LITIGATION: Don’t Get Shot
A deadly shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas has led to lawsuits being threatened against the Air Force for failing to properly deal with information related to the gunman and against the seller of the firearm. While a discussion of the legal basis for those suits would be interesting, I want instead to share some information that might keep you from becoming a plaintiff in such a suit. While this information is neither original with me nor can I verify that it represents the best available information, it is representative of most of the discussions I have read or heard on this topic and it makes sense to me.
DON’T GET SHOT BY THE ASSAILANT
DON’T GET SHOT BY THE RESPONDING LAW ENFORCEMENT TEAM
In an “active shooter” situation, there are two distinct dangers to avoid. One is the shooter himself (or herself) while the other is the possibility that law enforcement personnel will mistake you for the shooter and open fire on you. These suggestions seek to address both. Every situation is different, but these suggestions may prove useful. If you are like me, having a simple memory device comes in handy, and here the acronym, A.D.D. is useful.
A – AVOID THE CONFRONTATION
D-DENY ACCESS TO YOUR LOCATION
AVOID: Call 911. If safe to do so, exit building immediately carrying nothing with you, palms upraised and visible (so officers know you aren’t the shooter).
DENY ACCESS: Put cell phones on vibrate so shooter doesn’t “hear” your location. Seek a room you can lock or barricade and turn out the lights.
DEFEND: As a last resort, swarm the shooter using a pack mentality; use chairs, fire extinguishers or other objects as weapons; grab any weapon the shooter has and point it away from people.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM RESPONDING LAW ENFORCEMENT TEAM
Be aware that officers may be in plainclothes, ordinary uniforms or wearing tactical gear. They should though be recognizable as law enforcement officers.
Responding officers are first tasked with locating and neutralizing the threat, so even though you may be injured, they will not stop to assist you. Other trained personnel will follow them to tend to injured individuals.
The responding officers don’t necessarily know who the bad guy or guys are. Obey commands from responding officers; they may point their weapons at you as they attempt to determine who is/are the shooter(s). Don’t move suddenly or reach for anything. A seasoned hand-gun instructor was the first person I heard point out that even if you are legally carrying a weapon, if responding officers see a person with a weapon, they are likely to assume that that person is most probably one of the bad guys. Keep that in mind when considering “unholstering” (i.e. displaying) your weapon for any reason during an active shooter situation.
Tips on safely EXITING a building:
1. Have a route planned before attempting to leave
2. Do not carry anything with you
3. Move steadily keeping hands and palms visible and upraised
4. Do not attempt to treat or remove injured persons (but note their location to be given to emergency responders)
5. Proceed to a safe location
6. Remain at the designated assembly area until you are released to go by authorized persons
Remain calm. Hopefully none of this will ever be needed, but the Bible or the Koran or Groucho Marx or someone said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!
[An abbreviated version of this article previously ran in The Wimberley News and Views magazine and The Dripping Springs Outlook magazine.]