Are You Tactically, Mentally, And Physically Ready To Face An Active Shooter?

This blog is nothing if not original. It goes from my writing process, to answering the sex questions about my book, to personal stories about my time as a cop.

Now it's time to tell you all how to respond to an active shooter. Thank you 24-hour-for-profit news programs.

I get asked this a lot from friends and families. I even wrote a piece about how teachers need to be tactically, mentally, and physically prepared. If you don't think you need to be, I'd tell you this: The police arrived on scene at Sandy Hook Elementary school in just over four minutes after they received the 911 call. As they were entering the building they heard Adam Lanza's final shot, which was with a pistol that he used to commit suicide. Before that final shot he was able to fire 156 times with an assault rifle, killing mostly first graders.

156 times.

And the police were driving as fast as they could, and sprinting into the building.

156 times.

The next time you are at the mall, or maybe the movie theatre, or even a doctors office remember that number. If a deranged person comes in there with enough re-load capability and some pretty basic training he can probably get 156 rounds off before the cops arrive.

Personally, I don't like those odds.

As an firearm, and general instructor at the Sheriffs Office I work at, and in the occasional police academy class, I teach everything from what I call the tactically, mentally, and physically triangle. Each part has its own equal side. As cops, we have to have all three. If I'm in great shape and mentally prepared to face an active shooter but have horrible tactics and can't shoot straight, I'm not any good. If you have amazing tactics and an expert marksmen, but are so out of shape you can't run in to face the threat, well, you get the point.  All three are vital. 

That's no different than everyone else out there, either, because like I said before, you have to be ready to handle 156 shots and four minutes before I get there. It's different for the average citizen, but the principals remain the same.

Tactically: I'm not suggesting you learn how to cut the pie when clearing corners or getting through the fatal funnel, but you need some basic tactics. If you hear a threat you need to get moving, and moving fast. You need to be aware of your surroundings and where the exits are.  You need to know the difference between cover and concealment. Cover-brick or cinderblock walls, engine blocks of cars, big trees, anything that stops bullets. Concealment- drywall, most doors, bushes, stuff that just hides you. And you need to know some basic first aid and how to tie off a tourniquet. Tourniquets are the big thing now, and lots of cops are carrying them. We take this lesson from the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. A boot string, a belt, a piece of cloth can be a tourniquet. Lastly, I'd say if you are carrying a handgun, by all means don't be one of these idiots that carry it openly. Conceal it; you don't want anyone to know you have it, and if an active shooter begins engaging targets, know your abilities. Those poor cops in Dallas that were going up against that jerk last week didn't have a chance with handguns. Either way, keep it concealed if you carry one, and only break it out when you are ready to use it.

Physically: The thing about the everyday citizen being ready physically is that we are all different with various degrees of physical capabilities. And you need to know where you are personally. Can you sprint? When was the last time you just flat out ran with all you had in you? Probably when you were a kid. Adrenaline is going to be your biggest ally, but trust me-I've experienced more adrenaline dumps than most people ever will- it will leave as quickly as it gets there. (and I always get a killer headache after) If you have kids, can you carry them? Can they run with you? What about your spouse? Can you carry him or her if they are shot? The point is that you all need to know your physical capabilities. This is going to sound harsh, but if you know you can't carry the person that is slowly dying, but you can sprint to the closest exit and save yourself? Well, that's a decision you are going to have make and live with.

Mentally: Probably the most important aspect for citizens, and the least important for law enforcement. As law enforcement we've already taken an oath, prepared for it, and are ready to face an active shooter. As a citizen, you've probably never put yourself in that position. But you need to. What are you going to do? If you run, which you should, are you going to stop and help injured on the way? What if you see a kid whose mom left him in the mall? If you are by yourself are you going to help that kid? What if you have your kids with you? These are all questions that you need to have answered within yourself before it happens. And, if you can't run, what are you going to do then? Are you going to fight?

Police Departments are slowly getting away from teaching schools to lock down in place to getting teachers to move and, if cornered to fight. Like most things, police departments are slow in evolving. But, in my opinion, it's time we fought. Anything can be a weapon. Chairs, coffee pots, hot coffee is even better, pens, a belt, a shoe, a purse, a light bulb, a glass, they can all be weapons. And I don't know about you, but if comes down to that and my daughters safety, I'm going to use every weapon I have at my disposal.

I guess the question is, will you be ready to use a weapon to protect the ones you love? I hope you never have to make that decision. But, if you do, I hope you are mentally prepared to fight like hell.

Maybe, just maybe, if we start fighting against these idiots, they might think twice.

This is just my opinion on all these active shooter events. But, if you have some basic tactics, know your physical abilities, and are mentally prepared than you are more prepared than most. In my opinion, that is a better place to be.

My dad was born in January of 1941. I always call and wish him a happy birthday, and he usually responds with, "It's better than the alternative." When it comes to active shooter events, I would rather be fighting than the alternative.

On another note the book sold a few copies this week. And that is beyond cool. I even got my first review. It wasn't the best review, but it was a review nonetheless. She gave me one out of four stars. I was kind of upset at first. But then I realized something.

My book got reviewed and I didn't pay for it. The book business doesn't really do that very often. That means I've sold enough to get a review. And you know what, that is pretty freaking cool.