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The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advises persons at risk of harm from an active shooter to “Run, Hide, Fight” (in that order), recommending “fight” – incapacitating or “attempt[ing] to take the active shooter down” – if all else fails.
In the United Kingdom, police and counter-terrorism authorities like the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the London Metropolitan Police promote a different version for surviving a firearms or weapons attack at home (and recently, abroad). The last step in their “Run, Hide, Tell” directs victims to turn off their cell phones and only call the police once it’s safe to do so.
This is peculiar advice even in a jurisdiction that gives its subjects almost no legal options for arming and defending themselves (here, here, here and here). What if running or hiding isn’t safe or even available alternatives? How will a person in hiding know when it’s safe to call the police? What if law enforcement doesn’t arrive quickly or find the victims in time?
The London Bridge attack last month offers a real-life example of how such violence may unfold. The attack began when terrorists drove their van at high speed into unsuspecting pedestrians on the pavement along the bridge. After mowing down several people, the three van occupants embarked on a stabbing spree through bars and restaurants in the heart of London. News reports confirm that police officers arrived within eight minutes or so of the first call to emergency services and eventually shot dead the three attackers, but not before the assailants had killed eight people and injured 48 others.