ISIS is here in the USA. What is your plan if confronted with an ISIS attack in a public venue?

ISIS is here in the USA. What is your plan if confronted with an ISIS attack in a public venue?

Your at the mall with the family or just the wife. You hear two...then three more gunshots. No doubt they are gunshots. Then you hear screams then multi-pal screams. There are more shots coming your way. You look the length of the second second floor of the mall and you see four armed men in black coming your way shooting people as they come.

As many people run by you, you move the wife and family into the Dillards store with them. You reach the other side of the store and the doors are chained. You think...."This is going to be a killing field".

What will you do my friends? Three responses. Hide, run or fight. The wolves are coming. Are you the sheep or the sheepdog?

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Good Points all around.  Shooting at a person is different that a target.  I know for me, this would be difficult.  I have no training or experience in a live shooter situation.  I know I can aim well enough to not directly hit a child and I know, for me, I would have to be sure of my target and may die trying to figure it out.  But it would still be one less bullet heading for someone else.

I cannot speak for all of the folks that have responded but I do know that many of them are exceptionally well trained to be effective. 

Cory, I appreciate your dedication to CC, & your candid responses.

Quick note regarding police -- they have more than weapons & training, they have coordination.  That's something almost no group of armed CCP responders will have in an active shooter event.

To be clear, I never said that someone interfering with an active shooter was going to make the shooter's plan more effective -- not sure if that was statement you were adding, or if you thought that was something I'd said.

I liked your reference to doing the math.  In the scenario presented, perhaps statistically/historically, one person with a weapon confronting an active shooter in a mall or at another soft target may have done more good than bad.  But you're looking at a pretty small sample set.  That set is likely to expand if looking elsewhere, like Israel, so there could be some good data available there.  

However, the simple math also shows that, because people are people, the more that have guns, the more that will do harmful, unwise, & even flat out stupid things with guns (eg: that woman shooting at fleeing Walmart shoplifters).  Alcohol is a good example of this -- we have quite a lot of alcohol here, & quite a high rate of alcoholism.  Guns also provide a great statistical example, since suicide rates & accidental shootings skyrocket with more guns around (duh, right?).  But putting guns in the hands of well-meaning people hardly guarantees a better outcome in an active shooter situation.  

People panic, they freeze, they get anxious, & I can't imagine anyone else in here will disagree, they make bad decisions, even in low pressure situations.

Taking it to the next step, do you believe everyone is as dedicated as yourself?  Do you trust the accuracy or ability of anyone else to perform under pressure, with screams & panic &, maybe worse, sudden silence?  This is about everyone present or possibly present in such a situation, a far more complex situation than I think most might realize.  We naturally tend to envision these situations as if we were involved, as if maybe even it was only us, against the bad guy, the monster, the evil.

But what if it was someone else?

What if someone else shot my child?

And Jan, and everyone else here, I don't mean to downplay your willingness to self-sacrifice.  It's a very honorable thing, I don't make my points lightly, and I'm hardly dismissive of the kindness in the hearts of everyone here.  I just wanted to make that known as well.

I just want to make it clear that I appreciate your perspective.  One of the things that I love about discussions like this is that usually everybody can walk away without feeling that there has to be a resolution.  There is no right or wrong, just different opinions.  Hopefully there's no harm in never getting to the bottom of things because this is all academic and never comes to fruition anyways.

As for the comment I made about making the shooter's plan more effective, what I was trying to say is that their plan is to create chaos and cause as much devastation as possible.  The scenarios you were presenting would all assist them in accomplishing that goal.  I wasn't trying to put words in your mouth, that's just me not doing a good job of communicating my thoughts.

I guess at the end of the day I'd rather that people do their best to try to help.  I'm probably overly optimistic, but I believe if we all do our best to help each other and stop the bad guys things will work out better than if we all try to help ourselves by running and hiding.  If I fail while I'm trying I can live with that.  If I succeed in running away only to leave others behind to die I don't think I could.

If others are trying and they end up hurting or killing me I'm OK with that.  It happens in the best of situations.  There's no way to prevent it in one like this.  You're right in saying that we'd be severely hampered by lack of communication and cooperation.  Friendly fire claims lives even in troops that train together for years and remain in constant communication.  In situations like the one presented it's much more likely.

When all's said and done we're all better for having pondered these things beforehand.  Whether you're going to try to fight back, run and hide, or help others escape it's better to have decided that beforehand so that you can recover and act more quickly when the attack starts.  You're right in saying that people panic and freeze.  It's going to happen, and it's impossible to predict which of us is going to have that reaction until we're in that situation.  All we can do is attempt to minimize the possibility as much as possible.  Having a preplanned course of action is the best way I know of to minimize that risk.

Heaven forbid any of us find ourselves in one of these situations.


We have some fundamental differences in out approaches, but there are several things we agree on that are very important.  It's clear both of us (& all of us reading this post) believe it's important to think about such a scenario, even if it is wholly academic in nature (& I truly hope it is, for all of us, merely an academic exercise).

Next, I agree completely that it's important to help others.  As a father with young children, the most important thing to me is their safety & welfare.  If they're at the mall with me, my primary objective is to get them safely out of the situation.  If I start firing & they're with me, I'm a target, but they're targets too.  If I provide cover & tell them to run, I won't have any idea what happened to them in the next several, but crucial, minutes, & I may die never knowing if I helped them or set them up to get killed.  Neither scenario furthers my mission as a father.  

And if they're not at the mall with me, it's equally important for me to come home to them, alive.

Also, along with thinking about the scenario, & others like it, is preparing for it, mentally & tactically.  If you're already scoping out exits as a matter of habit, you'll be better off in such a situation.  but not just this situation, but any situation where it's important to leave unnoticed -- even if that means evading someone you just would rather not have see you.

And last but far from least, the fact that we can talk about this with each other, & everyone else here, whatever our disagreements, we keep talking because we're actually giving each other a lot of credit & benefit of the doubt.  And we're not assuming the other is an [expletive deleted] simply because we disagree on some things.  It's pretty incredible what differences can be discussed when not assuming the worst of the other person.

And for that, Cory, I thank you.


One thing I note in this discussion that I dont know I had given much thought to previously.  As our children grow and we become empty nesters our thought processes seem to change.  As I read your last reply, it took me back to having small children with me and at home.  Trust me when I tell you my priorities in this situation would have been different.  I would have been thinking one thing only, how do I get them safe!

So I guess I have become the old fart willing to take a stand and sacrifice myself if need be to keep safe anyone I can

There are a few assumptions to be addressed. First, although they may not be dressed in easily identified terrorist uniforms, they will be the ones killing victims. Second, they will likely be using semi-automatic rifles.

Since the only mall I go to that has a Dillard's is in Flagstaff, I would be carrying my Glock 32 and an extra high cap magazine. I would use cover or at least concealment and start firing at the longest range that I am comfortable with. I would be shooting for the lower abdomen. There are a lot of structures there to be disrupted and if you get a little low, a leg shot isn't too bad, especially if you hit a bone. Oh, the reason? Body armor. The possibility of an over penetration and injury of a bystander is unlikely since anyone behind the shooter(s) is very likely dead or dying.

Men have been known to fight on for minutes, after a heart shot, but if you take away the skeletal structure by smashing a hip joint, a femur or any part of the pelvic girdle, you still have an active shooter, but not a mobile active shooter. Of course if you can make a head shot, all the better.

Now for a reality check. If you have never killed anything more than an insect or spider, I recommend you think long and hard about whether you can shoot a human being. I have killed both domestic and wild animals and never had a problem with freezing or missing the target. Yes, I'm aware that white tail deer don't shoot back.

Next: Clint is right about response times for law enforcement arrival. There is a sheriff's substation right across the street from the east side of the Lakewood mall and if there were a unit in the parking lot of the station with a deputy in the car with the engine running, it would still take up to two minutes for him/her to get to the stores on the west side of the mall. SWAT teams consist of patrol officers who are trained up for the team and are spread throughout the whole patrol area: they are not all in one place waiting to be called out and they are not even geared up in full battle rattle. Oh, and the other thing, SWAT is going to contain the situation not go in on a search and destroy mission.

I have walked Shore Patrol in a dozen European cities, and a couple in Asia, I was a Brig chaser in Philadelphia, a prisoner escort in Long Beach, an armed sentry both ashore and afloat, I have disarmed drunks and been punched in the face, I walked down a long dark street in Beirut, Lebanon with a local cop on each side of me, who never took their hands off their sub-machine guns until we returned to the police station.

My enlistment had an expiration date, my oath didn't.

Dead Left Knife Guy, you do your best to keep your family safe and if I'm there, I'll do everything I can to keep you and your family alive.

my 26 year old daughter and I got our CC together.  She has a Ruger 9MM and I have a Ruger 22.  It was fun to do together.  We go shooting together as frequently as possible.  I can usually hit the side of the barn, while she can put 5 rounds in a 1 inch grouping around the bulls-eye.

My daughter runs miles, can chin up, does an exercise routine daily, etc.  She believes she has a right to carry and fights her mother over it all the time.  If I was a citizen in the same room with her and terrorists I would only marginally fear the terrorists more.

I have M.S. and can barely move from my chair.  My wife and daughter would be trying to defend me.  In my younger days, I would have jumped in and fought.  Now I don't carry anything more dangerous than a switchblade.

to my point of this post, She or my younger self wouldn't freeze, but I know we wouldn't do the right thing.  we would have just gotten in and either quickly be killed, fire on the wrong person or in general just muck things up.  we don't have active target response training, we don't have any markings that we are not a terrorist and in our nervous response would probably choose the wrong targets.  But I would have done it and she will do it, lord forgive us.

I am older and incapacitated now.  I think differently.  My wife doesn't even want me handling my knives in fear I will hurt myself.

no matter how I think this out I can't come up with a good response for me or other CC people wanting to do the right thing.  since we have 350 million people in our country and about 300 or so people have been killed in terrorist (both ISIS and home grown), the odds that it will happen to us is very, very slim. 

I am putting my money on the government finding them before they act.  Unfortunately they will use a sledge hammer to swat a fly, and our personal freedoms in the process.  But what to do?


I like your response.  Life does change us.  I am rather a hermit, on the top of a mountain in Georgia.  I go to a few knife shows a year but mostly, I don't go past downtown.  I do not go anywhere else that anyone would think a target, LOL, have not been in a mall in over 5 years.  If We were going to be attacked it would be more likely that it would happen at home if the country fell apart.  That, I could defend with more confidence than I could at a mall


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