When Robert and I began writing this blog, there seemed to be a spate of events that prompted me to write about how to approach and deal with the active shooter. I wrote less and less about them as I began to sound like a broken record. Unfortunately, not much has changed. Whether the threat comes from Islamist Jihad, political extremes, or simple mental derangement, the lone wolf terror attacks that are becoming more and more prevalent in our society are a stymieing problem to confront. As I wrote in my commentary on the Ariana Grande concert attack, you have to live your life. To do otherwise is to be defeated by the forces of evil. Some things can be prepared for. Others are a matter of fate and chance. Let’s think about what is under our control.
Before I write further, I want to express our condolences to the victims and families affected by recent tragedies. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and the emergency services that responded to the scenes. For them, there will be little peace or comfort in the facts that eventually come to light.
In looking at tenets to live by, I’m going to briefly look at the two most recent active shooter events that I’ve seen in the news. While Las Vegas is the obvious elephant in the room, let us not forget the church shooting in Antioch, TN last week. Yet again, a place of worship came under attack from a gunman. The headlines were short lived, because he was stopped by someone who courageously fought back, even when wounded. I applaud him for that, but would it not have been better if he had been armed from the outset rather than having to retrieve his legally owned and permitted gun from his car? Therefore, the first tenet is to always carry your gun if you are legally permitted to do so.
The second tenet from the church shooting is more important, and was clearly illustrated in the incident. Fight back! Always fight back! An unarmed man who was at the right place at the right time was able to turn the tide of events with initially unarmed resistance against a gunman.
The third tenet has been repeated often in articles here on the blog and elsewhere. Carry some sort of medical gear to staunch traumatic blood loss and know how to use it. If you are ever involved in a “mass shooting” scenario, you will by default be a first responder and will be immediately responsible for care of the wounded, whether it’s yourself, a loved one, or an innocent bystander.
Now, let’s look at what little we know about the most recent attack in Las Vegas. This incident has a decidedly different feeling associated with it simply due to the scale and tactics employed. As an armed citizen, you can potentially resist and target a lone gunman attacking your workplace or house of worship. What we witnessed in Las Vegas was profoundly different, with very few good options. Running is a viable strategy, as is seeking cover from incoming fire. I wouldn’t want to get pinned down by my choice of cover, but obviously circumstances would dictate. To my mind, shooting back, even if you were armed in such a scenario, is fallacy at best for any number of reasons.
Anytime you are going to a large public venue, you should identify your closest exits (or potential exits) and likely patterns of crowd movement. If you are part of a group, establish rendezvous points and alternate means of communication. Teach your family the merits of PACE planning (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency), and apply it to more than communications.
If nothing else, carry a flashlight and a pocket medical kit. Even where weapons are prohibited, these two items may give significant advantage and can be carried almost anywhere unobtrusively. Know how to use both effectively.
Avoid normalcy bias. Some 20 seconds of gunfire happened before the crowd realized that it wasn’t fireworks. Entire books have been written about this phenomenon. Study it well.
I want to end this post by looking at Las Vegas through the lens of Mike Pannone’s “Avoid, Evade, Defend.” Avoidance isn’t really an option unless you just completely eschew public venues. As I noted in the first paragraph above, that is no way to live life. Evasion is the best option available once you realize what is happening. Quickly escape the area, seek out cover as you do so, and aid and assist those that you are able to and feel morally obligated to. As far as defending, I don’t really see any way to do that in a situation like the Las Vegas attack. Tragically, the gunman was a good planner with deadly tactics. He had the advantages of firepower, distance, surprise, concealment, and elevation. I don’t know any way to combat that unless you’re in the stack on the other side of the hotel room door.
As heartbreaking as it is to watch and listen to the footage of the attack, take solace that many, many members of the crowd helped others by rendering immediate aid and evacuating the injured. I cannot help but think of the song lyric “… a country boy can survive.”
Also encouraging is the current administration’s refusal to address gun control, instead properly mourning the tragic loss of life and limb in this heinous attack and blaming a deranged and evil lunatic instead of inanimate objects.
With that, I will leave our readers with this. Prepare your heart, your mind, and your body. Become knowledgeable and skilled in as many areas as you can. Fight evil, wherever it may find you. Hug your kids, kiss your spouse, and make sure they know they are loved. Above all else, remain vigilant. This fight is long from over, and it will only be won with hard work and dedication.
Momento Mori, October 2, 2017