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How to Respond to an Active Shooter


As school shootings and other gun-related incidents continue to rise, many people are concerned about how to respond to an active shooter. A number of police departments have provided information that everyone should follow in such an event.

Get Away

When an active shooter begins firing in an area, the first step is to think about how to escape. Keep your hands up and visible so the shooter doesn’t see you as a threat. If they believe you’re going to attack them, you become a target. Plan out how you’ll get out of the area before making a move. Don’t simply start running since you may find yourself blocked in or trapped by a locked door. Leave all of your belongings where they are—you don’t want anything slowing you down.


Next, find a place to hide where you won’t be in sight. Lock any doors between you and the shooter or block them with something heavy. Turn off your cell phone and anything else you have on you that might make noise. Keep as still and as quiet as you possibly can.

Fight if You Have No Other Choice

You should never try to fight off an armed attacker unless you absolutely have to. If you believe your life is in imminent danger, you need to act quickly and decisively. If you’re going to attack, you want to be as physically aggressive as possible. This is one of those situations where you need to go all-in or not at all.

Once you’re safe, call 911 and provide as much information as possible.

What Should You Do when the Police Arrive?

When the police arrive, do the following:

  • Stay calm.
  • Follow all instructions.
  • Raise your hands and spread your fingers to distinguish yourself from the attacker.
  • Keep your hands visible and empty.
  • Avoid making sudden movements towards officers.
  • Don’t grab hold of an officer.
  • Don’t point, scream, or yell
  • Don’t stop an officer to ask questions when you’re evacuating the scene.
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