How to keep you and your friends safe in a mass shooting at a club

Last week’s shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs was one of 600 mass shootings in America this year and the second major mass shooting at a queer nightclub. We wanted to give y’all some resources to ensure the safety of you, your friends, co-workers and patrons in the nightlife scene.

Reckon gathered tips and strategy from government and grassroots organizations and made them easy for your to read, share and access in case of an emergency.

Step 1: De-escalate with words

Most people have verbally de-escalated violence at some point in the their lives. It’s a tool and skill everyone can use regularly and as a first line of defense when addressing an altercation, especially in public. Here are some tips from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Black-led QTIPOC social change organization, Vision Change Win:

  • Be empathetic, non-judgmental and remain calm.
  • Use active listening. Look at the person who is upset and give them your full attention. Use your body and facial expressions to fully take in and listen to the person or people. Reflect back to the person what you’re hearing, i.e. “I hear that you feel ignored”, etc.
  • Create space between you and the agitated person, but don’t block the person from the exit. Sometimes blocking an exit can further escalate the situation.
  • Use nonthreatening words and empathy to address the person. Use phrases like “I understand how that is hard”, “I agree with you…”, “You’re right, that is a problem.”
  • Gather people. Get someone to help you in de-escalation efforts and don’t do it alone.

Step 2: De-escalate with physical force

The brave people at Club Q in Colorado Springs collectively worked to incapacitate the shooter. Police say Richard Fierro and Thomas James worked together to stop the attacker. Fierro said he tackled the suspect, took the weapon and hit him with it. Here’s more advice from Vision Change Win about what to do if the altercation becomes physical.

  • If verbal de-escalation doesn’t work, move to physical de-escalation. This should be a last resort to protect another person from injury.
  • Remember that a coordinated attack by multiple people can incapacitate an active shooter.
  • Physical intervention increases the chance you could be injured.

Step 3: When de-escalation doesn’t work, remember these three words: Run. Hide. Fight

Here’s what the FBI says:

  • Run. Running makes you harder to hit. Run to an exit and keep running until you reach safety.
  • Hide. If you can’t run from the shooter or the exit is blocked, find a place to hide. If you find another room to hide in, lock and barricade the door.
  • Fight. Using fighting as a last resort. Use whatever items are around you as weapons. A coordinated attack by several people can disarm a shooter.

Resources for nightlife workers

Nightlife workers and patrons who are looking for better ways to make sure their nightlife experience is safe for everyone working and in attendance can find resources for developing security strategies from these organizations listed below. Many also offer training courses, seminars and free materials for patrons and club owners alike.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

New York City Office of Nightlife

ALICE Training

Neighborhood Anarchists Collective

Thinking about the reality of what to do during a mass shooting is scary. Many people who survive mass shooting events are traumatized by the event. Both CISA and the NYC Office of Nightlife offer guides for recovering your yourself, patrons and your business after a mass shooting incident. The NYC Office of Nightlife even has a weekly support group for nightlife workers.

A Reckon note:

Having to think about these situations is exhausting. Here’s some suggestions for ending gun violence from the Prevention Institute:

  • Gun safety: create common-sense gun laws and encourage safe and proper handling of firearms. Address underlying contributors: create safety plans and provide community resources for mental health treatment support services
  • Prevention: Recognize gun violence as a public health problem and support research aimed at reducing gun violence.
  • Mind your rhetoric, too.

This analysis of anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric shows how misleading information about queer people has led to clearly documented incidents of people using this false rhetoric to justify harassment or violence toward queer people.

Anna Beahm

Anna Beahm |

I report on the intersection of religion and sexuality in America. Follow me on Twitter @_AnnaBeahm

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