Now that the dust has settled and the initial emotional and knee-jerk responses from all sides of the issue have faded for the most part, I think its time to discuss some legitimate takeaways in relation to our preparation, training and lifestyle choices from the most recent shootings in Texas, Florida and Nevada among others
1. They're rare! Mass shootings and especially mass shootings involving rifles are far and away the exception as far as both shootings and defensive encounters are concerned and should not be the sole determinant of our training and other related defensive choices. The statistical data shows that you are so much more likely to be victim of some other type of violent encounter that it almost makes no empirical sense to even take these events into consideration, almost.
2. You are alone. Not because no one likes you, well maybe, but because these events tend to last mere minutes and because there is both no legal requirement for Law Enforcement to save you and because in an event that may last under 10mins, by the time the call goes out for Police response and the call is acknowledged, the event is likely all over but the screaming. Coming to the mental realization that you must be trained to the level of someone who knows they cannot expect any help is a paradigm altering event in every conceivable way.
3. Unarmed fighting ability is CRUCIAL. While it is absurd, it is an absolute fact that any non-law enforcement person is going to find themselves in places where they must choose between committing a felony by carrying an otherwise completely legal firearm onto a legally designated Gun-Free Zone or by going either unarmed or armed solely with blade weapons, flesh and bone. While it is certainly not a desirable situation, if you find yourself trapped in a school classroom, bar, theater, airplane cabin or some other close quartered environment and faced with an armed adversary, you WILL have to fight. This isn't to sound all gung-ho about the prospects of taking on someone with a rifle but there are a couple factors that can aid your chances of success. First, generally there is only one adversary. If you or someone like you is able to distract and in someway impede the employment of the shooter's weapon, there stands to be a decent chance that with the help of others with you that you may neutralize and preferably stomp the brains out of said adversary. Second, generally these perpetrators of violence are not particularly trained or capable of dealing with adversity in the act of violence. Time and again we see that the first reload, malfunction, shot fired in return or inkling of injury causes the perp to take himself out of the fight in one way or another, so put pressure on him. Third and last, rifles/carbines are much easier to grab and entangle in a combative environment than handguns or knives. Again, far from ideal, but your chances of fouling up and impeding an adversary's weapon are increased in a close quartered environment and in relation to a rifle.
4. Physical Fitness is non-negotiable. In Sutherland Springs, TX, Steven Willeford sprinted shoeless while attempting to load magazines and his rifle on his way to engage and ultimately stop Devin Kelley from shooting any more people in the First Baptist Church. While the distance was only about a block, anyone who shoots competitively, trains to cover fairly long distances in given drills or who has been in a firefight or engagement involving a lot of running can attest to just how marked of an effect the huge increase in heart rate and respiratory rate can have on your ability to focus and achieve effective hits. Similarly, in Las Vegas, the ability to engage or somehow assault the shooter was essentially non-existent and thus escape and casualty evacuation was the name of the game. An adversary armed with a rifle, from an elevated position has an effective range of hundreds of yards; so your ability to cover the relatively large distance to safety and/or aid in the recovery and transport of others to safety requires the utmost physical fitness.
5. You will not make it to a rifle! Stop spending so much time training for self-defense with your rifle if you are not already an advanced handgun shooter; if you cannot do a F.A.S.T. test under 5 seconds from your carry gear on command or a sub 2 second Bill Drill from your carry gear, you are not advanced. Unless you are a responding Law Enforcement officer with access to one in your vehicle, in which case you are still likely very late to the party, you will fight with what you have on you. This means that your choices in carry gun and training mean fuckin EVERYTHING. If you are not effective with your pistol out to 50yds, you suck and you either need more training (you always needs more training) or you need a better firearm. Seriously, walk inside a school or Walmart or theater and tell me there's no chance of you being faced with a threat at greater than 'standard' 3-7yds. This isn't to get into an argument on specifics but your 5rd .380ACP just doesn't cut it, your 7rd old geezer gun doesn't cut it. A pre-planned attack also likely means the shooter took into account his own longevity and body armor is not uncommon for these folks; which means that even if you are able to score hits, they may be ineffectual and may require you to target less desirable points of aim in order to draw blood, as was the case in Sutherland Springs. Its awfully hard to change your point of aim and continue engaging a target if you carry a 6rd wheel gun or a 5rd single stack sub-compact. Another point to reference is the new-found approach worldwide of using vehicles as weapons. While you will absolutely not stop a vehicle with a pistol round, having to shoot through glass and metal will severely test any common handgun round and will make achieving hits much more difficult due to both the unpredictability of the trajectory after striking such an object and the actual physical performance of the round in penetrating such things.
6. You will be in some place where there is much more shit that you should not shoot than there are things you should shoot. Its pretty obvious that most of the things and places and people you interact with on a daily basis should not be shot; so understand that the addition of a violent threat into these environments does not magically absolve you of your need to not shoot an awful lot of shit and your training should reflect this. Any competition shooter knows all to well what the addition of no-shoot targets means for their stage planning and this approach should be passed over to our regular, everyday training as well. Adding non-threat targets, highly restrictive shooting lanes and challenges of environmental navigation are critical things we need to train on and a mindset we need to cultivate. This is not meant to frighten or dissuade, but rather to bolster confidence and to also take a big sip of the reality of discharging firearms in environments that are not as obvious to navigate as purpose-built ranges are.
7. You need medical training. This one is short and obvious. In any sort of mass casualty situation, even if you were in a position to and removed the perpetrator from the living, you ARE going to be in a position to treat and assist casualties and need to be capable of at least basic first aid/trauma.