8 Tactics to Help You and Your Children Survive a Mass Shooting

1999 to 2010 gun homicidesI really wish I didn’t have to write this article. The fact that I feel this is necessary information saddens me. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 – 2010, 140,875 people were murdered with a gun.Based on their numbers, that meant each person had a .00399% chance during those 11 years of being murdered with a gun.

I say murdered because the report I ran doesn’t include accidental shooting deaths, suicides, or law enforcement related shootings. Click here  if you want to run some reports of your own. I give you this information to show you that gun related deaths are a fact of life in this day and age.

No matter how many laws or regulations are in place, bad people will always do bad things – including murder.I am not in any way trying to push any political agendas, so I will leave it at that.

Anyway, I can almost guarantee you that not a single one of those 140,875 people woke up on their last day and knew what was coming. I hope that this information will help prevent you and your loved ones from becoming another statistic.


1. Be aware. Maybe it’s my Army training. Maybe I’ve watched The Bourne Identity too many times. Maybe I’m just paranoid. Whatever the reason is, I am always on the lookout for suspicious people or behavior. This definitely doesn’t mean racial profiling or stereotyping – anyone can be crazy. For example, if you’re walking on the boardwalk of a beach in 90 degree weather and see someone wearing a trench coat  it should send up a red flag in your mind. If you’re in a coffee shop and see someone sitting in the corner with a hat and sunglasses on “reading” a newspaper while twitching and looking around nervously, that should set off alarms in your head. You also don’t want to start a panic if something like this happens – leave the area if you have to and alert the proper authorities of your suspicions. If you don’t feel the threat is bad enough to leave, at least keep watch on suspicious people while they are around. I also make sure to try to sit with my back to a wall and facing larger openings in a restaurant and take notice of where all the exits are. Call me paranoid, but at least I’ll be ready for the worst case scenario. The best way to avoid becoming a gunshot victim is to not be around when bullets start flying.

2. Stay calm. You hear a loud bang. Someone screams as their loved one falls to the ground in a pool of blood. More bangs. Panic erupts. What you do next could mean the difference between life and death. Before you start running anywhere, try to find out where the shooting is coming from – some people can be so panicked that they might run directly toward the shooter. Staying calm will help you make better decisions and is imperative throughout the next 6 steps.

3. Stay low. The fastest way to get anywhere on foot is obviously standing straight up and running as fast as you can, but it may not always be the safest. Standing up straight exposes more surface area of your body. Also, if there are a lot of people in the area and the shooter’s intent is to harm as many people as possible, he will most likely be aiming chest high. If you can’t crouch and run at the same time, at least bend over at your waist and bend your knees as much as you can. Crawling could be an option sometimes depending on the circumstances and surroundings, but could be the worst decision in some cases – I’ll tell you why in number 4. In the very unlikely event of a grenade or other explosion, laying on the ground would be a good option – the ground acts as a reflector and sends shrapnel at an upward angle.


4. Stay off walls. I don’t know the exact physics or angles required, but we’re trained in the Army to stay at least 6 inches off of walls because bullets have a tendency to travel down walls (and the ground) once they ricochet. Concrete and brick walls make great cover to get behind, but don’t be completely leaning against one.

5. Cover and concealment. These two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Cover is something that will stop a bullet. Concealment is not being able to be seen. For example, bullet proof glass is cover but not concealment, and a plume of smoke provides concealment but not cover. Finding cover is your first choice. If you can’t find cover find some form or concealment – curtains, table cloths, under the chairs at a movie theater, etc.  A random bullet could still find you, but at least the shooter won’t be able to directly aim at you.

6. Don’t follow the crowd. Again, if someone’s intent is to shoot as many people as possible, they’re probably going to be aiming where the most people are and shooting at random. Sometimes staying where you are could be your best choice. If you’re with other people, try to keep your group together and get out of danger without following the biggest crowd. If you do have to be in a large crowd, stay on the side opposite the shooter – sad to say, but better someone else in the crowd gets shot before the bullet gets to you. A crowd of people running can be dangerous by itself – people get trampled every Black Friday it seems like.

7. Use shielding. A chair. A table. Your purse. A book bag with a text book in it. Your bug out bag if you happen to have it with you. Anything you have with you that will either stop, slow down, or deflect a bullet could end up saving your life. Bulletproof backpacks have become increasingly popular given all of the school shootings since Columbine. The term “bullet proof” as it relates to these back packs is really a misnomer. “Bullet resistant” is a more proper term. Before you buy any type of “bullet proof” items make sure you do your research on what they’re rated for. These backpacks are made out of NIJ IIIA material which is rated to stop all handgun rounds up to and including .44 magnum. They WILL NOT stop a rifle round. Given the choice, I would still rather my child have one of these back packs instead of a regular one from WalMart. There are also “bullet proof” items for teachers and professionals such as a bullet proof whiteboard and briefcase.


8. Don’t be a hero. This is last but definitely not least. Something the movies don’t always portray is that heroes die. Even with highly specialized and extensive training, police officers, Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors, firemen, etc still die in the line of duty. Trying to incapacitate the shooter is always a highly dangerous choice. In my opinion, this should only be attempted if you have a concealed weapon (and obviously a conceal and carry permit), and even then it is always risky. Not only are you making yourself more of a target for the shooter, but should any of your shots miss you might injure other people. You especially shouldn’t try to do anything if you are with other people – you will put them in even more danger if you are trying to attack the shooter. Sometimes taking out the shooter is the only option if you have no escape, but again – my suggestion is that this is a last resort.

Again, I hope none of you ever have to experience a situation like this, but if you do, I hope some of this information will come back to you. The information I have provided is not meant to cover every situation and every scenario but rather be a baseline and starting point for you to start thinking about and discussing with your family what you would if you ever found yourself in the middle of a mass shooting.

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6 thoughts on “8 Tactics to Help You and Your Children Survive a Mass Shooting

  1. I wonder how many of those people that were murdered with a gun was involved in gang or drug related activity?

    I say that only because in Canada almost every gun related death is due to gang activity in and around the greater Toronto area from people who have illegal hand guns.

    I’m betting a lot of this violence is in densely packed urban areas with high crime rates? From that maybe you could deduce that being in a location where this stuff isn’t likely to happen is the #1 deterrent?

    • Great questions, Mike. I’ll have to do some research on your thoughts. I’m also willing to bet that city areas have a higher murder rate than other demographics, but then again some of the worse shootings in recent history in the U.S. have been in rural areas. Maybe they just get more media coverage because of that fact. Being a country boy myself, I have to say I’m a little biased to living outside of city limits – more reasons than just violence though. Thanks for your coment!

  2. Your advice regarding “being a hero” is right on the mark. We had a mall shooter here in Oregon a few weeks ago. A guy with a concealed handgun license contemplated firing at the shooter, but refrained for all of the excellent reasons you recite. He was fair distance away, and could have missed and struck escaping shoppers or drawn the shooter’s fire toward persons not targeted. You would not believe the amount of flak this poor fellow took from all of the armchair quarterbacks. I really appreciate your avoidance of divisive po9litics and your concentration on simple realities. I want to be a survivor, not a survivalist (with all of the negative connotations that latter tem began to carry as it was co-opted by various political agendas). Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks for your support, J. Glad to see that other people out there agree with me on some things. I also like how you differentiated between being a “survivor” as opposed to a “survivalist.” Thanks again and stay safe out there!

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