Active Shooter Response: How to Survive a Shooting Event

There was just another active shooter incident recently. It seems that this is becoming an almost weekly, if not monthly, occurrence. It is not your imagination; the frequency of such tragic occurrences is increasing. I will not argue for or against more gun control laws or for different background checks or about the number of guns available for sale. Even if no one was ever allowed to purchase a new gun from this day forward, it is estimated that there are already approximately 393M guns owned in America. Considering a population of nearly 326M, that would suggest that, on average, there are 1.2 guns owned by every citizen. So, if you don’t own one, nor do your parents, then someone else owns 4 guns, on average. No, the problem is not preventable since the weapons are already available. People intent on doing harm have the tools available for carrying out this carnage.

As someone who teaches an active shooter prevention class, I know the statistics and the evil that certain people demonstrate when it comes to causing harm to others. I am well aware that the average active shooter completes their deadly deeds within 3–5 minutes, and that law enforcement, on average, takes 5-6 minutes to arrive on the scene. I also know that most active shooters have a death wish so they expect to be killed in the rampage they are looking to cause. But there is hope.

Awareness, education and planning are the keys to possibly surviving an active shooter situation. Certainly, the concert goers at the site of the Las Vegas shooting on October 1, 2017 were “sitting ducks” and other than wearing body armor and helmets they could have done little to prevent being injured or killed. I would counsel my readers that one must always consider the possibility that some deranged person means to cause harm, indiscriminately. Rather than staying home or wearing armor from head-to-toe, you should at least consider where the exits are in your theater, church, or school and so there is a quick means to get out. I would counsel that you should keep an eye on people that might have suspicious behavior around you. If you know a person in your company who is experiencing dangerous upheavals in their life see if your offer of friendship and counsel might not be defusing for them. If you are going to own a gun, keep it under lock and key but accessible if danger is eminent. Know how to use your gun and keep it well maintained. If you are dealing with bouts of depression give your guns to another legally licensed person for safekeeping, or give them up to your local law enforcement personnel.

Should you be the victim of an active shooter incident seek counseling. As returning soldiers, who deal with the aftermath of combat and therefore, evidence the symptoms of PTSD, so too may those who have endured seeing others shot or stabbed. Know first aid or sign up for a course in basic life-saving at your local Red Cross center. When it comes to commercial insurance, make certain your company or not-for-profit carries coverage against violent behavior and the legal consequences of an incident from such a possible event.

While I am sorry that my article is not more upbeat, we at Merriam Insurance are in the profession of risk management and this topic is not often considered, much less taught. We live in a beautiful, but dangerous world. Being prepared for possible bad things allows us to better enjoy the blessings of good things. If you would like to have a further discussion about any of these matters, please contact us. Thank you for your trust and allowing us to be of service to you.

Brian H. Merriam, CPCU, ARM, AAI
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