In the wake of Aurora…

(I’m the guy with the tan vest and khaki pants)

Many of the people that stop by here have children, husbands, or both.  What happened to the victims in the incident that occurred in the theater, they were in an environment that really isn’t permissible to self defense.  Before I get too far into the rabbit hole, a firearm is an inanimate object that generally doesn’t go off by itself; when it does, it is through mechanical malfunction caused by poor manufacture, or user negligence.  By the way, I’m not responsible for your use, misuse, of the information here, nor am I responsible for the outcome of either.

For ease of reading by you, I’m going to “chapter” this post.  Skip to what you want to read, or read the whole thing.

Chapter1: carry options and considerations.

Chapter2: A brief wavetop summary of the incident in Aurora, CO

Chapter3: Situational Awareness and Mobility

Chapter4: My personal carry stuff


Chapter 1: Carry options and considerations

The first thing you need to consider when thinking about defense is, where you are, where you will be, where you could be, what you could be doing, and what your local and state laws say that you can carry in those place.  For example, it probably isn’t a good idea to conceal a firearm on your person if you plan to consume alcohol at any point after you leave your house.  If caught, the penalty will be harsh.  If you’ve established that you can carry a firearm and are inclined to do so, find out what kind of caliber and ammunition type restrictions you may be under.  If your state doesn’t allow you to carry hollowpoints, don’t carry them.  Full metal jacket rounds are plenty dangerous.  Additionally, go to a local gun range, get some instruction on how to use it and practice with it.  Understand firearm safety and very importantly, understand what is behind whatever you’re trying to shoot at.

For actual carry options you have two routes: open and concealed.  Again, your local and state laws will define what “concealed is.”  Some laws require intent to be considered concealed, some laws require only that something obstructs the direct physical view (IE, the actual gun, not the print of the gun inside your shirt) to be considered concealed.  Holstered does not count as concealed unless the holster is disguised to be something else, like a purse or bag.  Speaking of which, those are two great options for carrying concealed.  There are concealed carry purses out there, and concealed carry bags.  Maxpedition makes nice stuff, but I got a Blackhawk Enhanced Battle Bag,871,1394.htm I like it because it comes with a velcro holster inside the bag, and because I like being able to attach pouches I’ve acquired through my service.  Either way, concealed carry makes it possible to carry into areas where people may panic at the sight of a firearm, which is really a sad thing, but you can’t ignore that it could happen.

For open carry, I recommend what is considered a level 2 holster: something that has active retention.  Passive retention means that you reach down, grab your firearm and pull it out of the holster.  Active retention means that you must push a button or lever on the holster, which allows you to remove the firearm.  Failure to push the button means you can’t draw your weapon.  I prefer open; as a visual deterrent, a firearm has specifically prevented someone, or a group of people, from attempting to rob and/or harm me and one of my sons.

If you choose not to, or are not legally allowed to carry a firearm, other options may be available.  Pepper spray, a taser, a kubotan (specifically designed blunt object) your car keys, and your hands and feet.

Chapter 2:  What happened in Aurora?

The assailant entered the fire exit, tossed a chemical agent similar or identical to “tear gas” into the room and started engaging civilians with a combination of shotgun and semi-automatic rifle.  He engaged the people sitting closest first, and then those running towards the exit nearest to his side of the theater.

He is what is known as an “Active Shooter.”  The difference between an active shooter and a hostage taker is that an active shooter has a target and may or may not attempt to kill anyone they encounter along the way.  An active shooter COULD turn into a hostage taker, but this may not be for ransom; it may be purely to acquire more targets of opportunity in a singular area for the purpose of killing.

Chapter 3: Situational Awareness and Mobility

Situational awareness is being aware not only of where you’re sitting, and where the exits are, but also of who is around you, what they’re doing, what local conditions put you at a disadvantage and what local conditions put you at an advantage.  Let’s use the movie theater setup as an example.

I’m assuming that the exits are behind and below the seating, and that guests must walk a corridor the length of the theater to get to the front seating, and stairs that lead up.  Fire exits at front, next to the screen.  Mobility wise, if there was a fire the front seats are able to exit quickly.  Thinking in a self defense format, the front seats are most accessible to an active shooter.  Why?  He has 4 entry options: he enters in one of the entrances, he enters using a fire exit, he jumps into the theater from the back using the projector room, or he is a member of the audience.

My suggestion is to sit in the back row directly over the entrance, or very close to center/projector room.  Here’s why: if the active shooter enters the theater using the entrances or fire exits, you have the benefit of a thick wall, possible concrete, between you and them.  If in the center, you have the benefit of generally being out of his angle of fire.  He will be aiming at the closest targets, because they have the best mobility in an emergency, and aiming really isn’t a problem.  Being up in the back means that if his rounds go through the closest victims, you won’t be hit except for a very rare ricochet.  Sitting high also allows you a better view of the situation, and you’ll be out of the immediate area of effect for any chemical agents he may deploy.  This gives you more time to defend yourself and your family.

If he enters the theater from the projection room, you’ll see the disruption in the movie and when he hits the ground, he will take a few seconds to recover.  If he stays in the projector room and shoots from there, your defensive fire at the projector window will keep him suppressed.  If he is a member of the audience, it will get really complicated.  When he opens fire, there will be even more confusion because he isn’t separated from the crowd, and if/when you open fire on him, you WILL hit somebody else unintentionally.

If he’s wearing some kind of body armor, shoot him anyways.  A: anybody who was worn body armor and been shot will tell you that it hurts like hell.  After taking enough hits, he will stop firing and attempt to locate whoever is firing at him.  He will attempt to return fire, more than likely in a panicked state and will be inaccurate.  When he stops to locate you, a critical window will open for you to engage him unopposed.  Lay into him with controlled fire.  If it doesn’t pierce the body armor, the pain response from him may cause him to drop his weapon(s) and fall down.  Close with and continue to engage your assailant.

Another thing you can do: carry a powerful flashlight.  I’m not talking about something you buy at walmart or your local hardware store.  Get a Surefire.  In a dark theater, when you flash him with that, you will blind him for a few seconds.  Literally.  Even with goggles on.

Chapter 4:  My carry stuff

I personally like to carry a GLock 17, which is a 9mm handgun that typically carries 17 rounds per magazine, but you can get 10 round magazines if your local law requires.  I used to carry strictly hollow-point, but this active shooter situation has caused me to rethink this.  Now my second magazine will be mixed with full metal jacket rounds at a ratio of 1 FMJ to 1 HP.  HP doesn’t penetrate most armor very well, FMJ does (do NOT take this to mean that FMJ is designed to be armor piercing, because it is not).

Some modifications done to my pistol: extended magazine release, extended slide release, and grip tape applied to the sides of the grips.    I also have tritium night sights: they glow in the dark.  Not exceptionally bright, but just bright enough for you to use should you need to.

Additionally, I carry a Surefire flashlight, a Cold Steel Recon 1 knife, and I have a first aid kit in my car.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post.  It was meant to provoke thinking in a different mindset.  This is natural for me after 8 years in the Infantry and multiple combat deployments to Fallujah, Iraq.  Here is a picture of my pistol and knife:

6 Years ago, in the greater Fallujah area

Sometimes I wonder where this kid is, what he’s up to, and if anything I did ever made a difference to him.  We were visiting houses that day and I usually interacted with kids and younger family members while my platoon commander or section leader questioned the eldest male present.

I miss deploying and being a Grunt.  I would miss my wife and kids more, but I miss being an Infantryman and doing Infantry stuff nonetheless.