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Movie Theater Safety

We have seen mass shootings in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, malls and shopping centers, churches and synagogues, and in workplaces of all types. But on July 20, 2012, we saw a new kind of horror, an attack on people sitting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. When the shooting was done, 12 people were dead and some 58 were injured, all at the hands of a single gunman in a confined space.

It’s easy to see why a movie theater can become the scene of an argument, a fight, or worse. Some idiot is talking during the movie and you politely ask him to be quiet and he stands up and starts cursing at you or challenging you to a fight right there. Most people suffer through one or more obnoxious people in the theater because they don’t want to cause a scene or get into a beef with a stranger.

My rule of life for staying safe in public places is simple: whenever possible, sit in the back, choose an aisle seat, and always know where the exits are, including the public exists and the employees-only exits, because you and your family may need to use either in an evacuation emergency. I try to sit in the back row, right on the staircase aisle, not crammed in the middle or buried in the corner up against the wall. If the back row is filled, I will always sit on the staircase aisle, as close to the top rear as possible. The reason is simple: I want a tactical view of the whole room, looking down, top to bottom. Being at the top of the stairs is the safest spot in the rare event someone starts shooting. Any other seat means I have to look over my shoulder should something bad happen.

And yes, I am always armed at the movies. I don’t care what the “No Guns Allowed” signs say. Posting “No Guns Allowed” signs outside the theater to try and create a ”Gun-Free Zone” inside, simply turns the building into a church or school, where people are unarmed and unprotected from bad guys who bring their own guns.

The best tool for your self-defense success in a movie theater, besides your gun, is your mini-flashlight. You must bring one into every darkened and unfamiliar environment you go to: church, a play, a concert, a movie theater. You cannot count on a staff member to guide you out with his or her flashlight during any emergency. I never go to a dark space without my mini-flashlight; it’s just that simple.

If you are faced with a self-defense situation because the armed attacker is in the same theater as you, you must stay low and get behind Cover before you decide to shoot him. The biggest concern, obviously, amidst all the noise, darkness, and confusion, is to only hit him with your rounds and not hit any other person. Shooting in the dark, while people run in front of your gun as they attempt to flee or get under their seats, means you have to be damned sure you have a clear shot at him. If you don’t, don’t take it, especially since you must know that if your rounds miss him, they will probably go through the walls of the theater into the adjacent theater and may hit someone there.

So get low, stay low, cover your kids or family members with your body, and wait for your opportunity to take a clear shot, which may or may not come. In the chaos, with people screaming, crying, freezing in place, running, and hiding, the shooter may be the only one standing upright. He will not consider being fired upon, since he thinks he is in perfect control at that moment. That split-second, where he is standing and everyone else is hiding, may be your only and best moment to fire.

Keep your head down and keep the faith,


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