Surviving an ‘Active Shooter’: Navy SEAL Lessons from Aurora

By Woody published on in Camping & Survival, News, Safety and Training

Brandon Webb, president & executive media director at blog and a Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (Class 215), offered perhaps the best survival advice we’ve seen regarding The Joker shootings in Aurora, Colorado. (Special Operations Forces Report) covers and comments on the US and Allied Special Operations Community. In the item Navy SEAL Lessons From Aurora, Webb wrote: “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. 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 easy 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. 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.

During 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.

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. For most of you, the best bet is to buy a good tactical flashlight, there are plenty on the market.


At least 200+ lumens, waterproof, LED, and a 3-volt lithium battery. Use and carry your light with you at all times. I recommend the Surefire P2X Fury Dual Output LED… I would have pulled my high-lumens pocket flashlight and blinded this guy.

Concealed Carry

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. 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.

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.

Alter Your Lifestyle

Avoid opening-night and large crowds that make easy targets. It sucks to live this way sometimes, but ask the survivors from Colorado if it’s worth a minor lifestyle change.

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 I’d also recommend is, Escape The Wolf by Clinton Emerson.

My condolences to the victims and their families in Aurora, Colorado.

Brandon Webb 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. Used with permission.

Other Links of Interest Re: Aurora

  • Methodist Church politicizes Aurora deaths, attacks NRA, calls for gun bans
    The national United Methodist Church didn’t just call for prayer after the recent cinema shootings. Instead, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church & Society stepped up on the bodies of the dead and wounded in Colorado to call for a range of gun-control measures — including banning all handguns — as a result of the Aurora shooting. James E. Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society, and Bill Mefford, Director of Civil & Human Rights, General Board of Church & Society, are the signatories to an anti-gun political-action document posted on the national Methodist website. The GBCS Statement on Aurora, Colo., Shootings calls for instituting background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows; limiting bulk sales of guns intended to be illegally resold; and reinstating the ban on sale of military assault weapons to civilians. Do Methodist lay people know that an aggressively anti-gun Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society is trying to ban handguns and semi-auto rifles in response to The Joker shootings?
  • JPFO open letter to The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
    Dear Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle Editor: In light of the evil perpetrated at a crowded Colorado movie theater, and now that the Wisconsin legislature has partially re-established the right of the people to publicly bear arms, Jews in the state must reexamine some of their beliefs. A set of Wisconsin synagogues decided to ban the legal possession of firearms on their property soon after the enabling law passed. Their lengthy justifications and rationalization for doing so are posted on their websites. One dangerous issue in the Wisconsin synagogue-sans-guns debates is the Gun-Free-Zone Liability Act, under consideration in some states. It basically says if you declare a so-called “gun-free zone,” you’re liable for any harm it causes. Synagogues are likely unaware that if they ban the civil right to arms, and someone is harmed in an assault, they may bear liability. The Colorado massacre forever establishes that a paper no-guns policy is a cruel hoax.
  •  Ted Nugent flips out over calls for more gun control, misinformation
    Glenn Beck interviewing Ted Nugent on radio: [Ted,] I believe you are close to a brain aneurysm on this story coming out of Aurora, Colorado. NUGENT: Well, yes. Number one, I can’t go further without saying that the Nugent family and everybody I know, I mean literally everybody says prayers for the victims and their families in the face of such a tragedy, but now we need to go on to the vile intentional misrepresentation of what did happen. And I think as soon as you can, Glenn, you need to talk to your friend Bill O’Reilly because I’ve never heard such nonsense in all my life and I think it epitomizes the ignorance out there when Bill O’Reilly states as a fact that anybody can go buy a bazooka and a machine gun without the government knowing it unless, of course, you’re in the crips and the bloods.
  •  ‘Come On!’ Bill O’Reilly Blasts GOP Congressman During Epic Gun Control Segment
    During his interview with Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz, Bill O’Reilly got fired up telling the congressman that there need to be more restrictions on the books that prevent people from buying heavy weapons without the FBI knowing about it. O’Reilly said that Congress should pass a law requiring anyone who sells heavy weapons to report said sale to the FBI. Chaffetz said that the FBI should not be given a “master list” of every gun owner in the country, but O’Reilly interrupted Chaffetz to say that he was misrepresenting what he said. O’Reilly said that if you go to flight school, the FBI knows about it, but not if you purchase a machine gun. Chaffetz said O’Reilly’s assertion was “absolutely not true.”
  • Federal Ammunition Sales Regulation: A Proven Failure
    Recent calls for federal regulations and restrictions on ammunition sales ignore the failure of such laws in the past. They also ignore the impracticality of imposing and enforcing similar controls in today’s huge ammunition market. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that 10-12 billion rounds of ammunition are produced domestically each year, while billions more are imported. The Gun Control Act of 1968 required federal licensing for all ammunition dealers, and required that a record be kept on all handgun ammunition sales by retailers—including the popular .22 rimfire cartridges. The requirements proved to be such a heavy burden on retailers that in 1982, Congress removed .22 caliber rimfire ammunition from the record-keeping requirement.

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Comments (35)

  • Judge Orders Aurora Victim’s Family and Lawyers to Pay for Suing Gun Dealers


    […] Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are the mother and stepfather, respectively, of Jessica Ghawi, one of the 12 members of the audience who was shot and killed in July 2012 at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises Batman movie at a no-guns-allowed theater—Theater 9 at the Century 16 multiplex (operated by Cinemark), located at the Town Center at Aurora shopping mall in Aurora, Colorado. Our previous coverage of how to survive such an event is here. […]


  • Anthony E.


    I’ve had so called firearm defense professionals
    Saying it’s never a good idea if you disarm a attacker that pulls a firearm on you , That you shouldn’t use there weapon on them if you get there weapon . That you should keep them there for the Police . This bothers me due to the fact the average person doesn’t know how to safely take a attacker safely into custody . Also in real World situations you don’t know if the attacker has another deadly weapon . I carry my Sig Sauer P226 daily so I would just fire on the attacker and hope I come out on top . But I see a lot of these guys giving this advice to average Americans . I’ve had some training nothing compared to you and this just doesn’t sit right with me . Thank you either way ..


  • branding agency


    Good article and right to the point. I don’t know if this is really the best place to ask but do you guys have any ideea where to hire some professional writers? Thanks :)


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