The Problem with Run, Hide, Fight!

Peter Uliano
5 min readApr 29, 2024

My young children came home the other day and told me they had a lockdown drill. Based on my training and experience, this piqued my interest, so I in turn asked exactly what they do during a lockdown drill or an active shooter scenario.

Both of my kids, in different grades, responded, “We got packed into the closet (or a corner) and had to be quiet.” They are teaching my children and their teachers to be sitting ducks, which to me is beyond comprehension. To further this, I reached out to find out where this policy comes from, and apparently, it comes from my local police department and with direction from the state police as well. Yes, I know this is typically what schools do and also what we train civilians nationwide. To be blunt, it is asinine.

This is hardly just a school problem, as corporate America teaches the mantra; Run, Hide, Fight! Which oftentimes is also taught by fellow police departments and officers. Us feds are taught that you do not even wait for backup; you enter and try to eliminate the threat immediately in an active shooter scenario. I still remember being at FLETC in the active shooter drill with role players. Again, I am aware that we are trained, and I am also aware that we are not school children; however…

The problem with run, hide, fight is a few things. For one, you are skipping the evolutionary reaction of fight or flight and choosing flight by mental programming ahead of any conflict. Therefore, ignoring or rather reprogramming someone’s basic instincts. We are essentially teaching and conditioning people to be a victim. Run away, go hide, and if all else fails, then maybe you should fight.

Let’s apply this to a real-life scenario, shall we?

On 09/11/2001, during one of America’s darkest moments, while aboard United Airlines Flight 93, Todd Beamer said, “Are you guys ready? Okay, let’s roll,” and a group of passengers stormed the hijackers and quite possibly prevented another target from being hit. If they chose to do nothing or cower, many more lives would have been lost.

Now, granted that is not an “Active Shooter” situation, but it was an “active threat.” You hear experts teach children that oftentimes standing up to a bully will stop their behavior, but we teach schools that have adults to run and hide and also teach the same to companies around the country.

If certain individuals want to run and hide, that is fine, but identify the ones that would be willing to fight ahead of time and come up with a plan of action for those individuals to attempt to eliminate the threat should there be one. Some people run towards danger, and it is in their mindset or prior training to do so. We should not be asking those individuals to run and hide and only fight as a last resort. Violence of action is of the utmost importance during an active threat situation.

If Suzy from accounting is active in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Joe from sales is an ex-Army infantryman and they are willing to fight if the situation arises, then make them part of an action team that would have its plan of action to neutralize a potential threat. I, for one, cannot run if people are getting hurt, and asking me to do so just makes me blank out and ignore what is trying to be taught. Run, hide, fight is a failure and has not helped, in my opinion, at all. If we want to stop an active threat, it must be met with resistance; otherwise, everyone is a running and hiding sitting duck.

Instead, we should try something along the lines of:

Assess (address the freeze), resist (fight), and minimize. Assess the situation, show resistance, and fight towards the threat to minimize casualties. If people are going to die, then die fighting. If six people charge a shooter, some may get injured, but the shooter will be neutralized, and dozens of lives will be saved. Use a weapon, grab a fire extinguisher, or any means necessary and neutralize the threat. If you run or if you hide, then you are playing a victim, and I truly believe that system has failed everyone. Do I agree that it is a shame to live this way? Yes. However, the unfortunate fact is this is life, and if you are going to prepare, then prepare right. When I was a kid, I took Jujitsu for many years, and my instructor Christopher Columbo used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect,” meaning that all the practice in the world will not help if you are not training correctly.

Do not be a victim. Freeze, fight, or flight. Most freeze at first, but use this time to quickly assess the situation, then resist (fight), which in turn will minimize the casualties.

To use the same example from the story above from United Airlines flight 93. Todd Beamer assessed the situation, actively resisted with others, and ultimately minimized the casualties by forcing a crash rather than letting the plane be a controlled missile into a populated area. A success on the part of the resistance! A sad truth, but it was that or let the terrorists have their way, but they chose to fight, to resist, and to save lives in the process. True heroes in every sense of the word. What might have happened if they did not resist? Another target would have been hit, and more lives would have been lost. It is rumored that their target was the White House, a symbol of America. They not only saved lives but potentially saved a symbolic structure of American freedom and prevented further damage to national security.

Another example is from fairly recent in July of 2022 when a young 22-year-old male named Elisjsha Dicken was in a mall food court when a man with two rifles and a handgun opened fire. The suspect fired 24 rounds before he was stopped.

“Many more people would’ve died last night if not for a responsible armed citizen that took action very quickly within the first two minutes of the shooting,”

Dicksen observed what was happening and assessed the situation, telling his girlfriend to get down and stay down. He then resisted with violence of action by engaging the suspect and moving towards him while firing and ultimately stopped more lives from being lost.

The media will have you believe this is a one-time event. However, in 2020 Jack Wilson stopped an active shooter at a church in Texas, saying, “When events arise, you’re going to do one of two things. You’re either going to step up and do what’s right or walk away. And I’m not one to walk away,”

No one has the exact method or terminology to use for these “Active Shooter” drills for the general public, but one thing is for certain, and that is that suspects choose easy targets, do not like resistance, and “run, hide, fight” is not the appropriate response.

Peter G. Uliano

Perl, Peter (May 12, 2002). “Hallowed Ground”. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 17, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2008.

Christopher Columbo —