Active Shooter Defined - What the Concealed Carry Holder Needs to Know - Part I


“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing” - Theodore Roosevelt


There are many reasons people are looking to exercise their 2nd Amendment Rights by concealed carry. Obviously, they decide to do it to protect themselves and or loved ones. One very specific threat that convinces people to carry is the notorious active shooter/killer event. In this two-part series we will discuss the active shooter/killer event and the concealed carry license holder’s response to such an event.


Active shooter/killer events are a hot topic, especially, right now when debates are heated with concealed carry on school campuses. Kansas is one of the newest states to adopt carrying on campus. Other four year universities around the country are also debating the issues of guns on campus. Currently, in Illinois, we are not allowed to carry a concealed firearm at a “public or private community college, college or university” (430 ILCS 66/65 (15). Typically, a school campus is the first thought when discussing an active shooter/killer event; however, an active shooter/killer event can happen anywhere. An FBI study conducted between 2000 and 2013, showed about 24.4% occurred in a school (Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2013).


What is an active shooter/killer? The Department of Homeland Security definition is – An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims (DHS, 2008). In light of events such as that in Manhattan, New York and Nice, France, where a truck was the weapon of choice; Sagamihara, Japan, where a knife was the weapon of choice; and, London, England, where, again, a knife was the weapon of choice, I will refer to an active shooter/killer event as an active killer event, which encompasses all these events. Same definition just different weapon.


There are many things to consider during an active killer event. The old mentality to “hunker down,” hide, and hope the active killer passes has now changed. Programs such as ALICE Training Institute’s ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), Tier One’s 4E’s (Educate, Evade, Escape Engage) which stem from the recommendations of the Department of Home Land Security, are teaching civilians hiding is not the only option.



In itself, an active killer event is a high stress, critical incident. Our natural response to a high stress critical incident is one of the Three F’s: Fight, Flight or Freeze. Many active killer response programs taught to civilians use our natural reactions as a way to deal with the active killer event.

· Freeze – hide in place,

· Flight – attempt to escape,

· Fight – or, without any other option, engage the active killer.



For example, ALICE Training Institute’s, ALICE is an acronym, which teaches individuals to:

· Alert- Contact 911 and describe to the best of your ability the active killer, your location and the active killer’s location.

· Lockdown- If unable to escape, secure your location, develop a plan to deny the active killer a target and prepare your response to the threat posed by the active killer.

· Inform- Continue to inform emergency services about the location of the active killer and your location.

· Counter- Consider your options; use new thinking; Evade if possible, retaliate if necessary.

· Evacuate- When possible move. Scatter and spread out (ALICE Training Institute).


Similar to ALICE Training Institute, Tier One Tactical Solutions teaches the 4E’s:

· Educate- Educate yourself and others and prepare for an event before it occurs. In high stress, critical events, people often revert back to their training.

· Evade- If you are unable to escape, then evade. Don’t just “hunker down,” but “bunker down.” Blockade/obstruct doorways, make it difficult for the active killer to enter your location.

· Escape- If safe, escape, have a route in mind.

· Engage- If there is no other avenue, engage him. Disrupt and/or distract him, then FOLLOW UP! Escape if you can, overpower if you must.


Not let us introduce the armed concealed carry holder to the active killer event. As a concealed carry holder, what should we do? What could we do? In part two of Active Shooter Defined - What the Concealed Carry Needs to know we will explore important considerations for the armed concealed carry holder during an active killer event.


Learning from current training programs and applying them to concealed carry is one of the benefits found in taking the Illinois Concealed Carry Course taught by Halo Defense Training & Tactics. Our instructors continue to educate themselves to provide you with the most current and up to date practices. Being armed with knowledge of the applications of your firearm is just as important as being armed with your firearm.


Continue to train, stay safe and stay armed!

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