Who’s The Active Shooter?

      4 Comments on Who’s The Active Shooter?

Yes, now is the time to talk about gun control!  Just not in the way most people would think.  In the wake of the horrific murders in Las Vegas Americans will, without doubt, hear everything from needing increased gun control to how infringement of Second Amendment rights prevents law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves and their families from an active shooter.  What you won’t hear is anything about identifying the active shooter.

Why is that?  One of the main reasons why we hear very little about how to identify the shooter is because we all believe it is simple.  Just about everyone will tell you it’s the person shooting.  Many other factors, however, have an impact on that determination.  Among those factors are our perceptions of each other and whether you’re in an open carry state.  Both have a lot to do with identification of the shooter.

While America wrestles to define mass shootings, few pay any attention to the only action being taken to address this violent epidemic – active shooter training.  There have been so many mass shootings in America that law enforcement agencies across the country are vigilant in their efforts to train the people they protect and serve so they know what to do in the event there is an active shooter incident.  That also means that every department wants all of their personnel to know what to do when responding to an active shooter incident.  But who is the active shooter?

Talk to any law enforcement officer and they will tell you that their training says the primary mission is to move quickly (usually as a team) toward the last known location of the shooter, engage and put that shooter down.  The secondary mission is what’s called the plus-one rule – drive forward and look for additional threats or weapons.  If found, put them down as well.  The standard use of force continuum goes out the window with the first shot by the shooter.

If your state is an open carry state (like Nevada, or my home of Louisiana) citizens are very likely desensitized to people openly carrying weapons.  Couple that with the issuance of concealed carry permits and suddenly you have an entire posse of people more than willing to move quickly to engage and put a shooter down.  Is it unreasonable to believe that a person openly carrying a weapon or in possession of a concealed carry permit would use that weapon when there’s an active shooter in their midst?  Otherwise, why open carry or secure a concealed carry permit, right?

No, it’s not unreasonable . . . unless you’re a person of color.  In nearly any community in America, an armed person of color will be viewed as a threat.  And that, my friend, is a recipe for disaster.  Unlike in the case of the shooter in Las Vegas, America will never be desensitized to a person of color openly carrying a weapon.  So, you see, the argument that we all need guns to protect ourselves and our families, to some, makes very little sense.  Why?  Because, like so many other “rights” in this country, many Americans’ sensibilities preclude extension of the same Second Amendment right to a 64-year-old person of color.  Especially an African American man.

Indulge my imagination for a moment.  A retired African American law enforcement officer has authorization to carry a concealed weapon in an open carry state.  He’s in a movie with his wife when a person stands between them and the nearest exit and begins randomly shooting others watching the movie.  As the shooter reloads, the retired officer stands, engages and takes out the threat.  At the very moment the retired officer’s last shot is fired and the shooter falls to the floor, two police officers enter the auditorium, engages and puts the shooter down.

Who is the active shooter?

4 thoughts on “Who’s The Active Shooter?

  1. Jim

    Regardless of intent or successful engagement on the part of the retired law enforcement officer to neutralize the first active shooter (thereby saving lives), he unwillingly became the secondary active shooter. He was licensed, responsible and capable of making a life saving decision with the lowest possible risk of collateral damage to bystanders, yet he was dispatched “with extreme prejudice” by law enforcement officers who were pressed to take action while only aware of his physical appearance. The more people with guns in a population; the higher the probability of unintended consequences. Add traditional racial biases and stereotypes to the equation that already includes urgency and anxiety; and over-reactions that occur as a result of poor and misguided judgment will dominate public landscapes. This trend to openly arm all citizens as they leave their homes and participate in activities across a broad spectrum of public places transcends stated 2nd amendment rights to defend oneself against any number of legitimate threats to freedom, family and home…. with a musket, no less. Relatively unrestricted open carry privileges in populated areas present a higher risk to a naive and vulnerable general public than that of “bad guys with guns.” There are likely thousands of poorly trained and/or untrained gun owners applying for open carry licenses. Who knows how many of those carry a “chip on their shoulder” for any number of reasons including but not limited to racism, vengeance, extreme political beliefs, economic duress, etc. ALL open carrying gun owners should be thoroughly trained and adhere to a strict set of standards including mental capacity, accountability, personal transparency, liability assurance, etc., prior to licensing and renewal. If not, then why would we want this? Why would we want to expose ourselves and our families to this calamity and chaos?

  2. dPass56

    I’m so intimidated by open carry. It can’t just be me, right?

    Can I go to dinner at a restaurant without viewing a weapon strapped to someone’s waist?

    Can I go shopping and not look up to find a weapon staring at me?

    What is the mindset of someone open carrying? What is their tolerance level? What is going to jump off? What are they anticipating? What are they waiting for? What are you showing me?

    I’m not sticking around to find out.

  3. Melissa

    “The standard use of force continuum goes out the window with the first shot by the shooter.” Does this mean law enforcement is given the go ahead to shoot anyone that is perceived to be the shooter in this scenario? Does this mean that there is no protocol requiring them to evaluate the situation before instant use of deadly force towards whoever appears to be the active shooter? If this is the case, than regardless of racial bias that exists in this society, law enforcement would have protection from indictment in a situation like this. Would there be hesitation to use deadly force if retired officer who took down the shooter was white? The reality of it is is that most of these active shooter scenarios have been white males as the perpetrator, but the interesting question to me is that despite this FACT, would there still be a predisposition of the responding officers to take down the retired officer because of the subconscious (and conscious) racial bias that exists?

    1. Vernon

      The standard is met with the officers’ presence. The evaluation in the scenario presented is complete because shots have been fired and an officer witnessed someone shooting upon arrival. Verbal commands or soft/hard techniques are unlikely because officers have witnessed the threat to life. And yes, I agree that the officer should take down the retired officer (I would) and should be protected from indictment.

      In hindsight, I did not adequately present the case why people of color should really consider the climate before open carrying . . . or responding to an active shooter with anything more than hiding until escape is possible or law enforcement arrives. I’ll try again. Officers arriving will first take cover, giving them just enough time to see who they are dealing with and where that person is. Even if the retired officer has the forethought to repeatedly announce that he is an officer, he/she will, instinctively, remain engaged momentarily after putting the shooter down as in the plus-one protocol in the scenario. The officers, however, will have sights trained on a person of color and, based on years of experience, would still see a person they know, generally, as the bad guy. Does that mean that if the retired officer is white there’d be some deference, I say yes. Hell, I had a hard time getting cops to recognize my status as an active federal agent working along side them before I retired!

Comments are closed.