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Old January 15, 2011, 12:32 PM   #1
Double Naught Spy
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Tackling Active Shooters as Self Defense

Not to hijack the other related thread, http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=436560, tackling active shooters was brought up and Gleen E. Meyer noted correctly..

Quote:
Tackle - it was also tried at Virginia Tech and the kid was shot to pieces. On the other hand in a Oregon school shooting, it worked. Have to google the details. Think the kid took a round but got to him. It does depend on distance.
Tackling is dangerous because doing so means increasing your proximity to the shooter which means the shooter may more easily be able to shoot you. It also means that you may end up with the shooter's attention focussed on you when it otherwise may not have been.

It was not terribly successful at VT as Glenn noted. It wasn't successful for Al Gratia and at least one other patron at Luby's. There is no real indication that their deaths saved the lives of any others by making their attacks. The shooter wasn't stopped or significantly delayed by the attempts and simply continued locating and shooting patrons. Gratia's daughter, however, managed to escape while the gunman was reloading - better timing.

Success in stopping a shooter is a bit of a tricky area to describe. Stopping the shooter makes it successful, one could argue, but as will be seen in the examples below, the shooter frequently isn't stopped from shooting so much as being not allowed to continue. Most of the successful active shooter stops occurred when the shooter was out of ammo, reloading, or had already voluntarily stopped. Only rarely is an active shooter stopped by being physically attacked/tackled/wrestled while still actively shooting. So the true success stories are those where the shooter had intent and means to continue the attack, but was prevented from doing so. That would be the case in the Giffords/Arizona shooting. Loughner was stopped at a point when he could not shoot, though he was trying to rectify that problem when he was clubbed over the back of the shoulders and head with a chair and tackled by the doctor who had played dead and veteran that had suffered a glancing shot to the back of his head. Loughner continued to try to load his gun while on the ground, but was stopped by the tacklers and others.

It wasn't very successful for Reagan's attempted assassination where the shooter managed to empty his revolver and struck 4 people, though Hinckley was kept from killing the President. Hinckley had to stop shooting after 6 shots because his gun was empty and as far as I can tell, he didn't have more ammo and would not have been able to reload his gun while fighting off security people. So he was captured more so than stopped.

I did a quick search for incidents where tackling has worked.

It was successful in Littleton at Deer Creek Middle School.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...hool-shooting/

It worked at Kelly Elementary.
http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/ca...42530dfca.html

It worked at the law school shooting, though the shooter appeared done with shooting (captured, not stopped)...
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,43254,00.html

Kip Kinkel was stopped by several students at Thurston High School....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurston_High_School

...and at New York-New York Casino, stopped by off duty military reservists...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/0...s_n_55255.html

Maryville Baptist Church shooter tackled...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9ZuAwJOIfE

Another church...attempted shooting...okay it was just a BB gun but the tacklers didn't know it...
http://www.wpxi.com/news/23650725/detail.html

Knoxville, Tennessee church shooter tackled...
http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=5463260&page=1

Hudson Valley Mall, tackled after running out of ammo...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_Valley_Mall

Pennsylvania mall shooter tackled from behind...
http://www.nytimes.com/1985/10/31/us...-on-crowd.html

Phoenix strip club shooter tackled and beaten after he ran out of ammo (captured?)...
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php...show_article=1

I will stop listing examples now. Based on the information from the incidents, more often than not, shooters are stopped by unarmed folks who engage the shooter primarily through tackling/wrestling when the shooter is unable to shoot, such as when he has put his gun down (law school shooting) or out of ammo/reloading (several incidents). Cho at VT was a bit more prepared for this sort of contingency. He brough along two handguns and did not have to run out of ammo before reloading, though I don't know if that was actually the case. Like at Luby's, folks may have rushed Cho while he was shooting and he only needed to spot the attack and turn the gun on his attackers.

The Arizona folks attacked at the ideal time, when he was in the process of reloading and dealing with a bad magazine.

Unless the shooter can be attacked from behind or otherwise blindsided, rushing the shooter who is actively shooting puts the would-be hero good guys/gals at the most risk and at the greatest chance for failure. Timing appears to be critical. As hard as it may be to do for some, waiting until the shooter has to stop shooting (empty/reloading/malfunction) offers the greatest chance for success in both stopping the shooter and for the good guy/gal attackers not getting shot or killed in the attack. Similarly, it will be just as hard for many to realize and comprehend that a lull in the shooting may mean an opportunity to stop the shooter when the shooter is unable to shoot. What is most frightening here is discerning if the lull is because the shooter can't shoot or because the shooter just isn't pulling the trigger. Given the short amount of time needed to reload semi-autos or use speedloaders in revolvers, the window of opportunity may not be very big.
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Old January 15, 2011, 02:16 PM   #2
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"Based on the information from the incidents, more often than not, shooters are stopped by unarmed folks who engage the shooter primarily through tackling/wrestling when the shooter is unable to shoot..."

I think in many instances shooting the attacker isn't the primary option because in spite of CCW most individuals in the vicinity of the shooter are unarmed. This is especially true in situations like Virginia Tech where the shooting occurs in a so-called "sensitive" area.

In the most recent incident in Arizona it appears the closest person that was carrying at the time was so far away from the incident by the time he got their the attacker had already been subdued.
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Old January 15, 2011, 02:39 PM   #3
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I have never been in the situation, but I doubt that proximity is the only issue. Judging only from the news reports, it appears that there was an active shooter moving through a crowd, and it is easy to imagine that individuals in the crowd were moving in unpredictable directions. I don't know how one could get a safe shot in such a situation without being at contact distance and having a combination of weapon and ammunition that gave you a high degree of confidence that you would not have a through-and-through round that endangered others.

Situations like that seem like a no-win to me. If I understand Double-Naught's point correctly - that there are situations in which we may have need of responses other than firearms, and that they can have some success if employed with rational thinking and a commitment to positive action - is a point well worthy of consideration.

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Old January 15, 2011, 02:55 PM   #4
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One other point I would make with respect to the utility of a firearm or lack thereof in a particular situation. I would rather be in a situation with a firearm where an opportunity to use it may or may not present itself versus being in the situation, have the opportunity to use it present itself, and not have the firearm.
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Old January 15, 2011, 03:35 PM   #5
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If I'm tackling a guy with a gun, I'm gonna have a knife in hand.
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Old January 15, 2011, 04:08 PM   #6
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....... it beats hiding under a desk and waiting your your turn for your bullet in the head ..... at the very worst, you'll soak up more than one.

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Old January 15, 2011, 04:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
I think in many instances shooting the attacker isn't the primary option because in spite of CCW most individuals in the vicinity of the shooter are unarmed.
Right. Shooting the bad guy isn't just not a primary option, but is no option at all if you don't have a gun.

Quote:
Situations like that seem like a no-win to me. If I understand Double-Naught's point correctly - that there are situations in which we may have need of responses other than firearms, and that they can have some success if employed with rational thinking and a commitment to positive action - is a point well worthy of consideration.
Bingo. If you do have to respond in such a manner, just like if you decided to draw your gun and engage the shooter, it is something that needs to be done in a smart manner and how that appears to have been mostly manifest in previous incidents is by waiting for a lull in the shooting that signified the shooter was empty/unloaded.

McCowan was an armed CCW guy who responded at Tacoma Mall, but did not respond smartly and he was shot several times.

So with a gun or without, how you respond certainly may determine how well things turn out. Tackling is an option that primarily unarmed people have used at numerous past events and with a goodly amount of success, success being tied to how well they took advantage of the shooter's shortcomings (orientation, not ready to fire).
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Old January 15, 2011, 06:24 PM   #8
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Tackling/stabbing/striking/etc are very dependent on timing and orientation.

Just a thought for those who are armed, that was discussed in a class I took. What happens when the background has too many innocents? One option may simply be to crouch before firing! A simple action may change the background enough to get a clear shot (or at least less risky, in the case of open sky).
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Old January 15, 2011, 06:40 PM   #9
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yep, let me run and get closer to the shooter trying to tackle him so I can get shot at point blank range.
Maybe I can bite his ankle
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Old January 15, 2011, 09:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
yep, let me run and get closer to the shooter trying to tackle him so I can get shot at point blank range.
Maybe I can bite his ankle
Nobody is suggesting that you have to rush the shooter in hopes of making a tackle. Defense includes numerous options. You may try to hide, play dead, get behind cover, run away, attack with an improvised or formal weapon. Tackling an active shooter is just another option for defense. Depending on the circumstances, tackling the shooter may be one of the best options for defense.

Think about events like Luby's and VT. Not doing anything to stop the shooters meant that there was a good possibility that if you weren't already shot, the shooter may get around to finally shooting you. If already shot, not doing anything resulted in several folks getting shot additional times moments later as the shooter walked around shooting folks who were already shot.

Exept for a contact shot, your GSW likely won't be too terribly different whether you are 3 feet away or 30 yards away. Everyone shot in Arizona was effectively shot at point blank range. Most of the VT victims were shot at point blank range. The same is true for Luby's as well. You already may be at point blank range when a shooter opens up on people. If you think about it, point blank range is anywhere from the muzzle to somewhere between 20 and 40 yards for a lot of handguns. For rifles, point blank can be out to as much as a couple hundred yards. Point blank is going to be the distance as which the shooter can hit the target exactly where aimed or very close to it.

In several of these situations, people have felt that that stopping the shooter is critical, either as a matter of personal self defense (the shooter will eventually work his/her way around to shooting the would-be tackler) or in defense of others. Some responded as a matter of responsibility (such as one of the teachers protecting his students) and/or because they felt that they had an opportunity to make a difference.

Closing the distance to the shooter isn't free from risk. The closer you get, the less skill the shooter will need to land shots on you. The closer you get, the larger you appear in his/her sight picture. With that said, just about any method you use for self defense involves risk.

If you look at some of the examples I gave, most of the tacklers do not get shot while attempting to tackle the shooter, though several had been shot before making their attack. So it isn't a foregone conclusion that you will get shot while you are attempting to tackle the shooter.

Interestingly, once you get within 2-3 feet, your risk of being shot may actually decline as you get inside of his reach. This is especially true for shooters with long guns. When you get in between the shooter and the muzzle of his long gun, it makes it very difficult for the shooter to turn the gun around to be able to shoot you.
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Old January 16, 2011, 02:45 AM   #11
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More related examples...

Bar patrons tackle and disarm gunman in pub before he shot...
http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/mhojcwojkfgb/

Football player tackles gungirl before she shot...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/0..._n_276388.html

Gunman tackled before shooting at school, disarmed...
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regiona...gsvx5ElOj3EkNL

Texas Capitol shooter tackled by officers while reloading...
http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/82435837.html

Turns out the Casino shooter was tackled while he attempted to reload...
http://www.bismarcktribune.com/news/...4db54d96f.html

Convenience store robber jumped by unarmed patron once distracted, eventually wrestled to floor...
http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/news...l/article.html

Two hostage women tackle gunman who threatened to set them ablaze, one was shot in the attempt, but the gunman was downed...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...le-gunman.html

Jack Ruby was tackled and prevented from shooting Oswald a second time, though the tacklers were mostly armed officers...
http://investigation.discovery.com/v...jack-ruby.html

Army sniper tackled by unarmed special forces guys after killing 1 and wounding 20...
http://edition.cnn.com/US/9510/sniper/am/index.html

Unarmed constable tackles assassin who had already killed several...
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...904045,00.html
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Old January 16, 2011, 08:05 AM   #12
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" Tackle " implies a running grab and throw, I'd think this is more of a generic description in the press than a accurate sequence of events. ( The Jack Ruby take down comes to mind as distance to others was near zero )

I think that if one can come up behind the shooter, using a striking object is more effective. As in the recent school board shooting, a fire extinguisher held vertically then swung in a downward motion so the base strikes the hand with the gun and gun would be more effective than a general horizontal strike.

It takes more than getting the shooter on the ground, their gun hand must be disabled.
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Old January 16, 2011, 09:33 AM   #13
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A person can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes another to react.

Ever hear of the 21ft rule? Hell we even disscussed a case at the academy of a shooting ruled justified at 30ft.(don't remember the case though)

Just a little tid bit for those who CCW. Any practice done at the 7yrd line and closer should include instinctive style shooting from in close and at the hip. Outstreched arms turn 21ft into 17ft.
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Old January 16, 2011, 10:53 AM   #14
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This may be a little Hollywood but what about throwing something large like a chair or garbage can? I think if I was in a situation where I was unarmed but felt like I might die if I didn't take action I would be looking around for something to throw. Something heavy will surely knock a shooter off balance.
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Old January 16, 2011, 12:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
" Tackle " implies a running grab and throw, I'd think this is more of a generic description in the press than a accurate sequence of events. ( The Jack Ruby take down comes to mind as distance to others was near zero )
Your definition fits well for how it is used in football commonly, but even in football, the person making the tackle need not be running. However, if you disagree, then just read the word "tackle" in this thread as meaning the act of forcibly taking a person to the ground which is the action being performed by those in the examples provided.

Quote:
It takes more than getting the shooter on the ground, their gun hand must be disabled.
Nobody has suggested that the fight ends once the shooter is grounded, but grounding the shooter is a first major step to regaining control of a situation and preventing the shooter from being able to continue shooting at will. Instead of shooting at targets of opportunity, the shooter will focus on gun retention and trying to get free of the tackler(s). Getting the shooter on the ground greatly limits the shooter's mobility, line of sight, and directions of aimed fire. In short, tackling the shooter reduces his realm of command that encompassed a very large area while free firing to a very small area for which the shooter has to fight to have any control. Once the shooter is down, the amount of danger posed of the shooter is greatly reduced.

I don't think any of the examples I have listed resulted in the gun hand of the shooter being disabled. Guns were taken from shooters, shooters weren't allowed to reload, guns/hands were controlled such that the shooter could not shoot at targets...but none had their hands disabled.

Quote:
Just a little tid bit for those who CCW. Any practice done at the 7yrd line and closer should include instinctive style shooting from in close and at the hip. Outstreched arms turn 21ft into 17ft.
You have arms 4 feet long?

Quote:
A person can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes another to react.
Absolutely, but it is relative to what sort of reaction needs to be effected. The Tueller Drill showed how officers could be successfully stabbed by an attack who started from 21 feet away and charged the officer. The officer could not draw and fire in that amount of time...which was about 1.5 seconds. With his gun out, say at low ready, the officer could land shots ont the attacker in less than half a second. With the gun pointed at the bad guy, he could be shot in a quarter of a second or less from the start of his attack.

That is why timing is critical. The shooter has a much greater chance of shooting somebody charging at him if his gun is out and firing than if his gun has malfunctioned or it is while he is reloading. Depending on his gun handling skills, most such shooters are not likely to change magazines in less than 4 or 5 seconds - the time from last shot of old mag to first shot of new mag. That is a long time.

Yes, some shooters may be more skilled and quicker. We have all seen the guys with race guns and speed rigs do amazing mag changes. Rob Leetham isn't likely to be your active shooter. In several events such as AZ, Luby's and VT, the shooters had spare magazines in pockets that they had to fish out and orientate.

Quote:
Something heavy will surely knock a shooter off balance.
Well and Loughner was struck with a chair. The blow wasn't huge, but it did put him off balance and both of his tacklers noted it was extremely beneficial to their success.

The effectiveness of such attacks can be quite variable. How they get perceived often relates to how well they changed the situation. The lady hitting the gunman's hand with her purse at the Florida school board meeting was perceived as being terribly ineffective. The gun wasn't knocked from his hand and nobody else responded to the distraction, even after the gunman turned his back on the rest of the school board to deal with the lady. Had a couple of the school board guys tackled the gunman at that point, the purse attack would have been credited to the gunman being taken down.
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Old January 16, 2011, 07:33 PM   #16
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I was reading in 'The Week' magazine about the Tucson shooting that the one guy that was carrying at the event went to tackle the shooter but unknowingly confront another civilian that had, in fact, disarmed the active shooter and was now holding his weapon
That could have ended badly
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Old January 17, 2011, 12:57 AM   #17
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If you have to shoot, shoot. Tackle, tackle. Stab, stab. Etc. But fight and win.
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Old January 17, 2011, 02:21 AM   #18
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+1 Jimbo86. It might not be the most tactically sound plan to rush at an armed assailant, but I'm not going like a lamb to the slaughter. It wouldn't be a great idea to jump on a grenade, the passengers of Flight 93 could have tried to "play it safe", the people who took down the shooter in Tucson could have ran the other way, but some times a little bravado is what's really called for. If I found myself in a horrific situation like that, and had an opportunity to tackle a gunman or find a place to hide, I'm going for it. I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I saved myself and let others die. The person from Virginia Tech will at least be remembered as a hero. That having been said, I don't think there is any kind of safe way to tackle an armed man.
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Old January 17, 2011, 02:36 AM   #19
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With the recent attack on the Congresswoman and the other people in the grocery store, there were three armed people at the rally. For whatever reason they did not fire any shots.

From anyone who has police and/or military experience, what would you in a situation like this in regards to not hitting someone other than the gunman? If someone was armed, I'm sure they would prefer to take down the gunman, but I'm not sure how many people would want to take a shot and risk hitting an innocent person.

Also, what happens at an event like this if the police show up and there are multiple people with guns? Do they generally fire at anyone who is armed? If you had a weapon for self defense wouldn't you be putting yourself at a risk?
This is also one of the arguments about why police officers don't want guns "allowed" on campuses, that being that they don't know who to shoot at.

I was just reading an article about this the other day and since I don't really know anything about firearms myself I thought I'd see if there were any police or military personnel that knew the answer to my question.
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Old January 17, 2011, 03:26 PM   #20
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It might not be the most tactically sound plan to rush at an armed assailant, but I'm not going like a lamb to the slaughter.
Same here, my first instinct would be to cover my wife and if I thought I wasn't going to be found, to stay holed up. However, if I knew I was just awaiting my turn to die, unarmed, I'd wait for a hopefully oncoming moment to rush. I wrestled a lot in my younger days and feel I could still hold my own due to continued workouts. Once down, if possible, lift his head and slam it back down. Very effective at stopping fights. Armed, of course, I'd simply await my best chance at a stopping shot.
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Old January 17, 2011, 04:58 PM   #21
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Other than what the OP said, I would have no intention of tackling a shooter. There might be some remote chance that I might find the opportunity to attack a shooter from behind, if the right circumstances presented.

I look at it this way - I owe the greatest duty of protection to my family and myself. I will help others, but not at a great risk of getting myself killed. Others need to provide their own protection for self and loved ones. Just because some of us carry guns, doesn't turn us into cops or deputies. Myself, I am neither armed, nor trained, to defend anyone not right near me.
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Old January 17, 2011, 06:44 PM   #22
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If I ever find myself sans gun and able to sneak up behind an active shooter, we're going to find out if he can turn around and shoot me while I'm wiggling the knife I've just jammed into his neck.
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Old January 17, 2011, 08:30 PM   #23
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the main problem I have with "tackling" is you typically have to weight till they are reloading.

even in a small revolver thats 5-6 shots.
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Old January 17, 2011, 10:39 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
Just because some of us carry guns, doesn't turn us into cops or deputies. Myself, I am neither armed, nor trained, to defend anyone not right near me.
This. Nothing else.

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Old January 17, 2011, 10:55 PM   #25
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Does anyone have an answer to either of my questions?
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