Experts say civilians should rarely pull out a gun during an active shooting

At Triple Nine Training, anyone is able to practice responding to a civilian shooting. (Photo by Audrey Weil/Cronkite News)

In an active shooter situation, there are three options: run, hide, or fight. Experts warn that anyone with a concealed weapon should only use it if they’re well-trained.

“We want you to defend yourself but you have to be cautious. Know the laws. Know what it means to have a concealed weapon,” Department of Public Safety Trooper Tim Case said.

On Wednesday, 14 people were killed and 21 people were injured in San Bernardino, Calif., in the latest mass shooting in the U.S. In what has become a familiar aftermath, one side called for stricter gun laws while the other said citizens need to be able to protect themselves in an active shooting.

Earlier this week, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio called on Arizona’s 250,000 gun owners to be prepared to use their own weapon to fight terrorism and mass shooters. However, Velocity Firearm safety trainer Spencer Anglin said only those who feel confident in the situation, and have no other choice, should intervene.

“If they’re in a position where they don’t have a choice but to defend themselves, where that choice to run or hide is not there for them anymore and they have to fight, then absolutely, yes, draw your firearm and take action,” he said.

At Triple Nine Training, anyone is welcome to practice responding to a variety of scenarios, including active shooting situations, using a video simulator. Even after plenty of practice, Triple Nine Training Founder Kevin Boontjer cautions citizens against drawing a weapon.

“You’re OK to use the gun but you need to be very aware of not only what you’re shooting at, but what’s around it, what else is going on,” he said. “You’re not the police. You’re not somebody out there who’s expected to take action. So in the majority of situations both us and law enforcement will tell you unless it’s a life or death situation, we want you to be a good witness and keep that weapon holstered.”

Boontjer said the bottom line is to do what it takes to keep yourself safe.