What should you do in a mass shooting?

A grocery store. A church. A primary school. Again.

Over the course of 10 days this month, mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, Laguna Woods and Uvalde, Texas have claimed dozens of lives, devastated families and communities and left people across the US on edge.

As of Wednesday, there have been 213 mass shootings in the United States this year, according to data Archives of Gun Violence, a non-profit organization that tracks data on gun-related violence. Mass shootings are defined as incidents in which four or more people are shot dead.

Corresponding FBI data2,851 people died in 333 active shooter incidents in the US between 2000 and 2019, defined as “a person actively involved in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.”

Of the more than 45,000 gun-related deaths in the US in 2020, nearly 54% were suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 42% or about 19,300 were homicides. Determining how many homicides were the result of mass shootings or active shooter incidents depends on how deaths are counted. The FBI puts the total number of people killed in active shooter incidents in 2020 and 103 in 2019 as 38 people. Using the Gun Violence Archives definition of mass shootings, the Pew Research Center reported a total of 513 people were killed in 2020. However, “mass shooting deaths in the United States account for a small fraction of all gun homicides that occur nationwide each year,” Pew says on its website.

Although mass shootings are far less common than other forms of gun violence, they are once again occupying the news and our fears. Experts emphasize that when you are in an active shooting situation, it is important to be prepared and aware of your surroundings.

Resources for suicide prevention and crisis counseling

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, seek professional help and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In the US and Canada, text “HOME” to 741741 to reach the crisis text line.

In any public space, Brian Rauchbach said, people should be aware of the “baseline” of behavior. Rauchbach is the owner and head trainer of the Elite Training Center in Redondo Beach, which teaches various forms of mixed martial arts and self-defense classes for active marksmen.

Basic behavior involves seeing how people walk, speak and act around you.

“People who make plans to harm other people will be outside of that baseline because they are doing other things. They dress differently, they look different, they start treating people differently,” said Rauchbach. “And once they start implementing their plans or going through their plans, they definitely stand out.”

The run, hide, fight model

The US Department of Homeland Security suggests using the run, hide, fight model if you ever get caught in a mass shooting.

Rauchbach told The Times last year about his active shooter and self-defense courses.

“The class looks at the possibility of engaging active shooters and what that means both mentally and physically for someone who is a civilian,” he said.

Katie Toney, manager of the Elite Training Center, emphasized the importance of active shooter training in everyday life.

“Ordinary citizens are the first line of defense,” Toney said. “So they need to have a rough idea of ​​what to do before law enforcement arrives.”

Run, Hide, Fight training is commonplace in some workplaces and schools, but what does it really mean?

To run

When you find yourself in a gunfire situation, your natural reaction may be to freeze. It’s important how long it takes you to thaw and exercise, Rauchbach said.

Your primary focus should be putting as much “distance between you and the shooter” as possible, said Matthew Johnson, an instructor at Cohen Security, a San Diego firm that provides security services and training for active shooting situations.

In other words, run away.

“It’s very difficult to hit a moving target,” said Rauchbach. “Either when you’re aggressive or you’re moving away from something or you’re attacking, you’re still going from position to position, and those positions tend not to be in straight lines.”

When running, it’s important to make yourself a difficult target. That means staying low, moving fast, and staying calm. You might want to shout, Rauchbach said, but it can draw attention.


If you can’t escape, Johnson said the next step would be to “put as many obstacles or barriers between you and the shooter.”

Rauchbach said there were two ways to hide: concealment and cover.

Doors, shelves and desks are forms of concealment. They’ll hide you from a shooter’s line of sight, but they won’t stop a bullet.

Things like brick walls, concrete pillars, and solid steel provide the cover needed to stop bullets, but such structures aren’t always available.

Then Rauchbach said you should combine steps one and two – from cover to hiding and vice versa – until you’re safe.


If all else fails, you may have to fight.

Any number of objects around you – canned goods in a grocery store, books or computers in a classroom or office – can be used defensively.

Johnson says the specific object you use to defend yourself isn’t what matters, but the dedication to making the decision to fight.

“We’re literally talking about fighting for your life here, so anything can become a defensible weapon, whether it’s a book or a chair,” Johnson said. “When people think of ‘fight’ and ‘a weapon,’ it doesn’t necessarily have to be a knife or a gun. It can just be anything, anything, that you can weaponize and help defend your life.”

Once you’ve decided to fight, it’s much more effective to coordinate an attack with other people, Rauchbach said. The primary goal of an attack should be to disarm and “destroy” the target.

If the shooter has a pistol, Rauchbach said, focus on attacking the limb in control of the gun. In the case of long guns such. B. an AR-15, gain control of the gun by first deflecting the barrel. Then take down the shooter.

What else you should know

“Run, hide, fight” is not an exact science.

“It’s always a matter of individual judgment at the crime scene, so it’s not like if A plus B equals C then you have to run, and then B plus C equals D then you have to fight it,” Johnson said said. “Those are the general guidelines, but everyone has to decide for themselves.”

In reality, with some of these rare mass shootings, there is no time to realize what is happening, as in the case of the six-minute filming at the cinema in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. Still, education, preparation, and training play a role in both your safety and yours To improve mood, according to Rauchbach.

“The most important aspect of all this is the mindset,” said Rauchbach. “People focus a lot on the physical side, but the mental side is really everything. You won’t engage properly if you don’t have the right mindset.”

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-05-25/how-do-you-survive-a-mass-shooting-we-asked-experts-for-advice What should you do in a mass shooting?

Alley Einstein

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