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Friday, April 10, 2009

Survive a School or Workplace Shooting

I have posted this article without changes, but I would like to add a couple of comments:
First, the obvious fact that many people reject out of hand, if you have your own gun and have trained yourself in its use, as is your right, you will not be helpless if/when you find yourself in this situation. In the wake of the tragic shootings in South Alabama, there will definitely be yet another step-up in calls for ever more draconian gun control, as if that could have stopped the attack. Just remember that the cops who were chasing this man were unable to stop him. Ultimately it is up to you to protect yourself and your family.

Second, in the section of the article dealing with a case where a mass murderer is pointing a gun at you: do not waste your time trying to talk; attack your attacker with all you have, instantly and without pause, grabbing the gun and twisting it away from yourself while kicking, biting or using whatever facilities available to you. Regardless of what the media tries to make you believe, effectively firing a weapon require three things: a certain amount of skill, concentration and at least a small amount of time. Guns don't fire themselves, and their bullets don't guide themselves to the target. If you instantly attack your attacker, you deny him the second and third elements he needs to be able to shoot you. Be glad he has a gun instead of a machete, for example, because the machete is a far more fearsome weapon in close quarters.

How to Survive a School or Workplace Shooting

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

What would you do if a shooting happened in your own school or workplace? It is a scary thought, but it is something that could happen to anybody. Having some ideas about how to respond beforehand could save your life.


  1. Keep alert and always report suspicious incidents to the authorities. If a student or co-worker threatens to bring a knife or a gun, for example, report this to a teacher or supervisor. You might prevent a disaster by doing so. If there are students or coworkers who lawfully carry weapons or tools, they will be able to explain this to your supervisor.
  2. Know what the procedure is that is already in place. Many schools and workplaces have "lockdown" procedures. An example of this could be that the students hide in the corner of their classroom, out of sight of doors and windows, while the teacher locks the door and turns off the lights. If you are in the halls, you might be expected to run inside the nearest classroom. Whatever it is, know what it is, and if there is no procedure in place, talk to a teacher or boss about creating one right away.
  3. Respond to the sound of gunshots according to your situation:
    • If you see the shooter at distance, running away should be your first plan, when possible. At 20 feet from the gunman, you're still within a deadly range, but at 40 feet, you're a difficult shot. If he starts to shoot as you're making your escape, run in a zigzag or another unpredictable pattern. This will decrease your chances of being hit. Seek an exit, or if you have to, hide in a room, preferably with windows, so you have a way of escaping the room if you have to. Lock or barricade the door and turn off the lights. If a door will not lock, barricade it with tables and chairs. You might want to do this anyway just in case. If there is a phone in the room, Call the emergency services (911/999/112) as soon as the door is locked and blocked. If you don't have time, call and leave the phone off the hook. The police will automatically come to see if there is a problem.
    • If you are in the same area as the shooter, find cover, fast. If the shooter opens fire, attempt to take cover behind heavy furniture or any other heavy obstacle. If there is nothing close, simply drop to the floor and lie flat. This will protect your vital organs and make you a smaller target to the shooter. Lying flat could also make the shooter mistake you for dead. Remain quiet and still.
    • If the shooter is about to shoot you, do anything you can to stop them. Try talking to the shooter if you know them, but use caution. You could possibly change their mind, but remember, if they have a gun in their hand, they may not be convinced by anything. Attacking an armed assailant is unwise unless you have absolutely no other option. They have likely already decided to shoot people, and threatening them may result in the deaths of you and even more around you.
      • To take his focus off his or her weapon and plan of attack, you might throw chairs, laptops, or fire extinguishers, or set off the sprinkler system or fire alarm. Then, pick up a desk or some other shield and charge right at the shooter. There's a risk you'll be killed in the process, but if two or three people rush at once, there's also a chance that somebody will take the shooter down. Unarmed civilians who band together have a much better chance of surviving an attack.
      • If you're already within a step or two of the shooter, you might be able to grab his or her weapon. If the shooter is facing you, quickly reach up and take hold of the barrel, and then aim it away from your body. The move should be as clean and economical as possible. The gunman will reflexively pull the gun back away from you. Follow the movement, gripping the gun and push your weight forward. Then, punch him in the face or the throat as hard as you can. Hit him on the nose, jab your fingers into his eyes, or strike him with the heel of your open palm. Then use your free hand to grab the nonbusiness end of the gun. With two hands on the gun, you can knee the attacker in the groin.

    • If you are barricaded in a room with other people, firmly order everyone to spread out as widely as possible, and get down on the floor behind furniture or any other cover. People have a natural tendency to huddle together in a crisis, but in a shooting situation, this just makes all of you one big, stationary target. Spreading out and getting down low makes everyone a more difficult target.
    • If you hear gunshots and are in a bathroom, your best bet is to remain in the bathroom. Lock the bathroom door if you are able to. Another thing you can do is go into a stall, lock it, and crouch on the toilet seat to hide. Call the emergency services (911/999/112) if you have a cell phone on you, but stay as quiet as possible.
    • If you hear gunshots and are outside, go in the opposite direction from where you heard the gunshots. Call the emergency services (911/999/112) as soon as you are far enough away. Assist other people that are fleeing the building after you call.

  4. Wait for help to arrive. Before you open the door to someone that says "police" or "paramedics" be aware that it could be the shooter trying to get you to open the door. Ask them questions and make sure that they are actually police or someone trying to help you.
  5. When the police arrive, they will treat everyone as a potential assailant. Do not run to them or request help, as this may cause them to think you are a threat. Instead, QUICKLY go face down on the ground with your arms spread away from your body, palms towards the police, and fingers spread apart. Shut up and listen for orders! Do exactly what the officers tell you to do, do it quickly, and do it without argument or protest. Expect the police to treat you as though you might be the armed criminal, and even to handcuff you and everyone else in the room. They are not being mean; they are getting the situation under control the only way possible. Remind yourself that they are doing what they are doing in order to neutralize every possible threat, and save your life. Be as helpful as possible to the authorities. Tell them everything you know.
    • Emergency personnel are trained to survey a scene before entering it. Don't be shocked if the cavalry stays parked outside and doesn't come running in before the threat is established. They're taught that they can't help anyone if they're dead. It's true but an unpleasant reality if you're the one inside with a threatening person.


  • Remain calm.
  • Remember to help those around you if you can. If someone is shot, tend to them as quickly as you can. See How to Treat a Bullet Wound.
  • Seek therapy afterward, if the event was deeply troubling for you.
  • When necessary and escaping through an upper-floor window, find a drain pipe or a ledge that can slow your descent or let you slide down part of the way. You'll likely hurt your ankles when you land, so be prepared to break the fall with a quick roll. Protect your body by rolling over one shoulder, diagonally across the back and onto the opposite hip. It is better to escape with a couple broken bones than to be shot and killed. Use this as a last resort though. For example, if you are on the 3rd floor with windows that do not open, and it is safe to jump, you may throw a computer through the window. Yes, they are expensive but cost does not matter when someone is coming after you with a gun.
  • Don't take personal belongings or put yourself at risk to collect these items. Personal property can be replaced—your life can't.


  • Don't let the fear of a shooting change your life. It is out of your control. Just live life to its fullest knowing what to do if a shooting ever did happen.
  • If you have a gun, do not try to act like a hero unless the attacker is in full sight and there are no obstacles nearby.

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Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Survive a School or Workplace Shooting. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


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