While the chances of being involved in a mass shooting are relatively slim, the danger is still very real, and your best option for survival would be effective escape. When you enter an area, MAKE SURE you know the way out! Surviving an attack on a crowded venue takes more than just pulling your pistol and looking for the bad guy.

Take Cover

Always be on the lookout for areas of cover and methods or routes of escape. If someone starts shooting, move immediately to cover and try to ascertain where the shots are coming from. Move away from the gunfire unless you are forced to do otherwise. This is often an area of contentious debate on the internet, but the reality is that unless you are moving to save a family member or other loved one, moving away from the shooter gives you the best odds of survival and limits your chances of shooting an innocent person or being shot by others attempting to stop the killer. The choice is yours, but don’t put yourself in undue peril.

Decide and Commit

Once at cover, be on the lookout for better cover and move as quickly as possible from one cover position to another as you head toward an exit. When you move, commit to the movement. Don’t hesitate while in the open and, if possible, limit your exposure to less than three seconds. Think like this: I’m exposed; he sees me. I’m covered; he doesn’t.

Places you do not want to get caught include open staircases and escalators. Both of these are kill zones with no cover and very few options for escape. Also keep in mind you will be in a large room full of panicked people, many of whom will be running for their lives. Moving among them will be difficult, especially if you are trying to keep a family member in tow. When you decide to move, be forceful. I’m not saying to knock others down in order to save yourself, but know that you will be bumped and battered in that crowd. It might be best to keep your gun secured in a holster while moving so you don’t lose the gun. There is nothing good about this type of situation, but you must plan for the eventuality if you want to stay safe.

The Best Fight Is the One You Are Not In

If you can avoid the fight, you should. While some may say it is noble or heroic to seek out an active shooter and stop him, the list of things that can go badly if you engage the shooter is much longer than the list of things that can go badly if you focus on escape. And remember, your family needs you alive.