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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If you are going to be killed anyhow, why would you try and fight back to save yourself?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) June 14th, 2016

In a situation be it a campus, work place, resort, etc. someone had a weapon such as a rifle or pistol and starts shooting people he/she comes upon. If the route of escape is blocked and eventually he/she will get to your location and when he/she does, you will most likely be shot, why not try and use the element of surprise and attack the gunman? You may succeed saving yourself and others, especially if this life is all you have; I would think you’d fight for it tooth and nail.

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29 Answers

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

You do it to save others.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Whether people fight back would depend on their personality. Some people are likely to paralysed by fear. Others will come out fighting. Some will try to run away. Other people will put themselves at risk to save others. I don’t think anyone can be absolutely sure how they will react until they’re in a particular situation.

I was watching a program the other day about a mass shooting that took place in 1991 in a Sydney shopping centre. The shooter had stabbed a young woman and then started shooting people. One man, who had military training, realised what was happening and that the shooter wasn’t shooting people who were lying down. He began to warn people who were in the gunman’s path, to lay down on the ground. The gunman spotted him and shot at him, but the kept going and trying to help people. He was eventually shot in the feet, but he saved eight people. The man went on to suffer PTSD because of the event, but I imagine he saw an opportunity to save people and felt he had to act.

ragingloli's avatar

I played a lot of Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid.
I am a ghost. Sneak, sneak, whoosh, stab. Snake? Snake! SNAAAAAAAAAAKE!!

cazzie's avatar

I don’t think anyone can say for sure how they would act before they actually put in that situation. Unless you are trained for scenarios like that, how could you know how you would act? I always thought that if someone was holding me down, choking me, that I would act unconscious so they would let go, but you know what? When it really happened to me, the only thing I did was try to pull his hands away and gasp for air. In that moment, I was so struck with fear, all reason left me. I’m not ashamed. It’s happened a few times since, where I was in fear of being attacked by a man (just two weeks ago, was the most recent event) and I froze. Only one time did I successfully defend myself and got the person attacking me off and that was because I was more angry than I was scared. I don’t even remember punching the guy, but my hand did and his jaw did. (He didn’t remember the incident because he was too drunk. Fear is a horrible thing.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Or why not just be smart and lay on the ground pretending that you’re one of the victim that is already dead?

chyna's avatar

@unofficial. I was thinking about that when they interviewed people in Orlando who said they did that and survived. I wonder if I could control my breathing and my body shaking in fear.

Seek's avatar

I agree with others who state it’s a personality thing.

To me, I’m saving myself. However I can. If I can get out, I’m getting out. If I can be still and stay quiet, that’s plan B. I’m not running toward gunfire. I’m capable of acting in self-defense in the spur of the moment, but my goal is “reach safety” not “take down attacker”.

My husband would and has disarmed active shooters by simply walking up to them and taking their guns. He knows the sound of bullets flying past his head. He would have cheerfully tried to fight back against Mateen, and probably been shot for his trouble.

kritiper's avatar

I would fight back because I’m not the type to panic, freeze up, and let some SOB shoot me. One MUST ACT!!!

CWOTUS's avatar

It helps – even without training – to have put some thought into this. Because experts in “actual” security (including those who investigate the aftermath of these types of “active shooter” situations) have provided lessons that can be learned, if they will be, by people who don’t have actual training.

The best advice that I’ve seen is a sort of simple hierarchy of elements that nearly anyone could apply in some such scenario – depending on your awareness and the actual situation around you.

First, don’t freeze. Don’t imagine that “it’s nothing”, or “it doesn’t involve me” or “it’s not what I think it is”. Apparently, it is the air of disbelief that people adopt that gets most of them killed after the initial surprise attack. See, hear and comprehend what is going on around you and resolve to do something – probably one of the next three steps:

Escape / Evade – as the writer puts it very succinctly in the link above, “distance works against a shooter and for a target”, so if you can put distance between you and the shooter, do that as quickly and effectively as you can. Get out of the kill zone.

Barricade – if you can’t escape, for whatever reason, then get behind a solid door, walls, whatever masses are available, and make it difficult or impossible for the shooter to get into your space. You would also want to be as quiet as possible sometimes – it would always depend on circumstance – so that the shooter wouldn’t be attracted to make the attempt to breach your barricade.

Fight – when the other options are gone, then you do what you can to overpower, disarm, disable or kill the attacker.

I’ve now internalized enough of this – just from reading and watching a couple of videos – that when I hear “actual firecrackers” (and I know that’s what they are), I’m already thinking about where I should be going or what I should be doing “if this were an actual attack”. It’s not a lot of practice, but just like a fire drill, I don’t think it takes “a lot” of practice to be able to internalize “what should be my reaction when I see or hear X?” And then start to practice that.

ibstubro's avatar

I think you’ve hit on the reason we have anti-discrimination legislation.

Your willingness and ability to fight back is often largely based on self confidence, and your self confidence is often largely determined by how equal and empowered you feel in a society. Since the majority here are American, we’ll say that society is traditionally dominated by wealthy white males of European descent. So the norm would be that wealthy white males of European descent are most likely to understand they are in danger, and to be protected, or protect themselves, when society presents a danger.

The shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando is close to a textbook case.
Many of the patrons didn’t understand the danger because:
* They didn’t speak English
* It was dark
* There was alcohol
* There was already loud noise
* The environment was already ‘chaotic’
Many of the patrons were members of groups traditionally victimized in American society:
* Gay or LGBT
* Hispanic or non-white
* Closeted (see 1 & 2 above)
* Young
* Immigrant

In other words, Orando was a nearly perfect soft target.
Optional definitions of soft target are also (particularly in the Orlando shooting)cowardly” and ”least effective”. The shooter chose a target with little political clout that was and is of marginal importance to the PTB. Yeah, it was a damned shame, but it’s not like the shooting targeted people of great importance to American society. What kind of statement does it make when you kill a bunch of people on already on the fringes of a society, and a people that accepted you, and allowed you to move freely among them?

“If you are going to be killed anyhow, why would you try and fight back to save yourself?”
Because you have somehow been empowered by your society and your immediate family.
Unfortunately many of the people killed in Orlando were raised to be “soft targets” by both society and family.

BellaB's avatar

If I know for sure I won’t survive, I’ll fight.

I see it as being similar to people becoming part of drug /treatment trials although they know they will not benefit from the treatment.

My uncle was told he had 3 – 6 months to live as a result of an asbestos-related cancer. He was told that there was no treatment that would extend his life past 9 – 12 months. He was also told that there was a treatment that might benefit others in the future but would be unlikely to be of any use to him. He chose to participate in the treatment trial and died 8 months later. I think it was the right thing to do.

Similarly, I think fighting to possibly save others when I know hope for me is over is the right thing to do.

Seek's avatar

There were several people at the club who said they originally thought the gunshot noises were just part of the music. Nightclubs are really loud on Saturday night.

Zaku's avatar

Did HC mean to put “not” in the title too, or is that just part of the torture technique?

I would assess the situation, including both tactical and psychological considerations, and do what I thought was most likely to have the best overall effect. But I would also know that there was probably a lot I didn’t know about what was going on.

I think the thinking of the question comes across as dry and logical, from a position of hindsight. When violence breaks out (especially unexpectedly), understanding the situation is something few people on the scene will be able to do. Most people, especially the surprised and untrained ones, but even police and military types, will not know what is happening. It’s often impossible to know who is doing what for what reason, how many threats there are, etc. Many people will panic and do unpredictable and peculiar things. Few will experience it as a logic problem, and even if they do, their information will be limited and imperfect.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@CWOTUS The best advice that I’ve seen is a sort of simple hierarchy of elements that nearly anyone could apply in some such scenario – depending on your awareness and the actual situation around you.
That is a good read; I think everyone should read that article. It is somewhat a mystery to me that people do not exercise enough situational awareness in all situations, be it driving, walking the dog, going to the mailbox. Depend on where I am or what time I am always applying situational awareness. If I am passing through a rough neighborhood and I see a young tough pass me to my back, I am slyly sneaking a peak over my shoulder to make sure he is not creeping up in back of me. If one disappears down what look it be an alley or hidden doorway in front of me, I am seeing how I can distance myself from that area enough to get a heads up before I get there so no one pops out on me. Even taking into account dogs that have gotten loose, what will I do when I encounter one, is the dog large, can I kick it a good kick and make it go home yapping, what is there in the area I can improvise as a weapon, is there an RV or something with a ladder to the roof where I can elevate myself out of harm’s way? I cannot imagine trying to hide in a dead end and knowing that, waiting to see if the gun man will find me or run out of bullets. As the article said, I am thinking what can I McGyver to surprise him when he comes through the door. Even if I can’t take him out, I just have to buy enough time for me and hopefully others to have a path of escape.

Seek's avatar

Everyone’s a tacticool mastermind from the sofa.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Generally when I have been in fight or flight scenarios I typically fight. It just depends and I don’t think I would be able to predict how I would react ahead of time.

ucme's avatar

I’d have stood & sung YMCA with the obligatory dance moves, the shooty bang bang guy would have had no choice but to listen to his inner diva & join in, thus laying down his weapon.
While distracted, someone would come from behind & twat him on the head with a rubber fist…job done

SecondHandStoke's avatar

One against 300 and about 50 dead.

Too bad people save their outrage for after the fact.

kritiper's avatar

A crucial deciding factor would be whether the shooter had a pistol or rifle and where the deed was attempting to be done. In close confined quarters, a rifle’s length could be a hindrance and so many people with a pistol can’t hit the broad side of a barn at point blank range.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, there is always the chance you could survive. I mean, you can’t really know you’re going to die.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ Well, there is always the chance you could survive. I mean, you can’t really know you’re going to die.
That is a chance you would take? He/she shot 5 people before you and you will bank on a chance that when they get to you, they will run out of bullets, get bored, have a strong urge to pee and head for the toilet, get distracted by a squirrel, etc.? Since this is your only life, why not fight for it as if it were you pet, fancy car, or a stack of dead presidents? You may not know who is going to die, but logic says whoever is in the same vicinity as the shooter has a greater chance than those escaping the area.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What “chance” would I be taking? I don’t understand that question.


Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ What “chance” would I be taking? I don’t understand that question.
You say there is a chance you could survive, how would that happen if you hunkered down somewhere in hopes not to be seen etc.? If you were discovered or there was no place to hide, to sit or stand there and not fight to the finish, where is the survival chance coming from less he/she decides not to shoot you or runs out of ammo, or gets distracted?

Dutchess_III's avatar

What do you mean ”how would that happen” if I was hunkered down, hoping not to be seen? It could happen because there is a chance he wouldn’t see me because I was hunkered down, and therefore wouldn’t shoot me.

As far as “fight to the finish”...can you please explain what you mean by “fight”?

Seek's avatar

I love how the scenario just went from an active shooter in a crowded building to you and a shooter standing in an empty field.

At least, that’s the only way I can figure that there’s absolutely nothing to hide behind, no doors to move through, etc.

Also, I can’t think of anyone who is standing in front of an active shooter for a stack of $20s.

This thread has become completely asinine.

BellaB's avatar

@Dutchess III – you are in a closet . There is nothing to hide behind/on top of/under. The shooter opens the door and sees you. Do you fight before you’re shot?

Seek's avatar

If you have time. Jesus, I hope those goalposts youse guys are shifting around are at least heavy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m still trying to understand the point he’s trying to make with the question in the first place.

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