A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine we shall call Jim sent me a text message he had to leave his apartment in a hurry as he heard about ten gunshots in quick succession from the apartment building behind his complex. He thought they sounded like 9mm gunshots. Jim lives a few blocks away from me, in a street that is dotted with large apartment complexes.
He called 9-1-1 and reported the gun shots. He then left as quickly as possible through another exit away from the sounds and went as far away as he could. He saw around 10 police cars driving up and they set up some barricades around the building. An officer with a bullhorn yelled “Come out with your hands up” Jim returned to his unit after everything cleared up. He told me the whole experience left him shaken up as he was thinking bullets would come through either the walls or the ceiling.
Later, Mr Apartment Prepper and I were discussing the incident. Mr Apt Prepper said Jim did the right thing in that particular situation, by leaving as quickly as possible and heading as far away as he could, as walls will not protect you from bullets. Do not believe what you see on TV or the movies where the actors hide behind window sills or couches during a gun fight.
Most apartment walls are made of sheetrock or drywall, with insulation in the middle. Drywall will not stop any bullets, even small ones like .22. I came across a site called The Box O’ Truth where they tested ammo penetration. One of the results showed a 9 mm will penetrate eight boards of pinewood 3/4 inch thick. Most walls are about as thick as three boards. Generally, a 9 mm bullet has a range of about a mile (I know it varies according weapon, accuracy etc. but this in general terms), so bullets flying from the building behind were just too close. In Jim’s situation, he did not feel safe even going into an interior room as bullets being shot up in the air can penetrate through the ceiling.
If you are wondering what materials would stop a bullet here are a few examples:
-13 inches or more of stacked phone books
Unfortunately these are materials not readily found inside most apartment units.
The incident in Jim’s neighborhood had a happy ending as no one got hurt. The suspect eventually did come out with his hands up. The story never made the news but he found out from the maintenance man that it had been a drug deal, by one of the tenants in the back building, that had gone bad.
As a result of this story we determined our own possible exits in case this happens close to us: we walked around our complex looking for ways out and actually found one we had not known about.
You may live in a building where “nothing like this ever happens.” Each situation is different and you will need to make a quick assessment to determine your next move. Best be prepared: Get to know all the possible exits in your building as well as your complex. Have a plan just in case.