Crucial Steps Every Bar & Restaurant Must Take to Protect Against Active Shooters

By: KEXY Team
January 25, 2024

Amid the recent spate of active shooter incidents, you may have observed an abundance of videos depicting the harrowing realities faced by those trapped in these situations. For bar and restaurant owners, it is imperative to take steps to safeguard against such threats.

In the past few years alone, we have witnessed numerous incidents involving armed individuals who have opened fire on unsuspecting crowds – both in venues and public places such as malls or schools. To protect against active shooters, bar and restaurant owners must prioritize the safety of their staff and patrons. First and foremost, implementing a comprehensive security plan is essential. This should include regular training sessions for employees on how to identify potential threats and respond appropriately in emergency situations.

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Additionally, installing surveillance cameras throughout the establishment can aid in monitoring activities and identifying suspicious behavior. Panic buttons or alarm systems should be easily accessible to staff members, allowing them to quickly alert authorities in case of an emergency.

Collaborating with local law enforcement is crucial as well. Establishing a good relationship with local police departments can lead to increased security presence and quicker response times during emergencies. Regularly reviewing and updating security measures is also recommended, as new threats may arise over time.

By taking these crucial steps, bar and restaurant owners can create safer environments for their customers and employees, reducing the risks associated with active shooter incidents. With this grim reality in mind, we outline what establishments must do to ensure their patrons’ safety when drinking alcohol and dining out during busy seasons.

Lock the doors

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In the event of an active shooter, locking the doors can be one of the most effective measures to take. Why? Because it will keep potential patrons from entering or fleeing within the establishment; keeping them all inside will minimize any chance of being struck by stray rounds or shrapnel. In addition to locking the doors, training staff members on how to react during an active shooter situation is crucial. Conducting regular drills can help employees understand what actions to take and how to stay calm under pressure. This may include instructing them to seek shelter in a designated safe area or helping patrons find cover.

Another important step is establishing a clear communication plan. This can involve creating a chain of command so that everyone knows who should make decisions and give instructions during an emergency. Having a reliable system for communicating with staff members, such as walkie-talkies or group messaging apps, can also be beneficial.

Furthermore, conducting background checks on potential employees can help identify any individuals with violent tendencies or criminal records. While this may not guarantee the prevention of an active shooter incident, it can serve as an additional layer of protection.

Lastly, regularly updating and practicing the security plan is essential. As new information and best practices emerge, owners should review and revise their strategies accordingly. Staying informed about recent incidents and learning from them can also help bar and restaurant owners enhance their security measures.

By taking these crucial steps, bar and restaurant owners can significantly reduce the risks associated with active shooter incidents. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the threat, being prepared and proactive in implementing security measures will create safer environments for both customers and employees alike.

Turn off all of the lights

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If you have no other option but to abandon your bar or restaurant and seek refuge in an area devoid of lighting, one recommendation we can provide would be to turn off as many lights as possible.

Forget about finishing up work; it’s all too easy to wander into a dark room when leaving the premises. Throwing on a little incandescent light may not seem like much, but with some careful planning – such as setting up task lights around the office space and employing them during nighttime hours – it could prove invaluable in providing illumination for any tasks requiring attention!

Put up some sheets or drapes

In order to safeguard against crossfire and stray bullets, it is imperative that bars employ one or more layers of protection. This simple measure can be taken in a multitude of ways, from utilizing drapery panels to constructing a barrier out of tables – it’s up to you!

Allowing patrons to remain undercover while ordering shots, snacks or another beverage can prevent anyone from being an easy target – even if they are wielding firearms.

Turn the radio to an upbeat station

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In order to keep patrons’ attention, it’s crucial that they be provided with pleasant music. Yet, sometimes having a lively DJ can elevate the ambiance of an establishment – a fact that shouldn’t be overlooked.

To provide guests with some much-needed entertainment during their meal or celebration, consider switching over to your radio. If they’re longing for some tunes while enjoying dinner and drinks, this could be just what you need! Select songs that are upbeat yet also cater to all tastes, then craft a playlist according to their preferences.

With several stations available at any time, it won’t be difficult to find a suitable selection of music for your patrons. Ultimately we want them reveling in their mealtime experience!

Ask everyone present for their ID

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So that you’re not caught off-guard, let everyone in your establishment know that it is now required by law to show ID. Additionally, what should be taken into consideration is the way aforementioned laws are being enforced across the country – they can vary.

If you don’t have a liquor license and therefore cannot serve alcohol, then asking for identification may not be an option if one of those patrons refuses to provide his or her information. However, if someone refuses to leave your establishment after repeatedly requesting them to do so does not constitute trespassing; thus preventing its enforcement as regards such statutes.

Place extra chairs around tables if possible

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When it comes to safeguarding themselves from firearm attacks, placing a few extra chairs around your dining tables can be an ideal solution. Envision your plans for dinner being interrupted by an assailant wielding a weapon!

Restaurant owners who’ve witnessed patrons being targeted in mass shootings have taken to adding chairs at the tables of their establishments.

The Washington Post reports that one such proprietor, Becky Rainey, made a point of guiding customers toward their tables during last year’s Las Vegas massacre. Soon after, customers began asking if they could reserve additional seating; her establishment now boasts approximately ten additional seats per table as part of its standard policy to ensure patrons’ safety should the need arise.

Keep any sharp objects out of reach (glassware, knives &, etc.)

Keeping knives, scissors, and other sharp objects within reach is essential when preparing your meals or handling food, however, it is also possible that they could be utilized against patrons by an assailant. If you possess a knife in close proximity to patrons, its presence may provoke worry; therefore it should be removed from sight before any service begins.

Dealing with an active shooter can be daunting, but if you’ve got a knife within your reach – don’t be afraid to use it. That is unless you’re at a restaurant or bar. Restaurants are often frequented by families and patrons who may not necessarily appreciate the presence of large knives; moreover, those who do possess them typically don’t take kindly to their proprietors drawing on them for any reason whatsoever.

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Regardless, restaurants should always maintain their equipment and stock up on new blades as needed in order to avoid any potential liability issues from negligent practices.

Protect your patrons. Keep them safe! Don’t allow anyone under 21 to enter your establishment. It is imperative that you don’t turn away customers from security checkpoints – after all, no one should be denied access due to any reason whatsoever.

If patrons can’t gain entry into a bar or restaurant for whatever reason, patrons with disabilities may want to contact managers for assistance; please be mindful of those who cannot use stairs or other mobility-related obstacles themselves.

Consider hiring a private security guard

From safeguarding against a potential robbery to deterring trespassing and vandalism – securing your establishment’s premises can be an arduous endeavor. One effective step to enhance security is to consider hiring a private security guard. These professionals are trained to handle various security situations and can help maintain a safe environment for both staff and patrons. A visible presence of a security guard can act as a deterrent to potential threats, while also providing assurance to customers that their safety is taken seriously.

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When choosing a security guard, it’s important to select someone with relevant experience in dealing with potential threats like active shooters. Look for individuals who have undergone specialized training in emergency response and crisis management. They should be able to effectively handle high-stress situations and communicate well with law enforcement if needed.

In addition to their primary role of maintaining security, security guards can also assist in implementing other safety measures such as ID checks, monitoring surveillance systems, and enforcing policies regarding weapons or disruptive behavior. By having trained professionals on-site, bar and restaurant owners can significantly enhance the overall safety of their establishments.

Remember, protecting against active shooters requires a multi-faceted approach that includes proactive measures like training staff on recognizing suspicious behavior and establishing emergency procedures. By taking these crucial steps, bar and restaurant owners can create a safer environment for everyone involved.

If you’re looking for additional security measures beyond just surveillance cameras and locks, consider employing a private security guard. These professionals can supply you with round-the-clock protection at an affordable cost!


In the event of an active shooter incident, patrons and employees should follow these essential safety guidelines to ensure their safety. Ensure that all entrances are secured; don’t rush through any door that may be barricaded or blocked to prevent access; remain calm and vigilant; and lastly – if it becomes necessary to hide – do so immediately!

The first step towards ensuring your bar or restaurant remains secure is by implementing a security plan. With this, you can take a more proactive role in safeguarding against potential threats against your establishment. These include installing cameras and alarms, as well as training personnel how to respond in emergency situations.

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