How to survive a mass-shooting

st_54_featUnless you’ve been camping the whole weekend, you couldn’t have missed what transpired in Paris on Friday the 13th. The terrorist attacks that shook the French capital were terrible and as we’ve learned, they were organized by ISIS. It is horrific what these Muslims are doing around the world and the worst part is that we’re letting even more of them come into our country, thanks to our “commander in chief”.

If you watched the news, you know that the most people killed, were the ones in the concert hall. This hit the mark too close to home for my tastes, as America averaged in 2015 one mass shooting each day. So these things happen quite often and we need to learn what to do in order to survive.

st_56_1_1Mass shootings in America have taken place at schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, offices, and essentially any sort of public venue full of people you can imagine. The reason behind these shootings can be anything from a cultural/religious one to your garden-variety nut job.

Law enforcement calls these perpetuators: active shooters and the Department for Homeland Security defines them as:

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 firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.

Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims.

Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

Active shooter situations are becoming more frequent.

The truth of the matter is that active shootings are way too unpredictable, so we need to be more vigilent and more aware of our surroundings all the time. There is virtually no way to prevent a mass shooting safe for see the shooter and taking him out before anything starts, but there some precautionary steps to take which can improve your survival chance:

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Unless you are attending a evening ball with a black tie dress code, as much as possible wear clothes that provide you with mobility and shoes that are easy to run with.
  • Don’t be a peacock. This means your clothes should have neutral colors that don’t stand out in a crowd. While it’s true that there’s no pattern to the shooters victims, are you sure you want to be the guy in bright red in a sea of black, white and grey?
  • Keep an eye out for exits. Constantly identifying emergency exits and routes as you move through public areas will provide you with a quick plan of escape in case something happens.
  • Concealment and cover. While at work or in a public place that you often frequent, try to look and remember the location of different spots that can provide you with concealment (hiding place that provides protection from sight, but not bullets) and/or cover (hiding place that provides protection from both)
  • Know what gunfire sound like. Trust me it’s not like in the movies. Each type of weapon has a distinct sound when it fires.

These are all things that you should do before any hint of a mass shooting, because when the bullets start flying, according to the DHS, there are only 3 option available to you in this order:


  • If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.
  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow, but always take your loved ones with you
  • Run in zig-zag to avoid being shot
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe




  • If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you
  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement or escape
  • To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place lock the door
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture
  • Silence your cell phone and/or pager
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
  • Remain quiet






  • As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter
  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Commit to your actions
  • Use anything and everything as a weapon : chairs, books, sprays, scissors
  • Hit vulnerable areas such as : eyes, throat, ears, knees



As I was reading through the stories of the survivors in Paris, I saw that several people in the concert hall covered themselves with other bodies in order to appear dead. At gruesome as that sounds, it is a valid method of surviving. I would still encourage running over this, but if that’s your only option, take it.

It is important to understand that most of the survivors of mass shootings are people that ran as fast as their feet could take them. Don’t be misled by all the media and Hollywood make-believe stories.

I read an article about one of the survivors of the Utoya massacre in Norway who made a valid point regarding mass shooting and bravado:

When you talk to people after this happens, it doesn’t make any sense to them. Without fail, after any shooting, you’ll find someone who wasn’t there saying, “I would have run toward the shooting!” or, “Better to die fighting than being a coward.

They have the entire scenario with all the pertinent details served to them safely through a monitor or newspaper, and then act perplexed that people who are being shot at would act like people being shot at. “I would tackle the gunman!” Really? How would you know there’s only one? Maybe he has three accomplices who’ll easily gun you down before you even get the chance. You know what happened because you read about it after the fact. The only information we had at the time was a dark room, a dirty floor, and muffled noises from outside.

Life is not a movie and when a situation like this appears, you never have all the facts until it’s over. So planning anything other than leaving a dust trail in your wake, may prove fatal.




What other ways of surviving a mass-shooting do you know of? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Great article Ben! You’re absolutely correct. We never know where or when violence will happen anymore. Here’s a few safety precautions I utilize: I never sit with my back to a door, always try to keep a clear sight line from inside to out and remain observant of all the goings on around me; I never park next to vans or get close to anyone driving who stops to ask me a question; I stay away from poorly lit areas in parking lots; I walk with a “don’t mess with me” attitude if in a known bad area of town I may frequent due to work and living around; I don’t go out at night much and if I feel the least bit concerned, I ask someone to escort me to my car. Perhaps some of these can be helpful to others. It’s so very sad that terrorism has gotten to the point it has today. I’m resigning myself to the fact it’s only going to get worse and there’s really nothing any of us can do to stop it. Hearing that ISIS has thousands of our American youth recruited is especially scary given what happens overseas regularly. It’s only a matter of time before it will be us too.

  2. I disagree with some of what you said in this. Since we’re talking about a terrorist attack, so far they seem to be well planned. If I were a group of suicide bombers and I wanted to take out as many people as I could is something like a concert venue. I would shoot down and blow up people where I knew there would be the highest concentration. Namely the exits while everyone was trying to get out of Dodge.
    There was a movie in the 70’s, The Mechanic. Charles Bronson and Jan Michael Vincent. Bronson was a hit man that made his hits look like accidents. He would study his mark and trap them with their habits. That just always stuck with me and I try to make my biggest habit to not have habits.
    It’s like the one school shooting where the gunmen set off the fire alarm. They knew where everyone would be. In a terrorist situation doing what you are supposed to do and should do is what you are expected to do.

  3. All of this stuff is good common sense. One more thing. If you can not pull your gun in 2 seconds you need to correct something. I had a dog to come up on me fast the other day. It took me about four seconds to get my gun out. He was so close I put the gun on his nose. He smelled the gun and changed directions. I am going to take my holster to the shoe repair to sew up the bottom of the holster, so the gun does not set so deep in the holster. 2 seconds is all you got to save your life, wear your gun to church, you never know. Tom


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