Jeff Quinn on the Colorado Movie Theater Massacre: Can YOU Make the Shot?

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 24th, 2012



Ever since the mass murder in the Colorado theater last week, I have been getting email asking for my opinion on the matter. Many comments were along the lines of “If someone only had a gun………….” .

In many situations, that would have made a big difference, but in this case, I am not so sure. The evil punk who committed this heinous crime will not be named here. He stated that he did this to be famous, and he will get no help from me.

Those who would like to see us lose our Constitutional rights are already screaming for stricter gun regulation. In their silly little world, they think that someone intent upon mass murder would be deterred by the threat of a weapons violation on his record. They will use this recent evil to help to perpetuate their own agenda. The theater was a “gun free zone”, so no one could legally be armed while inside. Colorado has a concealed carry permit system, but as in most states, the theater owner had the right to post notices banning legal concealed carry on his property. I do not advise anyone to break the law, but there is no need to let other people know that you are carrying. Some amateurs like for the world to know that they are going heeled, which is both foolish and childish. No one should know that you are packing until the weapon is put into use. However, if there had been a citizen carrying his weapon in violation of those “no weapons” postings, I am still not sure that it would have made a difference, and here is why: most shooters could not have effectively made the shot needed to put down the assailant.

The criminal in this case was wearing full body armor. It is reported that he had armor over almost his entire torso, legs, and neck, in addition to a Kevlar helmet. The news reported that he was veering a “bullet proof vest”, but there is no such thing, as no body armor is "bullet proof”. It all depends upon the bullet. However, against the types of handguns that most of us carry for protection, he was as bullet proof as one can get. A shot to the body, legs, or neck from a typical concealable handgun would have been ineffective against the punk.

With the majority of the attacker protected, the only shot left that would be effective in shutting him down would have been a shot to the brain through the eye and nose area of the face. We discussed and trained for this situation a couple of months ago at Tactical Response in Camden, Tennessee. The instructor displayed a mannequin head, showing the area which must be hit to be effective in shutting down the brain. This is a target which is only about two inches high and four inches wide. Most of us can make such a shot easily while shooting at a stationary paper target on a well-lighted range. However, making that same shot, under fire and in the dark, I don’t think so.

Every time I write a review or post a video promoting the use of a good laser sight on a fighting handgun, I receive a lot of feedback from those who state that point-shooting is just as good, and that the laser is just a crutch or a gimmick. That is both short-sighted and foolish. I associate with some of the best shooters on Earth, and I know of none who could with certainty make the shot needed to put down an assailant under those same condition just by point-shooting. Still I get the comments from those who are fooling themselves into thinking that they could make that shot without the use of night sights or a laser. In a fight, I want every advantage that I can get, and in a situation in which the target is small and in poor light, I want both night sights and a Crimson Trace laser.

In such a situation as in that dark theater, the target that must be hit to effectively handle the crisis at hand is so small that a precise shot is mandatory to do the job. In such a situation, the chances of survival are slim already. It is not a fair fight. The opponent has had time to plan, prepare, and execute the crime. Any action to counter his deed will only be a reaction, and it must be both swift and precise to stop the violence. Keep in mind that the police are not going to help. Even if they could arrive within seconds, they are not going in as long as shots are being fired. It is up to you to protect you, and if you cannot make the shot, you are a victim.

Having a gun is not enough. You need to know how to effectively use that weapon, under stress and in the dark. If your training consists of punching paper at the local range, that is not enough. You should practice in the dark, and shooting from awkward positions, such as on your back and shooting from around cover and concealment.. Most times in a fight, you will not be standing squarely facing a stationary opponent. Statistics show that your fight will likely take place in very poor lighting. It will happen quickly and without warning. Like in the situation of the theater shooter, you might have a miniscule target, as a shot to the body would be ineffective. It is a shame that such evil exists in this world to the extent that someone would shoot people just for sport, but that is the world in which we live. The shooter in Colorado was able to murder a dozen people and wound many others, because no one was there with the will and the means to stop him. A reasonable person does not go around looking for a fight, but sometimes the fight comes to us. If you find yourself in such a situation, you might only get one chance to put that bullet precisely where it needs to go. Can you make the shot?

Jeff Quinn

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