What Would You Do?

My words here are coming in the wake of the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history, in which a 29-year-old man who pledged his allegiance to ISIS, Omar Mateen, walked into a night club in Orlando, Florida and shot 102 people, killing 49 and wounding 53. Let me first say that my heart goes out to the victims and their families.  It is a tragic event that should open our eyes about the current world we live in.

We like to think that these things could never happen to us, yet every scenario I just described has already happened to someone else who probably thought the same thing.

The question I would like to pose here is, “What would you do if it happened to you?”  What would you do if you were sitting in a movie theater with your family and a gunman walked in and started shooting?  What would you do if a coworker came into your workplace and started killing your other coworkers?  What would you do if someone came into your church and started executing members of your congregation? 

If you have never thought about these things, then you are already behind the power curve and destined for failure.  We like to think that these things could never happen to us, yet every scenario I just described has already happened to someone else who probably thought the same thing.

This is by no means an attack on the victims of the Orlando night club shooting, but I want to get your brains working with one more question: How does a single individual manage to overcome over 100 people in a confined area?  Because he had a gun?  No.  Bullets can only fly in one direction, which is the direction the barrel was pointed at the time the trigger was pulled. Now consider that the projectile coming out of a .223 caliber rifle is only 5.7mm wide.  How, then, are the odds in the favor of one gunman vs. 100+ people in close proximity?

I listened to an interview with one of the Orlando shooting victims who had been shot four times in the back.  The victim said that he saw the gunman shooting his victims in the head, so to protect his own head, he stuck his head under a couch and stayed there.  He claimed that he laid there for approximately twenty minutes before the gunman finally came over to him and began shooting him in the back.  Twenty minutes is an eternity in a situation like this, so why was this shooter allowed to go unimpeded until the Police arrived?

Our brains are wired in a way that it takes a long time to process traumatic events.  Such events are so out of the ordinary that our brain is biased toward normalcy and we deny that what is happening is actually taking place.  This is why so many people that experience these events will tell you that it felt surreal, like they were watching a movie.  This “normalcy bias” is what prevents people from preparing for such events, even after seeing news reports of them occur in other places.  “That will never happen here,” they say.

When we haven’t trained and rehearsed events in our head, we tend to do what everyone else is doing.  If everyone runs and hides, that’s what we will do if we haven’t already made a different decision in advanced.

The bystander effect is also largely at play here. Whenever we are part of a larger group and see something tragic take place, our tendency is to think someone else will do something.  The problem with that is everyone else is thinking the same thing.  This is why people will see a horrible car accident on the freeway and just keep on driving.  “Someone else will probably stop.”  “Someone else probably called 911 already.”  “Someone else who is probably more capable than I am will do something.”  “No need for me to get involved.”

There is also a tendency for us to conform to the group’s behavior.  When we haven’t trained and rehearsed events in our head, we tend to do what everyone else is doing.  If everyone runs and hides, that’s what we will do if we haven’t already made a different decision in advanced.  The good news is, there is also a tendency for people to follow the leader. It only takes one informed and determined individual to fight back and lead people in the right direction.

So what will you do when it happens to you? You have to know what you will do before it happens.  You won’t have much time to think. Seconds count.  You have to visualize what you would do in various situations so there will be no hesitation.  Observe your surroundings.  Where are the exits?  What can you use as a weapon?  How will you get your family to safety?  Your best chance for survival may be to confront the shooter.  How would you do that?  What direction would you pull his gun to prevent it from hitting one of your children or another bystander?

Intervening in an active shooter situation could save your life and the lives of countless others.  It could also cost you your life.  Are you willing to lay down your life for your children?  Your wife?  How about people you don’t even know?  Remember, there are some things you could have to live with that are worse than dying.

 

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Chad McBroom
Chad McBroom is the owner and founder of Comprehensive Fighting Systems, and specializes in practical empty-hand, blade, stick, and firearms applications. Chad is a regular contributor to ITS Tactical, Black Sheep Warrior, BladeReviews.com, and other tactical publications. He is the author, coauthor, and contributing author of several books on blade combat and the martial arts. Chad is also a blade designer and knifemaker, who uses his extensive knowledge of edged weapon tactics to design and create some of the most versatile bladed weapons on the market.

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