How Not To Be Mistaken As A Gunman During A Mass Shooting
It’s been over 15 years since the Columbine Massacre, and subsequently there has been an epidemic of mass shootings. Let’s face it, these numerous tragedies have caused many people to think twice about being unprotected in an unforeseen circumstance alike.
In the latest mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, there was at least one concealed carry holder present. As ideal it was to be a protected concealed carrier, school officials advised the concealed carrier to not go within at least 200 yards of heard shots being fired. Their reasoning, law enforcement falsely identifying the concealed carrying individual from the hostile shooter. Do you think they were right or had a valid point? Do you think that the law enforcement officers could have wrongly ID’d the concealed carrier and opened in friendly fire? To our understanding, such incident hasn’t occurred yet.
In the Umpqua Community College case, it took law enforcement all of five minutes to locate the shooter. The shooter, realizing he was facing other armed people and not just unarmed bystanders, quickly chose the easy way out and shot himself.
This incident sounds all too familiar. Just like all of the other mass shootings, there is a clear pattern.
1. A coward with a gun opens fire.
2. Coward runs into first armed resistance (law enforcement officer or otherwise).
3. Retreats if possible or takes his own life.
In very rare circumstances, like the Colorado movie theatre shooting, the shooter was captured alive, but that generally is not the norm.
As concealed carriers, we have to take into consideration many factors before engaging shooters. The moment an active shooting situation occurs; it is now a combat zone. Throw away every preconceived notion on what movies say how a ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ should act. Instead, focus on the following:
1. Secure Your Area
When you hear gun shots, your first job is to secure shelter and adequate cover. Unless the shots are extremely close, then it’s almost impossible to correctly identify the potential shooter. If other people are around you, get them to do the same. If they want to bolt, that’s their decision and you are not responsible for their lives. In this situation you are responsible for your own life. Duck down and take cover, and help protect those who are willing to listen. The rest is a waiting game.
2. ID Yourself Immediately to The Police
If in this situation as a concealed carrier, be aware that law enforcement will be combing the premises from top-to-bottom. Let them know as soon as possible that you are a concealed carry permit holder and that you are carrying a concealed gun. Otherwise, if they spot you with a gun, most good police officers will issue you a very stern and not so nice warning to drop the gun.
3. Comply Without Hesitation
As we mentioned briefly in number two, if you see them before they spot you, call out loud and let it be known that you are a concealed carrier. At this point they will most likely tell you to get to the ground alongside the other innocent bystanders while they break off to verify your status. Don’t assume they want your help, they are highly trained officers and don’t need help from a greenhorn wannabe.
4. Give Up Your Intel
If you think you have spotted the shooter, tell law enforcement around you immediately. Even while a police officer is frisking you, with your face planted in the pavement, remember he is just as nervous as you. Try to remember this – concise, clean, no speculation. Be to the point, report only what you’ve observed and nothing more.
By the time law enforcement reaches you, they will only be detaining you until they can ID you are not the active shooter and legally you are in the clear, i.e. you were supposed to be on campus that day for some reason, class etc. How you present yourself will have a huge effect in ensuring they believe you’re not a prime suspect or a problem. Federal and State law has the ultimate jurisdiction on that.
Now, it’s time to talk about what everyone fears, the scenario of being in fighting range of an active shooter. This is not an easy topic, but it must be discussed, after all, it could help save your life.
5. Know where all of your bullets are going
After everyone is out of danger and the shooter is caught, there will be a massive police investigation in place. Try to remember, even though it is easier said than done, to account for every bullet that has left your chamber. I know, you will be very nervous, heart pounding out of your chest and your hands shaking like a leaf in a windstorm. There will most likely be people running around and you need to make sure you are applying the fundamental principles of firearm safety. It may eve mean not taking any shots and innocent lives being lost as a potential result.
You have to realize that if you decide to open fire and bullets stray, striking innocent bystanders, you are now indistinguishable from the active shooter. You are now unintentionally as much a threat as the moron out on a shooting rampage.
Instead of allowing this to happen, give yourself the best possible advantage and prepare. First, take cove and use a supported firing position to ensure your bullets have the best chance of getting on target. Second, don’t pull your trigger until you’re sure. Third, make sure you know what’s in front of and directly behind your target. And lastly, don’t aim at anything you do not intend to destroy.
If it comes to the point where you have beat law enforcement to the active scene and are able to disable the shooter, do not assume he is dead because he is not responding and hit to the ground. Keep him in your clear view and constantly yell out…
“I am a concealed carrier. Do not shoot”
Again do not approach the shooter, because when law enforcement arrives, they will do the hard work of advancing on him. You are not trained to advance on a criminal with a deadly weapon. Remember, even though he is down and looks dead, he may not be dead. While waiting for law enforcement to arrive, scan your situation in the meantime, and make sure there are no other shooters active in the area. Then, go back through those 4 steps working your way down until law enforcement takes over.