Almost anyone you talk to these days has heard of the widely known “Run – Hide – fight” motto in relation to an active threat or active shooter situation. Almost everyone you know can probably name at least one incident in 2016 when it was probably talked about, especially now with the recent shooting in Ft. Lauderdale Airport. But is it the right thought process or even the right sequence? We’ll get into that.

Where did this motto come from?

To the best of my knowledge, this model was created by the federal government and then perpetuated and advertised by federal, state and local law enforcement nationwide.

Why this Model?

I truly can’t tell you exactly why but I speculate that it was determined by several factors. The first factor I believe played a part in this was that of addressing the human physiological changes that occur in response to some type of perceived threat, attack or encounter. This is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. This is a topic that can get very complicated and in depth rather quickly so I am not going to do that in this article but I would suggest you research on your own to learn more. Suffice it to say this condition will prompt a response of either attempting to address the perceived threat or running from it. I have spoken to many psychologists about this and, while definitely not a scientific study, the majority I have spoken with say that typically the majority of people will tend to avoid physical conflict rather than confront it. This would support the “run” in the motto as being the first option to take.

The second factor I believe played a part in the development of this motto is the ability of the typical person to be able to successfully fight off an active shooter. Let’s face it, not everyone is comfortable, maybe even cringe at the thought, of going hands on with a troubled person with a gun. Point taken.

The third and perhaps even the last factor, I believe, was the idea that there may be a place for someone to take cover where they would be safe. I mean why risk fighting this individual(s) when they can ride it out in safety? Makes sense, right? Just make sure where your hiding provides cover and not just concealment.

So, let’s get into this. Let’s first understand that an active shooter situation is not, by virtue, a static or stationary ordeal, it’s “active”. Normally the shooter is moving and shooting, walking down hallways, into cafeteria’s, into gyms, into conference rooms, through the airport etc. So instead of thinking about some motto someone told you about I would suggest to simply assess the situation. For example, asking yourself some simple questions (not an exhaustive list) can help you make a sound decision.

“Where am I in relation to the shooters attention and movement?”

“Am I close enough to fight or does it make sense to run?”

“Is there an area I can get to where I am safe from gunfire?”

Many of the answers to these questions can come from simply mentally playing through potential scenarios at home, your place of work, your common shopping areas, your gym etc.


In my opinion this motto creates a mental mindset that dictates a process through these steps from front to back or “lateral” thinking from “Run” to “Fight”. To me this is dangerous as your options are most likely not going to be in that order. It’s my opinion this motto needs to change. More active participation by companies, schools, corporations, government buildings would allow people to better understand that your options are going to change as the situation does. In many of my classes I often reiterate “situation determines tactics”. This is because there is no perfect tactic or technique for anything. If there was I would be the first in line to learn it!!

So when I am asked “what would you do?” or ”What should I do, Run, Hide or Fight?”

I say “well….it depends.”


Be Safe!