Living In An Active Shooter World

Living In An Active Shooter World
Developing your handgun presentation skills—drawing the handgun—can be critical to maximizing your chances of surviving a lethal confrontation. Equally important and simple to add to a dry fire training system, practicing holstering your handgun safely and efficiently.

At this very moment, it’s likely that someone is thinking about becoming the next headline, the next person to grab a gun and go into a school, shopping mall or sporting event—and start shooting. If you’re in the same proximity, are you prepared to stop him? We’re talking legally, morally, tactics, equipment and skills.


Every jurisdiction allows the use of force in defense of self or others, if you have reasonable grounds to believe lives are in danger. In an active shooter situation, when blood has been shed and continues to be shed, you will not be held culpable for any law violation, unless you shoot the wrong person or persons.

And, yes, if you pull up to the school and hear shooting and screaming, with kids running away from the sound of the shooting, you can enter that gun-free zone to save kids’ lives. It’s called the doctrine of competing harms; if you do not understand that term, look it up.


There’s no question that putting yourself in harm’s way to save innocent lives is the moral thing to do. Let’s move on.


Most instructional shooting schools teach a variety of tactics first designed for law enforcement, and if you’re fortunate, they’ve been correctly adapted for the civilian sector. But they likely don’t cover teaching what to do in an active shooting scenario, except the mention of running away.

I’m not a hero, and I don’t plan on placing my life in danger for no serious reason. But if I see innocent lives being taken, I’ll attempt to intervene, and if I get taken out doing so, it was God’s will. With good health, I have another 30 or so years left on this planet. If I go early, that’s fate. If I go because I was trying to save innocent school children, I can’t think of a better way to go.

There’s one firearms training school that will teach you how to even the odds a little—retired Lt. Col. Ed Monk’s Last Resort Training. Monk has been studying the active shooter problem for years and is now teaching many courses around the country regarding facing the active shooter threat. He’s easy to find; Google is your friend.

Equipment And Skill

The armed citizens’ world is being overrun with tiny polymer pistols shooting a dozen or so 9mm rounds. That’s great news, as so many more people are actually carrying guns for defense, as opposed to storing their blaster at home in their underwear drawer.

But is that tiny polymer wonder up for the job of stopping the body-armor-wearing, AR-15-toting killer?

Sure, if you get close enough for a head shot—but in my world, closing on a hard target isn’t the optimum strategy. Instead, I’d like to take that shot from behind hard cover from at least 25 yards away. That means using a full-sized pistol, not a mini.

You see, while baby 9s are great for concealed carry and should do the job nicely at the counter of your local convenience store, the short sight radius and smaller sights make that headshot between 25 and 50 yards more luck than skill. I’d rather tip the scales in my favor by having a 4-inch barrel or greater and a good set of combat sights. According to Monk’s research, once you engage an active shooter, he’ll either turn the gun on himself or return fire upon you. It takes a little more work to carry a full-sized gun concealed, but it’s a trade-off worth considering.

However, along with the equipment to engage an active shooter at long distance, one also needs the requisite skill. If you don’t have access to competent training, you can teach yourself … once you have the basics down. An 8-inch steel target at 25 yards that you can ring consistently will work great.

But some people don’t have access to that distance of shooting range, and they have to settle for the commercial indoor range. No problem: Practice shooting inside a 2-inch circle at 7 yards. That equates to a 6-inch group at 25 yards. If you can do that consistently, you should be well on your way to active shooter interdiction competency.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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  1. Spree killer or mass shooter, please.

    Please stop using that pejorative term “active shooter”.

    Yes, I know that cops and the media love it and it is descriptive, but other phrases also work.

    Thank you.


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