Active Shooters: Preparation, Mitigation, and Response

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, Newtown, Colorado Springs, San Bernardino.

In an age of increasingly common active shooter incidents, this seemingly random list of locations is all too familiar to Americans. Aiming to increase preparedness for future events, the Interagency Security Committee released Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practices Guide. The sanitized document, which was originally released in July with a FOUO classification, lays out the scope of the problem, the challenges of response, as well as how organizations and individuals can prepare for and respond to an active shooter event. 

It is important to note how the document defines ‘Active Shooter’. According to the footnotes, “An active shooter is defined as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. While the majority of incidents involve the use of firearms, for the purposes of this policy, the term “active shooter” may also apply to an individual armed with any other type of weapon (e.g., firearm, knife, explosives, etc.). Throughout this policy and the subsequent best practices guidance, the ISC will use the term “active shooter” to describe any incident with a perpetrator who poses an active threat.”

The document points out that from 2000-2013, 160 active shooter events occurred in the United States. That is the same number in the FBI’s Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013, in which “incidents involving only knives, vehicles, and other weapons” were not included. Although there are small variations in the definition depending on the purpose, the most important factor is the ongoing nature of the event and the roles the police and the public play in determining its outcome. With that in mind, the recommended response of Run, Hide, Fight is covered in detail, including modified recommendations for persons with disabilities and tips on how to effectively communicate with first responders. Resources for planning active shooter event training, response, and recovery are also included in the guide.

View the document in full here.
More information about active shooter situations can be found here on the HSDL.


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