A CHL Instructor Weighs in on the Colorado Shooting and Dispels the Claims of Would-Be Heroes

Categories: Crime, Texas

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Shooting suspect James Holmes
Since Friday morning, we have been inundated with opinion and speculation about the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado. Yesterday the suspect, James Holmes, was brought before a judge and the nation got its first look at the gunman, with his mop top of dyed orange hair and dazed -- almost carefree -- look infuriating the country. Officials say he is on suicide watch and is in protective solitary custody.

Ever since the shooting, plenty of people have been weighing in on what they would have done had they been in the shoes of the victims that evening in Aurora. A lot of members of the gun-owning crowd have repeatedly claimed things would have been different had there been a citizen in the theater carrying a legal, concealed handgun.

They say that Holmes would have been stopped, incapacitated or even killed himself during the shooting. Of course, since only the people who survived the attack can know exactly what it was like to be inside that theater, this is all Monday Morning Armchair Quarterbacking.

In early 2011 I took a Concealed Handgun course myself out at the Arms Room in League City, just minutes down Interstate 45 going toward Galveston. The class was taught by Brian Mobley and Justin Franklin, trained CHL instructors. I spent hours inside a classroom at the gun store and on the accompanying range undergoing instruction and training in everything from proper storage, rules of engagement, verbal conflict resolution and gun safety. There is also a firing component to the training with a live handgun.

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Even though I own a few handguns, I don't carry a concealed handgun wherever I go. My life is too full of bars and public places that it wouldn't be practical, but I did want to have the option.

One thing that stuck with me after the course was the section on rules of engagement and how a person would deal with a situation like the one in Aurora. I reached out to Mobley to get his take on last Friday's tragedy and to dispel some of the fanatical talk of the last few days.

A lot of gun owners immediately said that they would have saved the day and stopped the gunman. Mobley says that is false.

"The first problem at hand is that you have an active shooter. It's easy to say you are going to run down there like Clint Eastwood," he says. Instincts come into play before attempting to engage an active shooter.

"The first thing that would happen is that you would be scared to death. Your first obligation is to yourself and your family."

With all the conversations I overheard these past few days, there was this strong undercurrent of omnipotence, the idea that just because someone would be carrying a weapon in that theater, he would have won the day and stopped Holmes in his tracks.

"For some the gun gives them a sense of empowerment, with a guaranteed, positive result. A Hollywood image that we formed as kids, where the good guys won. The good guys don't always win," Mobley says.

Even if a CHL holder was in the theater and packing a handgun, he would be in not only mortal but also legal danger, according to Mobley.

"As CHL holders, we are still responsible for the third party. The law says that I am responsible for that as the gun owner. You would never forgive yourself if you would have added to the death toll."

Mobley adds that a crusading shooter would more than likely do more harm than good, his abilities impaired by the event itself.

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55 comments
colby.a.louis
colby.a.louis

Screw CHL classes. I'm renewing my Netflix subscription.

dannyeod
dannyeod

Shoot, move, and communicate. that's easy right? I do it on COD all the time. 

Bobby James
Bobby James

If Someone wants to kill, they will kill by any means. I am not opposed to people owning a gun.

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

I will take having a chance to respond over no choice every time.....

Joy Lockhart Kelley
Joy Lockhart Kelley

The 70 year old man was in a well lit cafe without tear gas and hundreds of people running around screaming. All he was really trying to say in this article is that the police have extensive training, most people with a CHL get it for their families and their own safety, NOT to take on a madman in full body armor!

Stanley Smith
Stanley Smith

Poppycock! Brian Mobley's comments provide the following conclusion, DO NOT take any training from Brian Mobley. Other than being one of hundreds of people authorized to conduct CHL classes, what is Brian Mobley's background? What are Brian's area's of expertise military, law enforcement? Men with guns, police are sent to stop these very shootings, often with nothing but HANDGUNS. If handguns are not effective, why to police carry handguns? We DO NOT know what would have happened had a citizen and/or citizens employed a handgun against James Holmes because there was nobody there with a handgun. We do know what happens when citizens do confront gunman with guns, more often than not, the gunman get shot and the attack ceases. A seventy year old man shot two thugs in a Florida internet cafe, the attack stopped, the two thugs were the only people wounded. Fact!

Dan Perez
Dan Perez

@Descent, I think the details will become clearer, but from what I've read he came into the theater sans guns and gear, propped an exit door open so he could return, donned his gear and weapons outside in the parking lot and then came back and attacked the moviegoers.

Thor Delph
Thor Delph

Again, few people, not dark, no return fire, and no tear gas.

Matthew Ashton
Matthew Ashton

You know what what they say... Outlaw guns and only outlaws will have them. Americans used to not scare so easily. The world is and has always been hostile, protect your life accordingly.

Bill Lindamood
Bill Lindamood

How about chl holders with military training .Did you see the 71 year old in Florida take 2 down

Thor Delph
Thor Delph

A dark theater, people running for their lives, all dropping like flies. All while under the effects of tear gas. Last I checked CHL classes dont include this training.

Ruven Andrade
Ruven Andrade

You know there comes a time when some CURRENT EVENTS shouldn't be PROMOTED by either the Television News or Paper Media and the Unexpected Loss of Innocence that occurred last week is one of those events that should and does not deserve more promotion or coverage than immediate breaking news and no further. Now to answer to MORE or LESS gun control, it wouldn't make a difference because the sign of our times is that someone in our life or work and public environment have a gun legally or illegally and could “GO POSTAL” at any moment. So gun control is not the answer here but Self Awareness and the Daily Enjoyment of Our God Given Life is all the Control that is Needed.

Bill Lindamood
Bill Lindamood

Its odd that he was an inexperienced ( no military training ) yet shot 70 people? And a chl holder couldn't hit him ?Most train more than police ,some take tactical training,and most understand that a .45 with premium ammo,which can go through body armor @less than 50'

Carole Billingsley
Carole Billingsley

Completely agree for all of the reasons stated in the article and the fact that the shooter was covered in armor from head to toe. Don't think a handgun would've penetrated.

Eric Mele
Eric Mele

They say a few can ruin it for all, and the acts of these few crazy (or whatever) individuals shouldn't interfere with the rights of the millions of honest, law-abiding people. Maybe instead of looking for the quick band-aid approach of more / harder regulations on guns, we should be looking for a ways to keep individuals from going up into people like this.

Descent Into Madness
Descent Into Madness

I think it would matter. For one thing the shooter will know there is return fire so that will change his whole agenda. One thing that strikes me as really weird is the fact that he brought in an assault rifle to a movie and noone from the staff noticed.

Antonio Blanco
Antonio Blanco

Excellent and reasonable article! You will not see this type of analysis on Fox News!

Thor Delph
Thor Delph

@Kevin a click on the source links for your blog you posted comes to "page not found". Keep your tin foil hat theories to yourself, ya kook.

kezkez
kezkez

Gunfight at OK Corral, no, but what about the deterrence factor in the first place?  Why didn't Holmes choose a police station or gun show for his shoot out?

Sarah Belham
Sarah Belham

In before d-bags who think Joe or Jane Q. Public had a chance in hell of hitting the bad guy... in the dark... through tear gas (and let's be honest here, even people who are licensed to pack heat and are carrying don't usually have gas masks on their person)... without hitting one of the dozens of innocent folk between Joe/Jane and the bad guy.

Pamela Martha Focker
Pamela Martha Focker

Once again just like Columbine, the real questions such as "where did this douche bag get all this?"...Walmart and negligent parents were to blame the easy access to the firearms and bullets in the school shooting.

Thor Delph
Thor Delph

Some will say yes, some no. While I supports the right to bear arms, I dont think a bunch of wanna be heroes firing across a dark crowded threater would have improved the situation. And tear gas shouldn't be available to just anyone.

Vanessa Man
Vanessa Man

Yes, it does matter. Anybody can buy a gun at any time, they can have plenty of guns and nobody knows. I am not apposed to people owning a gun, but I think the scrutiny should be better. And guns should be register, make it more difficult. In the end they might still get them, but it will cost them more.

Pamela Martha Focker
Pamela Martha Focker

This "suicidal-insane" bastard was in fact well protected with his bullet proof gear. Bringing up "what-ifs" is just going to cause people to buy more guns for the wrong reasons. Guns are for your protection,not for people to believe that they could become heros.

tbartman68
tbartman68

This is a very true article, as long as it is generalizing the "normal" person.  Keep in mind there are many CHL holders out there that are veterans and have additional skills that they have learned to the point that they are instinctual.  Texas actually promotes the CHL for vets by giving them a substantial discount.  Even though I have been out for quite a few years, those instincts still take me over when the time requires, and I move and act in ways that I didn't even know I could still do.

So yes, there are many "average" CHL holders out there that are just blustering out there about what they think they would've done.  But there are quite a few of us out there that can actually act on it, and could have very well changed the outcome.

My surprise with the whole thing is the amount of people that have seen way too many movies, and think that body armor has a magic bullet-stopping capability that would have allowed the shooter to keep standing there shooting.  I believe the shooter thought that as well, and it helped embolden his actions.  Maybe if you wing the side, yes, that's possible.  But if you hit someone straight on, the bullet might not go through the vest (that's not guaranteed, by the way), but the shooter would still have to absorb the kinetic energy of that round.  He would have hit the ground, and it would've stopped him at least temporarily so further actions could be taken.  Body armor only gives you a fighting chance to survive - after a trip to the hospital, that is, with broken ribs or lacerated organs.  They have saved many policemen's lives over the years, but some have still died despite the armor.

Bottom line, though - he went in there because he knew the theater didn't allow concealed carry, and no one would be shooting back.  I hope that theater's management really stews on that for a while when they are trying to sleep at night.

leelee_000
leelee_000

 @kezkez Because people are armed there... DUH?! He's clearly not stupid.

Nate
Nate

 @tbartman68 Have you seen the video of the real life North Hollywood shootout?  Those bank robbers body armor sure let them keep on shooting.  It wasn't like they were hit with Thor's hammer.

 

And I wouldn't rate the average soldier's or policeman's ability with a handgun too highly...

H_e_x
H_e_x

 @tbartman68 I had no idea that having a concealed weapon gave you night-vision. Sure, the guy was wearing black, in a dark theatre, during a generally dark movie, but I'm sure you could have shot him off and not someone else trying to escape.

tbartman68
tbartman68

@Nate

I've both seen the video and have read quite a bit about that shooting.  There were several things at play there.  1. They had heavy additional armor to protect vital organs, which would mean it might knock them down, but nowhere near the incapacitating organ damage.  Holmes didn't have extra armor.  Plus, I mentioned that the armor could help deflect near misses and side shots that would normally injure.  2. The cops at the scene only had 9mm and .38 handguns, and were shooting from a distance.  Many CHL carriers, such as myself, carry much larger calibers, that would do way more damage on impact.  Once the SWAT got there, they took them down quickly with their higher-caliber weapons.  3.  They weren't just walking up the street until the end, when one of them got stupid - he was dropped quickly.  Most of the time, they were using cover, making it even tougher to get a decent shot, which you weren't getting anyway with 9's & 38's from that distance.  In the movie theater, you can bet Holmes was WAY closer.

 

One point I do agree with you on is the ability with a handgun part, if you are talking about accuracy.  I've seen tons of studies on how people miss when the time comes, and there are plenty of news stories out there about cops trading shots with perps, emptying their magazines at point blank range and not even grazing each other.  I'm mainly just saying that a veteran (or a cop, as the writer used as an example) would more than likely make the right moves to put themselves in position & not just run at the shooter like a dumbass.

 

tbartman68
tbartman68

 @H_e_x I don't know about you, but I can see quite well in the theater, once my eyes have adjusted.  Unless you're in some super-sophisitcated theater that can get "extra dark", I'm sure you can, as well.  Sure, I can't read a book sitting in there, but I can certainly see everyone in their seats, stairs, etc.

KeyNote
KeyNote

 @H_e_x  @tbartman68 Yea its impossible to see a muzzle flash in a dark theater, you need night-vision for that.

H_e_x
H_e_x

 @tbartman68 Perfect conditions for using a deadly weapon. Just like the video games.

KeyNote
KeyNote

 @Nate 

Nate, is the main issue that you are trying to prove that you shouldn't fire at an unidentifiable target? Which is one of the key concepts that are taught in CHL classes. If you absolutely knew who was shooting, would it have been justified to defend yourself from the shooter?

Nate
Nate

 @tbartman68 Its not "pressure" son.  It's energy.  So there is your fact.  And since you think that diameter is the be all end all, tell me again what caliber handgun Major Hasan used to kill 13 trained soldiers with?  Oh, that's right.  5.7 mm, or .22.

 

Who said anything about silencers?  Advanced flash suppressors.  That's rich.  Go back to Call of Duty...

tbartman68
tbartman68

 @Nate You might want to get your facts straight before you try to call someone out.  It doesn't take much Google-fu to see that some .45 rounds pack as much as 200 ft-lbs more pressure than a 9mm.  How is that the same?  Not to mention, there are studies everywhere that have shown 9mm, .380, & 38 rounds bounce off of items that .40 caliber & up have been able to penetrate, and also average almost 10 points higher in the "one stop shot" category.  But then again, you're apparently the gun-guru of the internet, so why should I bore you with something as trivial as facts?

As for the "extras", there are news articles all over the place as to what he was carrying.  With today's "sensationalize everything you can" media already making waves just on the large capacity magazine, don't you think there would be a media/liberal sh&%storm over it if he would've had advanced flash suppressors or silencers?

Anyway, who cares?  Who really cares if someone will act like John Wayne, or a "mall ninja", as you so eloquently put it (your Mom must be proud), when the time comes?  The old man in Florida wasn't some trained soldier, but he certainly stopped the armed robbery at the internet cafe & shot the robbers.  Those people turn into cowards when return fire is present.  Bottom line is this - Holmes took advantage of the fact that the theater didn't allow concealed carry, and never would've walked in there if the theater had allowed it's patrons to carry.

Nate
Nate

 @tbartman68 Wait.  Are you saying you have seen and examined the rifle?  The very same rifle that is commonly sold with a flash suppressor already attached?  And that it is possible that the really smart guy who ordered all sorts of gear and 100 round mags for this AR didn't also spend 90 bucks for a better flash suppressor?  Hell, even the common birdcage FS is pretty good.

 

As for your caliber posit below.  When I carry, I carry a Glock 36.  And since are such a well trained gun guy, I am sure you aware that the .45 and 9mm pack almost the same kinetic energy punch, so against body armor, are almost the same thing.

 

And you "carry much larger calibers"?  Hell, I carry the .45, which is rare among CHLs.  9mm and .380 VERY common.  I know guys that carry the .32 and .25, since "any gun is better then no gun".  Maybe a .40?  But since you carry a "much larger caliber", I bet you are packing the .500 S&W magnum, and are proficient at head shots with it, you mall ninja, you.

tbartman68
tbartman68

@H_e_x You're absolutey right - it's completely pointless to even try. We should just lay down and die like good sheeple & not fight for our lives.......... We'll never know if it would've worked or not, because the theater didn't allow concealed carry. That's the main reason he went there. I firmly believe that shootout never would've happened if Holmes would have thought he was walking into a situation where people might shoot back, whether he had body armor or not.

tbartman68
tbartman68

@Nate 1. Holmes didn't have either of these, so your argument is invalid. 2. Show me a mass shooting where this type of equipment was used, and we'll talk. Good for you for having it though.

KeyNote
KeyNote

 @H_e_x  @leelee_000 Ok, forget the possibility of shooting back at a person firing at me. Ill just hide under my seat.

H_e_x
H_e_x

 @KeyNote  @leelee_000 How would they hit him? How? The dark and smoke obstructed vision. Why do some people think carrying guns gives them superpowers?

H_e_x
H_e_x

I doubt an above average person could have saved the day, not with a pistol in the dark and smoke.

H_e_x
H_e_x

 @KeyNote  @tbartman68 Are you a sharpshooter with a pistol in the dark? Not only the dark, but a smoke filled room as well? Again, I fail to see how carrying a gun turns you into a superman with cat-like reflexes and senses.

Nate
Nate

@KeyNote @H_e_x @tbartman68 You know what I have on the end of my two ARs? One has a Smith Vortex flash eliminator, and the other has an AAC 51t Blackout flash hider. I have fired them at night, and there is NO muzzle flash. Good luck firing back at something you cant see.

KeyNote
KeyNote

 @leelee_000  @H_e_x 

So a gunman is going row by row shooting people, as people who were in the theater described, and there shouldn't be a possibility for someone who has been trained to carry and use a firearm to fire at him?

leelee_000
leelee_000

 @KeyNote  @H_e_x  ... Get several of the 'average' together with guns.. If there's one average you have to assume there are 5 below average, 5 above average so... If 10% of the population have CHL's that would have put approx 15 gun owners in the theater that night, including the shooter that means 7 of them are above average, 7 are below average... One has an automatic weapon and is shooting EVERYONE. 

 

I'm thinking, I know who the first targets would have been, and the 7 above average shooters are probably going to be taken out by the 7 below average shooters firing at muzzle flashes. I'm sure several more people would be caught in cross fire since now bullets are firing from all directions. 

KeyNote
KeyNote

 @leelee_000  @H_e_x  @tbartman68 Yes, but there are people who have above average skills and the ability to assess a situation like this.  But, like bartman said, the average person cant do it. 

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