Thoughts On Civilian Response To An Active Shooter


By: Michael Bronson

I always ask people’s plans as civilian response to active shooter. Far too many haven’t thought things out, let alone properly trained for it.

There’s a rolling gunfight in a mall – how do you distinguish and target discriminate bad guys from good guys? How are you handling possible fellow CCWers? What are your IFF tactics? What are your actions for link-up and consolidation?

Who is with you? Are they assets – fellow shooters able to form and function as a team)? Have you trained movement, communication, and tactics for this? Or are they principles that need to be protected? Have you planned for and trained that?

How are you planning to deal with PAX co-located with you? Are you herding cats to safety, sheltering in place, or going hunting? Do you have your gun out and if if so, why? Are you going to look out of place not running around everywhere or laying down? Are you going to look like you’re an active shooter yourself? How are people going to react to that?

How are you going to deal with First Responders? How are they going to perceive you? Are you going to know they’re on site? Are you going to change tactics if you know they’re on site? What is their response time – both minimum and maximum? What are their Active Shooter TTP’s?

What happens if you are wounded or need to treat casualties? What’s your medical plan? Do you have the training to intervene successfully? Do you have medical supplies on your person? Are they for you or others? Are you willing to up your loadout when traveling to places that potentially warrant it for both target engagement and survivability items?

What happens if you successfully reduce the target? Are you going to frisk them as a singleton? Restrain them as a singleton? If so – how and with what? Shoot them in the face? Also remember, there may be more than one threat. Maintaining 360* security as a singleton is exponentially more difficult. Move on and hope he’s leaked enough fluids and will no longer be a threat?

What are second and third order consequences of your actions? Will First Responders slow their advance while restraining and tactically questioning you? Will this cause further loss of life?

Truth be told, I am more worried about getting smoke checked by First Responders as a civilian responder myself than I am by the bad guys. I consider it the cost of doing business. Even if I do everything right (prosecute angles, holstered, IFF items, posture & demeanor) there’s still a sizable risk of getting shot by the good guys and it would be considered a good shoot. There ain’t no free lunch.

Are you willing to risk your life, your friends lives, families lives, or living the rest of your life paralyzed to stop evil? Because there are the consequences. If you’re not – change TTP’s accordingly.



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