Gun crimes are regular incidents in the US. Mass shootings and gun ownership are on the rise. At the time of writing this blog (May 2023), there have been more than
200 mass shootings across the US so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA). GVA defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more
people are injured or killed.

The rise of extremism in a massively socially, economically, and politically divided country, the freedom of ownership of guns (especially guns intended for military use), the nurturing of hate on social media and by some cable TV networks contribute to violence and a climate of violence expectancy, typically not in the mindset of most Australians.

When we deliver training for what is commonly labelled and promoted by Australian governments as ‘Active Armed Offender’ incidents, we impress upon our participants who intend to work, study or holiday in the US that while there are similarities in training information, there are also huge contextual and practical differences between the US and Australia (and other comparable countries) related to gun violence.

A key difference is the much higher frequency of shootings in the US with many resulting in mass casualties. In the US, mass shootings have occurred, and expected to occur in locations such as places of worship, shopping malls, military bases, office workplaces, hospitals, schools, universities, bars, restaurants, carparks and entertainment precincts – anytime and anywhere across the country.

Another difference is that while the survival guidelines from Australian governments promote ‘Escape, Hide, Tell’, in the US, it is ‘Run, Hide and Fight’. The differences in emphasis are quite stark. The difference may result in survival behaviour of (locally trained) people (including those carrying their own weapons) not expected by an international visitor during a shooting incident.

The different phone numbers for emergency services between countries is an example of basic but critical information that needs to be provided.

Quality, contextually based information is needed to improve situational awareness, mental preparedness, survival actions and survival outcomes.

Employers sending employees, and universities sending students overseas have an obligation to provide security awareness and training in the context of the overseas locations before they leave Australia. On arrival in the US, induction programs should include active shooter survival training.

Holiday makers who do not have the travel support of an employer, should independently seek security and safety awareness and survival training for their destinations. When the destination is the US, relatives should encourage their traveling family members to at least view online resources that may better prepare them for the possibility of gun violence. Australians have been murdered in gun crimes while visiting and living in the US.

For example:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Duration: 4 minutes 37 Seconds.

A few references for a deeper dive into this topic:

BBC News
Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Gun Violence Archive

Contact us today regarding our suite of face-to-face Serious Security Incident (SSI) Awareness and Training sessions (including ‘Active Armed Offender’) and related policy and procedures development.

We adapt our sessions, policies and procedures to address specific workplace contexts and impart valuable insight into human factors of victims and perpetrators that should be expected during the incident. This will improve situational awareness and should improve survivability.

Read related blog – International travel – Reorientate your security thinking and training.

Harris Security Management


Geoff Harris, Principal Consultant – or Phone +61 2 9560 9933

Licensed security consultant – licence number 407641686


Integrated Security and Emergency Risk Management for Facilities, Crowded Places and Supply Networks.

Trusted independent security consultants since 1983

Master security licence 407642890



  1. The above article is of a general nature only, it is not a comprehensive analysis and not contextualised.  The article is intended to stimulate and focus conversation on security and related risk management. Full reading of the sourced referenced material is recommended.
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