Could You Take Down An Active Shooter?

You are in a crowded shopping mall with your girlfriend and her baby. You hear an outburst of automatic gun fire. You’ve been to the range several times, you know what an AR-15 sounds like, and that was no doubt an assault rifle chewing through a 30 round magazine of 5.56. This is almost the exact situation that 22 year old Nick Meli found himself in on a Tuesday afternoon at Clackamas Town Center in Oregon. Oregon allows for concealed carry, and Meli was carrying a Glock 22.

The Glock 22 is a superb handgun. It employs the .40 Smith & Wesson round with 15 bullets in the magazine and one in the chamber for a total of 16 rounds fully loaded. Many law enforcement agencies employ this weapon and also make use of the optional 17 round magazines that Glock offers. In terms of conceal-ability and firepower, I consider the smaller, more concealable, Glock 19 the ultimate in everyday concealed carry. However, if I’m facing an assault rifle wielding mad man and had to choose the Glock 22 or the Glock 19 (I’ve shot proficiently with both), I’m taking the .40 caliber Glock 22 every day of the week.

If you are reading this article, then I don’t have to waste time telling you about Glock’s battle proven record or their incredible track record for reliability during real world situations. Let’s agree that Meli was carrying one of the best concealed carry pistols around when he faced this lunatic and that he was still heavily outgunned.

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

Your body responds in very predictable ways when you suddenly find yourself in a gun fight or any emergency situation where you are terrifyingly startled. First you have an involuntary flinch response. Your shoulders shrug upward, your head ducks down, your arms come up and in front of you to protect your vital organs, your knees bend and your body automatically lowers your center of gravity increasing your balance and agility to prepare for a fight or flight response.

Click like if you refuse to be a victim.

Your vision narrows, and you focus on the threat to the point of tunnel vision. This is helpful because you now have a clearer picture of the immediate danger, but it is also detrimental because you lose focus of the other possible threats around you.

You lose fine motor skills because your brain cuts off blood flow to your extremities in order to supply the vital areas with oxygen rich blood. This is great if you are injured because you will take longer to bleed out, but if you need to use your fingers to clear a malfunction your fine motor skills will be useless.

Lastly, something called tachypsychia happens (a neurological condition that alters your perception of time, i.e., things seem to happen in slow motion or fast forward).

And accompanying all of this is the mother of all adrenaline dumps. And all of the above happens instantly at the first moment of shock and alarm. Now are you ready for your gun battle?

This is the situation that Meli found himself in. He heard the shots thunder through the mall, alerted his girlfriend and her baby, and then Meli positioned himself behind a pillar and was able to watch the shooter (note: find cover and know the difference between cover and concealment). He noticed that the shooter was holding an assault rifle and trying to clear a weapon malfunction. Meli was able to draw his weapon and acquire a good sight picture of the shooter’s head. Meli noticed that he had tunnel vision as his front sight was resting squarely on the shooters head. Then Meli saw a person moving in the background behind his sight picture, behind his target, and had the mental realization that if he missed, he was probably going to kill some innocent bystanders. Because of this, Meli declined to take the shot and took cover.

Meli believes that the shooter saw him draw down on him and that after the shooter saw this, the last shot was the shooter taking his own life.

There are a few things that must be analyzed here.

1) You didn’t hear jack crap in the media about a concealed handgun license holder confronting the Clackamas Mall shooter. Why is that?

2) It appears as if Meli had some training with his firearm. His actions were calm and cool, he didn’t take an ill-advised shot, he recognized that he was experiencing tunnel vision, panned out, and saw the innocent bystanders in the background. Combat pistol training, or any fundamentals of defensive pistol class, teaches you what to expect in a gun battle, and they teach you to always be aware of what is in the fore ground and what is in the back ground. I don’t believe an untrained individual would have been able to spot the innocent bystanders in the background, which is why I believe Meli had some training before this incident. Some of you are thinking that every concealed handgun license holder is or wants to be a Navy SEAL. Some of you are thinking that Meli should have confronted the threat with extreme violence of action. Maybe a special forces trained individual would have drew his handgun and charged the shooter as he was trying to clear a stove pipe malfunction on his assault rifle. I don’t second guess what Meli did because I’ve never been in a no shit combat situation. Have you ever drawn your weapon under fire? Have you ever even trained to draw your weapon under fire? What is it that makes you think you could take down an active shooter?

3) What should Meli have done?

I think he did exactly what he should have done. First, he was extremely out gunned. Assault rifle vs. handgun doesn’t end well for the handgun. He chose not to take the shot, but he did present a picture of deadly resistance to the shooter, and you have to take note of the fact that, having seen that deadly resistance, the shooter did not advance on Meli or choose to confront Meli. Of course, this coward lunatic shooter chose the path of least resistance. You need to realize that this coward active shooter did not go to the Clackamas Mall to get into a gun battle. No active shooter goes to a mall looking to confront armed individuals, active shooters choose their location to murder the unarmed. I believe that when the Clackamas Mall shooter saw Meli and his Glock 22 he knew the game was over and that the playing field was starting to level out. I believe that Meli saved lives when he presented  his firearm.

4) You Will Sink to the Level of Your Training

Gun manufacturers are always touting how reliable their firearms are. Assault rifle manufacturers claim their gun is the most reliable or that their gun will perform when you need it to. Never the less I keep hearing about these guns jamming during active shooter scenarios. It sounds like this guy had a FTE or a double feed type of malfunction (easily cleared by a trained individual), and did not have the training to navigate this simple drill by muscle memory (you will sink to the level of your training). This is the same type of malfunction that Larry Eugene Phillips Jr. of the North Hollywood Shootout had and was unable to clear, causing him to throw down his assault rifle and take his life with a handgun.

If you are a gun owner and especially if you are a concealed handgun license owner, you need to be taking some training courses on a regular basis. You need to look for classes with names like Introduction to Defensive Pistol, Fundamentals of Defensive Pistol, Combat Pistol, Concealed Handgun Tactics, Home Defense Pistol, Home Defense Shotgun, and other classes that are taught by real world shooters who have been in life or death situations.

There is no good enough, there is no ready, there are no super heroes, there is only trained or untrained.

Here is a video of some untrained resistance:

1) two thugs enter store and confront the manager

2) manger offers physical resistance as he  has no time to draw his weapon (thugs got the drop on him)

3) thugs punch manager, wrestle him to the ground, then notice another store employee and they move to attack the 2nd employee

4) this gives the manager the time he needs to draw his concealed weapon. He draws his gun and tries to chamber a round (lesson number one, always keep a round chambered and ready to go), however he has lost all fine motor skill and ends up simultaneously pulling the slide back and hitting the magazine eject button thereby ejecting the magazine to the floor (lesson number 2, you will lose all fine motor skills in a fight so train to use gross motor skills)

5) magazine falls on the floor, manager picks up magazine, moves out of the line of fire on his knees, and places magazine back into pistol

6) manager begins shooting un-aimed, one  handed shots, semi-gangsta style, predictably not hitting his intended target

7) cowardly thugs did not go to a convenience store to face armed resistance and decided to leave since their level of training is probably less than the store managers meager level of training.