The city of Las Vegas experienced the devastation wreaked when an elevated shooter decided to prey on a crowd of innocent concertgoers in a known gun-free zone. Many people continue to search for answers as to why this happened and what could be done differently to protect innocent civilians. While we do not know the why, here are some points to consider in an effort prevent the history from becoming your present.
The thing is, the shooting in Las Vegas was very different from other mass shootings such as the one at Florida’s Pulse Nightclub, or even past school shootings. What makes Las Vegas so different is that the shooter was at an elevated position about 400 yards away from his victims.
This was not only an active shooter situation, it was a well-prepared shooter who was at a tactical advantage over everyone—including the first law enforcement responders.
A high-elevation shooter isn’t new to the United States. One early example is the 1966 University of Texas shooting. However, in Las Vegas, the shooter chose a location where he could fire on people trapped inside a venue.
Now you may be familiar with the saying run, hide, fight, which is what the FBI recommends you do during an active shooter situation. In other words, you should run from the shooter, hide from the shooter, and as a last resort you should fight, if possible.
Of course, because the Las Vegas shooter held an advantageous position, the run–hide–fight approach wasn’t really much of an option. I mean, if you could run away, then you should. Since the shooter had such a tactical advantage over the victims they didn’t know where to run, they didn’t know where to hide, and finally, they couldn’t fight back since he was so far away.
With that being said, what should you do if you find yourself in a situation similar to Las Vegas and you have no idea where the gunfire is coming from?
1. Have an exit strategy.
Always have an exit strategy. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard me (or others) talk about situational awareness more than once. The thing is, not only should you have heightened situational awareness when you are at crowded events, but you need to always have a plan of escape—possibly more than one. In other words, if you are at a movie you need to know where the exits are and consider sitting close to one of them. The key, if something happens, is knowing where to go without having to waste time looking around and figuring how to get out safely. Whether you’re at dinner or a concert, always have at least one plan in your mind to escape.
Cover and concealment. For anyone who has ever attended a firearms course at the Spy Ranch, you’ve heard me discuss the difference between cover and concealment. Cover hides and protects you from bullets. Concealment only hides you and won’t stop bullets. For example, think of cover as a concrete wall and concealment as hiding behind a blanket. If you’re attending an event, you should keep your eyes out for cover in case you need to quickly get behind something.
2. Take cover whenever possible.
Don’t freeze or lay down. Many people who were at the Las Vegas concert thought the initial gunfire was fireworks and didn’t react. Now, for someone who isn’t familiar with the sound of gunfire, this confusion would make sense since many large events have fireworks. However, if you hear something and you aren’t sure what it is, you should immediately start moving away from the sound. Of course, I don’t mean you should run and create panic. However, there is nothing wrong with simply walking toward your escape exit until you confirm what the noise was.
Get Off the ‘X’
Additionally, you may have heard the phrase, “movement saves lives.” This is especially true if a sniper or well-positioned shooter is targeting you. Obviously, a moving target is more difficult to hit, so even though your first reaction may be to lie on the ground, doing so can make you an easy target.
Finally, I’ve heard some people talk about how they will no longer attend large events or gatherings. However, this is something that I think everyone should evaluate for themselves and their family. While I don’t think we should live our lives in fear, I can completely understand how some people may be hesitant to go to certain public events.
No one could have predicted what occurred in Las Vegas and none of us can know when the next similar horrific event will occur. We can plan ahead, identify exits, and stay close to the perimeter of events so we don’t get caught in the middle if an attack does occur.
Do you have a tip for situational awareness? Do you attend large gatherings? What do you carry as an EDC item or specifically for large gatherings such as theatre or concert? Share your answers in the comment section.
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