Mass shootings have dominated national headlines recently, raising a question for many Americans — am I safe? While it may be difficult to answer, there are ways to prepare for the unthinkable.

Donna Anthony is a retired law enforcement official who currently consults law enforcement and teaches firearm safety as a certified instructor. With over 20 years of experience in agencies that include the United States Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Anthony knows the horror and effect of active shooters.

“[Motivation for shootings have] changed over a period of time," she said. "Before, it was because [the shooters] were bullied. Then we end up having the ISIS inspired [shootings] with San Bernardino, Pulse Night Club. Now we’re starting to get white supremacists.” 

Referencing the recent shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas that left 31 dead, Anthony said there are three things to remember if you get caught in an active shooter situation.

“If you can run, run. Get out," Anthony said. "If you have to hide, hide. But it may be a temporary hide too. We’ve seen that with the Washington shooting in the Macy’s mall. You’ll see two young ladies, they duck down, they hide behind the clothing. Shooter doesn’t see them, goes by, and as he goes by, they go the opposite way. If you can get out, get out. The last thing, the last resort is going to be fighting. And if you fight, you have to fight with everything you have. It’s the last resort you have.”

In 2018, 27 shootings spread over 16 states were determined to be active shooter incidents by the FBI. Alaska hasn't seen such tragedy since 1997, when two people were killed in a Bethel school.

So, do Alaskans feel safe?

KTVA posed the question on Facebook and nearly 70% of those who responded said no.

The comments that stemmed from the poll seemed to focus on the state of Alaska's conceal and carry gun laws. Anthony says that responsible citizens with guns could mean safer streets, but stresses the word responsible.

“Alaska is very big on our gun rights and when I travel down the states, I'll go to states where people are afraid of guns," she said.

While there are restrictions, carrying a gun is an option for Alaskans. For those that don't want to carry a gun, it's suggested you follow the aforementioned "Run, Hide, Fight" guide supplied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“So, main thing is situational awareness. Be aware of your surroundings,” Anthony said.

This advice extends far beyond an active shooter situation. "Cooper's Colors" is a simplified concept that color codes the severity of a situation, and reminds you what to watch out for depending on where you find yourself. They range from Code White to Code Red.

“When you’re at home, you’re in Code White," Anthony said. "You’re relaxed. It could be a state of watching football, you know, you’re not really aware of your surroundings. You’re just kind of relaxed. You're in your safe zone."

Anthony says when you leave your house, you should be in Code Yellow. You’re aware of your surroundings and paying attention.

"Let's say you leave your place of work," she said. "When you walk outside of work, you should be in Code Yellow, scanning around, looking, make sure nobody's around your car."

Code Orange is the next level. That's when something doesn't seem right and you need to evaluate the situation. The next level, Code Red, is the fight or flight stage. Anthony says you want situational awareness to avoid getting to this level.

"I’ll give you an example," she said. "A lot of women ask this main question: 'If somebody pulls a gun on me and they’re trying to get me in the car, should I get in the car?' I’ll tell you this. You’re gonna fight. Once you get in that car, you may never come out of that car. You may never be seen again.”

Keeping yourself and your family safe should be priority number one; awareness and deescalation are the goals when spending time outside of home.

“It could be a movie theater, it could be a restaurant. As soon as you walk in, something we do in law enforcement, we don’t sit at the very front of the door," Anthony said. "We normally go to the back and we’re always facing the entrance way. So we watch everyone that’s coming in.”

Carrying a firearm is another option — one seemingly popular in Alaska. If carrying a weapon, Anthony suggests that you take a well structured training class. One option is Point Blank Firearms and Self Defense Training, which is run by Anthony herself. 

In 2018, many people risked their lives to end mass shootings. Given the reality of shootings in the country today, experts say people should understand the risks and know what to do if and when one occurs.

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