The attacks of Paris, France, San Bernadino, California and elsewhere have galvanized the world, angered many and motivated some to start looking at their own vulnerability and preparation. The responses I hear from a wide variety of people are predictable but most of them have never taken the time to really look at the big picture before they start talking.
While active shooters are not a new phenomenon, the terrorist active shooter (TAS) in the U.S. may well be the next phase of an escalating worldwide strategy. It is important to recognize the differences between a TAS and what we have dealt with before.
The "typical" active shooter scenario involves a lone gunman intent on revenge for whatever slights or misdeeds that he feels justifies killing people. Our response is to go after the shooter ASAP and usually they kill themselves at the first sign of armed response.
The terrorist active shooter, on the other hand, is ideologically driven. He sees himself as a martyr for a cause greater than himself. His purpose is to fulfill a mission and create terror in the hearts of the enemy. He will most likely not kill himself right off when the good guys show up and will more than likely do his best to kill as many people as he can, which includes all who come after him.
He may be working in concert with others. I can envision him coming at you with a long gun, full magazine, and body armor, not caring whether he lives or dies as long as he takes you with him. He will have trained and prepared himself for the mission for weeks, months, or even years ahead of time. He will have been coached, mentored, and encouraged in his path to martyrdom and the great beyond.
Are you prepared to stop a terrorist active shooter if you witness or are a victim of an attack? Before ever considering engaging such a deadly threat, you need to consider your own values and preparedness. Below are several questions to help you gauge your mindset and ability to engage an active terrorist shooter:
In taking on the terrorist active shooter, it is impossible for the police to be everywhere at once. There is a deadly void between the start of an incident and the arrival of LE first responders. If people are being killed and law enforcement is not there, it is unacceptable to me to run, hide, or wait for police if I have the means to do something about it.
The threat of terrorists to our country and our communities is a growing problem and one that we can no longer ignore. Short of having armed guards or law enforcement in every possible place where a terrorist might show up, CCW holders remain the only viable option we have to protect our space. What’s more, they are going to do it whether government officials or LE want them to or not. The right of self-protection cannot be ignored or slighted.
Courage does not come with a uniform, it resides in the individual. You do not have to be a cop, military spec ops, or have secret mall ninja training to make a difference. I applaud anyone who is willing to be proactive and risk their life to protect others.
Law enforcement and government agencies need to treat CCW holders as a valuable, volunteer resource and actively work with them as part of an overall response plan–rather than treating them as a necessary evil. This is going to take a change in attitude, or if necessary, leadership, to get a meaningful, coordinated response plan going and not just give it lip service.
An active, coordinated response to a TAS incident is vital to protecting the public. Government and LE are part of the response plan. CCW holders are also a factor in the response and I recommend that they be included as a necessary part of any response strategy. They will most likely be the "first responders" to a TAS incident in areas where CCW or open carry is legal.
Ron Avery, co-founder
Tactical Performance Center