January 8, 2016 marks the five year anniversary since the Tucson, Arizona shooting in which six individuals were killed and 13 were wounded; including U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords who was critically wounded.

Giffords was holding a constituent meeting in the Safeway supermarket parking lot when she was shot in the head at close range. Giffords remained in critical condition for some time. The violent event started and ended in one minute. Five years later, as we remember all of those individuals affected by this tragedy, we also should remember the brave actions taken by several individuals who ended the event before more lives were taken. There are active shooter response lessons we learned from this tragedy that are still useful today.

1.  Citizens should not solely rely on law enforcement as their only plan of defense against an attacker.

People who find themselves in a life threatening situation can take proactive actions to stop the assault. The violence in this event ended within one minute, which was before 911 was called and before law enforcement arrived. Individuals cannot rely solely on law enforcement response because in 60% of Active Shooter events, it ends before law enforcement arrives. Proactive active shooter response training for individuals can be the difference between a violent event and saving lives.

2.  Proactive response strategies can stop a shooting event.

The Gabby Giffords shooting ended in one minute because of the actions taken by bystanders to stop the attack. Civilians are often the first responders in violent attacks. Proactive strategies conducted by citizens in the scene can end an attack and therefore save more lives. When the attacker stopped to reload the magazine, it fell to the ground and was quickly picked up by Patricia Maisch, a bystander. Another bystander hit the assailant in the back of the head with a folding chair. The attacker was then tackled to the ground by 74-year-old retired U.S. Army Colonel Bill Badger.

3.  Individuals do not need a gun to stop a gun.

Individuals do not need to have a gun to stop a violent attack. The proactive response taken by Maisch, Colonel Badger and the other bystanders ended the attack quickly without the use of a firearm. Human action is a viable means of defense against violence.

4.  Violent events happen quickly.  

Violent events are typically fast and unpredictable. In the Gabby Giffords event, the first call to emergency services was received at 10:11 a.m., after the shooting had ended. Police arrived on the scene at 10:15 a.m. As a result of the one minute attack, six were killed and 13 others were wounded.

Although law enforcement is responding to the call as quickly as possible, average law enforcement response time for active shooter events is 5-7 minutes. When shots are being fired every 4-15 seconds,

[1] it is important that individuals know and understand proactive strategies can save lives.

 [1] With permission: “SEALE Academy Bedford, Ohio Ron Borsch” http://www.bedfordoh.gov/site.cfm/City-Departments/Police-Department/S-E-A-L-E.cfm