraged to run, hide, or fight. But beyond that, there are a couple crucial steps that may help you determine which course of action will work best for you. Michalowski downplays the role of hiding because he doesn’t like the idea of hoping that an attacker won’t find him. Personally, I think direct engagement of targets in an active shooting environment is a last possible resort. Why? They’re armed. Facing them mano-a-manowithout the advantage of cover, concealment, and the potential to at least observe prior to engaging all seem like a pretty great way to get shot. But I’ve never been stuck in an active shooting scenario as a civilian so I guess if Michalowski and I are ever stuck in a real-life run-down, I guess we know our respective courses of action.
Anyhow, the official government recommendations are as follows:
If you have an opportunity before choosing an option, I’d suggest:
Information gathering phase
This phase shouldn’t be downplayed because it’s the only time you have to initially decide friend from foe. This gets especially hairy because unless you know:
a.) the number of assailants, their appearance, and their location AS WELL AS
b.) the number of “good guys” and their location
…Then your chances of engaging the wrong party (or being wrongly engaged) have just gone up considerably.
Single Source Attacker is usually the norm — but don’t assume
Mass shooting events, like the ones that rock the media’s world, aren’t normal and they don’t occur that often. When they do, it’s usually orchestrated by one, sometimes two active shooters.
The natural tendency of “the herd” is to run in the opposite direction of the approximate direction from where the sounds of shooting happen. The latent danger in that is by running from the first sound, you are inevitably rushing towards the opportunity for another. Just because the majority of mass shooters have absolutely no grasp on the fundamentals of small unit tactics does not mean that we can all hope to be so lucky in the future. It’s better to run for cover and concealment and try to ascertain what the heck is going on. If there is a clear route to escape that you’re willing to bet your life on — go for it. Otherwise, stay put and focus on getting to a place that provides some defensible degree of cover.
Also, just as a word of caution: try to verify the person with the gun is indeed the bad guy. But that doesn’t mean revealing your position — just observe. And if through observation you don’t see this person shooting people, don’t shoot him (or her). You don’t have to work with that person but definitely make sure you’re not the cause of their demise.
You know what’s cool about cover and concealment? It affords you the opportunity to identify the police and not flag them with your firearm. It may be best to stay put and stay quiet until the situation is resolved.
As stated in my opening paragraph above, I believe the faculty, staff and students of our schools and universities should be allowed to protect and defend themselves and each other from anyone trying to do them harm. They should have the freedom to carry concealed firearms anywhere they go. Of course, they should be properly trained and have the mindset of an armed defender. We all know the police, and even campus security, cannot be there when needed. The only thing they can do is “clean up the mess” after the harm is already done. They are rarely the first people responding to an active shooter.
I know there are many opinions on this matter, and I would like to hear them. Please leave your comments and suggestions in the area provided below. I will respond as soon as possible.