Active Shooter Scenario, Multiple CCWs

Here’s a scenario I got to thinking about over the weekend, and was wondering if anyone else had thought about it, and what to do.

Let’s say I and my family are in a public area (restaurant, theater, mall), and an active shooter incident occurs. I understand my first priority is the safety of me and mine and, if it can be safely done, I will help others get to safety.

Let’s say that the shooter isn’t visible from where we are, but we have a general idea of his direction, so we start moving away. Let’s further say that the nearest emergency exit is not immediately visible, so some maneuvering is necessary. As we are moving along, should I have my weapon drawn and at the ready? I feel like the answer is yes. BUT, what if I encounter another individual/group, and I see they are armed. How do we quickly verify we are the “good guys” and not the shooter? I mean, it may be immediately obvious, but what if it isn’t? Is this an argument for keeping my carry weapon holstered until it’s actually needed?

Thanks in advance for the discussion.


That’s the great question @Mitch2.
And looks we will have a good discussion about it.

So let me be the first.
I’d keep it holstered until it’s actually needed.
This way you focus on shooter, Family and how to get out, no need for muzzle discipline.
Whenever firearm is needed you know you can hit the shooter only 0.5 seconds slower than from low ready position.
Being taught safety first then encounter - that is what I’d do.


I would definitely keep my gun drawn as I was exiting because if the shooter catches up I want to be ready. My priority would be me and my loved ones. If I do run into other armed good guys with CCWs I can warn them by saying I am not the shooter this is my family I have a CCW and keep distancing myself from the scene. Once I exit and create distance my chances of survival increase.


I would not draw unless the shooter was in sight and my gun was needed. If retreating, why draw a gun? In an active shooter situation, that is going to make you look very interesting to other people and LEO. I like to look boring to the LEO…

Curious what the general thoughts are on this. And to play devils advocate, you said you could not see the shooter from your position. What if it was something other than gunfire?


This is a great topic. I wouldn’t draw until I believe I am ready to shoot. I’d want both hands to usher my family to safety. Also, if a group of people are running into each other, you could very easily have your pistol knocked out of your hand.


There is at least once where this happened (multiple CCWs). I am pretty sure there are others, but I’d have to dig through the FBI mass shooter reports to find them, which I don’t have the time right now.

The most important thing to remember is a mass shooter looks like a mass shooter. He will be shooting indiscriminately into the crowd. A CCW will NOT be shooting indiscriminately, he or she will be shooting carefully if they are shooting at all. The best way to avoid being shot by another CCW is the same rules for when the cops show up.

Obviously, keep your situational awareness up, but you are looking for more clues than just “he has a gun”. Of course, anyone with a firearm gets tagged to keep an eye on, whether they are friend or foe.

Personally, I would keep holstered until I am ready to shoot. If I am escorting loved ones out of danger I’d probably rather have my hands empty so I can keep them in contact, and open doors, keep a physical buffer around us if it’s a herd panic out a door/hallway.


Ever since the Colorado incident, I’ve taken numerous ASR (Active Shooter Response) courses. Including the A.L.I.C.E. Course. It’s the most current civilian course offered by law enforcement in my state.
It stands for:
Alert - using plain and specific language (no code words) convey information by any means necessary
Lockdown - barricade a room silence all mobile devices, prepare to evacuate or counter, become a hard target
Inform - communicate the shooter or shooters real time location
Counter - create a distraction, movement, distance in an effort to reduce the shooters capabilities
Evacuate - escape when safe, plan your escape by knowing your environment
In short if you are a CCW holder showing your weapon during a panic situation you may be considered part of Active Shooters plan. Keep your weapon holstered until you can place sights on target. Assist others in escaping if possible.

A few other things to remember, if your not shooting, you should be reloading, if you’re not reloading, you should be moving, if you’re not moving you’re probably dead!

National average response times (back in the day) for law enforcement was 5 - 6 minutes!

A word of caution: As a last resort if you are face to face w/an active shooter or shooters talking your way out won’t work! Your greatest chance of survival is increased if you incapacitate your adversary. Colorado shooter was in complete tactical gear. (Personally, I’ve ran this scenario, with the facts, in my head til this day! I don’t go to the theater anymore, none of my scenarios worked)

DHS standard for civilians is Run, Hide, Fight
Natural responses to an active shooter are Fight, Flight, Freeze always try to escape. Give play by play to 911. Don’t be a hero. Be the hero, save family and yourself.

The strangest things I heard in all of the classes, were,
Bad guys are not usually skilled, but they are getting better because of video games and do not use car to escape, Columbine used IED’s in parking lot.

Train in first aid, 17% of Parkland victims could have been saved by stopping the bleeding!


Stay concealed. As described, the #1 concern is safety in the panic, not to get stampeded over by the crowd. You can also drop and lose the firearm like this.

The problem in Parkland was not lack of medical training, but cowardice and dereliction of duty.


Gun in holster, eyes and ears on high alert, on the move until safe.
Not all CCW permit holders have the same training.
I wouldn’t want to be on the giving or receiving end of friendly fire.

Also, while not a case of mass shooting, there was an incident at a Walmart where a good guy wasn’t aware that there’s a second shooter. He was shot dead.


I would have to say maybe. If you don’t see the shooter when they’re actively shooting and you’re moving, you may come around a corner and find someone with their gun at the low ready. Maybe it’s the mass shooter who has just reloaded or switched to a new gun? Yes, there may be brass around the mass shooter, but if they’re on the move as well… And maybe they’re targeting specific people?

This I will agree with. But if you’re coming around the corner and see someone shooting at another person how do you know which is the mass shooter and which is the good guy?

Great point! We don’t want to make ourselves a target for someone else who is very alert and trying to defend their families as well.

There are so many variations and things to consider that make this a next to impossible situation. Evacuate, stay alert, and be ready to defend yourself and your loved ones.