Schools, churches, movie theaters and the places where you earn your living have all been locations for so-called "soft-target" attacks in the past year. It's encouraging communities to confront their reaction plans.
More and more, people face the possibility of having to confront an active shooter in their daily lives. If, or when it happens, experts say the goal is to act quickly.
"Unfortunately, in this day and age, we have to think about this," said Cpl. Bob Nitz, a member of the Perryvile Police Department trained on a method known as "CRASE," or the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events, a nationally recognized civilian response method.
No place is immune to the risk of active shooters, even places of worship. Nitz held a weekend class on the CRASE method to fellow members of his own church, the Conowingo Baptist Church. He said in a moment of crisis you need to keep telling yourself to calm down.
"First and foremost, our job is to stop the killing. We're going to hit the door, and it's going to be a dynamic entry. One, two, three of us, whatever. Guns are going to be out," Nitz explained to members.
Everyone in attendance was over the age of 18, because graphic audio and video recordings of real life active shooter situations were shown to illustrate Nitz's points.
The best way to survive is through a three-pronged approach: avoiding, denying and defending greatly improve the odds of living, Nitz said.
"You want them to avoid the shooter or the threat. If they can, get out and call 9-1-1. If they can't, be prepared to deny the person entry -- the person that wants to do them harm -- and if that fails, then be prepared to defend," Nitz said.
He spoke about how to turn fear into positive energy.
"If you're scared, being scared is okay, but you have to take that fear and you have to shift it ... to anger," he said. "Consider secondary exists. Go through the drywall. Go through the window. Find something. Get creative."
He imploring the crowd to think in advance of how they would escape from a potentially deadly situation should such a situation arise.
"Don't limit yourself to doors," Nitz said.
The entire two hour long presentation held a sense of tenseness, and was well received.
"The biggest piece of information I got was the 'not hiding,'" said James Johnson, a church member and friend of Nitz. "I think that was great, something I can teach my kids; if you hide, like he was saying, it increases your chance of dying."
Nitz said cool heads and cooperation must prevail in high-adrenaline situations.
"I think I would be doing them a great disservice if I didn't prepare them for what could happen,” he said.
Other churches across the nation have recently held seminars based on the “CRASE" method as well.