Surviving an Active Shooter Situation

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

The October 1st mass shooting incident in Las Vegas has made the country once again aware of how close we all live to such an event interrupting our lives. While those on the political left are predictably using this event as a rallying cry for gun control measures that won’t work, the rest of us are more concerned with how someone with such a severe mental problem could have escaped attention and planned such a horrific act.

Like usual, one of the questions many of us are asking ourselves is, “How would I have responded to such a situation?” or the other version of the same question, “What Would I have done, if I was there?” these questions are normal, as we tend to empathize with the victims of such situations.

I’ve held a concealed carry license for a number of years and carry every day. As a responsible gun owner, I practice regularly, as well as think through various scenarios where I might need to use my gun to defend myself, my family or others. While I have analyzed many a scenario, I have to admit, I’ve never thought through one that even comes close to this one.

From a criminal point of view, this was an almost perfectly committed crime, other than the part where the criminal didn’t escape. But that isn’t usually a goal in these mass shooting situations. The killers often take their own lives, before law enforcement officers can apprehend them.

I say it was an almost perfectly committed crime because it was impossible to stop. There is no way that I or any number of concealed carry holders could have done a thing to stop the shooter. The distance was just too great. He had planned the crime in such a way that he was able to have the maximum impact in the least amount of time, while preventing anyone from being able to do a thing to stop him. He was even prepared for police intervention, with cameras showing him what was happening in the hallway outside his room.

The nature of this event was much more like a terrorist incident, than it was your typical mass shooting, even thought there were many things in common with other mass shootings. As such, defending against it would be more akin to defending against a terrorist attack, than anything else. In such a case, facing off against a shooter or shooters with rifles, who hold the advantage of firepower and range.

So, how do you deal with such a situation, preventing yourself from becoming a victim?

Avoid Targets

The absolute best way to avoid being a victim of any sort of terrorist event or mass shooting is to avoid places where they are likely to happen. That means avoiding crowds, as both terrorists and mass murderers look for crowds of people they can attack. They want a target-rich environment, so that they can kill the most people possible.

The other place to avoid is gun-free zones. A high percentage of mass shootings happen in gun free zones, as the criminals know that there is much less likelihood for them to run up against any opposition in those places.


If you are going to be anywhere that might become a target to the bad guys, you need to be ready. That means planning ahead. In other words, planning what you would do, if an active shooter situation were to occur. This needs to become a habit, one that you constantly do, wherever you go.

There are three parts to this planning:

  • Deciding what action you could take to counter a shooter, if they enter the place while you are there
  • Identifying all the exits and the routes to get to them
  • Identify items that you can use for real cover, rather than just concealment

While you may decide to engage the shooter and protect others, you need to remember that your prime responsibility is to take care of yourself and your family. That may be better accomplished by leaving, than by staying and shooting it out, especially if you find yourself in a place where you are facing off against someone with a rifle, when you are only armed with a pistol.


One of the things that shooters are counting on is the element of surprise, so it’s important to your survival to prevent them from having it. The only way that you can do this is to remain alert; staying is what is known as “condition yellow.” This means constantly looking around for potential threats.

It is much easier to move and take action when you are in condition yellow, than it is to take action from condition white, unaware of what is going on around you. One of the reasons why this transition is easier, is that you are giving yourself a head-start on the transition, by thinking of things or people as being potential threats. The other is that you will identify the danger much faster than others will.

You need to act immediately, as soon as you see the risk begin to manifest. Normally, that will be seeing the shooter pull a gun. In the case of a situation like what happened in Las Vegas, it would be from the first sound of shooting. Either way, it is better to move and find that you made that decision prematurely, than it is to not move and end up a victim.

How you react, will of course depend on the actual situation you find yourself in. If you are like me, your first inclination will be to draw your gun. Don’t do it. Keep your gun concealed as long as possible. That way, when you do draw it, you can surprise the shooter. Drawing a gun could just make you into a target, either from the shooter or from the crowd, who might mistake you as being the shooter.

Rather than drawing your gun, your first action should be positional; either moving to cover, moving towards an exit, or moving yourself into position to engage the shooter. Making that decision quickly will be the most critical part of your reaction. Even so, take a moment to make sure that you are making the right decision.

Whatever you do, don’t follow the herd, no matter how much you might be tempted to do so. In joining the herd, you merely put yourself in the target zone. Go in a direction where there are few people, so that you aren’t as attractive a target.

And like always, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Chris and Dr. Rich

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