Lone Wolf Counter Tactics

December 22, 2015

in Contingency Plan, Negative Events

Stopping terror attacks by coordinated groups with specific plans requires defenses by coordinated groups, mostly focusing on infiltrating the groups and intercepting their communications to discover their plans. Once the plans are uncovered, a variety of law enforcement resources can be used to thwart them. But the effectiveness of these counter terror tactics is forcing the terror organizations to adapt by encouraging “lone wolf” operations that are less susceptible to disruption because of their lack of planning and communications.

One means of creating a response to lone wolf attacks is to adopt the same methodology and call for increased personal responsibility of citizens.

We need to pay attention to what is going on around us. Most of us don’t do that well. We need to know what we are doing, where we are, who is around us, and what they are doing. We need to pay attention to unusual actions and behavior. The first step in defensive tactics is knowing what is going on.

As average citizens, most of us don’t have military training, athletic talent, or walk around heavily armed. But there are a lot of things that can be done by anybody. In many terror attack scenarios (active shooter), the first necessary reaction is to find cover. Concealment may prevent an attacker from seeing us, but real cover is finding something that can protect us. Mid range caliber bullets and explosive shrapnel can penetrate more than an inch of solid wood and thin sheets of metal. But even a flimsy shield that allows some penetration will also offer some cover and may deflect or slow down deadly objects.

Whether we find cover or not, the next thing to immediately consider is what can be done to counter attack. This can mean rushing the attacker, throwing objects at the attacker, or even just creating commotion to distract the attacker. Rushing the attacker is not easy psychologically, specially when they are shooting at us. But if more than person is willing to do this, it can become extremely effective. Most active shooters are not expecting this kind of response and won’t react well to several people running toward them from different directions. Their shots are liable to be wild and while they are shooting in one direction, they are vulnerable in all other directions. Using nearby objects as shields while rushing an attacker can help too. Picking up an office chair and running at an attacker may not stop the bullets but it can deflect them or distract the aim of the shooter and can also be used as a club when we reach the shooter.

Throwing objects at somebody shooting at us with a gun may seem like a futile effort, and can focus the attention of the shooter on us, with deadly results. But if two others are running toward the shooter, a coffee mug thrown toward their face might distract the shooter long enough to enable the rush attack to reach the shooter and take him down. For anybody who cannot rush the shooter, throwing any objects that can reach the shooter and distract their aim is worthwhile attempting. Even somebody who can’t rush the shooter and can’t find anything to throw at them, can create some form of distraction, even if it only serves to focus the attention on us. The goal is to draw the attention of the shooter away from what they intend to do and give others a chance to disable the shooter.


  • Call 911 for help – be ready to tell them where we are and offer a concise summary of what happened and how many casualties there are
  • Give first aid to victims – learn about what to do and what to not do. Learn how to slow blood loss with direct pressure. Learn how to use everyday objects for first aid. Learn how to keep a shooting victim alive until medical help arrives. The first five minutes are critical for a gun shot victim and that time will pass before any medical help arrives.
  • Document the scene – take pictures, write down notes about what happened. Memories after the fact are clouded by adrenaline and emotional responses. Accurate documentation can be a large aid to crime scene analysis later.

As individual citizens, we may not be able to duplicate the efforts of national security organizations or law enforcement or first responders, but we can take immediate action on the scene to stop the attacker/s from doing more damage to the other people around us. People cower in a corner when they are stunned and don’t know what to do. By thinking through terror scenarios, we can learn that there are actions we can take that may make a big difference and save lives.

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