Some good advice and some that will get you killed by a guy like me who caries a badge and gun in plain clothes.
As soon as you pull a gun w/o any LE identification you are a suspect/threat until proven otherwise. Be prepared to drop the weapon w/o a word if directed by LE.....assuming they don't shoot you first. Yelling "Police" is not always the best COA for police/agents if it gives up a tactical advantage in a deadly force situation. So, I would not count on hearing "Police, drop the weapon" prior to being shot. Putting down suppression fire (as suggested by someone) will make you just as much a danger to the public as the BG and probably get you shot by LE.
I have thought this situation through a number of times and there is no easy answer.....especially if my family is with me (probably only reason I would be in a mall). The FIRST thing I would do is get my family clear. I personally would engage because that is what I have been trained to do. However, I would (if possible) get my badge high on my chest, because COM is generally going to be the point of aim by the responding officers.
Unless you are tactically trained and can end it with one good shot and holster, a running gun battle or showing a gun w/o any LE ID is not a good COA and confuses who is who. Most likely you are not mentally, physically or tactically prepared for this kind of situation unless you have been trained. No matter how good a shot you think you are, this is not a paper punching exercise like at the range and a whole number of physiological factors come into play when you get shot at for real. These factors will hugely impact everything you do from breathing to thought process to marksmanship. A 30 second firefight will feel like you were on the tread mill full speed for 30 minutes. Those who have been in combat know what I am talking about. When the thought process is blurred in the "heat of battle" you fight instinctively the way you are trained.....or without training you may vapor lock and die. Just having a gun does not necessarily make you value added to the situation. Also, unless you are in a LE uniform, even with a badge on your chest, it is still 50/50 you will be shot by LE when you pull a gun in plain clothes.
Most can save themselves in active shooter situations by simply closing and locking a door. I am not saying you should stand by and watch if you can do otherwise....that is a decision you will have to make individually. However, there is much to be said for maintaining a defensive position and calling 911. I am just pointing out some of the realities of pulling a gun in this type of situation. I hope this helps you to make an informed decision.
Last edited by colbad; December 14, 2012 at 01:56 AM.