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What If Multiple Concealed Carriers Respond To A Shooting Incident?


One of the extremely cool things about more and more people getting their concealed carry permits is there is a greater chance of more than one concealed carrier responding to a hostile fire incident.  For the purposes of this article, we’ll outline some simple steps you can take to identify friend from foe, identify yourself appropriately, and respond to first responders.

Shooting Scenario #1:  Mall Shooting

Historical precedent: On February 7, 2015, an active shooting situation emerged in the middle of the Macy’s in Monroeville.  Unfortunately, two innocent bystanders were caught in the cross fire.

Tom and Mary Singleton were caught in the middle of a gunfight in the Monroeville Mall in February of 2015.  This is one of those incidents that can be extremely hard for concealed carriers not in the middle of the gunfight to pinpoint shots.  There are a lot of obstructions – clothing racks, counters – which can mask or limit the concealed carrier’s field of view.

If multiple concealed carriers were in that Macy’s, they would be faced with having to identify each other as fellow “good guys” (or gals).

Until you know precisely where the rounds are coming from, your main job is to get your family out of harm’s way.  Second to that, situational awareness is your best friend.  Risk assessment can be.

  • If there is fighting underway, you do not want to reveal your position.  Observe the other armed person with a gun, observe their actions.  At some point, you will either take a risk in identifying yourself or you can choose to stay hidden.  If you determine that this person is likely a fellow concealed carrier interested in safety, don’t “flag” them.
  • Flagging, in this case, means pointing your firearm in the direction of a person you do not intend to shoot.
  • If you make visual confirmation with them, keep your firearm at the ready.  Feel free to inform them of your status.  i.e. “I’m a concealed carrier defending myself.”  It can be simple.
  • Let the other person identify their intentions.
  • If possible, coordinate efforts.  Your first priority should be evacuating your family.

When police arrive, ensure you identify yourself and have your permit ready.  Follow all lawful instructions.  They may confiscate your firearm for the period they are talking with you.

Shooting Scenario #2:  Movie Theater

This situation has the greatest potential for confusion.  In the event of a shooting occurring in the movie theater, it can be extremely hard to visually identify the shooter much less separate the shooter from any other concealed carrier responding.  It may not be as simple as a man coming in through the exit like the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater incident.

  • Identify the source of the muzzle flashes.
  • If a movie is going on, there may be enough ambient light to detect direction of the origin of the attack.
  • Theaters can turn into giant panic rooms when disaster strikes.  If you see another concealed carrier taking cover and attempting to find the shooter, work with him or her.  If you see the shooter but can’t take a shot, call it out.  Communicate.  Especially in a darkened environment with people pushing to get out, it may be the only way.
  • Try to keep people moving towards the safest exits.

When law enforcement arrive, even if the shooter is not subdued, call out.  Make sure to inform police of your numbers and your disposition.  As dangerous as this sounds, law enforcement’s entrance onto this sort of environment is going to be hectic and they need to be able to identify you as soon as possible.  Follow all lawful commands and prepare to turn over your firearm during the investigation.

DISCLAIMER:  This article should not be construed as any guarantee of course of action.  Many situations develop differently and have varied outcomes depending upon individual performance, capabilities, and understanding.

Try to always do the least amount of harm as possible and always try to work with first responders.  You do not need to necessarily cooperate or coordinate with other concealed carriers.  You’re free to attend to your own safety.

Do you ever practice communicating during your concealed carry drills?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Categories: Firearm Safety, General
About James England | View all posts by James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry…

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 36 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his CZ-75D PCR in an Alien Gear MOD holster.

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