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Active Shooter Defined - What the Concealed Carry Holder Needs to know Part II

Updated: Mar 3, 2018

In part I we defined “Active Killer” per Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) Definition. We expressed the importance of D.H.S. recommended response of Run, Hide Fight to better our survival. We also examined civilian training methods based on the D.H.S. recommendations, including A.L.I.C.E. and 4E’s method. In part II we will introduce the armed concealed carry holder.

As a responsible concealed carry holder, we should be training, keeping situational awareness, running possible scenarios in our head, studying our federal and state laws of deadly force, etcetera. Why? Because: [we are]

Preparing to utilize deadly force to protect ourselves or another from death or great bodily harm (720 ILCS 5/7-1).

The active killer event takes a somewhat different mindset. The active killer is more than a criminal committing a crime by the utilization of a weapon. The active killer is typically a mentally disturbed individual with no rational or systematic method of killing. It is someone whose prepared to kill and once s/he has started they will kill as many as possible.

As a concealed carry holder, what can we do in such an event? What do we do? We assess the situation by learning from previous events. Learn from current training programs and apply them to concealed carry.

Considerations during an active killer event

Training: Training ourselves to respond to a deadly threat is important, but we need to further our training. Training should emphasize target discretion and accuracy. During an active killer event, it WILL be chaotic, loud, scary, emotional. You need to be extremely accurate if you can identify the threat. Further, you should be especially aware of your background and surroundings.

Do scenario-based training, which will soon be offered by Halo Defense Training & Tactics. This is a great way to combat stress and correct non-preferred behaviors and build upon appropriate actions. Also, if all your firearms training is static, firing-line only, you are hindering yourself.


One of the main factors in choosing a concealed carry firearm is the size, or lack of, which limits ammunition capacity. In other words, a concealed carry firearm may not be the gun to go on the offensive during an active killer event. Imagine hunting a suspect carrying an AR with thousands of rounds with your Ruger LCP and seven rounds. Not that you couldn’t but it’s not practical and you may put yourself in a comprising situation.

History shows if a suspect is armed with a gun they're well armed. The best option may be to consider the three D.H.S. recommendations of, hide, escape or if absolutely necessary engage the suspect. Except as a concealed carry holder, you enhance the options exponentially. For example, barricading a room full of people, while “covering” the entrance with your firearm is practical and gives you the advantage. Helping people escape, while you “cover” them is also a practical use of your firearm. Or if the suspect encounters you, I'm confident s/he would not be prepared of you being armed.

Limitations: Know your limitations. Yes, carrying seven, thirteen rounds, or sometimes less can be a disadvantage. Distance is another limitation. Can you accurately shoot a suspect, surrounded by innocents, with a three-inch barrel, subcompact, firearm? Part of being a responsible firearms owner is knowing your limitations. Having a gauge of our limitations will help with training, so we can push past them and become better.


Mindset: Mindset is also a limitation. Again, an active killer event is a high-stress, critical incident. Similar to police officers, the concealed carry holder must make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving (Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386. 1989). More than likely circumstances are also rapidly deteriorating. I will reiterate, know your limitations.

Scanning: Scanning is not only continuously monitoring your surroundings, it's examining people to ensure they're not threats. In SWAT we learn early on the five-point scan. Everyone encountered should be scanned, in order: whole body, hands, waist, demeanor and background. This is essential and with training can be performed quickly. You cannot shoot first and ask questions later!

Other concealed carry holders: Another consideration is the possibility of other concealed carry holders. What if you observe someone running, carrying a firearm? Might you engage? What if s/he is also a concealed carry holder, refusing to be a victim. With a good scan you may determine s/he is a concealed carry holder, but will they assess you the same? Remember the scene is chaotic, with people running, screaming, potentially injured and you, more than likely, will not know who or where the suspect is.

Everyone encountered should be scanned, in order: whole body, hands, waist, demeanor and background!

Encountering the suspect: You encounter the armed suspect of an active killer event. This is why training and knowledge is important. Knowing when deadly force is justified. If the suspect, armed with a firearm, is shooting at people, will ordering the suspect, “Stop or I will shoot,” be required? In Illinois (which is similar in most or all the states) we may use deadly force if we reasonable believe by doing so will prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to ourselves or another (720 ILCS 5/7-1). Therefore, once we determined the armed subject is the threat we should take immediate action.

What if the suspect realizes you're armed and s/he runs away? Is the suspect still armed? Is s/he running in an area where s/he may continue the rampage? Is it be reasonable to believe shooting the suspect as s/he runs away would prevent imminent death or great bodily harm?

The police:

Another extremely important consideration. During an Active Shooter event it may not be a good idea to be running around with a gun. Although the 911 telecommunicator may be receiving hundreds of calls, it would still be prudent to call 911 yourself. Let them know your location, clothing, race, anything to identify yourself and you are legally carrying.

If contacted by police, DROP your firearm, show your hands and follow directions. You may have a pristine, expensive, flawless gun; drop it, it's not worth your life to set it down nicely. Don't pose a threat and be prepared to be placed in handcuffs, until they can properly identify you. Chances are the officer’s adrenaline is through the roof. Wait until they properly secure you before informing you're a valid concealed carry holder and not a threat. Whether they initially believe you, at least they can continue to search for the threat.

If contacted by the police DROP your gun!


Carrying a firearm is an awesome responsibility. It can save lives. It can save your life. There may be other considerations during an active killer event, but I wanted to address the more important ones. When armed with training, knowledge and a firearm, the concealed carry holder can be an important asset to an active killer event. Regardless what someone says, or reports, if the concealed carry holder can save even one life, that should be commended. Life is precious.

It is important to note, this article does not address calculated, terrorist events, frequented by many other countries. Several considerations in this article are relevant. However, those events, are far more complex with many other applications to consider.

Halo Defense Training & Tactic’s Instructors have a vast knowledge of Active Shooter response for both law enforcement and civilians. The instructors also have experience in training corporations with armed security and civilian preparedness. Our Illinois 16/8 Concealed Carry Course includes a small, but relevant, lesson regarding Active Shooter Response for the Concealed Carry Holder to give our students the edge. This is why Halo Defense Training & Tactics stands out from other companies and should be your number one choice when seeking a company to instruct your firearms training.

As always, Continue to train, stay safe and stay armed!

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