Orlando Terror Attack - Fight or Flight?

In the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack since 9/11 we are still grappling with the reality we live in.  There is evil in this world that will bring us harm wherever we are.  Whether it is a school in Beslan, a concert in Paris, or a night club in Orlando, evil will find us.  Let us not mince words here.  When we say "find" us, we mean kill us. And not just our military or law enforcement officers but our husbands and sons, mothers and daughters, our elders and our children.  We are all potential targets and as Charlestown and Sandy Hook showed us, even our "safe places" are no longer safe.

So what options do we have as individuals to survive these horrific events?  If we accept that evil exists, what can we do to minimize the number of casualties and maximize our own ability to survive?  We can fight.  We are by no means blaming the victims of the Orlando attack for the actions taken by this coward.  Many of the survivors and some of those who lost their lives actually ran back into the night club to search for friends or loved ones.  The targeting of unarmed, soft civilian targets will continue to be the status quo for future events.   Once we accept this reality, changing our mindset now it critical for survival when. 

Before continuing WATCH THIS VIDEO created by Tampa Bay Times.  This is an incredible reconstruction of the Orlando terror attack based on first hand accounts from survivors.  There are two things that drastically stand out: 1. There are over 300 patrons in club when the shooting begins 2. There are over a dozen patrons in one bathroom stall alone.  Why are these facts important?  Because there was only one shooter!

In past blogs, the flaws of the "Lock Down Drill" and the dangers it creates (Lock Down Drills - Herding Cattle for the Slaughter) has been addressed.  Orlando is yet another example of why "locking down" or simply hiding provides a false sense of security.  There's various approaches when confronted with a mass murderer: run-hide-fight, avoid-deny-defend, and retreat-barricade-arm-fight to name a few.  These strategies are extremely effective in minimizing casualties but have one major flaw; fighting is viewed as a last resort.

This is not always done intentionally but is a result of how the method is delivered.  By presenting fighting as the last step in the response it is viewed as a last resort versus a fluid option.  Looking for weapons of opportunity and being prepared to fight should be incorporated whether a person is fleeing or barricading themselves inside a room.  Even if victims do not have weapons, an assailant only has so many rounds before he must reload or transition to another weapon.  This is where the swarm technique comes in.

The swarm technique is a military tactic used to overwhelm the enemy by closing the distance and denying the use of indirect fire or close air support due to the high risk of fratricide. Swarming an attacker means overwhelming him with pure numbers.  This technique has been adapted and used as a viable response to an active shooter.  

The key aspects to any successful attack are surprise, violence of action, and momentum.  The first two are extremely difficult to avoid but momentum can be disrupted by a few brave men and women who choose to react in those first critical moments.  The heroes of the Paris train attack is a perfect of example of how the swarm technique is an affective response against an armed assailant.  We are not saying swarming is the only option to stop the threat but it is the mentality of the swarm technique that must be advocated for.   

How different would Orlando have been if the attacker was rushed in the first moments?  Could the number of victims at Columbine been reduced if the faculty or students would have armed themselves with weapons of opportunity after they went into lock down?  What if one the movie goers had counter-attacked the Aurora, Colorado shooter as they were running for safety?  

Again, we are not blaming the victims for the actions of the deranged and fanatical but sometimes the best chance of survival is to fight.  Data shows that anywhere from 40 - 60% of active shooter scenarios end before law enforcement even arrives.  We have become the first responders and must be prepared to neutralize the threat by any means necessary.  

Have you mentally prepared yourself to survive an attack by any means necessary?  What will you do to make it home to your family if a someone attacks your church?  Are you hoping a locked door will protect your children or do they know how to survive if an attacker is their classroom? Take the initiative, look for weapons, fight, and live.

Morgan is the owner and Chief Firearms Instructor of Defensive Tactics and Firearms.  With eleven years as an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps, Morgan is also a NRA Law Enforcement Instructor and a Certified Anti-terrorism Force Protection Specialist.