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I’ve been thinking about the [latest] Colorado spree killing along the same lines as the President of the United States. In yesterday’s post-slaughter speech, the Commander-in-Chief offered his commiserations to victims of the Midnight Movie Massacre. “My daughters go to movies,” the President said. “What if Malia and Sasha had been in the theater?” Although I empathize with his empathy, like so much of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric the question is pure pandering without any appreciable intellectual rigor . . .

In other words, what IF Malia and Sasha had been in the theater? Assuming the girls didn’t have a secret service detail, what, exactly, would their father have had them do? As a father of four girls, I asked myself the same question.

I want to state from the start that I am not the average father. Nor, I suspect, are you. As a member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia, you’ve thought about all the various aspects of firearms ownership, from proper gun selection and carrying systems to defending yourself from amoral prosecutors and perfidious police. Above all else, you understand the value of training.

Real training. Not punching holes in paper for bragging rights. Preparing yourself mentally and physically for a life-or-death struggle against a skilled, determined and demented attacker. You know you can do everything right in a gun fight and die. You’re ready to face evil. And you know you’ll never be ready enough.

And so you and I have prepared our loved ones. We’ve done everything we can—and continue to do whatever we can—to raise their situational awareness. We’ve told them the cardinal rule of dealing with violence: GTFO. Leave the scene of potential death and destruction as quickly as possible, erring on the side of caution.

We’ve also warned them to get away from us. That we are, truth be told, bullet magnets. If we reveal our firearm to the bad guy or guys, they will make us a target. If we fire they will return fire. At us. We’re ready to die for those we love but we do not want them to die because of us.

And that’s about all we can do. Well, tell them to do. If our loved ones are armed, it’s a different matter. Perhaps.

Meanwhile and in any case, we wonder: what would we do if we were there with them in that darkened theater on that terrible night, facing a man armed with a Remington 870 shotgun, an AR-15 with a 100-round drum magazine and two Glock .40 handguns; dressed head-to-toe in black, wearing what looks like body armor?

After some consideration, I turned to the rabbi for counsel. Not that TTAG’s resident gun guru is any more typical a father than I am. If nothing else the rabbi carries a Springfield XD45 semi-automatic handgun with 14 rounds (13 + 1), a spare magazine holding an additional 13 rounds, a knife, pepper spray, flashlight and six-shot Ruger revolver chambered in .357 magnum.

“It’s hard to use rational tactics against an irrational person,” the rabbi warned. Yes but—what?

“The first thing I’d do is to tell my family to get down behind the seats. The chances are an active shooter won’t shoot what he can’t see. Unless he’s seen YOU, he’s going to find plenty of other targets. Then I’d tell my family to get away from me, if they didn’t already do it [as I’d told them many times].

“At that point I’d assess the situation. My goal: find the nearest exit and get us out . . . I know some readers consider that cowardly but my primary mission in life is to provide for and protect my family. I want to get them out of harm’s way as quickly as possible.”

But what if there’s more than one threat, I asked. What if you’re taking your family away from one maniac straight towards another? Or a bomb? The rabbi reckons he’d operate under the assumption than an active shooters is alone. Even more than that, it doesn’t matter.

“You’ve got to deal with the threat you know not the threat you don’t know. Besides, if there were multiple shooters they would have probably all opened fire at the same time.”

And what if you can’t get out?

“Fight . . . There are a million variables so I can’t tell you exactly how I’d do it. But I wouldn’t let Holmes’ vest or headgear or other protective clothing stop me. You don’t know if it’s real. It’s certainly worth taking a shot at center mass . . .

“I’d shoot at whatever I could: head, feet, hands, ankles, anything.”

Which raises an important point, brought to the media’s attention by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Could the rabbi do it? Could I do it? Could you? Would any of us who carry a handgun for self-defense have the skills necessary to effectively focus fire on the bad guy in the midst of chaos?

“This [incident] underlines the point that owning a gun is not enough,” the rabbi warned. “You need to know how to use it. To shoot from bad positions. To shoot from cover, left and right. To inoculate yourself to stress through force-on-force training.”

How much stress? The rabbi reminded me that the Midnight Movie Massacre could have been worse. Far worse.

“It was over in about a minute. Holmes just gave up. He had plenty of bullets when he stopped. He just waited for the cops to get him, and then told them about his booby-trapped apartment. He could have continued shooting and killing. Easily.”

If we are to take Mr. Obama at his word, he looks at the Midnight Massacre as an event that could have made his daughters into victims. Fair enough. We all sympathize with those touched by this almost unimaginably horrific attack.

But the rabbi’s perspective is more practical, and valuable. He sees the Aurora spree killing as a chance to learn lessons which could save his family. He imagines himself and his family as survivors. And himself a potential victor.

As should everyone.

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    • If Obama’s daughters had been there the place would have been packed full of armed and trained professionals (Secret Service) and Mr. Holmes would have been neutralized as soon as he stepped in front of the screen and popped the first can of smoke!

    • Thanks Paul, I was going to reply about the report on KSDK that he bought his stuff from Cat5 in Chesterfield, MO, and it was just nylon gear, not bullet proof! You beat me to it.

  1. I like this “rabbi” fellow. Saving your family at all costs with the help of a pistol. Not playing “hero” or “martyr” but saving your family. Simple stuff, not really profound, but a poignant reminder of our limitations. Of course viewing ourselves as “survivors” plays into weird guilt-complexes unique to modernity. As always, taking إبليس into your heart grants victory.

  2. There’s nothing to think about. For every theater that has a “no guns” policy, I have a “no cash” policy.

    I’m supposed to trust that the theater isn’t a firetrap or an ambush waiting to happen, but the theater management won’t trust me with my gun? Not gonna happen.

  3. Why go to the movies anyway? I ‘ve got a huge HDTV and I just wait for pay per view or HBO.

    • +1

      Occassionally, I forget this, and go to a theater anyway. Sometimes, I am pleasently surprised. Most times, the inane chatter during a film, the hordes of mobile phone screens lighting up the area when it should be dark, the cries of a 3 month old infant awakened by the violence or screaming promised by an “R” rating film, and the $50 tab for concession grub, remind me otherwise.

  4. Even if he was wearing body armor (which he probably wasn’t), I would think it still would have been beneficial to shoot him center mass. It wouldn’t likely have killed him, but it probably would knock the wind out of him or at least hurt him pretty badly, slowing his attack, possibly buying a few seconds for people to escape. Bullet proof vest might stop penetration but its still going to hurt like a mother.

  5. Well, the MSP is blurring the picture by calling it armor. Got to stick with the high emotional narrative. I’ve heard several retractions already. The first was, they said he belonged to the T party till they fact checked and found out he was a registered Democrat. Not that it maters, but getting it right might help to come to finding out the why and maybe even the who on this story and not castigating the wrong parties. And so it goes.

  6. My personal and family defense plan regarding movie theaters is to wait until the DVD come out.

  7. The attacker no doubt had huge advantages:
    (1) Surprise
    (2) Darkness
    (3) Gas mask
    (4) smoke in area
    (5) No need to aim — just spray bullets
    (6) chaos

    That said, that scenario isn’t much different than many wartime battles. Of course military personnel rarely have the luxury of hiding and waiting for the cavalry to show up. Thus there are two main approaches in such a scenario: use concealment (get down behind theater chairs) and then identify the target and strike as soon as possible, or immediately engage the attacker with ferocity and determination. Either approach will typically end the attack within a few seconds.

    My thinking is that if my family tries to run away, the attacker could easily shoot them while trying to escape. On the other hand, if I am shooting at the attacker, it will be almost humanly impossible for him to focus on them, take careful aim, and make a good shot. In my mind that greatly increases the chances of them escaping. It also greatly increases the chances of other families escaping.

    As a society we have to get past this mindset of “run away”. It doesn’t work. The compliant passengers of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are tragic reminders of the failure of that approach. But consider the heroes on the airplane that crashed in Pennsylvania … as well as the passengers on planes where terrorists recently tried their antics. The terrorists failed: they failed because the people around them counter-attacked with ferocity. And because of that, there will likely never be another attempt to hijack a plane and use it for a weapon again.

    The same thing goes for mass murder events. The citizens around the attacker have to attack with ferocity … especially the armed citizens.

  8. Sales axiom: you cannot overcome an irrational objection to your proposal with a rational reply.

    • That’s one sweet axiom…I would like to add:
      you can’t overcome an irrational political system by voting as a part of the political system…mind blown…face to palm.

  9. If Sasha and Malia had been in the theater then the SS would have taken out the threat. So Mr. President, can we all get SS details for our families?

    • I was thinking the same thing about Bloomberg. When he and Ray Kelly roll up to the S. Bronx. At night. With cash. without guards or a back up weapon. let me know. Otherwise, STFU!!

  10. People who view this tragedy as an opportunity to press for tighter control on things like concealed carry need to be asked: if a few cops had been present at that theater that night, how would they have confronted Holmes?

    Demand he stop in the name of the law? Through batons at him? Pound sense into him with the force of the arguments for non-violence?

    Bullshit. They would have shot back.

    And there would be no outcry from overpaid armchair philosophers in the media about why the police did that.

    Gun control arguments never seem to take into account one aspect of the American character: we want the right to fire back, just like the police have. Many of us have spent more time at the range than police officers have, and we have shot alongside them. Most of us keep our guns safely, and have rigorously thought about when (and most often when not) we would ever use them to hurt anyone.

    Not all of us are heroes. But there are an awful lot of us, and some of us, someday, may find out that is exactly who we are.

    Newspaper columnists may say that it is the duty of all Americans, when faced with gun-wielding madman, to cower, hide, run and die.They say this because they is what they would do. They can’t comprehend why any person would do otherwise.

    In an age of austerity when there will be fewer, not more, police to protect us, a plurality of Americans will see there right to carry a weapon to defend themselves is, in effect, deputizing themselves in the fight against criminals.

    That is why the Constitution protects Americans right to bear arms, and putting such trust in the goodness of human character is exactly what its authors intended.

  11. As usual, Obama tries to “personalize” the situation. Did anyone buy it? The fact is, there would have been a Secret Service agent at every ingress to, and egress from, that theater if Obama’s children had been in the audience. If that Joker had left the theater, an impression of his face would still be in the asphalt of the parking lot.

  12. I had an interesting scenario unfold on me a number of weeks back. Here’s what happened: Guy with a 12 inch blade at a party. I had just walked out of the bathroom. I was significantly inebriated, and was having a great time. Once I came out of the bathroom, I was ready to rejoin the party. The next thing I remember is my vision homing in directly onto the 12-inch blade being held aloft across the room, ready to strike a nearby party-goer. I can’t even begin to tell you what my thought processes were at that point, because they fled me before I even had the chance to command them to. My feet moved, I deftly and thoughtlessly wove my way past the tray tables of pizza and Solo cups; I closed the gap, and before I knew it, I had a tight grip over the man’s wrist, and gradually pried the blade from his hands, sustaining a few cuts to my hand in the process (which I didn’t notice until later, when I saw that blood was smeared on my hands) before going to the back door and throwing the blade out into the darkness. The man was soon out on the street.

    The point: If you cultivate an aggressive attitude toward bad guys and have it well in mind how you will respond to threats, your instincts are likely going to take over when faced with what would normally be a socially-disarming situation that you have previously mentally rehearsed. Rather than wonder what to do, your instincts are likely going to kick in, your face will set with determination, and you will do what you feel is necessary to defuse the situation. That is, so long as you aren’t surprised by what you see. Parties? I expect people to become somewhat violent at parties. Now I expect people to become violent at theaters. So that’s one social inhibition torn down right there. There will be little question as to what I should do if I encounter a copycat the next time I go to the cinema.

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