I say minor because no one ever thinks such a thing will happen to them. Yes, we know that it could happen but really, what are the odds? Whether the shooter is a mentally ill person targeting children at school or religious terrorists striking in such a way as to receive the most media coverage possible, there is a very, very slight possibility that such a thing could happen to you. Are you prepared?
Now I won't say that the office workers targeted in Paris weren't prepared--one of the people targeted even had his own police guard because there had been threats on his life and if you aren't even safe with someone guarding you then, well, there isn't much that I can say that would be of use. However, for the average person, there are some things that can be done to prepare for such a scenario:
- Always be on alert. Be aware of your situation--where you are, who is around you, what is happening. Most people wander around on auto pilot and someone could be pulling out at Uzi and the people walking by wouldn't even take notice of such a thing.
- Be inconsistent. Obviously this is easier for some people than others but being consistently inconsistent in your schedule and activities makes you, specifically, a more difficult target.
- Make sure your workplace has a security plan. The more comprehensive the plan, the better.
- Carry a concealed firearm and know how to use it. When it comes down to it, the (second) best response to someone shooting at you is for you to be able to shoot back.
- I say that shooting back is the second best response because, if possible, your best response to an active shooter situation is for you to be able to escape immediately from the area. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes it isn't, but by the time you get into a firefight, it's iffy if you will even survive such a confrontation.
- Practice multiple responses to a mass shooter in your home/office/work area/etc. Where would you hide? How many ways could you escape? Is there cover and concealment if you do need to take up a defensive shooting position?
- If you are going to carry a firearm is it licensed? Are you licensed to carry a concealed weapon? Do you have extensive training not only the basics of using a firearm but using it in a tactical situation? Do you practice tactical shooting on a regular basis?
- Are you in good physical condition? You can't run away from an active shooter if you can barely walk a block without having to stop and catch your breath. You can't hide in certain advantageous places if you can't even squat down in a hidey hole without throwing out your back. Plus, if you need to make a last ditch effort at saving yourself by physically attacking your attacker, the better condition you are in, the slightly better your chances are of being successful at this.
- Always attempt to have multiple layers of security around you. In the same way you want multiple layers of security at your home (a perimeter fence around your property, a couple of dogs in the yard, reinforced doors and locks on your home, an interior and exterior security system in your home, a safe room in your home), you want the same emphasis on multiple layers of security at work if possible (a guarded gate to get into the facility, a secure way to enter and exit the facility itself, securable interior spaces, etc). Obviously this isn't possible in all types of employment scenarios, especially if you work with the public.
And here are a few more resources you should check out to prepare for such a scenario:
- Active Shooter Resources
- Special Focus on Workplace Violence and Mass Shootings
- 5 Ways to Survive a School or Workplace Shooting
The bottom line is that anytime there is a workplace or school shooting, people aren't prepared because, psychologically, no one thinks it will happen to them. Also, due to the randomness of such a situation, there is no step-by-step guide that can be given to you that says "if you follow this plan, you will be able to save yourself." Each active shooter situation will be different necessitating variable responses depending on what is happening on a minute-by-minute basis. A little practice and preparation on your part, however, can only be a positive thing in preparing you for the remote possibility of such an incident occurring at your workplace.