What would you do: In a Crowd?

Sometime in what is hopefully the not-too-distant future, we will be out and about again and crowds will be the norm. When you’re in the middle of a crowd, you may get jostled, bumped, elbowed or run into (it happens).

While you’re safely at home is the perfect time to consider your options for various scenarios you may encounter. Here’s one:

You’re at the local county fair where your children are showing animals or performing (so you have to go). You’re waiting in line for the best food at the fair and the two big guys in the line next to you start arguing. They come to blows very quickly, causing a huge scene. The fight continues to escalate, and one of the guys pulls a gun. People scatter.

What would you do?


Call 911, observe from a distance, make sure you can keep people safe in your immediate vicinity. Do not draw your weapon. You are a good live witness when the police arrive. The crowd and the high volume of people will hinder you from reacting with your firearm. The fight has nothing to do with you, your responsibility is to escape and to help others escape if you can, flight would be a high consideration.


Interesting question…if the family was with me I would get them to safety and contact authorities. They are my first responsibility. If it is just me, get to cover and observe while contacting authorities. If it stops at the two of them, leave it be. If the gun wielder then turns to the greater crowd, I would feel a responsibility to try and stop him.


You have just escalated to a condition RED.

When in a crowd, you’d want to close the distance as quick as possible prior to engaging. This would be similar to your “House of Worship” training.

You may be injured or worse but there is no way I personally would allow for a gunman to open fire in a crowd. Fair or no fair, and yes I have gone to many county fairs, yeah to 4h chickens!


I probably already started making an exit by the time the bolded part happens.


I try my best to avoid crowds and long lines. However in this situation, as soon as voices escalate I leave. It’s none of my business furthermore, crowds of that size tend to take on the mob mentality quickly. If a weapon is pulled that’s going to create panic. I and my family retreat immediately. Dial 911.


Ensure the safety of my children. Nothing else matters in the moment. Something just like this happened to me and my son at a Walmart.


When I see the argument start, my and my family are not going to stick around and watch. We move on, when the gun comes out, we’re finding cover. Call 911, I will not draw unless he starts coming towards us and I have a shot that doesn’t endanger others.


This is a tough encounter to make a decision. Family first. Human lives most important. Spraying bullets from the gun puller is a bad scenario to a crowd. AS Fizbin stated, condition red. This is a personal decision, again my personal decision.

However the mrs and I did some training similar to this scenario from some top trainers. The (simulator)scenario was at an atm machine, as we were standing in line behind a lady. A car pulls up and a man comes into line and pulls a knife to lady stranding at atm. The immediate threat is upon us. I flunked the scenario and watched the lady get stabbed. In Idaho we have a right to protect human life. The scenario was started again, same drill, when the perp pulled the knife on the lady as he grabs her, I drew my firearm, issued presentation(no high no low), and verbalized a command (vulgar so I cant repeat here) The perp didn’t respond, I fired to stop the threat. Then the scenario escalated with gunfire towards myself and mrs from the car that approached. We took cover, 911 called, and did not engage with counter fire. Car drove off. Ladies life was saved. Threat stopped.

The above scenario from Dawn, family first safety (run), present firearm, issue command to gun puller(something like stop mother trucker), issue verbal I fear for my life, dial 911, repeat, repeat over and over, if condition continues to escalate (shark tank) in split second decision, stop the threat. Dial 911, call the USCCA.

There are several split second decisions to make. Shark tank scenario.


Not my circus, not my clown. My first responsibility is to get my loved ones to safety, then call 911, be best witness I can. I might get involved if he tried to turn it into a mass shooting.

But as the scenario has been described a gun has only been displayed. No one has been shot, so I have time to get loved ones out of the way. Will I keep an eye on him to see if he decides he wants to turn it into a mass shooting? Absolutely. But my first responsibility is to my loved ones who are there. Cold? Maybe. But I don’t have enough context to decide to jump into this particular :shark: tank. Is one a LEO? Who recognized someone with a warrant? Don’t know, don’t have enough information.

If he starts shooting into the crowd especially in direction me and family went. Now he has made himself my circus, and i believe I can reasonably articulate that I felt I was in immediate danger of grave bodily harm or fear of imminent death.


All was good, until the gun was drawn. Now, you have 2 people struggling, one with a gun in hand. It could very easily end up pointed at someone you are “protecting.” Draw my gun, and yell the commands to stop, while quickly ushering my family/friends behind me.


It’s not my fight. I’m out of line and gone when the second punch is thrown.


Scatter and fast, then call 911. Gunfight in a crowd only creates innocent victims, a civilian has no business taking part in this. Not to mention, you have no idea what’s going on, it could be plainclothes cops trying to apprehend a bad guy.


As soon as the guys start arguing, its time to start looking for my family and start getting some distance before things escalate. The food isn’t that good that I have to stay in line for it. There’s always next year.

If they start coming to blows, there’s greater urgency to get away from there so by the time a gun comes out, we’re nowhere nearby. I’m not calling the police until my family is well clear of the area. Ideally, I’d like to put some solid buildings between us and the fight.

I’m not going to head towards the parking lot as there are usually lots of people coming and going so you’re going to be trapped in your car while waiting to get out so we’re going to be able to move more freely on foot. There’s too much cover there that can be used by a bad guy and with people panicking, you’re also more likely to get run over in the parking lot.


Like others here, I left before the gun was even drawn.


Our first responsibility is to avoid and the second is to escape. By not taking that action you can be considered aggressor and can be prosecuted for your actions. Calling 9-11 and being a good witness will help those law enforcement officers to sort out the whole situation. If the gun man starts shooting into the crowd and you have attempted to avoid and escape then you can defend yourself or those being threatened. Be careful some other person does not confuse you with being the bad guy.


That’s an important point that gets drilled home every time we train on active shooter scenarios. We might see someone with a gun, but is that the actual shooter, or someone else trying to stop the shooter? If you must engage with an active shooter, remember that you could be mistaken for the shooter. Assuming you aren’t in radio communication with the police, you’d better find some way to identify yourself as a non-threat or you will become the target of first responders. To get even more complex, you might become the target of other civilians who are carrying concealed before the police arrive!


Great point. Any ideas out there of options of how to possibly do this?

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Your commanding vocal response of, “drop the weapon now!” and yelling, “call 9-1-1 !”


Yes, your actions and verbal commands will tell bystanders/civilians that you are the authority for stopping the threat. I would also almost guarantee that this incident will be concluded long before LE arrives.

On the topic of the OP, “at a county fair” which I personally have been to many. In this concession line and surrounding there will be kids, families, grandparents and of course the kids and families working behind the counter. I envision this situation will go from Orange to Red in the blink of an eye. All situations are different and this is why you should always run scenarios through in your head.

With this said, I am leaning towards defending the folks from this bad guy. I would have to live with it my entire life that if I did nothing and a little child, or a mom or grandparent or someones daddy, any number of people were hurt or killed and I “could have” done something , yet did nothing.

You have to ask the question, if I attempt to stop the threat and it saves lives would this be worth going to jail for or worse?