Let’s re-define the phrase “active shooter” to the more accurate phrase “active killer” (“AK”) because that is what they are. Simple enough.
Now, here is what to do if you aren’t armed:
1.) Understand the psychology of an Active Killer. In a nutshell (no pun intended), the AK wants to kill as many people as possible. They want their “number” (of murdered) to be larger than anyone else. They don’t want hostages so negotiating is futile and will only get one killed. Finally, AK’s want easy targets and they are cowards as most end their own lives once confronted by someone with a firearm or some type of upper hand.
2.) Understand your own psychology. Events can’t be predicted, but always be on alert. If something weird happens your brain will try to make sense of it, but that delay in reacting can be deadly. So…
3.) Train for active killer situations. Take any and all courses you can. Prep over and over in your mind what you can do. How would you best evacuate? Where will you take cover if you can’t evacuate? What will you do if you actually end up face-to-face with the AK? Take self-defense classes specific to AK situations. Forget Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and MMA. These are great for sport, but it takes many years to get skilled enough in any of these forms of Martial Arts (or any martial art), and you need AK strategy more than anything else. (Except a gun that you know how to use.)
4.) Don’t Panic. So your brain has caught up to the situation and you’re still alive. You have a great chance of surviving this ordeal if you don’t panic and if you play the odds. (Sorry, unless you’re armed and know how to use the gun you’re carrying, the best advice i can give is “play the odds”*.)
5.) Play the odds. Your reaction has to be the best possible given the situation. We know,from thousands of survivors, what works.
6.) Know the following facts. Concealment (hiding) can work. Cover (hiding behind something that stops bullets) works. Fleeing, if safer than hiding, can work. Last ditch effort of aggressively attacking the AK works. So in more practical terms: Flee if you can. Hide in a locked room if you can’t flee. Take cover in the locked room, but plan an attack strategy while hiding. Be prepared to attack and kill the AK if they get into the room. (We know most go to unlocked rooms and continue the killing spree.) Continue hiding until the police find you.
Other Things to Remember: If you are able to flee make sure to hold your hands up so you don’t get shot. If you have a gun make sure you aren’t holding it when first responders arrive or they may mistake you for the killer and they will shot you. Don’t be alarmed if first responders seem rude to those who need first aid or more serious medical treatment; their primary concern is neutralizing the target.
*There have been so many AK’s over the past 20 years in the United States alone, that we have very accurate data on what happens during an active killer situation. Based on that data we are able to now give very good advice in how to survive and in how to die. Don’t die.
Follow the advice and play the odds. Unless you have a gun (and really know how to use it and are really willing to use it) all you have are the odds.