Active Shooters: When Violence is the Answer: “Denial and Hesitation Makes For A Soft Target”

by | Jul 12, 2016 | Headline News | 40 comments

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    The following article has been contributed by Joe Alton, M.D. and Nurse Amy Alton, A.R.N.P. of They are the authors of the widely popular Survival Medicine Handbook.

    self-defense2 self-defense

    As a physician, my focus is how to heal wounds rather than how to cause wounds. A terrorist, however, has quite different goals. Normally, they have a short window of opportunity, and their focus is to cause as many casualties as possible during their brief (hopefully) remaining time on Earth.

    I’ve been asked quite a bit lately about what to do in active shooter situations. My standard answer has been the same as that given by the Department of Homeland Security: Run, Hide, Fight, in that order.

    Just as Stop, Drop, and Roll may save the life of someone on fire, Run, Hide, Fight may save the life of someone under fire. This is the order of the actions that I have been recommending in recent articles regarding active shooter situations.

    This sequence of actions is based upon the expected lifespan of the attack, and the attacker, in an active shooter event. Most active shooter events are over in a few minutes. Following the Run, then Hide, then Fight paradigm is often effective in these short-term events.

    When potential victims put distance between themselves and the shooter by running, they make themselves a more difficult target than someone laying on the ground two feet in front of the gunman. When targets remove themselves from the line of sight of a shooter by hiding in a different room, preferably with a barrier against the door, the gunman may, knowing his time is short, search for easier victims. Fighting back is recommended as a last resort; it’s a superior strategy to closing your eyes and taking a bullet to the head.

    Which takes us to the Orlando shooting. This horrific event took a full three hours before the threat was neutralized. This amount of time gave the gunman ample time to seek out people that were hiding, often in bathroom stalls, and make casualties out of those that would have survived if the event had been terminated more quickly.

    I’m not a member of a SWAT team, just an old sawbones, so I can’t comment on the time it took for SWAT team members to abolish the threat. I assume it had to do with concern about hostages and the safety of the team, all perfectly reasonable concerns.

    I have seen accounts of brave individuals helping people out of the building, which certainly saved lives, but I have yet to see any 9/11 Flight 93 “let’s roll” moments which indicated that some of the bar’s patrons tried to stop the killing by dropping the attacker.

    This disturbs me, as it is thought that the gunman fired off 200 rounds, something that would have required reloading magazines into the rifle multiple times. This was a rifle that the gunman had little experience with, so there must have been a number of opportunities to intervene in the killing and end the event. This, apparently, never happened and the casualties were a record for a lone gunman attack.

    The “success” of this terrorist may serve as a blueprint for future attacks. If there’s an exit to run through, it’s still the best option, in my opinion. Always be situationally aware and mentally mark where those exits are anytime you’re in a crowd. But if a gunman has three hours to find you, is hiding the next best thing? If someone was given three hours to find you in your house or your place of work, what do you think of their chances? Probably pretty good.

    This leads me to think that, in the Orlando shooting, fighting back would have cut down significantly on the casualties. Why did some of the 300 young and able people in the bar not take that option? It’s not as if the objective of the gunman wasn’t clear.

    It all comes down to the natural paralysis that occurs when something happens foreign to the average person’s thought process. We are all victims of normalcy bias: that is, we believe the events of the day will follow a certain pattern, because they always have. When this pattern is broken by an atrocity, the human brain processes it slowly; denial and hesitation makes for a soft target. Certainly, becoming violent is not part of the mindset of the average person in most scenarios.

    Yet, there are circumstances when violence is the answer. Statistics published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin indicate a significant minority of attacks which ended before law enforcement arrived were aborted by a single citizen without a firearm. In fewer instances, a firearm-carrying citizen terminated the event and, in other cases, the shooter terminated himself or law enforcement arrived to do him (and us) the favor.

    I’m not saying that it’s a great idea for 300 people in a bar to be carrying loaded weapons, but an unarmed citizen can still make a difference. The patrons of the Orlando nightclub where the shootings occur were, indeed, armed. There were bar glasses, bottles, and 300 cell phones that could have been used as projectiles to hurl at the gunman, while a number charged the attacker from different directions to drop him to the ground and grab his weapon.

    This guy wasn’t James Bond. He would have been disconcerted by multiple attackers and objects thrown his way. He would have ducked and flinched, and would have had to make decisions as to who to shoot. I’m not saying someone might not have been killed attacking the gunman, but the fatalities would have been held to a minimum and the event would have ended with far less loss of life.

    A faulty strategy doomed to failure? Well, three unarmed men were able to stop a shooter on a train in Paris a while ago without any fatalities. It may be extreme, but sometimes violence is necessary to prevent worse violence.

    I recently saw a video of lions taking down a water buffalo. A few other water buffalo charged the lions, flipping one high into the air and ending the attack. When a herd takes action, the prey has a good chance of surviving.

    It’s time for us to decide that we are not going to be soft targets for these mass murderers. It’ll take a major change in mindset to do it, but it might just save some lives in the end. Your life. The lives of friends and loved ones. Prepare physically and mentally to both avoid and confront these situations with commitment, and we might see a little more reluctance on the part of those who wish harm to decent people.

    Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones, is an M.D. and fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of OB/GYN. Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Nurse Amy, is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. Together, they’re the authors of the #1 Amazon bestseller in Survival Skills and Safety/First Aid “The Survival Medicine Handbook”, well known speakers, podcasters, and YouTubers, as well as contributors to leading survival/homesteading magazines. You will find over 800 posts on medical preparedness at their web site


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      1. The answer is stop being a soft target. Arm yourself and use it when it is necessary!!!

        I have an answer to the rioting.
        #1 Pull all LEO’s away from the rioting.
        #2 Let the people that live there defend or protect their own properties.
        #3 If action is taken by the owners NO LEGAL charges against them.
        #4 If any owner is hurt and there is an arrest of the thugs they pay for their medical needs.

        Remember Ferguson Mo. When the folks stood outside of their stores heavily armed. Nothing happened to their store. Then when the body bags start filling up then let us see how they blame!!!!


        • Yes sarg.the police are stoping us from ending the problem. Z

        • I wish more LEO’s believed the same. Would sure help their image in certain circles. There’s a lot to be said about the effectiveness of roof Koreans, especially when the law isn’t out to punish them for not showing their dependency on government services.

        • Sounds like we need a:


        • Sarge, AMEN! BTW, how is your hand?

          • “B”
            doing better about 75% use of it right now. Still can’t grip the 1911. I still can use my left.

            • Sarge, that sounds good. I can also shoot with either hand myself. Active shooter won’t even last a few minutes around me.

              • Ramboheart, your alcoholic breath would keep a active shooter away. I doubt that you are proficient shooting with either hand. Very few combat trained marksman are.

            • RE: Hand Injury – And why everyone should learn to shoot with their weak hand. Know how to rack your slide on your belt or an edge one handed. It could save your life knowing these basic skills in shooting and reloading. In fact I seem to shoot more accurate, target shooting with my weak hand than my dominate. Interesting.


            • When I began shooting on a serious basis, my .45 was a bit much for me. Then I found subsonic .45 rounds meant for silenced guns. Turns out they are great training tools, with a reduced recoil similar to my 9mm, making a .45 very manageable.

              Surprising to me my .45 rarely had a miss feed. After a few months training I returned to standard loads and found my accuracy and follow up shots, stayed on track.

              If you are rehabbing an injured hand, I can’t recomend low velocity (sub-sonic) rounds enough. They can keep you from re-injuring your hand, while helping you to rebuild strength. Also great for people new to shooting where strong recoil can create bad shooting habits.

        • Better Yet Sgt, Arrest all these F*cking Chaos Makers like George Soros, and the Media Cunts that are causing this shit and inciting hate, and throw them into a FEMA Camps, busting Rock until their attitude improves, as to learning how to be a better Patriotic American and to love this country. F-EM!! Confiscate all their wealth also to pay for the damage caused by the rioters. They immediate go to ZERO Wealth. You want to see this BS Stop in a Nano Second. It takes LEADERSHIP, which we are just rudderless, twisting in the wind like a scavenged animal carcuss right now.

          I know how to take care of this BS. No more pansy band-aids on the parasite cancer. And kick all the Dual Passport Parasites out of the country.


        • @Sgt. Dale…

          Saw this same thing in LA during the riots following the trial of the officers who beat Rodney King.

          Many of the rioters were targeting stores owned by Koreans. The Korean store owners armed themselves and protected their property. Those who armed themselves tended to not have their stores looted and burned to the ground. Those who didn’t…….well…..

        • Violent ghetto primates should be put down as a matter of course when they are attacking, rioting and looting. I agree Sgt.

      2. Scripture tells me to not follow the crowd to do evil.
        In other words, Stay away.
        Nothing good happens at protests like this.
        This is why the US has a ballot box.
        Don’t like what is going on, you have the power to change it, Violence is NOT the Answer.

        • My combat time:
          When things go bad.
          It happens FAST. You have NO time to react or Think.
          Your reaction time usually sucks. Fine motor skills are not there.
          The fog of the event takes time to process.

          If you pull out to defend. You may very well get shot by Police or others who have not accessed the true threat properly. You will look like a perp.

          If you do get involved. Do not hesitate to DESTROY the threat.
          If you hesitate once involved. You DIE.

          I’d say:
          -Stay out of Bars. Nothing but trouble.
          -Stay away from large gatherings.
          -Stay away from ANY protest. No matter the cause.
          -Don’t have ANYTHING in your hand if confronted by Police. Just drop that damned phone. Big phones look like a black gun from certain angles.
          -Even if Police is a thug wise ass bully, YOU MUST be Polite and keep your cool.

          Like Dad always said, “Nothing Good Happens Past 10 PM.” Be home by then.

          Have your ass HOME by 10 PM. Especially Fri and Sat night. Don’t go to store past 9 PM for milk, smokes, booze, gas. NEVER. Not worth you dying for.
          Be at home.

        • You are misreading the scripture it is full of passages of violence. The Bible says Thou shall not murder. Not violence is never the answer. Please reread your scripture or else you are just the victim. See Matthew 25 14-30 God does not want you to bury your head in the ground and be a victim.

          • “Live by the Sword. Die by the Sword.” How about that one?

            Violence is a Fools game. It most ALWAYS escalates until someone dies. Even if you “win”. You loose.

            The bible and religion is responsible for more wars, deaths, tortures, of INNOCENT people than likely any other cause.

            Only the mosquito probably kills more people world wide than religion.
            Why does everyone bring in God and religion when they want to justify violence and murder?

            “Go looking for trouble and you usually find it. And it is usually more than you anticipated or can handle.” My old man’s quote. (As a Marine he learned it in Korea. The hard way. At the Chosin Reservoir. He was the rear guard of the USMC retreat. That was the first war with China.)

            “Go looking for trouble and you usually find it. And it is usually more than you anticipated or can handle.” When the USSA/Euro keeps Provoking Russia they will figure that out. But by then it will be too late. Too late for ALL of us. Politicians and Bankers are trying to get us ALL killed.

            • Cane:

              You are not able…to back up your statement (unless you include 20th century Communism and Socialism as religions) for the approximately 100 million they are responsible for. Whatever number of millions Christianity bears responsibility for it ain’t even close to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot,…blah and blah <bb

              • Communism and death by government are one Primary cause of death for non combatants. That would be correct. Communism also ALWAYS includes Genocide. Death by government. I hate and fought communist.

                But in todays world. Not in the time of Stalin and Lenin.
                America and Europe Union are MORE communist than todays Russia.

                I don’t think Putin is communist? Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe his kgb training has fooled me?
                But it appears:
                -Putin is a Russian Nationalist. And I believe he is practicing Russian Orthodox Christian.
                -Putin has harmed actual American interest FAR Less than Obama.
                -Putin Loves Russia.

                Russia would be better as friendly Respected adversary, with a good working relationship, instead of being made out to be an Enemy. No one could stop a US and Russia alliance. Why can’t anyone wrap their minds around that possibility? We worked together to defeat the Nazi’s. Why not working together now? Why don’t we combine forces to go to Mars instead of destroying each other?

                Putin loves Russia While Obama HATES America.
                Obama is a NWO anti America COMMUNIST. Obama is guilty of TREASON against America.
                Obama continues to do everything he can to bring Harm to America and your family.
                Obama’s NWO UN controlled USSA vision leads right to Hell, Destruction, Death.
                It will also include Genocide and MASS murder of Americans if Obama has his way.

                Obama is a threat and EXTREME DANGER to America and her people.
                Obama is a weak NWO puppet who is a DANGER to world Peace.
                Hitlery Rotten Clinton would be NIGHTMARISHLY worse. She will DESTROY America.
                Both should be in Prison. Not be allowed to a position of Authority.
                Their criminal activities are unbelievable and unprecedented.
                Any other period of American history Obama and Hitlery would be put on trial and off to Prison for both. They both belong in Prison.

                Nixon was a boy scout compared to the current Criminal Politicians.
                Nixon opened the door to China.
                Nixon carpet bombed communist Vietnam into negotiation.
                Nixon was impeached. Indicted by a pro communist anti war media.

                While the communist bitch Jane Fonda sat her ass on North Vietnam anti aircraft battery that brought down American Airman. Jane Fonda Bitch Traitor. Useful idiot to commies killing Americans. Just like Obama. Just like Hitlery. Useful idiot puppets of NWO and both are Anti Americans.

                Few American people know history. They are too busy with porn, football/sports, booze/drugs, mindless entertainment, making money to buy crap they don’t need. Americans are Zombies of force fed pro NWO anti God media. A media that is trying to start WW3 with Nuclear destruction of civilization.

                Bet that stirred the hornets. Buzz buzz.

              • BB in GA, I’m with you on that. I’d like to see Cane tell that to the survivors of my wife’s family after what they went through in Cuba under Castro. Half of the family, including my wife’s father, were murdered by those butchers. I say Cane can go f#$% himself.

                • I put in my time. I call it as I see it and saw it first hand.
                  Have dropped dead more commies than you. Most assuredly.
                  Ollie North is American Hero and God Bless Ronald Reagan, the last true American President.

                  And here I sit. Beer in hand belly full after a fine home cooked meal. And my non feminist, non brainwashed, non westernized, outstanding “Traditional” lovely wife will be dragging me to bed shortly. After she puts our four beautiful children away for their night of restful sleep. Good Women like her do not exist in the USA.

                  She does not booze-drug. Does not smoke. Is a good christian woman. Good wife. Good mother. Knows her place. And is the best choice I have ever made.

                  Did I mention my wife is Ukraine born.
                  Read a little book called “Starvation by Hunger” it is hard to find. Very enlightening.
                  They never taught you that in school.

                  Here is background-


            • @Cane….

              “The bible and religion is responsible for more wars, deaths, tortures, of INNOCENT people than likely any other cause.”

              That statement is a lie.

              Tyrannical government (most often secular) has been responsible for most of the wars, deaths and torture of innocents. In the past 100 years in particular, it has been secular leftists, (The Nazis were leftists by the way…not right wingers) who are responsible for most of the carnage and misery.

              This is starting to change however. But the ones responsible now do not follow the Bible. They follow the Koran.

          • My Law is “Pop a Cap in his ass before he can put a cap in your ass.” See where quoting a Bible verse to a Perp, that is about to blow your brains out, will get ya.

            Notice how Praying, is in the same Bent over fetal position as those about to be murdered with a bullet to the back of the head. I’d rather fight on my feet, than waste time praying hope wishey BS.


        • Show me one ballot box that wSent owned by the rats.

        • Steve, wake up and smell the coffee. Our system is so corrupt and beyond redemption that the ballot box no longer works. The cartridge box is the only answer now.

      3. I think the doctor is on to something. Many of us that served in the military have been amazed at the fatalistic attitude of people within these gun-free, kill zones. The great example you mentioned about three Americans, two of them U.S. Military trained, that stopped a terrorist on a French train was perfect. I believe those folks involved with this site know what must be done and the risk involved.

        • Cranerigger, spot on. To me there’s no such thing as a ‘gun-free zone’. Any active shooter who approaches me won’t last one minute, let alone a few.

      4. Herd mentality is very strong . Ever remember playing dodge ball in school?

      5. Sarge,I remember the L.A. riots when Koreans stood on top of roofs with their weapons ready. They were vilified by the press as vigilantes. So what,they lived. As to Orlando,I’m going to say something controversial. Look who the targets were.200 shots fired and no one thought to rush him when he had to reload.Too busy rushing out the door squealing.

        • They not only lived, they had nothing vandalized or stolen! I think they was Smart Cookie!

        • SS
          Those Koreans are what gave me the idea. That is why I posted what I did above.

          • I only brought up Ferguson because I didn’t know how many would remember the brave Koreans.


            • Sarge, I remember the Koreans and they were definitely NOT playing.

        • Anytime you go into any buildings, stores, concerts, movie theaters, large events, church, etc. Always pay attention to where the Exit doors are. I suggest you position yourself near those doors, and dash out in a seconds notice if needed. Makes no difference if it is an active shooter or a fire, get out.

          ~WWTI… Its all about Situational Awareness.

      6. Steve your lame ass ballot box reply simply does not work. Do as SGT Dale suggest and things will get sorted. A guy had a late model salvage yard. High fence andrazor wire. and the thieves still broke in and stole & vandalized. he got mean dogs they poisoned the dogs. He bought a cow bison (buffalo) that had a young calf. Let it in the lot when he wasn’t there. that bison gored and stomped two thieves to death. He never had no more problems. I keep a mean Jersey Dairy Bull in my pasture. and he will keep trespassers out. I cant even go out there. He even fight,s the tractor or my PK truck. I put grain in a sturdy lot and when he enters pull the gate shut with a long rope. Not so soft a target!

      7. I was thinking about sending this to our pastor, with the thought, to provide a distraction, we could be taught to throw choir books in the air, while one or more of our security guys ( our ushers do double duty) bum rush him from behind. We also have people with Ccp, but I don’t know who they might be, and no ones talking. 🙂 just a thought.

      8. I think we are far enough out to be safe. If not , there won’t be any soft targets here.

      9. Denial and hesitation because most people are cunts and don’t wanna believe someone will shoot them in the face so the freeze like a deer in headlights.

      10. Article BS alert.. I stopped reading when the author mentioned the Pulse hoax in Orlando. Happened in Orange County, on Orange street.. Orange is the only color that is “33” in numerology… Order out of Chaos..

      11. Can any of you suggest reading material or training methods to improve situational awareness? Definitely not taught in schools… and not something I was taught at home. I’m grateful for what you share.

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