Concealed Carry: Engaging non-immediate threats.

The recent shooting in Nevada of the two police officers by the husband and wife duo cause a little bit of a stir both in the media and on gun forums. It wasn’t that these two deranged people thought that by shooting two cops in a diner while claiming a revolution was so outrageous, and neither was their suicide shortly after. What most people were talking about was the citizen who was legally armed that confronted them. While his intentions were good, they betrayed him. While acting heroically and probably how many of us would act, he was shot in the back by the wife while he confronted the husband, whom he thought was the only shooter.

Makes sense, right? A white male fits the usual report of an “active shooter”, and rarely do we see accomplices or female shooters. The Bonnie and Clyde setup is so rare, that I don’t think even most trained persons would initially consider it an option.

So what is one to do if they’re legally armed and see an active shooter?

Statistics say that engaging the shooter is not a terribly unsafe idea. However, the ideal and premise behind concealed carry today is to protect yourself or loved ones from immediate and imminent danger. If you see someone across the store shooting at people and you’re next to the emergency exit, you should probably take the exit. This is the common consensus among firearms instructors and for good reason.

  1. You don’t know the fight. This means that the guy you think you should target could very well be the cop trying to stop the shooter or suspect.
  2. You don’t know the fight. The single person you saw with the gun shooting at people could be part of a team.
  3. You don’t know the fight. The person running with the gun could be the victim.
  4. Did I mention you don’t know the fight?

Do you see a pattern here? Obviously you may have seen the entire thing unfold, and that could have the potential to change some of the above listed items. But that doesn’t change number 2. Just as the good Samaritan tried to stop the shooter in Nevada and was gunned down by an accomplice, so can you. Do you have a family? Do people care about you? These are important questions that you should know the answers to before you leave the house. Your actions should be logic based. If you can save another child, or wife, or mother, great. But if you save them at the cost of your life, and your child, wife, mother is now left alone, was the risk beneficial? This is a hard question which likely has no answer.

I could never tell someone not to engage an active shooter like the one in Nevada. I know that I could not in good conscience ignore the situation knowing that I had the training and tools to stop it. I must stress that if you are going to engage a shooter, that you’ve analyzed the entire situation from start to finish. Obviously these scenarios are dynamic, but you should have a good idea of how you will be engaging them, how you’re going to make sure you don’t get ambushed, and how you’re going to deal with the cops when they respond to an active shooter call and you’re the only one standing there with a gun.

Always have a plan, whether you carry daily or not. If you’re walking into Store X with your wife and kids, where are the exits aside from the front door? Is there anyone “people watching”? There are many things to be vigilant about, and the less time you spend in condition white the safer you and your family will be.

I have yet to see the video (if it will ever be released) of the citizen who engaged the Nevada shooter. I hope, for the sake of training, that we will get to see the video. Knowing how things went down that day will shed a lot of light on the subject of situational awareness and will help reform or strengthen what is currently being taught.

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Greg Ryman is a certified NRA instructor and RSO. He is also a California DOJ Certified Handgun Safety Instructor and a Certified Glock Armorer. Greg has been shooting for over 20 years and is the owner of Ryman Tactical.

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