It’s hitting close to home

What would you have done?

In July of 2021, I wrote about an event known as an Active Shooter. The agreed upon definition by U.S. government agencies of an Active Shooter is “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” In most cases active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.

So, with this said, an active shooter can and usually shows up in unpredictable locations and randomly selects its victims. An event closely related to an active shooter scenario occurred on January 28th, 2024 at the local Cave Creek, AZ Walmart. The two suspects were apprehended within a couple of days and following an investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, my opinion is that this specific incident was not an active shooter event. The event appeared to be a couple of teens attempting to scare Walmart employees following an argument with the store’s lost prevention personnel.
Even though the event its self did not present the normal characteristics of an Active Shooter event, based on the motives of the perpetrators involved, the events that occurred were closely mirrored to an active shooter scenario.

An individual was actively shooting in a confined and populated area.

Following the event, I spoke to the mother of one of my firearm’s instruction students. She was in Walmart when the event occurred. She explained to me that the scenario was one of total confusion and chaos. It did not appear that the employees of the store had any training in how to direct customers during such an event and the customers had no clue how to react.

After shots have been fired is not the best time to get your bearings and figure out your best course of action. Whether you are armed, or have 30 plus years of tactical training, like myself, or you are a mom with no training shopping in a mall with her two small children, if you are practicing situational awareness prior to an incident, you are already formulating a plan. A plan of escape, a plan of hiding and avoiding the gunman, a plan of assisting the victims or a plan of attack.

Your mindset must be predetermined prior to an incident. Your mindset, not your course of action. Your mindset needs to be one of survival and it cannot waver. Your course of action is fluid and can change from run, hide, or fight, depending on the immediate circumstances you are faced with.

To fight takes a mindset that most people do not have or have not trained to acquire. If you carry a firearm on your person at what time during the event should that firearm come out?

This is a very complicated answer but one that needs to be weighed during every moment of the event and also depends on the training you’ve had with the firearm and in tactics.

First of all, if you carry a firearm visible to the public, you’ve given away your tactical advantage to survive a critical event. I don’t want the bad guy to know I have a firearm until they are starring down the barrel.

Second, an active shooter event is very confusing and hectic, not every person present is witnessing the same thing as everyone else. Could the brandishing of my firearm put me at risk of being identified as the perpetrator? Can I draw my firearm from my concealed location and still keep it very close to my body and not visible to everyone around me, keeping in mind the 21-foot rule?

Just because you have a firearm and it’s out and in your hand, doesn’t necessarily mean you have an advantage of surviving a critical incident. Know when that firearm works to your advantage. My firearm is one tool that I have with me that increases my chance of survival during a critical incident, my brain, and the way I think is the command center that controls everything I do. That center needs to be trained and always considering my next course of action.

The better trained I am the better I can make the right decisions.

NEVER STOP TRAINING mentally, physically and with firearms.

Oz Johnson/Lead Instructor, NRA Certified
Karin Johnson/Operations Manager
[email protected]