By now most of you have probably heard of training programs that instruct students and teachers to fight back against an armed intruder by throwing books or chairs. Bringing a book to a gunfight sounds pretty crazy. But is it?

As with most tactical response options, whether or not to fight is situational and should be part of a broader strategy. If your school’s (K12 or Higher Ed) only active shooter preparedness effort is to tell people to throw books at a shooter that is a big problem. However, threat assessment programs, access control, lockdowns and law enforcement response to active shooter do not address what to do if the shooter is actually in the classroom.

When developing an active shooter response strategy, I recommend a 3 OUT approach.

  1. Lock OUT. Lock the shooter (or potential shooter) out of the building or out of the classroom. This is the classic lockdown response.
  2. Get OUT. If the shooter is in your area – RUN.
  3. Take OUT. If the shooter is in your area and you cannot run – FIGHT.

To put it mildly, option 3 creates a huge tactical disadvantage. As such, it is unrealistic to expect people not be seriously hurt or killed. However, it is far more unrealistic to think hiding under desks will save any lives at all. In the Take OUT option, the is goal to try and save as many lives as possible.

If you are interested in this type of training, consult with your local law enforcement; and make certain the instructors can adequately address all aspects of planning for an shooter. Yes fighting is an option; but it should be your last option – so train appropriately.

Stay safe


This post is provided by SafePlans (, an all-hazards preparedness solution including emergency plans, staff training, and detailed site mapping.

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