Dear Fellow Survivalist;
As someone who has carried concealed for several years, I have made it a habit to think through potential active shooter scenarios wherever I go. I don’t want to be in a place and have someone start the ball, without having an idea of how I’m going to dance. That’s especially true in a crowded place, where there are a lot of innocent people who can get hurt.
While there are many variants on it, one of the scariest scenarios for an active shooter is in a crowded room. Many of the mass shootings which have happened have been in such places. Not only does that make a target-rich environment for the shooter, but it makes it much harder for anyone who is carrying to defend themselves and others. There is always the chance of hitting an innocent bystander, something we should always be aware of and cautious of.
But the innocent bystanders I am most concerned about are my own family. If I have to draw my sidearm to protect them, I don’t want to be distracted by having to look to see where they are. Not only do I want them out of my line of fire; but I want them out of the shooter’s line of fire as well. So, I’ve taught them what to do in such a situation.
Please, note that they have been taught to take these actions on their own, without any prompt from me. I hope to be able to tell them to seek cover, but none of us know exactly how an active shooting situation is going to play out. Our first warning could be the first shot, even if we have our situational awareness on high. If that’s the case, they need to react to that shot, not wait for me to tell them what to do.
The first and best thing that anyone should do, to get out of the line of fire, is to seek out and hide behind something that provides cover. That will probably be hard to find, as there really aren’t many things in our stores and restaurants which can stop a bullet. But if they can find a column or a concrete planter to hide behind, chances are pretty good that they’ll be safe.
If they can’t find cover, I’ve taught my family that the next best thing is to seek out something that will provide them with concealment. While this won’t stop any stray bullets, it will prevent them from being specifically targeted, as the bad guys won’t be able to see them. While an imperfect solution to the problem, this offers some level of protection.
The nice thing about concealment is that it exists just about everywhere. Just getting behind a clothes rack or hiding on the floor in a restaurant booth can provide concealment. Granted, it may not remain concealment if the shooter moves, so it’s important to teach your family to keep track of the shooter and move, if necessary to maintain their cover.
The third option is to get out of there. While that might seem like the best possible option, it carries a lot of risk with it. Unless you and your family happen to be right by the door when the shooter opens fire, chances are they would have to cross an open area, where they are easily targeted, on the way to the door. If the shooter is trying to rack up a score, they might specifically target people heading towards the door, in an effort to try and keep them from escaping.
On the flip side of that argument, if they have to travel crosswise to the shooter’s line of fire to get to that door, they will be poor targets. Most people can’t hit a target moving crosswise to their line of fire. That’s not a chance I’d personally like to take, but some situations might warrant it.
If there is no other option that looks good, then I’ve taught my family to hit the floor, making themselves as small a target as possible. While this is far from ideal, it does put them below the sight line of the shooter. If they are suffering from tunnel vision at all, it will mean that they may not see my family. If not, it will put them below the firing line of any stray bullets. Either way, it’s clearly better than restaurant seat or standing in a store.
By following these four steps, my family increases their chance of survival, while freeing me up from having to be concerned about where they are and what they are doing. More than anything, it gives them a plan of action, so that they can keep themselves from becoming targets and prevent them from running across my sight line, reducing my ability to deal with the shooter. I’d recommend teaching the same four steps to your family, talking them through what they would actually do in an active shooter situation, in a variety of different scenarios. And as always, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.