Carrying a Gun Wouldn't Necessarily Get You Out of a Shooting

Dorney said, "If you don't have training and you don't use proper tactics with what you're doing, you're probably making yourself a target for somebody."

And it's not just tactical issues one faces in an active-shooter environment, the men say, citing the physiological effects of stress.

"What happens is that you get so jacked up you forget how to do the simple things," Benton said. "Because your [heart rate] elevates, your fine motor skills deteriorate, and you can't get your gun out. And you're thinking, 'Oh there's a gun; I'm getting shot at.'"

Dorney said, "You get tunnel vision as well, because now you're not looking at the entire environment; you're focused on one thing, and it's probably going to be the threat. It's been equated to taking paper towel rolls when they're empty, and sticking them up to your eyes. That's almost what you see. And ... and you have to train yourself to be able to break that."

Also, they said, the vigilante is responsible for whatever his or her bullets hit.

"You have to be able to know what your target is; but you also have to know what's behind your target, what's around your target; you're very responsible for everything," Benton said. "One stray bullet that misses and hits a bystander, you're responsible for it."

How to Survive a Mass Shooting

Bill Stanton, former New York City police officer and safety expert, likens it to getting behind the wheel of a car, in bad weather, without a license.

"You know, would anybody think to get in a car and drive during a rainstorm if they didn't have a license?" Stanton asked. "Would anybody get behind a wheel of an airplane without any flying lessons, you know? While this isn't as dangerous, it's pretty close."

Stanton said there're better ways to survive or help those around you. In a scenario such as the Binghamton shooting, where the assailant blocked the building's exit, he said that hostages should be thinking about alternative exits and hiding places.

"Is there a window with a garage roof right next door that I can jump from one to the other? Am I capable of doing that? Or maybe I'm just going to go to the closet and hide," he said. "Know your strengths, know your vulnerabilities, and get away from that violence."

The person who is most likely to survive a shooting is the one who immediately springs into some kind of action that Stanton refers to as "go mode" and tells themselves, "OK, this is what's happening. This is what I have to do.

"If you have this guy ... that just comes into a classroom, puts a gun to your head and pulls the trigger while you are talking to someone else, well, you know what? There is nothing you could do," he said. "But there were people that survived: the ones that played dead. The ones that, you know, went through a window. The ones that hid behind a desk. The ones that got on the phone and called in 911. When they do a post interview of all these different people, you'll see a, a general commonality: 'I knew I had to live.'"

And remember that cell phone in your pocket? It might be the best weapon you have for survival.

"Get on the cell phone, tell people, barricade these doors, and wait it out," said Stanton.

Stanton adds that in this age, when most seem to want to tune out the outside world, people would be better prepared by staying alert with an everyday survival mindset.

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