Frankie, owner of 37 PSR Gun Club, during a house clearing class.
So, today, I am actually taking a step back, turning off my comedic side, and getting serious about this topic. In light of unfortunate recent events, such as active shooters, Paris, and the the California terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of many, I have seen and heard of a good number of people that are getting “active shooter kits” or ASK for short. I do promote being prepared, I was a Boy Scout for 15 years, I live in a state that is smack dab in the middle of hurricane territory, and I am an NRA Certified Instructor that teaches Concealed Weapons Classes in Florida. So naturally being prepared is second nature to me, and before I get too deep into this topic, yes I do have an ASK.
My job is one that I am on the streets 12 hours a night, responding to calls for service, and so on. No I am not a police officer, I work for private police and security department, where we primarily work multi-family housing, also known as apartments. We basically take the pressure off of the local PD as our city is so far understaffed on sworn officers that it isn’t funny, specially with that department is the only one for the city and county. Yea, our local police double as city police and county sheriff. We have approximately 1700 sworn patrol officers for just under 1 million residents, yet only half of the officers are working at a given time, you know, so that they can have days off. Therefore any help that we can provide is greatly appreciated by them. And to set the record straight, we aren’t Joe Blows, or Paul Blarts. To work for my company, it requires prior LE, state LE certs (police academy), prior military, state department contractors etc. so yea, we are far from the Barney Fifes who shouldn’t even have a gun out there.
Now I say that to say this, unless you are a first responder, the chances of you being with your ASK are very slim, and by being with the ASK, I mean on your person, or next to you. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be prepared, as that is something that you should always be. I’m simply saying, that if you are in a location that is victim to a mass shooting, terrorist attack, or a mass casualty situation where you need an ASK, by time that you go to where ever it is stored, and get back into the action, either the shooter will have killed him/herself, or been killed by someone else, or the police will start pouring into the scene. This also presents another valid point to the equations. When police arrive, they will be looking for the shooter, and unless you are off duty law enforcement with proper ID panels on your armor, or are wearing something that designates you as a good guy, you run a 99.9% chance of being engaged by responding officers.
The best plan for a course of action for being involved with an active shooter situation, is to be prepared with what is on your persons if or when the shooting starts. Running out to your vehicle through the crowd of people running away as well, plus fighting the current when coming back into the area makes an ASK anywhere other than on your person, a waste of time. Even on my days off where I am not with my ASK, I carry extra items on me just in case I run into an active shooter or mass casualty (mass cal) situation. I always always always carry my Glock 9mm on me, could be my duty gun, a Glock 17, or my off duty gun Glock 19. I always have at least 3 spare 17 round mags to go with that Glock. I always have a small pocket sized personal med kit in my pockets, and a pair of handcuffs. The last thing I do, is I minimize my time in the areas that are most common for a mass cal, and for the time I am there I watch the people around me (old job habit). This is where you as a non first responder can come into play as well. If something pops off, you can either be in the starting area, not close enough to engage, or be completely outside. In a mall, I would not engage the shooter unless you have a perfectly clear uninterrupted sight picture, which means that there are no people running between you and the shooter. Other than that, get as many people near you into a store, tell the store associates to close the mall access gate, and get all those people into the back of the store, or even to the main exit from that store, and yes all mall stores have a rear exit door. During this time, try to get a head count if possible, collect as much data that you can, from the sound of the gun, whether it be a rifle, pistol, shotgun etc, the general location of those shots, and if possible, what the shooter looks like and last known location. Now, 911 will be flooded with calls about the shooting, so if you do not have any useful information, such as shooter description, or shooter location do NOT call 911 unless you cannot exit the building and get outside. If that is the case, call the non emergency number, advise them that you and x amount of people are in a store (give stores name), and that y’all are in the back of the store with the main gate closed, and that y’all will be there until advised further notice or advisory. At this point, it will be your job to act as a leader to those people, to try to calm them from their panicked state, and to keep them as quiet as possible. I suggest doing this by just talking to them, about anything not related to their family, or the mall. “So how about them Seminoles?” This will help keep their mind off the situation at hand, even if for a few minutes. Now, here is the catch 22 to being in a store where for some reason, your exit at the rear of the store id blocked. If the shooter comes to your store, and can hear people in the back, he / she will want to gain entry to the store. Therefore keeping the people around you as quiet as possible is key. Of course this is easier said than done. Try your best to get out of the building as fast and efficiently possible. If the shooter makes entry into your store, and you can safely engage the shooter with your firearm, then doing such or not doing such is your choice.
Once the shooter is down, and police start a secondary search and scene safety assessment, they will begin to look for people who are experiencing trauma, then once those are taken care of, will go store to store looking for others. If you are still stuck in the building when the secondary search begins, upon first contact with the police raise your hands up high, state that you are the caller for x amount of people at this store, and have the store associates open the gate. Be sure that the others have their hands up high and not to do any quick suspicious movements with their hands. This will help show the police that y’all are not connected with the shooter, and trust me, they will appreciate that. Do not be surprised if they still cuff all of y’all until they can prove that y’all are not suspects. This is a department to department SOP (standard operating procedures). Some departments will require that all persons in a hostage situation, or even mass cal, be detained until they can prove that they are not involved with the shooter. This is simply done to prevent a secondary mass cal or hostage event.
It breaks my heart that I had to write this article, but I wrote it to give the readers the upper hand for when the stuff hits the fan. I have seen first hand what happens when you aren’t prepared for tragedy. Sadly in today’s world, where life doesn’t have the same meaning that it used to have, you need to be ready for if or when the time comes that you have to step into the leadership role and save lives.