It’s a scary world to live in when mass shootings outnumber the days there are in a year. Gun violence is, unfortunately, at an all-time high. In 2017 alone there were 325 mass shootings in America, deeming it the deadliest year in modern history. If that wasn’t disheartening enough, two of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history happened within a month from each other.
Mass Shooting Statistics
To provide a deeper look into the problem is, below is a visual graph that illustrates how many mass shooting deaths and injuries there’ve been since 2000.
While the debate for tighter gun laws is still a vast field of uncertainty, one this is clear: we should all be taking every step possible to ensure we know what to do if you’re in the situation.
How to Survive an Active Shooter Scenario
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Get to know your surroundings and always know where the exit signs and escape routes are. Try to make this a normal practice for yourself, especially if you’re attending a popular and/or crowded event. An active shooter can be a very chaotic experience and knowing how to quickly exit the area can be the difference between life and death.
Be Alert, Especially in Large Crowds.
Events with large crowds have been a big target for mass shootings in recent years. It’s an easy way for an active shooter to harm the most amount of people in the shortest time, so it’s important to always stay alert. For example, many of the people attending the Route 91 event in Las Vegas didn’t initially think or know the sounds they heard were, in fact, gunshots. Many of the people who were alert and realized the situation were able to flee the venue quickly and seek safety. Rule of thumb, always be alert.
If you realize there’s an active shooter in your area, evacuate as soon as possible. Run as fast as you can and as far away until you either reach law enforcement or have arrived to a safe destination. If you hear the shooter nearby opening fire, take cover and wait for them to pause and reload to begin traveling again.
Hide in Safe Area if you Can’t Escape.
- Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet. Once in a safe place, make sure to silence all electronics and make sure they won’t vibrate.
- Lock and block all doors, close blinds, and turn off lights.
- Try to avoid hiding in groups – spread along walls or throughout area to make it more difficult for the shooter to find victims.
- Try to Communicate with Law Enforcement Silently: You can now send text messages to 9-1-1, tag your location on social media, or put a sign on a window.
- Ensure your hiding place is out of the shooter’s view and protects you in case shots are fired your way.
Fighting back should be your very last resort. However, if you deem this your necessary route, you have to be prepared for it and commit to your actions 100%. This isn’t the cinema and one wrong move can be fatal. So, finding an escape is always the better option. As your absolute last resort, and only if your life is in imminent danger, should you attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
- Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
- Throwing items or something heavy and hard at them, trying to aim at the head, and improvising weapons
- Committing to your Actions: Remember, this isn’t the cinema and one wrong move, one second stalled, or one moment of second-guessing yourself could be the difference between life & death. Commit to your actions 100% and be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter. You can try recruiting others to also ambush the shooter with improvised weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, rocks, tables, books, etc.
When Law Enforcement Arrives…
Officers will proceed directly to the area where the last gunshots were heard. Law enforcement offices usually arrive in teams of four and may be armed with rifles, shotguns and handguns. Depending on the situation, officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation. When they arrive to the scene, do the following:
- Remain calm and follow the instructions given by officers
- Keep hands up, open, and visible to law enforcement
- Avoid making quick movements towards officers, such as holding on to them for safety
- Do NOT stop to ask officers for directions when evacuating. Just proceed in the direction where the officers arrived at the scene.
Hopefully you’ll never have to use any of these tips in real life. However, it’s always good to know and have in your back pocket. Share these tips with your friends and family. For more information regarding safety tips and how to handle an active shooter, visit the U.S Department of Homeland Security.