The Active Shooter — One Retired Cop’s Perspective

Shooting a handgun through a car windshield

The active shooter or spree shooter has been a recurring problem that is all too common today. More than 100 years ago, events in Brunswick, Georgia, (the Brunswick Massacre) were a harbinger of things to come, and recently, tragic events were repeated near the original event in Georgia. Monroe Phillips, the original perpetrator, targeted those he felt had wronged him. He killed five to seven, depending on period reports, and wounded many more.

Editor’s note: This is this one expert’s “perspective” and his own opinion, offered as such.

Definition of an Active Shooter

Government and military agencies agree on the definition of an active shooter. According to the FBI, the active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Schools, malls and neighborhoods are common targets.

Others simply kill for the pleasure of causing human pain and suffering. Whether a targeted event or a random event, the rampage of an active shooter is a deadly problem. Often the shooter has had months to prepare and arm with appropriate gear for this brand of mayhem. You must respond with what you have on hand.

Active-shooter incidents are fast moving and seldom involve other crimes or hostage taking. There is no reasoning with the shooter. He cannot be expected to stop shooting or drop his firearm even when faced with overwhelming odds. While some are driven for political or religious goals, many are psychotic. All are bent upon taking lives. While we must prepare to identify, stop and engage active shooters, predicting their appearance is difficult to impossible.

There are underlying causes of many of the active shootings. As an example, as long as churches continue to offer domestic counseling, attempt to dissuade people from drug use and aid battered women—all good work—there will be church shooters from those who resent the church lifting the individuals from the bonds of drugs or psychological slavery. Demented individuals will continue to attack those who achieved what they cannot.

After the first active-shooter incident that gained great notoriety, the infamous Texas Tower incident, the local police chief said everything relied upon “individual initiative.” Charles Whitman killed 14 people and wounded dozens before being stopped by a combination of the efforts of police and civilians. This is in contrast to the early debacles seen when SWAT teams alone were relied upon to address the problem of an active shooter.

Originally developed to counter such incidents, SWAT was used by agencies more and more often to serve felony warrants and fight gangs—and this is a good utilization of such well-trained, well-armed officers. However, the tactics used in felony warrant service and addressing barricaded individuals did not work well when applied to active shooters. Arriving at the scene, assembling the teams, collecting intelligence, assessing the threat and finally assaulting the building did not work well.

Shooting a handgun through a car windshield
Service-grade handguns and loads may prove effective against active shooters. Pocket guns and calibers may prove more difficult under certain conditions.

Columbine was one such example of people dying while a police response was anticipating a hostage-style incident. News footage from the scene has shown officers surrounding buildings and pointing their firearms at the building. Unfortunately, such tactics ensured that the primary police function will be counting bodies after the killing was done.

Tactics evolved, but unforeseen problems still dogged police response. At Virginia Tech, the first officers arrived in three minutes and immediately headed toward the sounds of gunfire—an excellent response by any standard. (University, state, and local units responded.) Since the killer used two firearms of different calibers, there was an assumption that there were two shooters. These officers, a combination of patrol and SWAT-trained officers, were met with chained and padlocked doors. However, they were able to use a shotgun to enter the building.

Teams entering opposite ends of the building cleared the structure quickly and began transporting wounded victims using the diamond formation, moving with guns drawn. The carnage seemed to indicate more than one gunman as the officers pressed on. Cho, the killer, had used chains to padlock the doors. He was prepared. Sometimes you do everything right with bold initiative and lose. As the officers closed in, Cho killed himself. Was he aware of the officers closing in? He had more than 150 rounds left; no one will ever know for certain.

When individual initiative is stressed, the police response is rapid. This occurred at Virginia Tech, after the Aurora shooting and also after the Newtown massacre. When the individual police are motivated and trained to respond quickly, the chances of stopping an active shooter are much higher. When confronted by police or simply aware of the arrival of the police, many killers stop shooting. Many kill themselves at the end of the spree. That is why a rapid response is so important in preventing innocent deaths. The recent response and reaction from police in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as an example, were exemplarily.

The Walk of Death

In 1949, Howard Unruh went on what became known as the Walk of Death. Leaving his home, he walked through the neighborhood and to downtown Camden, New Jersey, killing 13 people with a German Luger. He returned home and was involved in a standoff until he surrendered. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he was sentenced to life in a mental hospital. He told psychiatrists, “I would have killed a thousand if I had more bullets.” Never assume that you may negotiate or deter such a warped individual. Yet, when the police asked if he was crazy, he replied, “I have a good mind.”

Active-shooter events cannot be predicted. Even when a high alert is in focus, the date, time and location cannot be foreseen. As an example, a few months ago the Pretty Girl and I visited France. We could not have known that as we flew across the Atlantic, a series of events resulted in grave threats against our first ally. The French president, undeterred, flooded the streets with paratroopers. The police presence in Paris, already strong, was evident, and highly trained motorcycle officers, able to respond quickly, were much in evidence.

When unarmed and traveling, what is the correct response to an active shooter? There is only one: Take cover, run, dart, dodge, and attempt to shield yourself. In a city with many pockmarked walls, I understand this well. (President Charles DeGaulle held the record for the most assassination attempts—more than 30—including one in which over 100 cartridges were fired.) Unless you are skilled in hand-to-hand combat and very close, your chances of disarming an active shooter are slim (the malnourished and lazy active shooter, maybe; a hardened and trained terrorist, you had best have good skills).

If you can legally carry a knife and have training, the odds go up in your favor. This isn’t an easy stroll or a creek easily leapt over. You have the ability to affect the outcome of such an event if you act quickly and decisively. If you are armed, all the better.

Foreign Actions Worth Studying

1980: The commanding officer of the SAS troops who led the siege on the Iranian embassy in London reportedly would not proceed unless he was guaranteed his men would not be prosecuted for any outcome of the assault. Some years after the Iranian embassy operation, an SAS operator with 23 years service made a very appropriate comment: “Some of you don’t understand it’s not about the terrorists. They are a byproduct of the main objective, and that is to rescue the hostages.”

1986: Attorney General Patrick Mayhew stated that no charges would be brought against those involved in several shooting incidents in Ireland, although some of the shootings seemed “questionable.” He cited national security.

1989: The SAS ran to ground and shot dead three members of the Irish Republican army on Gibraltar.

The Terrorist Threat

When soldiers are forced into a law enforcement role, and peace officers are forced to engage in military-type operations, confusion occurs and concern is evident. During the past few decades, many have expressed concern over the militarism of police forces. By the same token, unrealistic restraints and limiting rules of engagement have resulted in needless casualties among our servicemen. Part of the rationale behind this report is to provoke debate and response. I don’t have all the answers, but I have no illusions concerning the adversary we face.

Police Officer aiming a Glock pistol with a red barn in the background
Police response to an active shooter has been excellent in many cases. Individual action is vital. Team response is a viable resource against barricaded gunmen.

While various elements in our own country are conspiring to undermine the war effort, one fact remains clear. We can fight them over there, or we can fight them in our homes, schools and places of business. If we do not engage the enemy overseas, he will engage us here. He has already engaged our European allies and us here at home.

The first wave of terrorism involved gunfire. It can happen here and has happened at Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Texas, and San Bernardino. We have our own active-shooter problem. The adversary we face is the same adversary who attacked schools in Israel and threw young children from the rooftops. They attacked a school in Russian and inflicted dozens of deaths. While bombs and airliners have been their weapons of choice, terrorists are no strangers to gunfire.

It has been widely reported that elements of one of the recent terror plots intended to use SKS rifles to attack Fort Dix. While there are better rifles, the SKS would be quite effective against unarmed people. The ongoing battle we face involves not only radical Islamic terrorists but also the support of other radicals by enemies of the republic.

During the Wounded Knee incident a generation ago, the American Indian Movement was supplied with AK-47 rifles supplied from Libya and smuggled into the country. The Baeder Meinhoff gang in Germany was supplied with the Tokegypt, a 9mm Tokarev manufactured in Egypt. Most of the terrorists of the first wave, as it is called, including the Venezuelan-born Carlos “the Jackal” Ramirez, were supported by the Soviet Union and armed with Soviet weapons.

Today, terrorists are trained differently. As an example, during the OPEC raid a member of Carlos’ band was wounded. He cried and complained to Gaddaffi so bitterly; Gaddaffi gave him a $100,000 bonus. Today’s terrorists are more likely to be suicide attackers. An option they have used in the past includes setting fire to a school to cause the children to be evacuated, then driving by, shooting the children.

Man taking cover with a handgun behind Ford pickup
Taking cover and firing accurately are the best tactics against an active shooter.

The perversity, depravity, and viciousness of our enemy are unprecedented in warfare. Terrorism by definition is the use of violence to bring about political change. But our enemy does not wish to achieve a political end. He wishes the destruction of both America and Israel. Still, terrorist is a fit description, and its negative conations are suitable.

What is our outlook? Many of our public buildings (including auditoriums, schools and churches) are open as a sieve. There is sometimes a restriction of access to a single point. These check-in points are the obvious front line of defense, but the security officers at these points are unarmed. It is at these points where a terror attack may be stopped by immediate action.

It is important to note that immediate-action drills are of the same type used to interdict an active shooter. American peace officers, like American soldiers, are recognized as the best in the world. They have a clear problem: Their training is the best, but is it relevant to the present situation? American cops are trained to take violent offenders alive when possible. We hold offenders at gunpoint and give them a chance to live. The degree of difference between allowing a bank robber to escape and allowing a terrorist to escape is a great measure. Terrorists must be shot and killed immediately upon identification.

Attempting to take a gun-wielding terrorist into custody will result in an opportunity for the terrorists to kill the officer. Terrorists seldom work alone. And how do you take a suicide bomber into custody? A reluctance to use deadly force is seen as a weakness that terrorists will exploit. A terrorist is more than a criminal. He is an enemy of the republic. He may be a citizen, as Islamic terrorists are actively recruiting in America, particularly in our prisons. Potential terrorists exist in the ranks of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class. Already, gang members in Chicago have accepted money to promote terrorists acts. The FBI thwarted that event years before 9/11.

French Paras walking down crowded street
The author enjoyed a good vacation and security supplied by the French Paras. Such a proactive response limits the chance of a successful attack.

It is simply not possible or tactically sound to issue any type of warning when confronted with a terrorist. The only response must be immediate lethal force. The officer or civilian on the spot must have his tactics down solid and his head on straight.

“The main difficulty is to fire accurately when your first impulse is to bring everything you have to bear immediately.” ~Benjamin Netanyahu

Dealing With the Threat

Any personal defense shooting is divided into several parts. The first is realization. You know what is going on; you know that you or someone else is under attack. Second is the reaction. This part of the drill includes target identification. Next comes target engagement: firing at the threat and firing until the threat ceases to be one.

The sound of gunfire is the first warning. Seldom is the armed individual spotted before he opens fire. This is a difficult situation to imagine; a heavily armed shooter is going berserk and killing people with no regard for their lives, and most of the time he is on a suicide mission. The details are horrific. The average shooting of this type lasts less than 15 minutes. (Protracted events such as Columbine are more rare and outside the norm.)

Many have duration of only five to 10 minutes. Police response time has improved greatly, with the majority of incidents now encountering some type of police response, but it depends on the area. Since large groups of people are the target, most often police are nearby in urban areas. Just the same the damage is done in a few moments. Each second can mean a life.

Many times, brave individuals have faced active shooters unarmed and paid the ultimate price but saved lives in the process. If possible, you should attempt to use cover to get yourself into a position that allows you to disable the threat. And we do not mean a punch or kick as commonly taught in personal defense but a blow that disables. A chair to the cranium, a heavy tool to the forehead or a knife through the throat is what is needed. Anything less than what is needed to neutralize a deadly threat is a poor joke.

Shooter addressing multiple targets
Politically motivated shooters work in teams. Practice addressing multiple targets can be a lifesaver.

Whether or not you are armed, the first thing you must do is to find cover. You cannot aid others if you are shot. A drawn gun may well bring friendly fire upon the shooter. You do not wish to become a target before you have identified the shooter. So, find cover. Then work yourself into a position that provides an advantage over the shooter (height is an advantage, if possible).

Cover and Concealment

Cover is anything that will stop a bullet. This can be a vehicle. A large utility pole will stop most any bullet save fire from a very powerful rifle or machine gun. Many barriers and walls are proof against handgun and shotgun fire. Concealment is less effective. A rack of clothes will conceal your person but will not stop a .308 rifle bullet. Know the difference, and plan for such scenarios.

When firing, it is always best to approach from the side or flank. Range training may have taught you to face a target that is squared to you. Disregard this. If possible, get into a position in which you are able to fire from the side. This will limit the threat’s ability to quickly address your threat to him. He may not see it coming. Fire for center of mass, and fire until the threat is no longer a threat. (Center of mass is not the area between the shoulders but the center of the target you are presented. Be it the whole body, only a shoulder or a foot, aim for the center to the target.)

If the threat is squared to you, you may have to fire with the threat facing you. If you are firing at the threat and he is reacting to you, you may have saved many lives by making him stop firing. For this reason, I recommend taking a shot, even a long shot, if there is a chance of connecting as long as you are certain you will not strike an innocent person. If the threat is hit, he may be disabled. Most active shooters have little heart for facing a determined and armed individual. They will stop firing, retreat, or often enough, shoot himself rather than be captured. In these cases, the response you have given is successful.

Bob Campbell holding a .30 caliber Mini-14
An individual armed with a “truck gun” such as a .30-caliber carbine can make a difference between life and death for many.

Are You Armed or Half Armed?

A person armed with a small-caliber handgun is in the unfortunate situation of being armed with a deadly weapon but unable to defend himself well. Many active shooters carry their ammunition and spare magazines in some type of web gear. Adequate penetration is demanded. A 9mm Luger +P load such as the Black Hills Ammunition 124-grain JHP is a reasonable choice. The .38 Special 125-grain JHP +P from the same maker is a good choice. Calibers below this standard underpenetrate and do not offer sufficient wound potential against lightly clad felons, much less motivated shooters.

A pocket pistol certainly lacks the accuracy and hit potential to be effective. I value my life too much to carry such ineffective equipment. The Glock 19 is affordable, easy enough to use well with proper training and indoctrination, and fires a cartridge that may be effective with proper loadings. Those who choose to master the .357 Magnum revolver or the .45-caliber automatic will be well prepared to address an active shooter if they have practiced.

The active shooter may be moving. Firing at a moving target demands constant practice and attention to detail. Addressing multiple targets is possible as well. The life you save may be your own. Choose a service-grade firearm and ammunition, and practice. An active shooter is the worst-case scenario.

After the Shooting

If you are not personally involved in the shooting and have escaped injury, there is little to do save leave the area. If the police interview you, give them all the information you can remember. If you have interviewed and fired your firearm, be certain to quickly place the gun on the ground and kneel when the police come. Police do not get armed-citizen calls; they get “man with a gun” calls. Proceed with caution. If you are manhandled and handcuffed, it will all come out in the wash. If possible, you should collect names of witnesses, just in case, as you would with any personal defense shooting. Don’t forget to check yourself for wounds. Sometimes they go unnoticed.

Share your take on an active shooter situation in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (91)

  1. Take it from someone that has first hand intimate knowledge, perhaps you should actually read after action reports and police reports about Columbine to get your facts correct about the police response before rendering an incorrect opinion.

  2. If you’re ever involved in any shooting and the police become involved, do not, I repeat…do not give any statements for at least 24 hours. The LEA are not your friend. In fact I would have an attorney before giving a statement. Just playing by LEA rules by doing this.

  3. Been trying to tell you your web site has been shooting virus’ at us
    three time my firewall went off while reading comments

    1. I’ll pass along the message and have our end checked just to be safe, but I have three different computers here and none of them are showing any signs of issues. You may want to check your anti-viral software as well. ~Dave Dolbee

  4. This article seems to have gone totally dead in the last 3 or 4 days, after so much activity and disagreement early on. I’m wondering if it got shut down?

    Here’s something that happened in my city last week regarding an active shooter. This is actually quite a different scenario because firefighters had to deal with the active shooter.

    If CTD let’s me post this link, it has an excellent video of the shocking scene that confronted Phoenix firefighters and police last week.

  5. Agree with the tactics and practice of this article, but not the politics.
    Believe israel would gladly dance on the U.S. of A.’s grave if it gave them world domination.

  6. Bob should stick to tactics and stay out of politics.. He clearly has no idea of American history and would gladly sacrifice his rights for a little temporary security. Typical neocon but the last few bits of the article were interesting.

    1. Sean,
      Knowing Bob as I do, I would say you are a poor judge of people and character—perhaps you are guilty of simply leaping (commenting) before truly looking. Just my two cents, but Bob is a wealth of knowledge about both guns and history. ~Dave Dolbee

  7. Sorry to hear.

    I am not up all night. I do write to inform because I have encountered so many uninformed people on both sides of the gun issue, and so many who have no idea of the historical progression of civil rights.

    If it’s too much for you, just skip my posts.

  8. As bad as the suicide bomber might be, I find our politicians on both sides of the aisle, to be far worse. The left seeks to disarm us while providing our enemies with arms. The right, claims to defend the Constitution, yet caves in to progressive moves to gut the Constitution.
    Conservative Justices on the Supreme Court, nearly always shift their positions to liberal views. All three branches of the government have abandoned their original charters, thus eliminating the “checks and balances” built into the system by our Founders as a means of protecting We the People from the abuses of a government which has abandoned the concept of the government doing the bidding of We the People.

    You can kill a suicide bomber before the fact, if they don’t kill themselves. Yet, you can not kill an idea like progressivism which has been indoctrinated into gullible people (like students from the earliest grades through the schools of higher learning). Communism of the USSR was forcibly indoctrinated into the minds of the people to the degree that nobody, or very few, were left to fight it. As generations passed, there were few people left who knew anything different than communism. Our own progressives are achieving the same degree of advancement of socialist, Marxist, communist ideals. As time passes, under their influence, those who recall America as it was will be eliminated from the discourse.

    The original charter of the SCOTUS was that old men, educated in the law, would have long enough memories to recall the principles advanced by our Founders. That they would follow those principles when deciding whether to judge a case as constitutional or not constitutional. That they would not base their rulings on their own personal views, especially when the words and intent of the Founders still existed for them to base their rulings upon. Today, those justices make new laws which alter the meaning of the Constitution and ignore what the original authors said and upon which the states relied during the ratification process. And upon which We the People relied for the following 158 years or so, and which the government, like it or not, respected. This is what made it possible for We the people to adopt every new firearms technology, including fully automatic weapons, without government interference.

    Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese Marshal Admiral and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II, was educated in the USA at Harvard. He knew the American people and their mindsets. He knew our Constitution. When he planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, he informed the Japanese Imperial War Council that he could only guarantee that the attack would be good for six months. He also informed them that no invasion of the USA was possible. That the invading forces would be faced with a rifle barrel behind every tree. Prior to Japanese entry into a war footing for invasions into Manchuria, and the western Pacific, the Japanese people were defenseless from invasion if the military should fail to defend Japan.

    While I abhor the devastation suicide bombers may commit, I am far more afraid of the devastation to our way of life committed by our elected representatives in our name.

  9. Some of the agencies who responded were not in uniform.

    The USN and USA have joined the USAF (as lead service) in arming various people to carry CCW off or on duty. The USAF has granted commanders this authority for decades, but it was rarely used except in the cases of USAF Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), USA Criminal Investigations Division, and USN Investigations Service. Decades ago, it was a rare instance because commanders were fearful of liability, especially among young troops. in the interim period, circumstances have changed greatly. Mass shootings, terrorism, etc. However, also in the interim, the military made great advances in the training law enforcement personnel receive. For example, when I first started, many of us were DDA (Direct Duty Assignment) and fewer people attended actual law enforcement academies which teach the same way civil law enforcement is trained.

    The recent changes stem from the Ft Hood shooting incident and various factors are being ironed out. For example, initially, military issuance of CCWs for active duty personnel was near non-existent, and retired/separated law enforcement personnel were not permitted to carry on base. This did not correct the problem of people being able to react to a Ft Hood type shooter. Retired/separated law enforcement personnel are permitted and issued CCWs upon meeting specific requirements, such as minimum 10 years experience. The authority for the CCW falls under LEOSA (LEO Safety Act). The USAF, as lead service, is changing the limitation regarding on base CCWs under the LEOSA (amended). Military issued LEOSA credentials are good in any state and territory of the USA.

    The foregoing will be a factor in any future shipyard type situations. That being said, I concur that authorized personnel should hunker down and watch for a shot. I disagree on one point. If the perp is headed for you, by all means protect yourself. If the perp is headed for someone else, you should protect them as well. The right to defense is ‘to protect oneself or others’. The armed individual should not stand up and play Rambo. My military combat and my law enforcement training both stressed “cover and concealment”. I was also taught not to present a full silhouette target like we shoot at the range; get prone or turn sideways to present a slimmer target if you have nothing to hide behind.

    Bad guys are ever evolving and law enforcement does, too. I recall when, back in the 1970s, Second Chance vests were made public by LAPD Public Affairs. At the time, I thought it was a stupid idea to broadcast our latest equipment. And, sure enough, bad guys just said, ‘fine, we will aim for the head’. And sure enough, a company capitalized by production of armor piercing ammo. The public does not need to know everything (just like they do not need to know everything that goes on out at Area 51).

  10. Here is the real problem we are faced with at this time. As a person who has owned guns all my life, I am truly torn about C.C.W.. I took the training, and have my certificate to apply for my permit. But there is always this fear that if by any small chance I would be in a situation where I needed to draw my firearm, would I be bankrupted by legal fees to protect my freedom? I avoid areas in a large nearby city, that I know have high crime, and or gangs. But recently in a “good” area of this town, a person of middle eastern decent and influence decided to go on a machete attack in a small restaurant. Granted he was delusional and wanted to kill, and further emboldened by the “No Guns”:” sign on the door. But there is still the “what if” that sticks in my head? What are the consequences for the man or woman that decided to pull a weapon and take action? We all hear the “stories” of the brave armed civilian, but what happens after the initial breaking news has faded? I for one do not relish at the thought of killing another person. That said, I would not hesitate to defend myself or my family. But with that said, I still fear the repercussions of ever having to do so. And with our police under such scrutiny for using their guns, where does this leave the rest of us? I know that someone out there will just say,” well you have already given up”. I haven’t, but I don’t want to give away the freedoms that I can still enjoy.

  11. We must remember that the 2d Amendment really has nothing to do with an active shooter. Back in the day of the authors, James Madison and George Mason, firearms were common tools for self defense (primarily against Indians) and for feeding ones family. Hence, young boys began learning firearms from an early age. The true word and intent, and the basis for ratification by the states, was defense against a government which has refused to recognize the rights of the citizens. This dates back to the Magna Charta of 1216, when, in order to induce the people to fight a French invasion of England, King John recognized the natural rights of people. Of course, he immediately tore up the Magna Charta when the French were defeated, claiming “Devine Right” to rule. Civil rights swayed back and forth from then on. At the time of the revolution, colonists were citizens of England, yet they were being denied the same rights and protections as citizens residing in England. The Founders sought to prevent such violations by our own government by assuring that our citizens were armed. This is what the gun control monsters seek to conceal.

    Under the Magna Charta, the people had the right to petition the government and to have their complaints investigated and redressed. The Magna Charta stated that, should the government fail or refuse to investigate and redress grievances, then the people had the right to throw out that government and install a new one. Reading the Constitution, you can see the same concepts in both the Constitution and in the Magna Charta 4 centuries earlier.

    1. @ DaveW.

      You KNOW, “Dave” you’re Starting to Worry Me. Sitting Up ALL NIGHT Writing Question and Then Answering THEM. JUST LIKE “Martin Pearce” …

    2. @Secundius:

      Hey that’s a funny one Sec!!!!

      And I remember that Martin Pearce guy too! I know what you mean.

  12. Nice thought, but, terrorists are constantly evolving. If nobody is attending the normal theater time, but, instead, attending at other times, those other times might become the peak times.

    Terrorists are not stupid. The plan for the greatest shock value a target will present.

  13. I am not familiar with the designator 18C. My AFSC (MOS) was 812X2 (X being the skill level, 3, 5, 7, 9, with special identifiers for things like K-9’s “A”).

    The USAF, USA, and USN are issuing CCWs to Military Police, Air Police, Security Police, Security Forces, etc, if they have 10 years or more total time in military police. This falls under the LEO Safety Act (amended). It was a response to the Ft Hood shooting. You provide your own weapon, and pay for your own firearms certification. Good in all 50 states plus territories. There are restrictions… one of which concerns weapons on school grounds.

    I long ago thought that there are a great many communities with budget constraints. If retired military police officers desired to continue their career, those communities might benefit from hiring retired military. Since retired military already receive a retirement, the community might equip them, provide for training to cover the differences between civil law enforcement and military law enforcement to meet POST requirements. The community might provide a stipend along with medical insurance or other benefits.

    I’m not talking major metro police work, but smaller communities who can’t afford a police force. Many communities contract their police coverage to either the county or the state police. Unfortunately, this does not provide for police officers working within the community and getting to know the business owners, working with the schools, and so on. Here in California, we used to have local police come to separations and talk to military police who were getting out after a single hitch. Over time, I thing the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) which is just another name for a union (just like the Parent Teachers Assoc.) effectively put a halt to that.

    Of course, another option would be to transfer military police to Border Patrol and Illegal Immigration interdiction.

  14. I will agree with some of what Bob said, and I’ll strongly disagree with some of the other – and I invite Bob to respond. First, some of my friends were in the line of fire in the Navy Yard shooting. Guns can not be legally carried in DC, and they are also not allowed on base. If they had been allowed, I would strongly disagree with some of what Bob suggested.

    I think it’s a fundamental mistake to suggest to people that they should “Then work yourself into a position that provides an advantage over the shooter (height is an advantage, if possible).” This suggests that after you have taken cover in a safe location (a GOOD suggestion), you should then try and reposition yourself and attempt to engage the shooter, preferably from the flank. Well Bob, that’s a really prime way to get taken out by arriving law enforcement personnel whose goal is to stop the shooting. Any LEO that spots someone creeping around with a gun trying to “work themselves into position” runs a very real, very likely risk of getting taken out by arriving law enforcement personnel.

    The Navy Yard shooting resulted in dozens of different agencies responding to the event, from armed base personnel, to Metro DC Police to FBI, and many others. In the confusion in the warren of offices inside Building 197, where the shooter was moving across a very large building space, as well as moving from floor to floor (and even outside the building at one point), there was little time to decide if someone armed and “working into position” was friend of foe. In fact, the initial reports suggested there was more than one shooter. If you were armed and seeking out the shooter, you could have very well been tagged at “the second shooter” and taken out quickly – by mistake.

    It’s important to be realistic and sensible. An armed individual in an active shooter situation should >not< decide to act like a LEO. It would be nice to think that you could actively stop the shooter and become a HERO, but the facts suggest you're more likely to be a victim of an unintentional friendly shooting.

    My recommendation is simple. Take cover and wait. If you're armed and the shooter is coming at YOU, then respond with deadly force. Stay under cover (and avoid being shot by friendlies). Wait in position to confirm there is only ONE active shooter, and if so, be ready to quickly lay down your weapon and announce your presence to LEOs – and let them know you're armed. LE personnel will likely arrive quickly and be ready to shoot anyone who is not a uniformed LEO.

    Be smart. Be safe. Take cover and wait.

    4. DON’T BE THE “GUY WITH THE GUN” THAT EVERYBODY IS SCREAMING ABOUT. Practice drawing your pistol as covertly as you can and always behind cover. Keep the gun under your shirt or jacket until there is a shot to take. Yes, you will muzzle yourself, this is not for the untrained.

  16. I earned a Bronze Star in combat so I know how tremendously stressful life and death situations are when bullets are flying. Regardless of the caliber of your weapon, accurate fire on the target is effective and if you have the skill, a head shot from a .22 will end the threat. I legally carry a Colt .45 Gold Cup match grade with laser sights. Weekly practice keeps me well prepared to apply whatever force is needed should the situation become deadly.

    Not everyone has the experience and training of our combat veterans, therefore, it becomes even more important that we remain just as vigilant now as we were in combat. We took an oath to protect and defend our fellow countrymen and our way of life. Although I am retired, that oath remains unchanged.

  17. I believe that the large numbers of new weapon owners with lack of proper training is an iceberg in the path of the 2nd amendment. As negligent shootings add up the nation death count, the misguided gun control advocate will gain more traction. Having spent 78 days the past four years at the Front Sight firearm training school in Southern Nevada in pistol and long gun, I have a very keen awareness of the necessity of ongoing tactical training for self defense, which includes empty hand and edged weapon usage. I am seventy five and have developed the skills and mind set that I will be effective in responding to a lethal threat if the need should arise. Train people!

  18. I do slightly disagree with the last statement of the article saying that
    “Those who choose to master the .357 Magnum revolver or the .45-caliber automatic will be well prepared to address an active shooter if they have practiced.”
    those that master other calibers such as 9mm, .40, 10mm, and any other service grade handgun caliber are just as well prepared to address an active shooter. The FBI put out their report not too long ago that MODERN defensive 9mm ammo is just as effective on a target as the larger calibers. it doesn’t matter if you empty your firearm into the target if nothing does critical damage.
    .45 has a slower, fatter bullet, but has about the same amount of energy to dump into a target as a modern 9mm, but with 9mm you often get more chances to hit a vital spot with more rounds in the magazine.
    It’s been debated to death everywhere about 9mm vs .45, about revolver vs semi-auto.
    I had a coworker that only believed in .45 handguns because of video footage from vietnam showing the difference in stopping power of 9mm ball ammo vs .45 ball ammo.
    I agree, with my limited experience in life, with most of what the author says about tactics and training for scenarios involving an active shooter. Fight if you can, run and dodge if you can’t.
    I disagree with the statement of ” I recommend taking a shot, even a long shot, if there is a chance of connecting as long as you are certain you will not strike an innocent person” Nothing in life is certain. It all depends on whether or not you think the risk of possibly hitting that innocent bystander outweighs the risk that, since they are possibly closer to the target than you, hitting or distracting the shooter from hitting them. waiting to get close enough for that perfect shot where there’s no chance of anyone possibly getting hurt could mean the shooter having nice easy shots at multiple people during that time. Take the shot you can, when you can, if you are reasonably sure you can do good with the shot. Waiting until the active shooter kills everyone close to them just so you don’t have to risk hitting them sounds kind of dumb to me, but it all depends on the scenario.

  19. Bob, good topic that all should be made aware of. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the difference between the selfish killers (Columbine, Newtown, etc), and the radicals that believe they are advancing they god into our country and the world. People need to see this. Sadly, many only believe what the MSM and those on the left tell them.

    Thanks for reminding of the strategies one must have if they find themselves in such a situation.

  20. Active shooters are yet another problem that the 2nd Amendment helps us deal with, yet we still have those who would strip us of our rights if they could. This article is very insightful and shows why the gun owning/carrying American public must remain vigilant in preserving our constitutional rights. Thanks for a great article!

  21. I disagree with everyone thinking that an armed public is the answer. The Navy Yard shooting proved that just because someone has a gun doesn’t mean he knows how to use it. Believe it or not, 80-90% of military members do NOT carry or practice with firearms. They get a familiarization not training. Remember, when it comes to the active shooter—[He] can’t be bargained with or reasoned with and he absolutely will not stop until [he] is dead.

  22. 21 years in law enforcement inn the USAF. Please do not look at it as 21 years in the Boy Scouts. Military law enforcement does the same things as civil police. In the 1960s we had riot control duties, law enforcement, K9, industrial security, etc. At 18 yrs of age I was responsible for many millions of dollars worth of weapons systems like alert, nuke laden, B-52s… and by 20, I was leading men in Vietnam combat operations. By age 35, I was Chief of Police. The biggest differences are that we have more control over who enters our cities (aka bases, posts, stations, etc), and we generally deal with a better class of low life.

    Still, When you are the only LE type for the entire city, and six armed guys who have just knocked over a 7/11 off base run a red light in front of you, you could easily lose your life.

    Law Enforcement is ever evolving. It evolved because it is reactive far more than proactive. If you have ever read the book, or seen the movie, “The Onion Fields” by Joseph Wambaugh, you are looking at a time when LAPD had no policy on surrendering your firearm to a perp holding your partner hostage. After that incident, a new policy was developed… you NEVER give up your weapon. In Newhall, cops died for lack of training with the 12 gauge shotgun. LAPD and others then concentrated more on shotgun use. In more recent times, We had the bank robbery in the LA area where the perps were armed with AKs, 30 round mags, and homemade body armor. LAPD officers responding to the scene were caught “flatfooted” because they had no weapons equal to what the bad guys had. They had to obtain weapons from a gun store down the street. Today, AR-15s or M-16s/M4s are in use.

    We have always had to react to a condition in order to evolve. We have been hurt by the economy, such that, while the population grows rapidly, many LE officer positions go unfunded. On the other hand, we are bolstered by veterans who have already been trained and have experience which can be used to the advantage of the department. In California they still must meet POST certifications, but often they can be put to work and sent for state certs later. Those veterans bring with them the tactical training they received and used I the military, such as has been developed in the Middle East operations.

    As the world population grows denser, urban crime suppression tactics will cause law enforcement to continue to evolve. We will have to deal with larger populations with, percentage wise, far fewer police officers.

    With what has been happening today, from mass shootings, to takeovers, Black Lives Matter, a public quick to condemn police officers for doing what they were hired to do, it becomes a question of who would even consider a career in LE… and how soon before police become a fully militaristic force. The other side of that coin is chaos.

    1. DaveW and all those honorable citizens who have chosen a path of Military, LEO, etc… Thank you. Your last paragraph highlighted a alarming trend in our society. The values and principles that were the foundation of our nation have been corrupted. There is no longer a common sense rooted in appreciation of our basic good fortunes. I”m just an average man, trying to react to the current trends. After a lot of soul searching, I have started to legally carry. I want to responsibly support this right, and if ever necessary, oppose threats to the lives of myself and others. Though the Citizen Defender holds a different purpose than LEO and our Military, I believe we share a common goal. I hope this common goal strengthens our society and bonds us together as Americans who share those values and principles dear to a free and responsible society.

    2. With all do respect to your military career military policing is not even close to the same. For one, your jurisdiction is confined to military personnel and property. Second you cannot “book” someone into custody in the county jail due to the fact your not an actual certified LEO; such as required through the states certification process. The same reason I would not be able to book a prisoner in a military jail. Sorry sir but it’s not the same. As a current Deputy in Ca with nearly 20 years experience I can tell, not only legality wise but from my perspective and experience, including working as a patrol Deputy, detective, undercover, and my current position as a problem orient Police officer, and tons of court time it’s not the same.

  23. The NRA has events going on all the time and local gun ranges and clubs have programs and classes on firearm home safety and range time instruction. If you are a new gun owner or planning on buying one, my advise is to not buy ammunition until you’ve had your firearm apart and cleaned, sat in your living room with it in your hands unloaded, find the safety with your thumb or finger while in firing position. Handle it until it feels natural in your hand. Keep it unloaded until you go to the range or in your back yard to fire it. Shoot with someone experienced and don’t let anyone handle your weapon loaded if you don’t know them. .

    1. Take the Basic NRA Pistol Course first. The course teaches safety, types of hand guns, purpose for handguns, purchasing fundamentals, handgun maintenance, ammunition and of course shooting Fundamentals. If you purchase a firearm prior to attending the Basic Pistol Course you might seek out The First Steps Pistol Orientation Course. This course teaches you the out of the box specifics of your new handgun. Leave the tacticool and armed defense courses alone until after your shooting skills have evolved to a confident level of proficiency.

  24. I have to give credit to Bob Griswold of Ready Made Resources, or I think that’s his business. He’s been interviewed on youtube a few times. Bob says to “stay off the X.” In other words, don’t be the target. Don’t go to high profile public places or events at their peak times. Don’t go to the movies on Saturday afternoon when the place is packed. Go off hours when nobody’s there. Terrorists are interested in body count. That advise in large part should keep you out of harm’s way.

  25. Well thought out words, in a difficult time for us all.

    I am retired military, and find myself at odds with our inability to protect our children. School shootings are hot button issues for the gun control folks. Not going there.

    I wish there was a certification program for retired law enforcement or retired military folks with weapons training (My MOS was 18C) so we could act as protectors for our young folks. While it can be argued that every school should have its own police officer, there is little justification in spending the money for a highly trained law enforcement officer to wander around in a school instead of being out on the street chasing bad guys.

    I would be willing to attend any training, (provided I don’t have to pay for it) and could pass any sort of certification test required. I am not young and quick like I used to be, but I know how to go to the sound of the gunfire. Having an armed first responder that can engage an active shooter until the cops get there can make a lot of difference.

    What makes me wonder what the answers could be is the thought of the little kids being shot in Newtown. They never had a chance. It took too long for the police to get there.

    Somehow, somewhere, some place in our society, there has to be a way to protect our children. If we cannot do that, what good are we?

    Please weigh in.

    SGT Rock

  26. This article hits too close to home. In the past year, or so, my family has been too close to these events. My daughter and niece live or work in Chattanooga, another niece attended school at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon and I live in San Bernardino. In all 3 cases, a loved one was closer then 3 miles distant and in one, normally would have been just outside of the room where the active shooter was.

    Then need to be aware and prepared is there. I hate to sound like a cliche, but, as Smokey Bear stated. Only you can prevent. In this case, it may be the unnecessary death of loved ones or even strangers.

    The problem that most of us face, is the time, and availability or access to the training that we should have to become more effective in any of the above scenarios.

    It would be fantastic if the Shooters Log was able to start compiling a list of resources for such training.

  27. I also am a retired law enforcement officer and a retired Army Combat Veteran. I agree with every word that Bob Campbell wrote and I also carry concealed every time I leave my residence with a 9mm. Very good article Bob; especially when you said not to try to bargain with an active shooter.

  28. I think the active shooter type of scenarios that are coming in the near future will be strictly suicide bombers and they act just as the checnyas did in the Russian school take over some years back! They will have no intention of coming out and their acts will shut down entire communities because people will not let their children go to school, many will stay home from employment. Cities will drag to a standstill. The touchy feely group will impede dealing with these people because they think that you can negotiate with terrorists!

    1. If anyone still remembers, or cares about the so-called “DC Sniper”, it came down to two young men arrested and tried fro multiple killings in and around Washington DC. First reports said that they were in a white van, when it was over, it was a white sedan with a hole in the trunk so a shooter could lay in the trunk and shoot. I saw photos of the car as did everyone else. The small hole would allow a rifle barrel, no now provisions were made for a scope, which the shooters were alleged to be using. I found this very strange at the time and remembered back to the 60’s, when The Rand Corporation, a Government Think Tank, had came up with the scenario of a group of 3 shooters shutting down NYC. the DC shootings played out almost exactly as The NYC scenario suggested. Fast forward, this spate of irrational shootings, ‘Active Shooters’ as they are dubbed, suggests that someone more than some homicidal maniac is behind the shootings. People have been sacrificed in the U.S. and other countries in an effort for the government to impose it will on the people. With Obama/Hillary, et al calling for less guns and more control, it causes me to ask the question; “Just who is behind this sudden outbreak of gun violence that has come about under Obama’s watch?”

  29. In a country with over 300M people, it would be surprising if there were not incidents of mass shootings…escalated road rage that turn into gunfire and domestic problems where spouses fire off weapons.
    Critics of the 2nd amendment love to compare the lack of gun related deaths in countries like Canada and Australia and England.
    Britain is quite densely populated and for year had no real problems with firearms. Even to the point where police personnel did not carry. But things have changed and Europe is being changed.
    The entire European continent is being changed dramatically and for the worse BECAUSE of the restrictions on firearms.
    The most violence here occurs with known gangs and drugs. Wars over territory…or simply an implied disrespect. The gangs from South America and middle America have found easy pickings and take full advantage of the lack of serious law enforcement in this country.
    Until these problems are dealt with, we will find it almost necessary to protect ourselves. The burden being placed on local police forces is far too heavy.

  30. Excellent article! Thank you.
    As a fire fighter, we have trained for the active shooter scenario with the local sheriff agency (using that diamond formation you mentioned). I have been called to a multiple victim shooting scenario and would rather not do it again. I also train regularly with my handgun and carry almost always when I leave the house. (FNP 40, for those wondering!)

    I have thought a lot about the shooter scenario and my actions should I ever find myself in one. You addressed in passing the situation of not being identified as a “man with a gun”. My greatest source of “angst” is the same as Davids. What is the best course of action to take should I find myself in that “fubar” scenario! Can you offer some more direction for the aftermath, possible LEO confrontation, obviously I don’t want to get shot! I understand the fluidity of these types of scenarios and that none of them will have the same outcome.

  31. > If the police interview you, give them all the information you can remember.

    From what I understand, that is a very bad idea. Say as little as necessary. They cannot help you in court, even if they wanted to. Anything you say can be used against you, not for you.

  32. “While various elements in our own country are conspiring to undermine the war effort, one fact remains clear. We can fight them over there, or we can fight them in our homes, schools and places of business. If we do not engage the enemy overseas, he will engage us here. He has already engaged our European allies and us here at home.”

    Well officer, if bleeding hearts and criminal corporations, churches, and immigrant services would stop importing the damn terrorist filth and MS13 gang bangers, and put a lid on the violent obsolete farm equipment we have in this country, then our need for you guys to be violent, militaristic thugs would decrease dramatically.

    1. I am simply unsure of what is being said here, so I am approving it for anyone who may wish to reply. ~Dave Dolbee

    2. I think I know what he’s getting at. Our government with its front groups is creating the problems that justify their militarized police forces.

      I would put it like this: The whole thing is a psy-op and an implementation of the Hegelian dialectic–problem, reaction, solution. The government creates the problem and the outrage to the problem using the propaganda arm of the U.S. government, the MSM. Next, the preplanned packaged solution is offered to the dumb masses. The solution is always includes increases in the size and scope of government agents and agencies and our being stripped of God-given rights.

    3. I think he’s being creative and still not politically correct. Farm equipment:black slave labor, obsolete:not needed, violent:violent. Out of work, uneducated, inner city black thugs. That’s my take, anyway.

    4. For those innocent and without a clue folks out there, I believe he is refering to the human farming tool generally known as the migrant farm laborer. In California and other great western grower states the home of The Green Giant, Delmontes and other well known suppliers of our food supply ; in a single day you might witness hundreds of farm laborers walk from one end of an untended field to the other miraculously changing it into a perfectly cultivated and planted field of you favorite vegetables without the use of a single mechanical implement.
      The only tractors in use are those pulling the wagons loaded with porta potties behind the lines of laborers. You may also witness the same set up during harvest.
      The next time you open up that can of green beans, Ho Ho Ho, ?? and thats our dirty little secret.

    5. I fogot to mention that the migrant farm laborer referred to is far from being obsolete.
      My comment is for explanation purpose only and not to be thought of as agreeing or disagreeing with Eric’s comment.

    6. Since it’s obvious there is confusion regarding Stans’ meaning, maybe we shroud ask him to expand his comment so we will know what his meaning is for sure. Stan, would you care to explain a little further ?

  33. The random shooter scenario is always suspect in my mind of a government psy-op. These psy-ops are intended to bring about the gun control that the U.S. government so earnestly desires. With the bringing in of extremist groups, labeled refugees, the CIA can run its ops under cover of “Radical Islam” bringing about the same end–gun control. Laws that the U.S. government creates to disarm us make us victims of the very drill they’re running in which they call for more extensive gun control. How about this: The federal government OBEY the 2nd Amendment and stop interfering with our right to protect ourselves, we disband the CIA, NSA, FBI, BATFE, DEA, IRS, local law enforcement, etc, etc, etc. These agencies are more a threat to our liberty than any active shooter. More abuse to my rights have come at their hands then any active shooter. These are the terrorists, active shooter are way down the list of threats.

    1. So your prescription for a safer country is to impose anarchy with no law enforcement or investigative agencies? In other words, everyone is just at the mercy of whoever is mean enough or crazy enough to rob, rape, steal. assault, murder, etc., and there is no one to get drunk drivers off the road, catch criminals, respond to emergency calls for help from people who cannot defend themselves and who are being victimized by criminals. In other words, no deterrent to crime or terrorism.

    2. My refutation of your post is being moderated because I don’t paint cops and federal thugs as hero’s.

    3. Not sure what you mean by “My refutation of your post is being moderated because I don’t paint cops and federal thugs as hero’s.” since it was obviously posted, but the next time you need a cop please feel free to call . . . whoever, because you sure wouldn’t want a LEO or anyone else who see’s them as worthwhile members of society to help you.

      So . . . just who would you call, anyway? Just wondering. I mean, I’ve spent years in places like Afghanistan, Beirut, etc. and they don’t call the police for help either. Doesn’t seem to work out all that well for them, so i wan just wondering who you would call if you needed help.

    4. We’ll see if this post gets past the sensibilities of the moderator. The post that did not get through had none of the elements which would warrant moderation. Cops are not your friends. More importantly they don’t even look at you as a neighbor. They’ve been hijacked by the national system which has been hijacked by an international syndicate of bankers, those seeking to establish an international technocracy that monitors and controls EVERY aspect of your life and every other human being on the planet. This is what EVERY traffic stop is about–feeding all data about YOU to fusion centers and a centralized database. Never mind that it is a money making scam to boot.

      As the author of the article states, in summary, in the event of a shooting I should expect to be manhandled and cuffed by the cops. NEVER!!!!!!! It is under the banner of “Officer safety” that this abuse has flown for so many years. Their safety does not trump my God-given rights. If they’re too afraid to do their jobs without violating my, or anyone else’ rights, then they ought to find safer employment, maybe at the humane society.

    5. Eric,

      I moderated much of this post as I did the last one in its entirety. This article is about an active shooter scenario from a career law enforcement officer’s perspective. Taking task with that is okay and we try to let the conversations stray as the group dictates (at times). However, your take on banking and education systems and the government versus the people, anarchy, etc. simply strays too far from the topic at hand and is inappropriate for this forum. Therefore, they will not be published. There are plenty of public forums to espouse your beliefs there, but this is not that platform. ~Dave Dolbee

  34. Bob Campbell’s article was insightful and timely for me. Our school here in Wyoming is trying to establish an active shooter policy. Clearly, we have advantages over many areas, but still there are doubters about the immediately-responsive approach. Bob’s insight helps clarify the immediate urgency to get the shooter to stop shooting at the kids or other innocents – even at personal risk – and lethal action certainly seems right.

    My question involves the action of a defender when the first responders arrive and are trying to sort out the good guys from the bad guys. What is the right thing to do?

    1. Holster or get rid of your firearm as soon as possible, quickly assume the “please cuff me” position until your delt with, DO NOT RESIST IN ANY WAY, keep your damn mouth shut until you have an attorney. Get ready to pay a whole lot in legal fees, have your firearm confiscated (for evidence of course) and maybe loose your job. That should about cover it.

  35. I live close to the most recent terrorist attack here in Columbus, Ohio where a person with a sword almost killed 4 patrons at the Nazareth restaurant. I’ve been asking myself about how I’d react if in such an event. Especially since I work about 5 minutes from this location. This article has filled in a number of voids in my understanding of such a situation. I’m deeply thankful you have shared this information. This event has changed me and the importance I place on being armed and aware, and as prepared as possible if I was present in such an attack.

  36. Good article. Still, armed is armed, if you know your weapon. .22 cal., .45 ACP, or .50 AE. While caliber is certainly important, shot placement is more so.From Col. Jeff Cooper, USMC deceased: “In ten years, nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.”Mindset is also important. Are you prepared to take a human life,(some would say sub-human life in most recent shootings.) Unless you can kill, without hesitation, or remorse, leave you firearm at home. Harsh,perhaps, but so is life.

    1. I agree with your comments, my father always taught us that if you are going to point a gun at someone, you better plan on killing them. , but how would someone know if they are prepared to take a human life if they have not already done so. I also would go on to say that anyone who carries a firearm would out of reaction to being shot at, shoot back in self defense not thinking about taking a human life.

      I guess training may help to a point but unless someone has killed someone else, some people may be deceiving themselves. I think a better mindset would be “do you want to stop the threat which may involve taking a life.”

      One thing I would add to your statements, are you willing to take on criminal charges and or civil liabilities. I have spoken to someone that carries said if a convenience store clerk has a gun to their head, he would not get involved. Every situation is different and complex.

      This was a very good article.

    2. Huh? ‘Stop the threat without taking a life?’ As a cop, in the military and various self-defense courses, I’ve taken, we were taught that you do not shoot to wound. You shoot to kill. It is when you ‘shoot to wound’, that you take on those criminal charges and civil liabilities that you seem so worried about. To shoot back in reflex at being shot at, is the height or irresponsibility. To send rounds down range if you can’t see your target is not only negligent, it is criminal and only the rankest, untrained neophyte would do so. And, don’t know about your state, but in some states a CCW, is legally required if not morally obligated to become involved in such a situation you speak of, if it can be done without seriously endangering his own life. I have personally been in such a situation, instead of playing the coward, neutralized the perp and saved the potential victim. Finally killing, if you have never taken a life before, it all comes back to MINDSET. If you aren’t sure, given the direst of circumstances, that you can’t kill, leave your weapon at home and remain a victim to circumstances.

    3. @Dark Angel

      Have to agree with everything you just said here.

      The standard answer in any self defense shooting is “I was afraid for my life and I defended myself. I simply did my best to stop the threat.” As soon as you start adding things like, “I was only trying to wound him,” you open the door to all sorts of issues. “So you deliberately aimed for his knee to cripple him?” or “So you intentionally broke his collar bone to maim his arm?” No, thank you.

      Shoot to neutralize the threat just like we are all trained, and if one of the shots happens to hit the criminal in the Vermilion Zone just above and between the eyes, well, gosh . . he was moving, I was moving, we were both shooting and I guess it was just happenstance that the round impacted there.

      As for getting involved, I have spent the better part of my life being one of those people who runs towards the sound of gunfire and not away from it. Of course, if my wife is with me she is the number one priority, although she is armed and well trained but i am not going to put her at risk . . . period. Otherwise, I refuse to be a person who stands by while the barbarians are at the gates.

      It is indeed a mindset, and to be very honest, it actually surprised me in a positive way the first time I was placed in a situation where I was forced to raise my weapon to point at a man’s chest, and realized that I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. I didn’t have to that particular day, as his better judgement made him stop cold where he was, but I knew at that moment I would do what needed to be done to protect the lives of my teammates. As John Wayne said . . ” A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

  37. Great information, mostly what I learned in JTF and LE academy, I agree caliber choice is important, the FBI has returned to 9mm, I carry a
    Glock 17 easy to conceal, good accuracy, good capacity, a 1911 in .45 acp is also a great sidearm,, great trigger and very accurate.

    It is important to train for such incidents, one important point to consider, an active shooter has the deck stacked against him from the start, and if a an armed first responder does their job right, chances are many lives will be saved.

    1. Doctor Who,

      Given that nearly every Doctor was anti gun, I doubt any of the incarnations of the good Doctor would be pleased, regardless of what we carry.

      I always found the heights of utter hypocricy, the Doctor Who was so very anti gun, but had no problem whatsoever using explosives of whatever sort, to blow up as many enemies as was necessary.

      Sadly, it seems that Great Britain has decided to take the final swan dive, committing suicide in allowing jihadists to take over Great Britain: while at the same time precluding their native citizenry, that is non Muslims, from defending themselves against attacks.

      The reeducation of the Doctor definitely needed to take place, and when Matt was the doctor, I thought for sure would turn the corner on the gun issue: boy was I wrong.

      Take care and may the TARDIS always be near to hand.

  38. JR, while your opinion is certainly appreciated and you do make a valid point, no one here is certainly denying you your right to defend yourself regardless of what caliber of weapon you choose to deploy. I believe the author’s point is that the sub-9mm calibers are going to be less effective against an attacker at distances greater than close-in (aka close quarters) for obvious reasons. However, if you are going to use sub-9mm calibers, I would suggest not taking a shot over 10 feet and making sure that every shot you make is a well-placed shot-a shot that is going to disable the attacker. If you can’t make the shot, reassess your situation otherwise you will be wasting ammunition.

    1. Matt,

      Thank you for replying.

      While I agree, that no one no one here explicitly stipulated the physically impaired folks should not have the right to defend themselves, the context of the specifics of the argument concerning caliber choice, both in the article and in the responses from readers, explicitly stipulated this is an everyday carrier was carrying any caliber less than a 9 millimeter or 45 ACP, then those persons might as well be carrying nothing, just stay home or, if the fecal matter strikes the oscillating rotor at warp 9 whilst out and about, find a place to hide and hope for the best!

      That is not a competent plan for a physically impaired person. Active shooters in all likelihood would simply see the physically impaired person is just another target.

      This is why I commented as I did, folk who carry sidearms in sub 9 millimeter calibers do so because of the lesser recoil.

      These folks are not afraid of the recoil, their physical limitations simply preclude them from competently shooting 9 millimeter and larger calibers.

      Despite the deficiencies of sub 9 millimeter calibers, I would argue that it is superior to be armed in an active shooter situation, then to not be armed.

      Thus, I simply desire to know, from those persons who are experts, such as Mr Campbell, which considerations are necessary for physically impaired people carrying sub 9 millimeter sidearms, in order to become effective respondents to active shooters.

      I hope this clarifies my intent in my original post. Thank you for taking the time to read this comment.

  39. As usual, I enjoyed the article.

    Mr Campbell is highly informative, and articulates well the necessities required to survive real world situations.

    However, the predicate upon which the entire article was written, is with physically healthy people in mind.

    There are many people who have physical problems which limit their hand, wrist, and arm strength.

    These are the people that use the 380 ACP, 25 auto, 32 auto, and the 22 LR, as calibers for the handguns they can carry.

    Please note that I said can carry, that is to say, they are physically able to properly shoot the handguns they own in these calibers, because of the lesser recoil of these calibers.

    Physically impaired people, have just as much right to self-defense as physically healthy people. We go out and about every day, tomorrow’s, bookstores, cafes, coffee shops, theaters, and when we are out and about, we carry the tools of self-defense we are physically competent to use.

    I would truly appreciate pertinent information concerning commercial loads for those who do not reload, and reloading information concerning bullet types for those physically impaired people who do reload.

    This type of information is that which could help physically impaired people carrying sub 9 millimeter calibers, to take your advice in active shooter situations, and do what they could to save lives.

    The one-size-fits-all mindset, does not meet the needs of a great many of Americans who need the right tools to do the same job as they’re healthy counterparts.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

    1. Sir,
      Excellent thoughts.
      But no 4 .380s do not equal 2 9mms.

      Wound potential is not cumulative.

      As any boxer will tell you a series of light blows do not equal one heavy blow.
      The 9mm remains a realistic minimum. The .45 is always better.

    2. Mr Campbell,

      Thank you for replying I appreciate it.

      I apologize if I conveyed that several rounds from a sub 9 millimeter equals half that many rounds from a 9mm.

      The point I was trying to make was a real world point: we shoot what we have, and we shoot as we are able.

      I concur without exception, that wound channels and the proficiency of a bullet at point of terminal impact, will always be superior for 9 millimeter and larger calibers.

      These facts are not at debate: you presented your evidence exceedingly well, and most compellingly.

      All the compelling data in the world concerning proper one channel in from nine millimeter and larger calibers, will not change one iota the real world fact, that many (not all) people with physical impairments may only be able to competently handle sub 9 millimeter calibers.

      Secondly, since physically impaired people out and about everyday, just as are there physically healthy peers, the question becomes what what types of loads, aka which commercial rounds, from a 380 ACP, a 32 ACP, 25 ACP, 22 Magnum, or 22 long rifle, will be the most effective for these calibers?

      This was simply the point I was trying to convey: real world solutions for the physically impaired, within the scope of the scenarios which you detailed in your excellent article.

      Thank you again for taking the time to reply to my comments, I do appreciate it.

    3. “Wound potential is not cumulative.” And, a ‘double-tap’ is for why? ‘Shooting until the threat is stopped,’ is “cumulative” no?
      “The 9mm remains a realistic minimum.” I personally agree with that. The FBI returning to the 9, I think, has more to do with ‘all agent’s’ ability to effectively handle that caliber and, of course, economics.

      The FBI’s worst shootout, possibly, in history in Florida had them scrambling to find an alternative to what was in use at that time; 9mm and the 357 magnum; however, both 357’s, in the fight, were shooting 38 special +P ammo. Neither of the perps were “armored up!” One of the first shots from a 9mm went through Platt’s upper arm into his chest, collapsed his lung, and stopped 1″ from his heart. Platt went on to kill two agents and wound several others! The FBI had numbers, 8-2; however, the two perps had superior firepower.

      Said all that to say, even with the much better bullets today, over that available in 1986, 9mm+p and 38 special+p are, to my mind(old), and as stated by the author, “minimal” for stopping a determined, much less armored up, as was the Batman shooter, whacko! Both rounds, @ +p’s increased recoil, still only manage something around 400 +- foot pounds of energy! You have to go to +P+ to get close to 500 fpe. As an example, Chuck Liddell, of MMA fame, can ‘punch you’ with 700 fpe.

      You have about as much chance of running into a terrorist shooting as that of being struck by lightning; however, people are struck by lightning! In my case, and with my luck, that “probability” runs much higher. I carry a 180 grain bonded hollow point bullet that makes impact at just slightly less than a punch from Liddel – 624 fpe from a 3.8″ barrel! That carries a significant issue for even someone wearing body armor.

      The problem with mostly everyone, police included, is the “dedication” needed to become, and ‘remain,’ proficient with a handgun! It is not something you ‘pick up’ overnight, or retain without sufficient “practice.” As an example, with that ‘carry load,’ I mentioned, I can get two rounds on target, from a concealed carry position, @22 feet in <1.5 seconds – consistently! I do not mention that as a form of braggadocio, the reason that is "important" is that anyone, of average physicality, can be on you from 21 feet in 1.5 seconds!! Even that reaction time would increase in some "life or death" scenario, plus, most criminals will be approaching you, not from head on, but from behind or the side!

      Long post, but the conclusion being, if you carry a firearm, get as proficient with it as your situation, body, mind, pocketbook, can stand. Once you have mastered, perhaps, a smaller caliber, look to "upgrade" to some 'bigger' round that starts with a 4! Last example, that Boston "terrorist" was carrying eight(8) .40 caliber rounds in him, provided by the "police," before he was finally done in by his brother running him over with a car!!

    4. @Firewagon.

      Agreed. And if I might add one more thing, people do not practice enough shooting one-handed with their weak hand. All the two handed practice in the world isn’t going to help much if you take a round in your strong side arm or hand.

      I carry my BUG on my left side and regularly practice one-handed, left hand shooting with both it and my EDC so that I can reliably put rounds center of mass at 10 yards with both.

    5. Excellent point, about ‘weak hand’ practice! My treatise was already too long;) I do practice with my PF-9, BU, from both sides, just not enough from the weak side. Also, anyone using a DA only rig knows the importance of regular work with it, different process to get quality shots down range….

    6. @Firewagon

      I think I’ve met a kindred spirit. So many people dis the PF9, but my BUG is also a PF9 in a pocket holster (EDC is a G21). I really like my PF9. It’s reliable and accurate, but you are correct, the DA only action is like using a staple gun and you really do need to practice a lot to be proficient with it.

      And I know what you mean about comments getting too long . . a problem I also have.

    7. Hi “kindred spirit;)” Not sure what those that dis the PF9 are arguing? I’ve fed about everything, factory and reloads through mine without the first hiccup! They do warn against “dry firing” the thing, but I’d rather “feel it” do something when actuating the trigger anyway – my Glock gets the dry fire treatment. I would not ‘prefer’ it, or any DA only rig, as my primary; however, I have had things break “in practice” on my Glock, so I am rarely without another ‘reply!’

    8. Usually they just spout the usual vague “POS” comments. Frankly, neither my G21 nor my PF9 have ever failed me in any way, but I prefer not to take chances. they are machines after all, and there is such a thing as a magazine or ammo failure.

    9. Very well reasoned. I have to admit I keep a .32-20 Smith and Wesson for ‘gun shooting’ and appreciate the light calibers for target practice and small game.

      I will work up some tips for the situations you have described.

      Thanks for reading.

    10. Thank you Mr Campbell for your response.

      I know that I, and many others, who cannot afford to go out and buy several different commercial boxes of ammunition, which have different bullet types and bullet weights, will both greatly appreciate and be much more knowledgeable concerning proper bullet choices for our side arms.

      The serious subject matter which you raised in your article, an active shooter and how to respond, is sadly no longer a rare occurrence, and this must be considered by everyone who is out and about, including those of us who are physically impaired.

      Most folks I know kukere sub 9 millimeter calibers, what did indeed prefer to carry the larger calibers: their superior efficiency is greatly preferred.

      However, as my grandfather used to tell me “You do with what you have, if you don’t have, you can’t do.”

      It is better to be armed with something, than to be unarmed and simply become a target.

  40. Bob,
    Thanks for all the information. You touched upon a personal bugaboo of mine. You mention that the 9mm +p is adequate and about a minimum: “Are You Armed or Half Armed?

    A person armed with a small-caliber handgun is in the unfortunate situation of being armed with a deadly weapon but unable to defend himself well. Many active shooters carry their ammunition and spare magazines in some type of web gear. Adequate penetration is demanded. A 9mm Luger +P load such as the Black Hills Ammunition 124-grain JHP is a reasonable choice.”

    Of course, I agree. Sadly, I know a few good people who do not. They elect a .380 ACP, or a .22 Mag, or a .25 ACP. They seem to think anything which will make a really loud noise is perfectly adequate for self defense. I consider them to be among the group that “has a deadly weapon yet who cannot defend themselves”. I have been a missionary for a different caliber, but my converts are few. I could use some suggestions about how to persuade the non-believers.
    The two arguments from the non-believers seem to be that size matters (smaller is easier to carry) and dislike of recoil. I do not have a lot of good ideas about size but have argued that recoil is not anything to be afraid of.
    I have a son who was in the Military and part of the security force at Bangor, Washington where the big boomers are kept to load our missile submarines. They were provided the 9mm Beretta, the M-16 and a 12 gauge. He was brought up in the recoil school that thought that the 9mm and the “super .22” were good choices because they were controllable for aimed fire.
    My response was that he must have been entirely overwhelmed by the 12 gauge and there was no way he could qualify with such a mighty weapon. After all, compare the size of the 12 gauge shell to a 9mm, or even a “super .22″/5.56. He looked at me as if I was nuts. Of course, he could qualify and could handle the 12 gauge just fine. My response was if you can control a 12 gauge, what made him think he could not control a .45 or a 7.62? It started him thinking.
    For me, fear of recoil is like the boogeyman. It lived under my bed when I was 5 or 6. That was about 68 years ago. I am no longer afraid to lay down in my bed at night, so why would I fear the recoil of a .45 or a 7.62mm? The recoil of either is not going to cook me and eat me. It is not going to break my hand or my arm. Sure, it smacks me but my wife has hit me far harder and we have been married for nearly 52 years now. I do not intend to get rid of her, voluntarily, and so why fear the push of any recoil? Is the recoil of a .45 or 30-06 going to hurt me any worse than the boogeyman did when I was 5? My son now regularly shoots a 10mm and a 7.62 with great skill and we have not talked about recoil or his 9mm in some years.
    I looked up your chosen 124 grain 9mm Black Hills load and it lists velocity of 1,250 Feet Per Second (“FPS”) and 399 Foot Pounds (“Ft/#) of energy. The .380 boasts a 95 grain load at 945 FPS and 188 Ft/# of energy. It is a smaller bullet at about 20 % slower speed and 50 % or one half the energy. It is about the same diameter and has about the same frontal area as the 9mm but far less penetration.
    I have read quite a few reports of officer shootings where the 9mm had no margin of error and ended with a bad result. Probably the most famous is the FBI Miami/Dade County fiasco that most everyone knows of. I recall one 9mm hit on a perpetrator in that shooting that would have been fatal, allegedly, if it had not hit the perp’s arm first. The perp stayed in the fight after that hit and may have been responsible for the death of one of the two FBI agents involved. I have read other somewhat similar reports.
    If memory serves, the FBI concluded that no standard pistol round could reasonably guarantee a one shot stop and a “double tap” was viewed as a solution. Given that study, why would most anyone consider a .380 as an ideal defensive handgun? It has half the available energy of a 9mm — so, on that basis do you have to shoot the perp 4 times to get the same result as two from the 9?
    Maybe you are that skilled in a situation likely involving extreme stress but I do not consider myself quite that talented or reliable. I want an edge when my life is likely at stake.
    My edge is belief in the .45 ACP, or the 5.56 as a minimum when my life is at stake. But, it is a free country and to each his own. Yet, I worry about those with less experience, less knowledge and less skill who may just wander into a dangerous situation with his/her .380 feeling entirely in control and safe from most any threat. That worries me. Will they take a risk they would not otherwise take, feeling well protected? I hate to see people I know and like take undue risks. What do you think?

  41. “If you can legally carry a knife [GUN] and have training, the odds go up in your favor. The only response must be immediate lethal force.”
    Every place of public assembly already has the most effective device against an active shooter (and “Attacker” since the latest machete attack), and that is a fire extinguisher. If you are in a “No Gun Zone” (aka “Unarmed Victim Zone”) this may be your only choice. So when you are at the movies, in church, etc. make sure you sit close to this device. It is easy to operate, can easily blind the shooter, and makes a great bludgeon when spent. Active Shooters are not expecting and do not train for attacks from their victims – putting them on the defensive can easily upset their ‘master plan’. Also they do not typically do much firearms training (except for the SB shooters) to avoid calling attention to their plans, so a moving target is difficult for them to hit.
    Do you want to die trying to stop the attack, or take one in the head because you answered with the wrong religion? Do you want to survive and then have to spend the rest of your life wondering if you could have done more? If you do not live your life in Condition Yellow then your card is already punched.

  42. You are as well armed as possible, that is a fine choice.
    You are practicing more than 80 per cent.

    Good man!

  43. Excellent information! As retired military who has been involved in many armed terrorist interdictions, I can attest to the fact that the shooting stops when the aggressor is rendered a non-threat. The language in this article is succinct and to the point. There’s no need to soften the tone or to use language that could cause confusion; knowledge is power and stupidity will get you killed. The tactics discussed are the very same I used to teach my loved ones on how to react during an active shooter situation. Don’t be a hero, take cover and respond to the threat only if you are able.

  44. I carry a Glock 21. I like the 45 and the 13 round mag. I usually practice in the back yard in the standing, kneeling and prone position at targets set in different areas. It works pretty good.

    1. This is a great article. When in a situation where you, and the people around you are facing certain death is not the time to be hesitant or worried about PC conventions.

      These people will only stop when they are dead. They want to die in the act . . . . oblige them.

      My EDC is a Glock 21 with 13+1 HTP and always at least one spare mag. I can shoot well from long ranges with both a normal strong hand, two handed grip . . and with a single handed weak hand grip, and I have been in enough situations and had enough training that I know I will give a good accounting of myself and I will not hesitate.

      If you can’t say the same thing, then get some training and think . . . really think about why you carry a gun.

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