Should CCW Holsters Engage Active Shooters?
This isn't a question you can get the answer from a second authority. Only you and you alone can make that decision. The legal consequences, the decisions, and the risk are yours and yours alone to bear the burden. That said, it's definitely good to assess the situation in the moment and decide if your involvement would be beneficial or not.
Why would it not be beneficial?
Well, if an active shooter is obscured from your direct line of sight, you are doing yourself no favors by engaging a target without knowing what's in front of him or behind him. More importantly, there's a good possibility if it's a crowded area you may do more harm than good.
Safety Is Always A Number One Priority
Pick your targets and follow the four basic safety principles.
1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
2. Don't put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to fire.
3. Do not point your weapon at anything you do not intend to destroy.
4. Know what is in front and directly behind your target.
In states where there are “Stand Your Ground” laws in place, you are perfectly fine engaging an active shooter given that you feel the circumstances warrant it in self-defense or the defense of family or even property. You are under no obligation to retreat.
That said, who knows what theoretical, imaginary situation you're faced with whereby you encounter an active shooter. While we all love to tout the victory tales, reality for you may have absolutely nothing to do with those scenarios.
The condition of the active shooter – his relative proficiency with a firearm, previous combat experience, and condition of his body and mind – all play important roles in determining whether or not he will acknowledge you as a threat. And if he does, here's one thing that doesn't get talked about a lot in the concealed carry community:
Use Cover And Concealment
This isn't the Wild West and there's no such thing as a good gunfight. Get those concepts right on out. If you're standing there, trading rounds with an active shooter – you're an idiot. And if you live, you'll be a lucky idiot.
It's not so much whether or not you should or should not engage an active shooter. It has everything to do with how you engage him (or them). Your first priority should be survival. And in that survival, it always helps to reduce the size of yourself as a target. Making a perfect silhouette for your enemy is about the kindest thing you can do for them.
Use thickened steel – like a dumpster – or brick and mortar to provide better cover for you and more stability in aiming. And yes – aiming is fundamental. A lot of concealed carriers will talk about how they will just draw their pistol out of their gun holster and magically put three or four bullets in the hostile target. Great. And if it works – even better.
If you're wrong, you're toast. So should you engage an active shooter?
That's really the only question you have to answer. The first is 'yes' if the second is 'no'.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.