Archive for MyBlog

2020 FORESIGHT, The potential chaos in the coming year

The article below appeared in an earlier edition of our American Survivor newsletter.  Social/political conflict can be considered as much of a survival threat as other disaster conditions.  While we cannot predict how events will unfold in the new year, we can be sure that some forms of chaos will develop, that could result in a variety of survival challenges.  Watch our site for further articles, or --- better yet, join and and get access to all of our information.  Stay safe. 

20/20 Foresight

The Potential for Chaos and Conflict in 2020

While the election of Donald Trump seems to have put support for the self-reliance and survivalist movement into a state of extreme apathy, we are approaching a period of social and political conflict and chaos that could endanger every American’s survival, freedom and right to be self-reliant.  While attendance at preparedness expos is down, every survival periodical (except this one) publication has ceased, and membership in preparedness organizations is declining, none of the serious dangers to survival and freedom have actually diminished.  The economy has improved, but the national debt and other economic issues remain as a time-bomb.  The rest of the world is in an economic and political death-spiral, sending hordes of desperate people fleeing into the remaining few free and safe nations. The frequency and severity of natural disasters continue to increase.  Crime and various forms of terrorism are no less prevalent.  While a conservative, pro-freedom administration is certainly to the advantage of self-reliant citizens, most survival threats are beyond the control of government agencies.  Furthermore: we must anticipate a powerful and possibly violent counter-attack against freedom and self-reliance as the elections of 2020 approach. Special interests and extremists are gearing up for a life-or-death struggle to take back control and impose their agendas on the American public.  We can also be assured that whichever side wins the elections in 2020, the other side will not accept the results.  We can expect massive demonstrations, sabotage, domestic terrorism, economic disruption, and even massive civil disorder and possibly armed combat situations.  The wise survivalist or prepper should be taking advantage of this short period of calm to maximize preparations and organization instead of apathetic procrastination.

  We are already seeing terms like “resistance” and even “revolution” on demonstration signs and in social-media posts. We are also aware of growing militant groups at both ends of the political spectrum, some with definable objectives and values and others simply seeking chaos and power. The following is an examination of the options for a world-be survivor depending on how events develop before, during and after the 2020 elections.

  • Resistance: The political left currently uses the term “resistance” to stir-up support for demonstrations against a variety of political actions or for various legislation. As in the 60s, racism and economic inequality are often used as excuses for violence and destruction in the streets.  Of course true resistance movements such as those used against the Nazis in World War Two or the Soviet Occupations throughout the Cold War involved sabotage, assassinations and raids.  Resistance is by definition a counteraction to the existing regime.  So, whoever feels that they are the losers in 2020 are likely to take resistance to a new level in a sustained campaign.
  • Counter Resistance: While we see counter demonstrations on some issue, the major counter resistance groups have focused on financial support for candidates and conservative causes. If a robust and violent resistance develops after the election we could see the rise of “Home Guard” and “Militia” groups as a counter to crime and civil disorder.
  • Revolutionary Action: Both the extreme left and the extreme right contain armed and trained elements. Gangs might align themselves with left leaning revolutionaries while elements of the military and police might be inclined to support rightwing insurgencies. Such a development is highly unlikely, but not outside the realm of possibility. Actual armed conflict and a breakdown of law-and-order could develop and spread. Urban areas could turn into battle grounds. States could even secede.
  • Counter Revolution: If one side is actively trying to overthrow the elected or established regime then actions to resist such an insurgency are counterrevolutionaries. If a revolutionary force has already succeeded in some kind of coup or overthrow by whatever means, then the immediate efforts to prevent the establishment of that regime is counterrevolutionary.

Whether a group or movement is a “resistance”, “counter resistance” “revolution” or “counter revolution”   can depend on ones point of view and the propaganda value of the term.  Depending on how events in the next few years develop, many of us could intentionally or unintentionally find ourselves in one of these categories. Maintaining neutrality may be difficult to maintain.

  • Active Neutrality: Even in the most popular revolutions and resistance movements only a fraction of the population is actively involved.  Most just want to survive the conflict while others may wait until they can see how things develop before committing to even minimal support of either side.  Active neutrality may be best summed up in the slogan “Don’t Tread On Me”, but The very act of defending your home and family may force you into a resistance or revolutionary position. When your community or your associates are swept into the conflict, they may take a “with us or against us” attitude.  Neutrality will be particularly hard to maintain.  Active neutrality means taking your own side, alone against both sides.
  • Passive Neutrality: It may be possible to simply keep a low profile and avoid contact and commitment throughout a conflict. If you reside in a low density or rural population and have no vested interest in the situation, this may be your first option.  Of course this requires being able to survive the economic disruptions, grid dysfunction, and other challenges until order is restored.

Any involvement in these options should be positive on morally justifiable.  Destruction of property, looting, vandalism, disruption of public services (e.g. food, power, transportation, etc.) must be avoided. It is wrong and will only alienate the public that you need for support. Violence of any kind must be defensive and justifiable. Responsible resistance or revolution could include:

  • Active crime prevention when law and order systems are ineffective
  • Property protection against illegal seizures, looting, and vandalism.
  • Protection of schools, churches, business and political events.
  • Border protection if the border defenses have broken down
  • Support of the military and police as needed
  • Providing medical aid and support for victims of political violence
  • Active publicity for your side, including radio, internet and print.

Conclusion

Given to polarization and rhetoric in today’s society, it is difficult to imagine a peaceful election and post-election scenario for two thousand twenty. The current apathy and inactivity within the survivalist and prepper movement is unjustified and a prelude to socioeconomic disruptions in a few years. The wise citizen should be stocking-up, organizing, training and preparing for social and political conflict in addition to the existing threats of natural disasters, economic instability, terrorism and war that continue unabated.   Even if one is able to avoid direct participation in any conflict, the effect on one’s safety, property and liberty will be survival challenges for many citizens.

Constitutional Sanctuaries for Citizens

Sanctuary for Citizens

By James C. Jones, EMT/CHCM

While the term “sanctuary cities” has been used to describe municipalities that have chosen not to cooperate with the Immigration and Control and Enforcement agency (ICE) in the enforcement of America’s laws, the term sanctuary and the now established concept of defiance of federal laws by local governments may be essential to defending legal citizens against unconstitutional violations of their civil and constitutional rights. Most of the candidates running for the presidency in 2020 are strong advocates of gun confiscation and socialist (anti self-reliance) legislation. Draconian gun-laws and other oppressive actions must be anticipated at the state and national levels within the next one or two years. While effective individual and small-group resistance to such unconstitutional and un-American activities has little chance of success, there is a real potential for effective and successful resistance on the local, county and state levels, through American sanctuary resolutions and legislation. In states where so-called “Red Flag” laws have been enacted most of the rural and many of the suburban police departments are simply refusing to enforce them. Some towns and counties have official declared themselves to be “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” in defiance of these laws. Many police officers in urban areas are “pro-gun rights” and the great majority of suburban, small-town and rural police officers are second amendment supporters. They are not going to be knocking down doors and serving warrants on their neighbors and law abiding citizens. They are not going to be welcoming or cooperating with invading federal agents who come to confiscate property and criminalize their friends and relatives. How the federal government would react to massive defiance is difficult to estimate, but the more wide-spread and organized the Constitutional Sanctuary movement is, the more likely they will back-down, without actual violent confrontations. Before the federal government enacts unconstitutional legislation, constitutional sanctuary towns, counties and states need to be declared and well established as a deterrent or the basses for national resistance. The establishment of scores of sanctuary states, thousands fs sanctuary counties, and hundreds of thousands of sanctuary towns will not only serve to protect the second amendment, but would be a revolutionary power shift away from centralized authority and back to local and state level autonomy. The first American Revolution started when the British acted to confiscate local armaments. The people understood that once they had lost control of their personal, and locally owned weapons, the British could enact and enforce any laws and taxes that they chose with impunity. Today’s elitist, and socialist look down on local governments and despise individualism and self-reliance, but by going after the guns they may be (as the British did in 1776) enabling a unified and dare I say, revolutionary response in the form of a massive establishment of sanctuary territories supported by law-abiding and responsible citizens who want nothing more than to have their constitutional and human rights respected.
An American Constitutional Sanctuary movement could and should be established. This could be an official organization or a cooperative effort by multiple pro-freedom organizations. A few of the activities that such a movement could and should initiate would include:
• Establishing networks between sanctuary and pro sanctuary towns, counties and organization.
• Initiating petition drives to encourage states, counties and municipalities to establish pro-sanctuary declarations or legislation.
• Sponsoring email campaigns to encourage candidates at all levels to sponsor and support sanctuary legislation and declarations.
• Creating publicity campaigns to support the constitutional sanctuary concept and candidates
• As anti-freedom legislation becomes more imminent, demonstrations and even civil-disobedience could be necessary.
While to specter of gun confiscation, higher taxation, regulation and centralization should be disheartening to those of us who value our rights to self-reliance, the impending struggle offers the opportunity to unite, energize and win. While a sanctuary is generally defined as a place of refuge it can also serve a basis for resistance and victory. .
The author would propose that Live Free USA official declare its support for all constitutional sanctuaries and enact a formal declaration at the next Annual Meeting.

Coming Articles to Help You Survive 2020

As the year 2020 approaches we must consider the potential impact of the political conflicts combined with the existing man-made and natural disaster threats.  We may call this a "Chaos Matrix" .  Articles in our American Survivor newsletter (members only) have explored the potential impact of today's political environment and offered information on how to survive these effects.  No other publication has done so. Three recent articles will be posted in the near future for non-member to read.  They are:

Is America Headed for Another Revolution

20/20 Foresight

Surviving the Coming Age of Civil Disorder

Watch this site for these articles.  Better yet -- join Live Free USA online through PayPal and get access to over 70 back issues and each new issue as it comes out. BE READY TO SURVIVE 2020.

Survival Lists

While preparing my next book for  Skyhorse  Publishing, I found it necessary to review all of the survival equipment and all of the lists for various kits and packs. I have created new lists for:

  • What to have in your pockets
  • What to have in a Get Home Bag
  • What to have in an Evacuation Pack
  • What to have in vehicle
  • What to have in an outdoor survival kit.
  • What to have at home
  • What to have in your Bug Out Bag

I also discuses hybrid survival packs and caches

SurvivalLists8-08

New Recommended Book List

While working on my newest book I updated my recommended book list that will be included as an appendix to the book.  I have attached it as a PDF below.

RecommendedBookList,7-16

Live Free and Gun Rights

LIVING FREE and GUN RIGHTS

By James C. Jones, EMT, CHCM and president of Live Free USA

Ultimately, gun rights are about the right to life and freedom.  There is no point in talking about emergency preparedness, survival and self-reliance for an unarmed population.

Live Free USA began as a shooting club in the late 1960s.  By the 1970s guns and gun ownership was under such assault that being a “gun club” in Chicago was impossible. It is probably impossible for any of our readers now to comprehend the level of harassment, persecutions, prosecution and prohibitions imposed on us in those times. It seemed inevitable that we would be forced to use muzzle loaders and cross-bows in defense of our lives and our freedoms. The NRA at that time was not a political force and liberals ran rough-shod over the constitution and anyone who sought to exercise the second amendment rights.  Live Free broadened our activities to include survival education and civil-defense while keeping our gun related activity’s underground.  The acceptability of shooting sports, concealed-carry and military-style rifles today has been achieved through decades of struggle.  Since there are many great gun-rights advocacy groups today, Live Free focuses on our core survival and self-reliance mission, but remembering that the capacity for armed defense and resistance is an essential part of survival and self-reliance, I will enumerate some of our positions related to the issue of so-called military-style rifles that have been so maligned in recent weeks.

The ownership of so-called, military-style rifles with high-capacity magazines has nothing to do with hunting or sports shooting. It’s about citizens maintaining the potential to resist foreign or domestic subjugation and oppression.  This does not imply that owners of such weapons are revolutionary, extremists or members of formal militias. They consciously or subconsciously accept the reality that the freedom and security of their families and future generations depends on maintaining the balance of force between the state and the people.  Owners of these weapons have the upmost respect for the laws and the government, but they do so by choice and responsibility, not by fear and submission.

The major difference between the way American citizens think and the way subjects of other countries think originates from the fact that most other peoples were granted their liberties by the state and still believe that power flows from the state, while Americans fought for their freedoms and know that they are the ultimate source of freedoms and authority.  This difference in origins creates an instinctual propensity to be armed or have access to arms that is not shared by citizens of other nations. It is no coincident that America has the oldest government on the planet and the most individual freedoms.

Ultimately: the right to keep and bear arms” is an extension of the human right to self-protection that exists regardless of written laws.  It follows that one must have the means to exercise that right.  One cannot be expected to defend oneself against an armed assailant or an oppressive despot with anything less than what that assailant or oppressor may have. We could not exercise the right to free speech if we were limited to old printing presses while the government controlled the mass media and the internet.  We could not exercise freedom of religion if it was limited to only ancient texts and methods.  So we cannot effectively exercise the right to keep and bear arms if we are limited to anything less than the best and most modern equipment.

The constitution does not say “hunting being a necessity”, it does not say “the ability to resist crime being important” it says “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.  There is no ambiguity in this sentence. The second amendment is about military-style arms.  We are guaranteed the right to own, keep and bear military-style arms by the constitution.  The term “regulated” in the eighteens century was defined as well managed or well-maintained, but not regulated by law as the word is used today. The final four words “shall not be infringed” specifically prohibits any form of taxation or governmental action that interferes with this essential right.  The founders did use the generic term ”arms” even though the contemporary “arms” were muzzle-loading muskets and swords.  In fact they were referring to the “military-style” weapons of that time, but these were intelligent, forward thinking man who anticipated advancements and certainly wanted future citizens to “keep and bear” arms that would be equal to those of criminals, invaders and would-be tyrants of the future.

The missus of a right by a few does not justify the prohibition of that right to others.  Trading freedom and responsibility for safety is the poorest bargain a people can make.  Ask the Russians, or the Chines, or the North Koreans or the Mexicans or anyone from a hundred oppressed, depressed and crime-ridden nations that we do not want to live in. The loss of lives caused by a few evil and mentally-ill individuals is truly tragic, but cannot justify turning our back on the freedoms that were bought with the lives and sacrifices of generations of veterans.  Yes, they died for the second amendment as well as our other freedoms and surrendering any of those freedoms is a betrayal of their sacrifices.

In a world spiraling towards increasing political strife, civil disorder, street crime, economic instability, potential epidemics, increasingly severe disasters and terrorist activities, only the most irresponsible and pacified citizen can fail to see their duty to be prepared to meet violent situations in the future.  While the anti-gun movement may be lead (or mislead) by the youth, it is those between the ages of 15 and 25 that may most regret no having access to military-style weapon and ammunition just a few decades in the furfure.  In fact one may want to consider purchasing additional such arms and ammunition to be stored and distributed in the future to the next generations that may desperately need them.

  In Short:  Any action that limits the access to modern, effective military-style firearms to law abiding citizens of the United States is specifically unconstitutional, philosophically un-American, and functional dangerous to the future of life and freedom for us all.   

Fifty Years of Live Free USA

LIVE FREE USA 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Looking back and Looking Ahead, by James C. Jones, Founder and President

Most significant organizations are formally created with the involvement and support of financially stable, business and professional founders.  Live Free USA evolved from a group of poor city kids who liked to go camping.  We have established the year nineteen-sixty-eight as the formal start of Live Free USA because that’s about when we started practicing, advocating and educating for survival and self-reliance. The organization started as an NRA affiliated shooting sports club and expanded into other outdoor sports including rock climbing, caving, river rafting, primitive camping and archery. The potential for injuries and the need for first aid and safety training brought us to focus on survival related issues.  Membership was primarily limited to the South-side of Chicago in the 1960's and the draconian gun laws and vehement anti-gun sentiments (much greater than today) made operations as a “gun club’ unsustainable so we evolved into a “sports club” but continued to do shooting activities out of town. The political turbulence of the late 1960's combined with the growing threats of the Cold War drew the organization into the broader aspects of emergency preparedness and self-reliance while we continued to conduct outdoor survival training as well.  We also began to attract membership beyond the Chicago area. At this time we started publishing our survival newsletter. Originally titled “Directions” and mimeographed it became todays “American Survivor” a respected source of survival information for over 40-years.

In the late 1960's we started doing annual training programs at Tippecanoe River State Park in norther Indiana. The park offered cabins and a huge training area for a reasonable price. This event evolved it what became the annual “Camp Independence” survival education event. We first rented just one cabin, but by the late 1970's we were renting the entire, 50 building facility including dining halls, shelters, an infirmary, showers and housing for hundreds of participants. We were able to conduct combination indoor and outdoor training programs, drills and scenarios that were beyond anything being done today by any survival organization.  Camp Independence continued until 2015 when the Indiana Department of Resources elected to close the facilities. This was a major blow to our training programs, since no equivalent facilities existed.  It is sad to note that the reason for closure was primarily that very few groups used it.  The organizations that had previously held events and gatherings there have either disbanded or become less willing to cope without heat, AC and lights. To many folks Tippecanoe and Live Free were synonyms.

We really hoped to develop our own version of the facilities at Tippecanoe River State Park in the 1970's. We started selling shares of our “land fund” and doing car washes to raise money to buy some land.  Against all odds, we managed to get sufficient funds to purchase 20-acres of beautiful wooded property in Wisconsin.  We set up a camp area, rifle range, and other facilities and eventually acquired an adjoining 20- acres.  We called it “The American Survival Center” (I still have the sign), but a combination of events forced us to sell it off in the mid 80's.  One of the reasons that we do the paperwork to maintain our current not-for-profit, tax deductible status is the hope that we might receive a contribution, bequest or grant that would revive the dream of a true “American Survival Center.”  Certainly there is a greater need than ever for such a facility with so many camp facilities closing.

The 1980's brought Live Free USA into the national and even international spotlight. We noted that the media was suddenly interested in “survivalists” but had been attracted to extreme political and religious groups who may have been practicing survival skills, but were not (in our view) real survivalists.  Having been at it for two decades, we were far ahead of others in actual practices.  For several years we worked to promote the true philosophies and practices of survivalism.  Media helicopters landed at Tippecanoe and at the American Survival Center. We did dozens of interviews for radio, TV and major publications. We even talked on the BBC and Dutch TV.  I was privileged to speak at the American Society for Civil Defense on two occasions.  Through this publicity we built up a national membership and even some international members. We still had to manage with our very limited number of overworked volunteers and no significant financial support, and this severely limited our ability to build on our success or expand our programs.  The cover of the 1986 issue of American Survival Guide was dedicated to Live Free USA's years of service.  Live Free’s reputation, core group and missions were all established in the 1980's, but the preparedness movement almost collapsed in the early 1990's.

Although Live Free USA never considered nuclear war as the only or even primary survival and preparedness motivation, the public jumped to the conclusion that the fall of the Soviet Union was the beginning of the age of peace and security.  All of the survival magazines soon ceased publication and all of the other survival organizations evaporated.  Without magazines to advertise in we dwindled down to a small number of loyal national members and a hardcore group locally.  We still held Camp Independence at Tippecanoe and got out our newsletter sporadically. In short, Live Free went into a survival mode of conserving resources and maintaining our local core membership.  By the late 1990's support for preparedness and survivalist began to revive as terrorism, economic instability, natural disaster, epidemics and other obvious challenges began to be recognized by the public. Variations of survivalist such as the “prepper” movement and the “homesteading” movement began to emerge.  At the same time the internet provided a new avenue for Live Free to outreach, network, promote and organize.  The dawn of the Twenty-First Century brought with it multiple natural and man-made disasters combined with a matrix of potential survival challenges that established preparedness and survival education as a major requirement for the public.  Some new preparedness magazines were in publication, and preparedness expositions were being held throughout the country.

The early part of this century has seen Live Free reestablish itself as the leading organization for survival and preparedness.  While members can join on-line through our website at AmericanSurvivor.org, we still provide hard-copy mailings to all those who prefer that method. Our American Survivor newsletter remains the only continuously published survival publication from the 1970's and Live Free USA has been advertised in most national survival magazines in recent years.  We have several active chapters and conduct multiple training events annually.  Live Free USA and Live Free chapter groups have exhibited and presented at dozens of preparedness expositions. Unlike the 1980's when Live Free was the major focus of media attention and the public actually joined and participated in organized groups, today the internet fragments and dilutes the public’s attention on any one group and the public tends to prefer virtual rather than real involvement.  Hard-copy publications are often replaced by a video or blog.  There are literally thousands of survival websites and hundreds of survival and preparedness (for profit) suppliers and trainers.   This has made it difficult for Live Free to grow as it did in the 80's, but we are an important part of the growing movement.

This organization started with a number of handicaps that most organizations don’t have.

  • We started without any support or sponsorships at all and the members themselves could not afford much in the way of contributions until much later.
  • We had no lawyers, accountant’s businessmen, or other professionals to help us build the organization. Most groups have a lot of pro-bono help.  Most groups have members taking care of the website, tax documents and other issues, we do not.
  • We have no sponsors or significant donations and have never received any kinds of grants.
  • Telling folks that they need to prepare for some bad times is not necessarily popular. Unless there has been a recent disaster or serious scare event interest and support drops.
  • Although we are classified as a “public charity” by the IRS we don’t get any of the support that a group like the Red Cross or Boy Scouts will receive. In fact we get less than $100.00 per year in contributions even though we conduct our education programs for free.
  • Other than memberships and a few book sales we have no solid financial support system.
  • When membership increases and/or activities multiply, the same few volunteers get overloaded and we are forced to reduce operations when we should be increasing them.
  • We have no actual headquarters, office or training facility from which to efficiently expand operations and house a staff. Only a major grant or contribution will address this issue.
  • We have a lot of training equipment and supplies and there are some bequests that may come to Live Free in the years to come, but the equipment may need to be disposed of if they are not going to be used, and the organization must still exist for the bequests to be made in the future.

When I retired from my day job a few years ago I determined to give a final push to get Live Free to a point of sustainable growth and solid operation. I traveled to many preparedness expositions, wrote for many magazines and put aside some personal priorities in favor of building Live Free.  We have had some notable successes, but I am disappointed that we have not attracted more young leadership and outside financial support.  Illnesses and age among our core members has begun to seriously degrade our operations.  Developments in the next 12 to 24 months will determine the future of the organization.  Live Free USA is the only tax-deductible, not-for-profit organization in the United States (maybe the world) dedicated to healing people prepare for survival situations and become more self-reliant. Certainly, there has never been a greater need for what we do, yet our existence is in jeopardy.   

I welcome everyone's suggestions and participation as we go forward.  Please consider  attending our 50th Annual Meeting on March 24th at 1:00 PM in Cabela's Conference Center in Hammond IN. 

Surprise Disasters and the Death Spiral

More Surprises and the Spiral.

The Subject of our July/August issue was “Surprise Disaster”. Does four major hurricanes and two major earthquakes in the same region in the same month qualify? Other recent American Survivor headline topics included “Severe Weather”, and “Descent into Chios”. We seem to be right on target with our materials. I was looking at a 1970s copy of our newsletter and the headline was “The Coming Age of Terrorism”. Prophetic. Too bad that so few people read our publications.
The recent multiple disasters verifies our predictions about a disaster to catastrophe spiral. There is no such thing as recovery once the magnitude and quantity of disaster outpaces the resources and economies of the civilization. The emergency management agencies were exhausted. The Red Cross was forced to recruit literately off the street to get help. The public’s ability to provide contributions dwindled as each new demand occurred. State and national governments were forced further into debt. Housing prices are predicted to rise as material and labor goes towards replacing home instead of building new ones. Puerto Rico’s utility companies had already field for bankruptcy before the hurricanes struck. All of the funds from “recovery” and response must come from infrastructure improvements, security and safety agencies and from maintenance of the very systems that protect us from the next disaster. This spiral of more disasters, less capability and a weakening economy is unlikely to take us to a safe and prosperous future.

New Recommended Survival Book List

It has been a few years since we updated our book list.  This is simply because we have too many projects going on simultaneously, but we will try to update it more often.  We invite our readers to send in their recommendations in short form for the list or in longer form for publication as book reviews in our American Survivor newsletter.  Send these to me at survivorjj@aol.com

RecommendedBookList,7-16

Surviving An Active Shooter Event

Resent events have made surviving an "active shooter" situation a real possibility.  While writing my next book I am including it in the Ten Street Survival Techniques section.  This is a combination of several official recommendations with my own survivalist additions.

Active shooter situations are becoming more frequent. An active shooter is one that not only initiates a shooting, but continues to remain at the scene or in motion shooting multiple rounds at multiple victims.  Active shooters target crowded locations such as stores, theaters, and public building where every round fired may hit one or more victims.  If caught in this situation you can be sure that the killing will continue until the police engage the shooter or he/she/they have killed everyone in sight.  Even the police have now admitted that civilians caught in such situations should take certain actions rather than “stay calm” or try to reason with the terrorists.  Unfortunately, the days when you could relax and enjoy public places and public venues are gone. Violent crime, gang shootings, drive-by shootings and terrorist guns and bombs have converted our communities into potential war zones. Below are steps and actions that you can take to survive such an event.

Being Prepared for an Active Shooter

Be observant and alert!  In any crowed you must observe for suspicious behavior. Are people wearing unnecessarily baggy or long clothing?  Do some people have suspicious bulges in their clothing or are they carrying odd long packages. Are some people wearing backpacks or leaving backpacks behind?  Are some people moving around suspiciously and looking about as if ready to take some action?   If your “sixth sense” is telling you to get out or get down do it!

Make an escape plan.  In a restaurant, mall, theater or other potential terrorist target make sure to constantly be aware of the exits. Exits can be fire doors, windows, over railings, anything that works. Consider routs to exits that offer the most bulletproof cover. If true escape is not safe then seek any room with a solid door that can be locked and barricaded with heavy furniture.

Identify potential bullet proof cover. While you may hide behind furniture, car bodies, and plaster or wood walls it will generally not stop bullets. They provide only concealment. Cover is offered by brick walls, cement walls, heavy appliances, engine blocks and other very solid objects. Constantly identify these as places to go if escape is not immediately available.

What to Do When the First Shots are Fired

Act Immediately!  If you have accepted the possibility of an active shooter situation and taken the steps above you can skip from denial to action while other freeze and get shot.

Take Cover. If you are already in the shooters vision or there is no covered escape route that will not expose you to the shooter, this may be your only option. Get behind the strongest, thickest object possible immediately. Stay low or lie flat.  If wounded or among wounded lie down and play dead. Shooters will instinctively shoot anything that they see that moves.

Escape: If the shooter(s) has his back to you, you have a chance to escape or at least reach good cover before they turn around. Remember that there may be more than one shooter. If you go through a door get to the right or left of the door and keep moving towards cover since the shooter may shoot through it or follow you out.

Engage:  The Washington D.C. chief of police and many others have now recognized that civilians may need to take action on their own before law enforcement arrives to save themselves and others. If you cannot escape or find cover and the shooter continues to shoot your best chance is to distract, delay or disable the shooter. Discharging a fire extinguisher, throwing a heavy object; tackling, clubbing, or stabbing are all justified in this situation.  If you have a firearm use it!  Yes, shoot them in the back if you can. Shoot for the head as they often have bullet-proof vests. If possible shoot from a low position so your bullets go upward and avoid hitting bystanders. Don’t hesitate and don’t try to get them to surrender.  They will just shoot you.  CAUTION: remember, the police will consider anyone they find holding a gun as the enemy!  Once the shooter(s) are down (1) do not pick up their weapons and (2) put your weapon down and your hands up and wait for the police.

Communicate: If not in immediate danger use your cell phone to call for help. Provide the police with any information that you can, such as the description number of shooters, location of shooters, type of weapons used, direction shooters are or did move.  If you are barricaded or behind cover provide your location and your own description.  If nothing else, pull the fire alarm to warn others and distract the shooter. .

Recovery:  If you are lucky enough to have survived such as violent event you are not safe yet. The police are going to be very jumpy on entry!  Stay down and keep your hands up. Follow police instructions carefully. They will consider everyone there as a threat until searched, interviewed and cleared.  There may still be other active shooters at large or there may be bombs or booby traps left behind.  If you are carrying a firearm (open or concealed) be sure to immediately tell the police while keeping your hands up. If you have any medical training try to help the wounded until the medics arrive. Stopping severe bleeding and treating for shock may be an important lifesaving action.