Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Active Shooter Scenario

Not all the survival scenarios I'm writing about in my new book are of the traditional man vs. the wilderness category.  Although there will be several chapters on those kinds of situations in different environments, there are also scenarios that are only possible because of the high-tech, civilized world most of us live in.  For example, what would you do if you are in a crowded shopping mall on a Saturday morning and you hear gunfire, followed by people screaming?  Supposed you are an experienced shooter yourself and you just so happen to have a concealed-carry permit and you are armed that day?  Do you run for the nearest exit or do you rush toward the sound of the shots to see if you can intervene?  With the frequency of random shootings that take place in a given year, I'd be willing to bet that if you carry a gun this has crossed your mind before.

Every situation is different, of course, and in some cases you might be able to help and in others it may be too late.  But armed citizens have successfully intervened in such scenarios and stopped deranged shooters - often too late for some of the victims, but who knows how many more would have died if not for their brave actions?  One example of this happened right here in Mississippi in 1997, when Coach Joel Myrick went to his truck to get his .45 after Pearl High School student Luke Woodham started a rampage with a 30-30 lever action carbine.  After shooting of his fellow several students, Woodham was attempting to reach his car so he could go to the Jr. High School and shoot more.  The armed coach confronted him, and like most active shooters, Woodham put up no resistance and surrendered before Myrick had to fire a shot.

Something to think about if you ever find yourself in this situation is how the first responding police officers to arrive on the scene will perceive you, the armed citizen.  These officers are going to be pumped full of adrenalin and on the ready.  If they see you with a gun, it may not end well for you if you don't take the appropriate action and do exactly as they say.  So how do you avoid getting shot by the police?  For one thing, don't brandish your weapon and especially don't point it towards the officers.  Firearms instructor Gabe Suarez teaches an active shooter interdiction class and has posted several photos on Warrior Talk News explaining how to present yourself to officers if you ever find yourself in such a tense and dangerous situation. 

Suarez has written much about this type of scenario, as he feels that there is a very good likelihood that a CCW permit holder could end up in such a situation given the ever-changing threats that are out there.  Taking it a step farther, he also writes about responding to a terror attack, such as the one in Mumbai where armed gunmen were able to massacre so many people before they were challenged simply because of the unarmed populace of that crowded city.  Because of such threats, a series of "sneaky bags" have been developed to conceal the weapon of choice for Suarez and most of his instructors at Suarez International - the AK-47 with a folding stock.  Because a folding AK is only 26-30 inches long depending on the barrel and muzzle configuration, it is a very easy weapon to conceal while providing the potential for tremendous firepower with standard 30-round mags.  Suarez is now marketing a purpose-made concealment bag for this that he calls a Jihad Interdiction Bag.

The AK shown in the bag is a SBR (short-barreled rifle) that you can't own without a special NFA permit.  But any number of folding stock AK's will fit, like this Yugo M70AB2 underfolder:

 Such weapons also have their use in certain types of bug-out situations, particularly in an urban environment where the biggest threat may be armed rioters or looters and you may need more firepower than a handgun just to safely make  your exit.  New Orleans after Katrina comes to mind, of course.  Although I've written before about my preference for .22 rimfire rifles for a wilderness survival/foraging situation, there are times when you need a more serious weapon.  I like the 7.62 x 39 AK as it can do double-duty for close range hunting as the ballistics compare to the venerable 30-30, making it a good for anything up to deer-sized game. I would pick such an AK over an AR-15 (good way to start an argument, I know!) for a bug-out rifle because of the caliber, compact folding configuration, and unquestionable reliability in any environment.  I plan to post some more here soon on my personal favorite AK at the time - the Russian-manufactured Saiga Sporter rifle converted back to the standard AK-47 configuration.


  1. That Jihad Interdiction Bag is going on my xmas list.
    As for the AK in general I own a Saiga 223 and the fire control group completly craped out on me with less then 500 rounds through the rifle. Now this isn't a big deal if you have done the conversion but mine is a sporter and the FCG is riveted into the reciever and will require a drill to get it out and fixed. So I guess my advise would be if you get a Saiga convert it now befor you put it to good use.

  2. Hi Greg,

    You're right, the fire control group that comes in the Saiga is certainly not as good as the standard AK configuration. I definitely recommend converting it. I replaced mine with a Tapco G2 group and it has been flawless. The conversion does require drilling and some other work, such as installing a bullet guide, but is well worth it. I plan on posting more about that soon, and plan to do another conversion in the near future. The advantage of buying the Saiga over other available AK's is that it's brand new, made by Izhmash in Russia, and comes with a chrome-lined barrel. There are pro AK gunsmiths out there like Jim Fuller of Rifle Dynamics who will do the conversion for you if you don't mind a little wait.

  3. I would much rather have an AK system then an AR system. hey have spent so much money on the AR system and its still no where near as good as the AK system or the M-1 grand.
    I do carry all the time legally. If in this type of situation as stated i hear gun fire. If alone I would approach the area and asses the trouble and then take the actions I deemed most likely to save lives. If with my family members I would get them some place very secure. That done i would go to the sound of the gun fire and again I would asses the situation and respond to save lives. Of course this is due to my years as a military police officer and also with years also in security. I feel if you are capable of responding to save a life you should. Waiting for the first responders can cause the lose of lives.

  4. Outlander,

    Absolutely. I feel the same way. Take care of any family members first, then if you are able help after assessing the situation that is the proper thing to do.

    The AK system has simplicity in its favor. Whenever possible I choose simplicity over complexity, whether in weapons, tools, bug-out vehicles, boats or other gear.

  5. We had a mall shooting like the one you described here in Tacoma a few years back. The Mall is located near the Fort Lewis Army base and was full of Iraq vets at the time of the shooting. The vets helped get people out of the mall safely and did first aid on a few wounded people.

    Meanwhile, a concealed weapon carrying civilian decided to play John Wayne and confronted the shooter. The civilian will be spending the rest of his life in a wheel chair thanks to a 9mm round that went though his spine. The would be John Wayne (John Wayne spent WWII poolside in Hollywood, btw.) never even got off a shot.

    A couple of months ago a cop in Spokane Washington shot and killed a man who was checking out his own property for a prowler. The cop thought the owner was the armed prowler.

    Let the cops do their jobs. If there's a shooter around get the hell out of there. The previous poster is right about helping save lives and by getting the people around you to a safe place you'll be doing that.

  6. Anonymous,

    All good points and certainly every situation is different. The priority should always be getting people to safety. But in a situation like the Pearl High School shooting that I referenced, if that coach had not been armed and had not intervened, more students would have died. He considered those kids his responsibility as a teacher and a coach there. He couldn't carry a weapon on the campus, but he did have it in his vehicle and was able to get it and stop the shooter before the police responded. It takes time for the emergency calls to go out and to get units to the scene in most of these situations, as was the case there. I don't think Joel Myrick was trying to be John Wayne. He just did what he felt was right in that particular situation.

  7. A WASR-10 that is properly tweaked and Romanian side folder is a very passable 'just in case' carbine to keep, but the media would crucify the owner as one of those 'survivalist nuts' if found with it. Unfortunate that the image of them are always pinned on criminal use and not personal defense.

    A taken down Marlin 336 lever gun would have same accuracy and not have Black Gun stigma. If I were faced with lone gunman gone crazy situtation, I think I would prefer a sporter bolt deer rifle I use - more precision. Then again, you just don't know where, when and how many.

  8. I do have to say that I would go with an AR. Why? Cause I own one, and not an AK!

    That being said, the best rifle is the one you can shoot well.

  9. The folding AK is great on reliability/durability and size, but not much for accuracy past 50 yards. A newer Mini-14 with folding stock would be a couple inches longer but more accurate out to ~300 yards. Still, I plan on picking up a folding AK - they're just too fun not to have.

  10. Depends on the AK. There's a lot difference between some of the lower-end AK's cobbled together with used barrels and mis-matched parts vs. a new Russian Saiga with a chrome-lined barrel or a customized job from a company like Rifle Dynamics. A good AK can easily hold it's own with a Mini 14, and the AK is designed for sustained fire whereas the Mini is not. I can hit as well with my Saiga as with anything else at distances in which iron sights are useful.

    Now an AR-15 is of course in another league in the accuracy department.

  11. Mini-14 is a 223 mini-30 is a 7.62x39 so the AK and the 14 are apples to oranges. However, my mini-30 with sti stock is lighter than my Yugo AK and way more accurate even after 100 rounds. I recommend taking what you have in a bug out scenario but... if you have a weapon that shoots a NATO round it will be easier to find in this situation.

    FYI:7.62x39 is the preferred choice of most US enemies

  12. I have a CZ 58 rifle. Semi Automatic. fires the AK's 7.62x39 round but does it accurately to 300 yards (i have tested this with groups of no more than 2.5 inches)! The gun is the utmost in simplicity, based on the original german MP44 assault rifle and although it looks like an AK performs so much better. There is a reason why the czechs where the only country behind the iron curtain that did not have to adopt the AK... it was this rifle. look it up on youtube and you will see one guy put 1000 rounds through his, smoking and burning but still firing! It is an unbelievably accurate and reliable gun that in a Bug out situation would be ideal for both hunting, and urban protection. I know they are less popular in states but because AK variants are prohib in canada, and these look close, they are extrememly popular here. Mine has folding stock and I love it! that plus a 10/22 and thats all the weapons I need for pretty much anything (ok a my 9mm, and winchester 12 gauge are nice too).

  13. Even as a sworn Deputy with 18 yrs exp and 8 yrs as USMC MP, who carries off duty all the time, sometime it is ok to be a good witness, is there clear shooter not people with guns, do you have a clear shot at the shooter. I carry with the thought that my gun is my last resort when off duty......Thanks


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