As I continue to read about the terrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I can’t help but think there’s some lessons from my time as a Navy SEAL that I can pass on to the average citizen. I want to make sure that the victims of the Aurora do not suffer or die in vain. As a country, we need to learn from this tragedy, raise awareness, and save lives in the future. So here goes…
Don’t Make Yourself an Easy Target
When at sporting events, concerts, and the movies, choose seats that give you a tactical advantage always. What do I mean? Choose seats that allow good and east vantage points and a hasty exit point. Always stack the odds in your favor. It’s the reason I still combat park (back in to a space) and sit with my back to the wall when I’m eating.
Active Shooter Scenario Advice
Take cover and not concealment. Concealment hides, cover hides AND protects. It’s the difference between hiding behind a movie seat or a concrete wall.
Don’t lie there with your eyes closed and get shot. Think and move. In these situations you have to take charge and get in the mindset of self-rescue. You cannot wait for first-responders – it takes too long. A good decision executed quickly is better than a great one never executed. Violence of action, as we call it in the Spec Ops community, will often change the odds in your favor.
For close quarter combat drills we’d draw a gun with someone over 20 feet away running at us. In most cases you can be on someone before they can draw and take a shot. I’m not advocating running straight at someone but if you have the tactical advantage (jam, re-loading, distraction or the shooter isn’t paying attention) then take the shooter down or get the hell out of there. Remember that a moving target is extremely hard to hit, even for the well-trained shooter. Deal with the situation with your eyes wide open.
In Aurora, the shooter was severely weighted down with armor and his helmet would have also limited his vision. You can use all this to your advantage.
Flashlight anyone? I have one for daily carry and take it everywhere with me. It’s become another extension of me and has diffused at least two potentially violent confrontations in a non-lethal way. I recommend the Surefire P2X Fury Dual Output LED.
How to use it in this situation?
I would have pulled my high lumens pocket flashlight and blinded this guy. The high powered beam would have taken away his vision for 3-4 seconds, which is an eternity and enough time to flight or fight. There’s also no shame in surviving and getting you and your loved ones out of harm – especially little ones. Be a Hero to your kids and family for surviving, nobody can expect more of you than that. Like we say in Survival Escape Evasion Resistance (SERE) school, “Survive with Honor.”
If you’re lucky enough to live in a state like Texas that not only allows concealed carry, but supports the use of deadly force, then train to use it.
Think seriously about whether it’s worth a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit in states where you’re likely to get screwed by a jury if you use it. Example: I can get a CCW in CA but I’m likely screwed if I shoot somebody. The mostly liberal (I’m a registered independent for the record) jury will be sure to have my ass and it’s why I own a dog that’s trained to bite and protect (another good option). Nothing makes me happier then visualizing PETA pitted against other wild-eyed liberals.
Bottom line is that if you own a gun and have it as daily carry, you’d better rehearse your use scenarios both physically and mentally, and the same with the gun in the home. Mental practice is extremely valuable after you’ve mastered the basics. FYI, shooting paper at the local range will not prepare you for a defensive shooting situation. Rehearsing defensive scenarios is the only thing that will prepare you.
For most of you, the best bet is to buy a good tactical flashlight, there are plenty on the market. Specs: At least 200+ lumens, waterproof, LED, and a 3volt lithium battery. Use and carry your light with you at all times. It’s the best non-lethal and practical option available, in my opinion. You can take it anywhere – including on an airplane – and if it’s a high lumen model it will blind people in broad daylight. I can’t recommend this purchase enough.
Learn From an Expert
There are plenty of former Military and Law Enforcement that have great self-defense skills. Just vet your instructor carefully, ask for references and proof of service. While there are many solid instructors out there, there are also a plethora of wannabe Rex-Kwon-Do types who are self-proclaimed experts and worse – lie about their service.
Alter Your Lifestyle, and it May Save Your Life
Avoid opening night and large crowds (e.g. go to Disney World during off-peak) that make easy targets. FYI, most domestic and foreign terrorists want the biggest bang for their buck. They want Yankee stadium sold out and not Padre stadium at 60% capacity. It sucks to live this way sometimes but ask the survivors from Colorado if it’s worth a minor lifestyle change. I say it is, and it’s the main reason I’m watching the Olympics on TV and not attending this year. London is too much of a risk for a variety of reasons that I will not go into on this post.
Don’t Be a Victim
Rehearse emergency scenarios before there’s an emergency, the time to practice is NOT when it’s happening.
The world is a dangerous place these days. Be prepared.
A great book on personal protection that I’d recommend is Escape The Wolf.
My condolences to the victims and their families in Aurora Colorado.
Brandon is a former Navy SEAL, and worked as a Special Operations Intelligence & Security specialist in Iraq during 2006-07. He is also author of the New York Times Best Seller, “The Red Circle”. Click these links to follow him on Twitter or to “like” him on Facebook.
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@johndixon628 Thanks for referencing this video. I work in a library system - 19 library buildings over 1,700 sq. miles, serving 550,000+ people (some very small and some quite large). We recently distributed it to all staff with a mandatory 'please view and work out a plan for your building'. We had some concerns with the video, but it was the best we'd seen for our situation. I was really glad to hear your opinion of it! I've also been showing off my PX2 Fury to co-workers and suggesting they consider getting one for themselves. Some of our libraries are in pretty isolated areas.
I'm not sure if anyone referenced this video yet, but Run/Hide/Fight is a good basic strategy everyone needs to consider. It's far from a slick Hollywood production, but it contains some valuable information for the average citizen who will, likely, become the intended target. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0&feature=share
@mwarren641 Thank you for the kind and thoughtful comments. -BW