As of writing, the latest mass shooting in Orlando, Florida has shaken the nation once again, causing people in major cities from the East Coast to Salt Lake City to ask: What can you do to survive a mass shooting? What legal rights do you have if someone opens fire? These questions aren’t easy, but they are nonetheless deserving of answers.
Expectation of Safety
A lawyer will tell any business owners that they don’t need to put up a sign saying something along the lines of, “Please do not shoot our customers. Thank you,” in order to keep others from opening fire. There is an expectation that you should be able to go somewhere without the threat of harm. The business is only liable for what it has control over; hence why a wrongful death isn’t a homicide.
What You Need to Do
The second thing a lawyer will tell you is that unless you have emergency rescue, police or military training, you do not need to try and stop an active shooter. In fact, doing so is probably the fastest way to get yourself killed. In an active shooter situation, try to stay down and put whatever you can between yourself and the shooter. Panicking and trying to crowd others out of hiding spots is a surefire way to get yourself and others killed — and if it’s proven that your actions were responsible for the deaths of other, you can be indicted in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Second, always have an idea of where your party is at all times. Having your family scattered across the Salt Lake City streets can lead to trampling, which could also lead to a wrongful death situation. Always keep your family and friends close.
Practice — and Be Prepared
The sad fact is that mass shootings are becoming more common than wrongful death incidents were before the invention of the warning label — even children in Salt Lake City are having safety drills so they know what to do in the event of a shooting. So what can you do to prepare? When you go to a place of business, especially in large cities like Salt Lake City, be aware of the exits in both the front and back of the establishment.
Any business without a sign pointing to the exits will be face-to-face with a lawyer before they can say “liability,” so if you can’t find the proper exit, look for the exit signs. Practice being aware of your surroundings. A lawyer who works these kinds of cases can tell you that even the basic level of protection between you and an active shooter can be the very thing that saves you and your loved one’s lives.