Today’s active shooter is evolving, becoming more sophisticated and tactically proficient—oftentimes equipped with combat training and experience. We now have to consider the possibility of knife attacks and suicide bombers while keeping an eye out for criminals and crazies—the disgruntled employee, scorned husband, or the student that was bullied. This article is an examination of what steps should be taken, both individually and as a society, to overcome this new threat.

The massacre of elementary school students and teachers at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, changed the way we view how to defend against an active shooter. We realized these attacks can happen anywhere. The most recent attack in Paris by ISIS reinforces this reality. While the accepted definition of an active shooter is a bit vague, I think it is time we define an active shooter as anyone actively engaged in killing people—whether an individual or a group, including suicide. Remember, there is almost always collateral damage from stray bullets and ricochets.

How businesses and individuals can stop an active shooter

In light of the Paris incident, I wonder how many people would have died if the bouncers and a few citizens were armed in the club. I personally believe 100 people would not have been killed. Research indicates that once an active shooter has been confronted by an armed response, the number of subsequent victims plummets. There’s only one exception: the case of the Western Reserve University shooting.

You can’t wait in the face of a threat, perceived or real. Everyone should learn individual immediate-action survival drills. This should include running, taking cover, organizing group attacks early when an active shooter reveals himself, and identifying and neutralizing the shooter. Cities should offer free training to civilians to improve their chances for survival.

I have viewed current active shooter defense systems that allow for individual room doors in schools and offices to be successfully locked down within seconds. These systems are important and should be incorporated in every medium- to high-risk business office location and every school in America.

Maybe for nightclubs and restaurant-type establishments there should be some sort of rapid-response box containing weapons, located discreetly and made accessible to trained staff on each shift. This box should have an appropriate level of shields, weapons, and maybe a few flashbang grenades. There is nothing like shock and awe.

Suggestions for individuals and businesses:

  • Maintain monitored surveillance
  • Seek awareness and detection training.
  • Practice defense and self-defense tactics
  • Seek group training for escape techniques.

How law enforcement can handle an active shooter

Until recently, we viewed most active shooters as amateurs while cops were considered experts in tactics, ostensibly giving law enforcement the advantage. In such cases, an officer would be expected to take the fight to the shooter, even if they were the only ones on scene to do so, thereby preventing a mass murder. But at this point, doesn’t the lone officer also become an active shooter of sorts, increasing the likelihood of stray bullets, rabbit rounds, and ricochets?