Comforting Lies

I recently read an article, “Running While Female,” and The Comforting Lie of Safety.

From the article…

“But it’s even more misguided to believe that we can create a safe environment for women everywhere.

The fact is, it’s not a safe planet. It’s not safe for rabbits or cows or gazelles, or for women or men. This is a truth that Western societies have beautifully concealed with antibiotics, airbags and security systems, and so it’s always upsetting when a murder or a survey suggests that we’ve been comforting ourselves with a lie.”

“It’s easy to ride around with our Coexist bumper stickers and assume that we ought to be safe, but nature laughs at the concept. A rabbit doesn’t have the “right” to be safe while sitting exposed in a field. Should humans? The inherent brutality of the world, which theologians and philosophers have grappled with for thousands of years, has been papered over so much that we believe safe is the default and become outraged when it becomes clear that it’s not. That’s our bad.

We are not safe, none of us, and we become less safe when we start to believe that we are.”

These concepts go to the heart of what I find problematic with much of the progressive liberal agenda. It seems to be prevalent the thinking that the world owes you everything you need: food, shelter, clothing, tampons, birth control, medical care, smartphones, and so on. All your needs and wants met with little to nothing in return. And anyone who opposes that is racist or classist or full of microaggressions. The very idea that you’re owed something that you didn’t contribute to in any way is basically saying that you have a right to take the fruits of someone else’s labor for nothing in return. That’s slavery. It doesn’t matter what it is, someone had to work to produce it, plant it, take care of it, maintain it, provide the service, etc.

Now none of this is to mean that I think everyone gainfully employed shouldn’t be able to afford the things they need. But I do think that they shouldn’t be able to afford all the things they want. Someone working at McDonald’s cooking fries is not entitled to go to fancy restaurants every night or to get all of the latest and greatest technology gadgets. Of course, I do think that our priorities are screwed up when it comes to compensation. I don’t think an athlete is making a far greater contribution to society than a teacher, for example, to warrant the millions of dollars difference in salaries. But I digress.

Getting back to the topic of safety it also flabbergasts me that it is expected that others are responsible for your safety. So many people respond to stories of criminal attacks with the mindset that you shouldn’t have to worry about how you dress or how you act or where you go. You shouldn’t have to refrain from showing off wads of cash because nobody has a right to attack you. You shouldn’t have to obey a police officer if you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting drunk and passing out at a frat party because nobody has a right to take advantage of you. Some go so far as to believe there shouldn’t be any consequences for their actions. As Marc likes to say (paraphrasing), “should” is a problematic word: try using “should” with the weather and see how that works out.

That goes hand in hand with “deserve”. No, you won’t deserve to get sexually assaulted or robbed or killed. But people take it to far and rely on what they deserve to determine how to live their lives. Or use their concept of fairness and what is deserved to excuse behavior (that unarmed man attacking a cop didn’t deserve to be shot).

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Not a living, Not your health. Not your safety. If you’re not willing to provide for yourself then maybe in this case you really are getting what you deserve.

What is Castle Doctrine?

I was in an online discussion today where the topic of Castle Doctrine came up and there were quite a few statements made exposing misconceptions about what it really means.

In Ohio, like many states, there are very specific circumstances when deadly force is “allowed” to be used. I put that in quotes because killing or intentionally seriously injuring another person is illegal. When you make a claim of self-defense, you are actually admitting to a crime! However, you are attempting to invoke an “affirmative defense” that excuses your actions. If you meet all of the criteria you are more likely to be found to be justified.

The first set of criteria they are looked at are referred to as Jeopardy, Ability, and Means. Jeopardy means you were in real danger of serious bodily harm or death.

Ability means that the other person had the capability to cause that serious bodily harm or death. An example of the difference is that a small, frail, 90-year-old man may wish to harm a fit, young man but does not possess the strength to do so. However, if that old man had a weapon (known as a force multiplier) now he has ability.

Means, also known as Opportunity, is being able to reach you with his Ability. For example, a person may intend to harm you and is armed with a gun but is threatening you on the phone. There may be Jeopardy and Ability but lacking the Means you can’t just hunt him down.

When it comes to proving Jeopardy, Ability, and Means the jury is allowed to take into account the circumstances and determine if it is reasonable that you had an honest belief that those criteria were met. An example: you’re walking through a park at night and a person come running at you, yelling and holding a large knife over their head. If you defend yourself and it is later discovered that the knife wasn’t real you will likely still have a self-defense claim. But, it does have to be reasonable in their mind. Simply saying “I was in fear for my life” is not enough!

All that said, there are other criteria that come into play as well. Such as you not having contributed to the situation escalating to a deadly force incident or be at fault for causing it. A prime example there is a bar fight. If you are found to have been mutual combatants and you pull a weapon and use it you are very unlikely to prevail with a self-defense claim. Another good example would be if you pull a knife on someone and he pulls a gun but you stab him before he can shoot you it isn’t going to be a valid self-defense claim because you caused the situation.

Now we finally arrive at the topic of this piece and that is the Duty to Retreat. In Ohio, you generally have a duty to attempt to escape from a potential deadly force incident before using deadly force. However, Castle Doctrine removes this requirement if you are in your home or vehicle. That’s all it does! All those other criteria still stand and will be evaluated to determine the lawfulness of your actions.

So to say, as I saw multiple times, that anyone you catch breaking into you house can be shot due to Castle Doctrine is not true. You will still have to prove (and claiming self-defense shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense) you were in, or had a reasonable and honest belief you were in, Jeopardy; that the other person had the Ability to cause serious bodily harm or death; and that he or she also possessed the Means to do so.

To help you visualize how this comes into play here are some real examples where deadly force was not justified:

  • A drunk came home to the wrong house and knocked what he thought was his own door down.
  • An elderly woman with dementia returned to her previous residence and was able to gain entry
  • A father heard a noise in the house at night and armed himself to investigate. He ended up shooting his son’s friend who was staying the night unbeknownst to the father.
  • A woman was home alone and heard someone enter the house, climb the stairs, and approach the bedroom. She fired a shot through the door, killing her husband who had returned from deployment and way trying to surprise her.

These are just a couple of examples of situations where Castle Doctrine will not save you from a homicide charge. Simply saying you were afraid (even if you really were!) is not enough. Use of deadly force is a serious matter and you owe it to yourself and your family to learn when it is prudent to use that force and when it is not.

What Happens in a CCW Class?

I often get asked what to expect in a concealed carry class. Really, it varies greatly. There is a wide range of abilities for instructors and can be a lot of diversity in what it taught.

If it is a straight up NRA Basic Pistol course you’re going to learn a lot about safe gun handling and proper shooting technique but often not much about actual carrying a firearm or using it for self defense.

If the instructor created his or her own course it can be a grab bag as to what to expect. Ohio law only has a few specific requirements and not required curriculum. But I can give you an overview of my class which begins similar to the NRA Basic Pistol course but then goes into defensive topics. I use a mixture of lecture, discussion, powerpoint presentation, pictures, and video.

We start with the basics: type of handguns, types of actions, terminology, proper operation, safe storage, and ammunition. We talk a bit about how to select a handgun that is right for you and how to clean and maintain it.

Then we’ll get into safe gun handling and proper shooting technique. We cover what to do when the gun or ammunition fails to function properly (stoppages and malfunctions).

After that it is on to the basics of self defense. Risk management, managing unknown persons, environmental awareness, conflict avoidance and deescalation, defensive mindset, etc.

We talk about keeping a firearm in the home, workplace, and on your person for defense as well as the accompanying issues like holsters, belts, off-body carry, and cover garments.

There is also time spent covering some of the legal issues with armed self defense ranging from how to apply for a concealed handgun license to some of the legal requirements for using deadly force.

From there it is on to the stages of violence, things like pre-assault indicators, criminal interview, positioning, and attack as well as recommendations for dealing with each stage. We end the classroom portion talking about what to do afterwards if you’re forced to use deadly force to defend yourself or someone else.

After that is the range portion. I usually do the range portion on a separate day because I like the students to be fresh and focused. We start shooting 15′ from the target and then move back to 21′. There are various drills that are kept pretty basic since this class is more about safety and basic shooting technique than an intermediate or advanced shooting skills class.

If you’re interested in taking my next class, check the training calendar!

Man stabbed for defending girlfriend’s honor

Lot’s of things for the armed citizen to think about in this story.

Overview: a man was walking with his girlfriend at 4:45am when someone started catcalling her. The man told the offender to knock it off and was stabbed nine times for it. He survived and is now calling for catcalling to be made illegal.

He’s mad that some are questioning why he was out walking at that time of night/morning. If it was a bad neighborhood that’s certainly a valid question. But they were walking home from a friend’s house which is a good reason so I give him that one. Though his argument that he shouldn’t be afraid because he lives in the area isn’t a good one to make.

You can also question the wisdom of being out unarmed, though the majority of people are. We can look at the options from both angles.

Many guys would find it difficult to remain silent if their significant other was being verbally harassed. We don’t know what words were exchanged but the fact is an unarmed person tried to correct the behavior of an armed and dangerous person. Whether there were threats or not, obviously the situation escalated.

Whether you are armed or unarmed, there are two common responses to such harassment: ignore it or respond to it.

Ignore it while unarmed
It is highly likely that the catcaller was out to have a good time and was looking for trouble. Had our hero and heroine ignored him he may have pressed the issue but oftentimes it is the fish that take the bait that get reeled in. You may scoff at someone who just “let’s it happen” and may feel it was worth it to end up in the hospital with 60+ stitches. However his woulds were nearly fatal and being dead leaves our fair lady alone as a witness to a killer. Better to ignore and see if the situation escalates.

Respond while unarmed
Well, we see the results of responding while unarmed. Pain, suffering, and nearly killed. Our hero may have thought he could verbally intimidate the bad guy. He may have escalated the confrontation by the manner of response by being so verbally aggressive he forced the villain to attack to save face. In other circumstances a verbal response may have stopped the catcalling but that is a big chance to take when you have nothing to back up your words. This time ended in a trip to the hospital. It could easily have ended in a trip to the morgue.

Ignore it while armed
The possible outcomes of ignoring the behavior while armed are very similar to ignoring it while unarmed but there is the added benefit of being able to defend if the bad guy then follows to escalate while unprovoked. Ignoring is still the best option with a possible armed response an additional benefit.

Respond while armed
There are some who will claim this is the best response. In the fantasy, the hero shuts down the harassment and knows he has the firepower to deal with any response. Or does he? This guy was armed with a knife. He could just as easily have had a gun. Or could have friends with guns. Maybe you get the desired approach, the villain is admonished, and the hero goes home with the girl. In this particular example, let’s say it played out exactly as it did only our hero is armed. Maybe the bad guy stops his attack at the sight of the gun. Or maybe the attack continues and the defender is forced to fire. We end up with a dead or wounded bad guy only the scenario isn’t over.

Bear in mind that indictments in shootings are far more common for regular citizens than police officers. Odds are very high you’re going to court over this and will probably spend at least a little time in jail during the process. You’ll get your day in court and then have to explain to the jury why a man deserved to be shot for making vulgar comments, which is the argument the prosecution is going to make. And remember that your jury isn’t a group of self-defense experts, chivalrous former marines, and gun forum junkies. It’s going to be soccer moms, barristas, waiters, department store clerks, and plumbers. Just regular ordinary folks who might not agree that you had to pull a gun one someone over mere words (and if the bad guy lived, he may sing a different tune as to what those words were).

It may be a hard pill to swallow, but whether armed or unarmed, ignoring idiotic comments is your best bet. The alternatives just aren’t worth death, imprisonment, or the loss of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Gun show accidents reinforce safety policies

I often get asked how I can support policies banning concealed carry at gun shows but completely oppose it for other public places. The answer is simple: you’re not handling guns at those other locations.

In any other public place, your gun stays in your holster unless needed. But at a gun show, you’re showing guns to people, trying out holsters, and otherwise handling firearms. Even for someone who has no intention of touching their concealed firearm, a split second’s lapse of attention could have disastrous results.

Several accidents from this weekend illustrate why gun safety rules and policies at gun shows are so important.

In the first, a private seller bought a gun from one of the show attendees that turned out to be loaded. While attempting to unload the gun he failed to follow proper procedure and ended up shooting his friend who was working the booth with him in the arm and groin. He correctly removed the magazine first, but only racked the slide once and didn’t check the chamber before pulling the trigger to decock. The extractor failed to remove the chambered round and the gun discharged.

When unloading a semi-automatic handgun you must remove the magazine first, of course. Then, the slide should be racked three times to provide ample opportunity for the extractor to do its job. Then, after locking the slide back, insert your finger into the chamber to feel for a round and visually inspect the chamber. Finally, if you do decide to decock a gun without an external hammer by pulling the trigger you must do so with the gun pointed in a safe direction. At your buddy is NOT a safe direction!

Of course, the entire situation could have been avoided had a loaded gun not been brought to the show in the first place. The seller should not have handed a loaded gun over to the buyer without unloading it, and it should have been checked at the door in the first place. Since the identity of the seller is not known, it may never be determined if he negligently bypassed the screeners or simply made a mistake.

In another accidental discharge, a shotgun fired while the case it was in was being unzipped for inspection prior to entering the show, injuring three. Firearms should not be kept loaded during long term storage (this does not apply to guns kept ready at hand for defensive purposes, but this one was not in that category). It is likely the owner of the gun forgot he had left it loaded and also negligently left it in a condition ready to fire without a safety engaged or the hammer cocked back. Safe storage is extremely important!

A third incident left a man self-injured when he was trying to load his gun after the show and it discharged. Anytime a firearm is handled there is an opportunity for an accident to occur, which is why I generally favor leaving a carried firearm in its holster and not loading and unloading it in public. In this case, the victim had likely unloaded his gun to take it into the show and was re-loading it as he was leaving. He made a mistake, the gun was not pointed in a safe direction and perhaps he had his finger on the trigger, and he ended up injured.

Guns should always be loaded or unloaded while pointed in a safe direction and while you are fully focused on the task. If he wanted to show that firearm for sale it should have been unloaded at home and if not sold then reloaded back at home. Another gun should have been his defensive firearm, not only to avoid loading and unloading in public but also since if he had sold it he would not have it available anyway.

All of these accidents could have been prevented had the three NRA rules of gun safety been followed:

1. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction
2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
3. Always keep guns unloaded until ready to use

Ohio Concealed Handgun License numbers are up, one sheriff concerned

The number of Ohio Concealed Handgun Licenses issued in Ohio are up 40% over the last two years.

“The Dayton Daily News reports that advocates are crediting recent law changes with making it more comfortable for people to carry concealed weapons. That includes allowing them in restaurants and bars that serve liquor, as well as in school safety zones.”

That may very well be part of it, but a bigger part is that more and more people are realizing that the police and gun control laws are not enough to keep them safe at all times and are starting to take responsibility for their own safety. With the bad economy having the dual effects of pushing desperate people towards crime while reducing the budgets of law enforcement agencies, the good guys are increasingly on their own and are starting to embrace that responsibility.

Incidents like the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting have not had the full result the anti-gunners had hoped. While they have been able to get some support for banning certain rifles and magazines, most people have realized that all the other laws didn’t stop the shooter and putting more laws in place would only disarm the law-abiding. Not to mention when they consider what they would do if they found themselves in a similar situation, cowering on the floor and hoping for the best leaves a desire for an alternative, armed, response.

Of course, not everyone likes the increase in permits issued.

Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander said he’s concerned about a surge in the number of residents applying for a carrying concealed weapon permit.

“I think you have to understand in today’s society, we don’t know who is carrying weapons out there,” Alexander said.

Neither do the bad guys. Sheriff Alexander would do well to remember that he’s a public servant, not a public master and that just because he doesn’t like the fact that he’s not the only one with the right to armed self-protection doesn’t mean he gets to dictate the terms under which citizens enjoy those rights.

Alexander said he supports the 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms, but is bothered that Ohio’s CCW law only calls for 10 hours of firearms training in a classroom and an additional two hours of experience shooting at a range.

He would like to see those hours increased and more thorough background checks conducted.

While I believe citizens should obtain as much training as possible to give them the best chance of successfully defending themselves if attacked, I do not agree that it should be legislated. Pennsylvania, for example, has no training requirement at all for obtaining a concealed carry license yet there are not rampant errors and accidents from their permit holders. The argument just doesn’t hold water.

People have a right and a responsibility to take steps to ensure their own safety and more and more Ohioans, and more and more Americans, are stepping up to that responsibility.

3 men arrested for falsifying CHL training certificates

For those that haven’t seen this story, 3 men in the Columbus area have been arrested and 600 concealed carry licenses invalidated due to falsification of training. Let this serve as a reminder to everyone to be sure you are meeting all of the legal requirements when conducting concealed carry training!



Three people are facing charges, accused of helping falsify permits to carry a concealed weapon.

According to Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, an undercover investigation began in April 2012 into the issuance of fraudulent training certificates to obtain a CCW permit.

The sheriff’s office said that through the investigation, it was determined that three people were allegedly involved in the permit scheme.

It is alleged that 62-year-old John Michael Marshall, a certified firearm instructor, was selling his signed training certificates to 41-year-old Adam Chaykin and 48-year-old Ken Fouch, who were allegedly conducting illegal training classes, which fell far short from the required training.

Investigators said that in some cases, no training occurred.

Read the full article:

Convicted by the media

When it comes to a choice between following the law and being rendered defenseless, I often hear people say they’d rather be convicted by twelve than carried by six. What they don’t consider is that many times before they even get to the twelve they’ll be tried and convicted by the media. Take, for example, the case of Scott A. Smith.

Saturday night, Smith was arrested after being caught with a handgun in the Crocker Park Regal Cinemas in Westlake prior to a showing of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises”. News reports vary in some of the details, but he reportedly had the handgun in a “military-style bag” with two additional magazines, three knives, and a fourth knife on his person. Smith does not have a concealed handgun license and the theater reportedly prohibits firearms. After the arrest, his home was searched and turned up “seven rifles, five or six handguns, lots of ammo, gas masks and bulletproof vests” in addition to prescription drugs.

His attorney claims he simply had the weapons to protect himself and had no nefarious intentions. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. He will get his chance to be judged by twelve. Already, though, he has been all but convicted by the media who is having a field day with the story.

Arcuri said Smith sat in a position of “tactical advantage” with his back to the wall at the top of the theater. “What concerns us is where he was sitting in the theater. He was the first guy in there,” Arcuri said. “If he chose to do something there, all his potential victims were in front of him and he had an advantage over them.” – The Plain Dealer

Smith was arrested and charged with carrying concealed weapons and three other weapons offenses. He did not have a permit for the weapons. That may go some very small distance toward squelching the contentions of those who will now argue that a universally armed and dangerous society is the only effective response to an armed and dangerous society. – Phillip Morris, The Plain Dealer

Police are trying to figure out why a man took a bag of weapons with him to an Ohio movie theater showing the latest Batman movie. – NBCNews

“Our contention is that he’s drug dependent,” [Nicole DiSanto of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office] said. “And as a result, he should not be possessing a firearm.” – The Miami Herald

“For an officer to observe that, take the initiative, approach him,” Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri said. “Basically, avert a tragedy if he pulls a pistol out and starts shooting.”  – The Miami Herald

The talking heads on the news and radio were far worse with their snark and derision.

I can’t help but think of the similarities if I were to accidentally walk into a “no guns allowed” zone. Sure, I have a concealed carry license so at least that part wouldn’t be an issue, but the accusations of paranoia would still be there. It doesn’t matter that the police, too, have stepped up security at many theaters in the aftermath of the Aurora Theater Shootings out of concern for potential copycats, but if a citizen takes steps to increase his security out of a similar concern then he is obviously paranoid.

Continuing with this line of thought, I typically carry a Beretta 9000s (an evil black plastic gun, easily concealed loaded with .40 caliber bullets even bigger than a 9mm!). I often don’t carry extra magazines, but I do on the occasion I’m carrying my 1911 (para-military semi-automatic able to be rapidly reloaded with .45 caliber ammunition!). I routinely carry a Swiss army knife and a small lockblade (multiple knives!). If my house were searched, they’d also find multiple rifles, shotguns, and handguns since I hunt, target shoot, and am a firearms instructor. They’d also find prescription drugs! Of course, I have a prescription for them, but none of the news reports I’ve seen have bothered to say whether Smith has a prescription, either.

The point is, there isn’t much difference between what Smith was caught with and what I routinely carry for personal protection and I’m certainly not a threat to anyone but a bad guy. I wish they’d wait for the facts to come out before sensationalizing the story, but I suppose that doesn’t sell papers or get people to tune in.

Armed Lorain woman repels intruder

An as-yet-unnamed man’s drunken antics nearly cost him his life when he broken into the home of an armed nurse, 36-year-old Deborah Krasienko.

“I would have shot him had my daughter been home, just out of fear for her safety,” she said. “I almost killed this man, just because he was too dumb and drunk to know what he was doing.”

From the story, Krasienko had just gotten home from work Saturday morning when the drunken intruder began pounding on her front door. She retrieved her handgun as he went around the house and entered through the rear door, breaking the screen door and using the keys she had left in the lock to unlock the back door. He eventually realized she was armed and fled the scene, later to be picked up by the police, positively identified by Krasienko, then driven home.

Hindsight is always 20-20, and it turned out the intruder was non-violent, but it certainly could have ended much worse.

Krasienko was wise to arm herself when her home was threatened but admits exhaustion lead to her mistake of leaving the keys in the back door lock. Had she not done that, he might not have even been able to enter the house.

Once he entered the house, some would recommend using deadly force immediately. It takes only seconds for an intruder to charge and close the distance in most rooms, and a person impaired by drugs or alcohol has diminished capacity to feel pain. Even if such a person was fatally hit he may live long enough to cause significant bodily harm or death. In fact, Krasienko acknowledged the danger by stating she wouldn’t have taken the risk had her daughter been home.

That said, I believe she made the right choice. Pulling the trigger is a last resort and she still had options available. Hopefully she had furniture between herself and the intruder, but even if she didn’t I think it was a reasonable risk to avoid loss of life.

She stated that once he had entered the house he had gotten distracted by her puppy and hadn’t even acknowledged her presence yet. Although he had entered her home it seems clear he didn’t know where he was and was not yet a threat. Once the reality of the situation sunk in he quickly fled the scene. Had he advanced towards her then she would have been forced to defend herself.

When confronted by a situation like this you will have just seconds to make decisions that will affect your life and the lives of others. Using situations like this as a learning experience can help prepare you for what your response will be and make the decision easier.

Securing your home should always be a top priority. Be sure to lock all your doors and windows and remove the keys from the door. Everyone gets tired but you must focus on this detail.

Arm yourself at the first sign of danger. Had Krasienko waited and the intruder been violent she might not have had time to get her gun once he gained entry.

If an intruder does gain access, get him/her out. Do not try to capture the intruder. They could feign compliance while waiting for the opportune moment to attack. Getting them out is a much safer option. Order them to leave clearly and simply.

During the confrontation, try to maintain your distance and keep furniture between you and them as an impediment. Watch for signs of aggression or weapons. A weapon in hand is an immediate cue to act.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in a situation like this but if you do, and have considered your options in advanced, it is more likely to end in a positive manner.

Lessons from Aurora, Colorado theater shooting

In reading some of the accounts of the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting there are multiple lessons the armed citizen can take away from them to help be better prepared should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Let’s take a look at some of the statements made and accounts printed in the news to see what can be learned.

The suspect [James Holmes] marched up the aisle in the stadium-style theater, picking off those who tried to flee, witnesses said.

I’ve read this account multiple times and there are several explanations. Holmes may have been focusing simply on keeping as many people from escaping as possible. Or, like a cowardly dog, he was most willing to attack when the victim’s back was turned. Along those lines, and based on the body armor he was wearing, he was most fearful of an armed response and was watching for threats to himself. Fleeing victims could be safely engaged.

In this case the best course of action for an armed citizen would be to remain still until an opportunity for a counter-attack presented itself. For example, when the shooter turned to engage a fleeing victim there would be a reduced risk of return fire while attempting to subdue the threat. Your incoming fire would also have the likely effect of distracting his attack and facilitating escape for the victims.

Holmes, used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol, stopping only to reload.

While low light would have made it difficult to determine what Holmes was doing, a pause in gunfire and the sound of a reload might make then a good time to attack. Depending on his skill, though, there might only be a few brief seconds to engage.

[Aurora Police Chief Dan] Oates said the gunman wore a gas mask and a ballistic helmet and vest, as well as leg, groin and throat protectors.

The body armor would have made it very difficult to get stopping hits on Holmes, but it might not have mattered. Since he surrendered without incident is is likely that numerous rounds slamming into his vest, helmet, and visor would have been enough to make him flee or at least distract him enough to allow more people to escape and slow down the engagement to give the police more time to respond.

“I didn’t think it was real,” [Jennifer] Seeger said. She said she was in the second row, about four feet from the gunman, when he pointed a gun at her face. “I was just a deer in headlights. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

Being stunned into inaction is a common occurrence when confronted with extreme violence. Despite what the media attempts to portray, it really isn’t all that common and most people go their entire lives without facing a deadly threat. Being prepared and having the mindset that bad things do happen to good people can help you to shave precious seconds off beginning your response. If you know what to do and are trained what to do, your body will just start to do it until your brain has a chance to catch up.

Holmes is also believed to have hurled a gas canister into the theater before opening fire.

It has not yet been officially announced whether the substance used was smoke, tear gas, pepper spray, or another substance but it would certainly complicate an armed response. If a chemical irritant and you were close enough to be exposed, you might have a very difficult time engaging. If smoke, it would combine with the darkness to make it even harder to hit the attacker. A flashlight in the darkness could help or hinder. It would make it easier to see the attacker but might draw his fire. If smoke was used, the smoke could reflect the light and make it harder to see instead of easier. Regardless, in the darkened theater having illuminated sights on your firearm would be a help.

A young family’s last-minute decision to sit in the balcony may have saved their lives in the “Dark Knight” movie massacre…Though the couple had planned to sit in the front of the theater by the exit through which a gunman later entered, they decided instead to sit in the second-floor veranda.

It can be hard to govern your life by what is the best tactical location in any given room, and the best location may very well be determined by the source of the threat. If you’re on the right side of the theater and the shooter is on the right side, you’ve got a problem. If he’s on the left side, though, you may be in a position to quickly escape. For these people, being in the balcony was a safe location for them. Had the shooter been in the balcony, it would not have been.

Personally, I don’t like to be in a position where I’m trapped from reaching an exit or cover/concealment. In a theater, for example, I tend to move a few rows up and sit towards the center giving some cushion for response time and equal opportunity to move left or right depending on need.

Matt McQuinn’s last living act was to shield his girlfriend from the hail of bullets sprayed by the gunman behind the Aurora, Colo., multiplex massacre.

If you’re unarmed, you obviously have fewer options. McQuinn chose to shield his girlfriend with his body, sacrificing himself so that she could survive. Another option might be to charge the shooter when he is distracted and try to overpower him. Very difficult without a weapon unless you are well trained or physically larger/stronger. The end result might be the same, or you might survive your injuries or even escape unharmed. Personally, I’d prefer to go down fighting.

Recently, [Aurora victim Jessica] Ghawi survived the June 2 Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital.

There are those saying if we had tougher gun laws in the US and banned “assault rifles”, handguns, and severely restricted gun ownership that tragedies like this wouldn’t happen. Yet Ghawi, who was killed in the attack, was unlucky enough to be present at another mass shooting in Canada, where the gun control movement has met many of their goals. Gun control laws don’t stop madmen like this, they only ensure a safe working environment for the killers.