After shooting thoughts about the “Dark Knight Massacre”

In the wake of the recent “Dark Knight Massacre” I have a few thoughts to share about self-defense, handgun training and surviving a deadly force situation.  This senseless act of violence should bring about serious change in how we prepare for and defend against the madmen of society.  Please understand that I write this out of care and concern for you.  So please, do not take offense to the words that follow as I only hope to bring about change in you and me.  Three crucial concepts will guide this discussion:  Train, equip, survive.


It blows my mind that more people do not take firearm training.  I have personally taught somewhere between 3,500 – 4,000 people how to lawfully carry a concealed carry firearm.  Of that number, only 2-3 percent come back for additional training.  Now, I am either a lousy instructor and people can’t stand me, or people just don’t take training seriously.  I’m personally inclined to believe that it is the later of the two options.

If you do not develop the muscle memory of how to handle your firearm in a self-defense situation, you will greatly suffer when it comes time to perform.  Would you trust a paramedic or ER doctor who had never practiced the life saving skills that you need to come through a life threatening injury?  I think not.

Just this week, I had a phone call from someone who wanted to get their Utah concealed carry permit.  For one reason or another, the gentlemen could not make it to the course and asked about other companies for training.  I recommended he make time to come attend one of my courses.  He didn’t really care to and I asked him, “do you just want the permit or do you want the training that will help you survive a deadly force encounter?”  He responded with, “Oh, I just want the permit.”  Having a permit DOES NOT mean that you are ready to defend yourself with a handgun!  Defensive handgun proficiency is a perishable skill and you must make time to train!  Are any of us really ready for all deadly force situations?  No.  But how can you even be remotely close to prepared when all you’ve taken is a 4 hour course?

Yes, I offer courses and would love to have you come to my courses, but what really matters is that you get training.  Buy some DVDs, take NRA courses, go to the nation’s coolest, most high-speed training facility, just get training!  Please, for your sake and the sake of those that you love, commit to yourself right now that you will train yourself on how to survive that deadly force situation.


In full disclosure, my company manufactures and sells firearms, gear and survival equipment.  Notwithstanding, you need to carefully consider what you carry on a daily basis.  I am a strong proponent of everyday carry equipment (EDC).  There are several schools of thought and I would recommend that you take the time to research what works best for you.

Here is my perspective – on your person, you should always have your firearm, a flashlight, a pocket knife and a cell phone.  I will leave the cell phone choice to you.  As for a firearm, I’m sorry to say that your .380 pocket pistol is not going to cut it.  6 or 7 shots of .380 ACP is not sufficient, especially considering what happened in Colorado.  Now, I’d rather you had something so I do recommend them because they are so easy to carry.  A wise instructor once taught me that concealed carry is not supposed to be comfortable, it’s supposed to be comforting.

What’s the best pistol?  It is an extremely personal choice and you can see some of my recommendations here.  Personally, my top three choices and the pistols that I carry on a regular basis:  A full size M&P with 17 rounds and spare magazines, a S&W 44 Magnum and/or a 1911 in 45 ACP – not all of them at the same time but you will usually find one of them on my hip and another in my bag.

Knives:  Again, the options here are endless.  The knives we carry on are all good choices.

Flashlight: A small pocket flashlight like this one could have been invaluable in the present situation.  If people thought that the masked intruder was just part of the show, maybe someone could have quickly flashed him with their light to see that the guy was decked out with firearms.  This light is super small, amazingly powerful, and has a strobe feature to disorient.  Getting strobed in a dark room is extremely disorienting.  This disorientation could have allowed someone to get away.


Mental preparation is huge.  Are you a fighter?  What type of person are you?  Are you a wolf, a sheep or a sheep dog? (All due credit to Dave Grossman for his remarkable training courses on self-defense).  The sheep dogs and wolves of the world have already made up their mind.  So many of us go about our lives thinking that all is well when there are very, very wicked people who will, without a second thought, commit violence on you without a second thought.

You need to prepare your mind to act quickly under severe stress.  In terms of gross motor skills, like manipulating a pistol in a dark area, this is where proper training comes in.  There are several things about firearm training that are designed to be quick and easy to remember.  For example: “Train, Equip, Survive”  “Tap, Rack, Bang” & “Get yourself safe, get others safe, and get the tactical advantage”.  These sayings are designed to help you remember and to develop the muscle memory to perform when your brain shuts down.

Situational Awareness.  Are you aware of your surrounding or do you walk around with your face buried in your iPhone?  If a situation doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.  Trust your gut.

Avoid prohibited areas like the plague!  Gun laws only affect law abiding citizens.  The Carmike movie theater is already covering their butt, apparently they have a no weapons policy. Here’s what they just released:  “Weapons of any type are strictly not allowed in Carmike Cinemas.”  If you see a no weapon policy, get out of there!  Remember Trolley Square?  Guess what they had as well…you guessed it…a no firearms policy.  Do these nut-jobs care?  Yes, they do!  Tear gas?  Body armor?  This dude planned this whole thing out with great detail.  He went to the one place that he knew didn’t allow weapons.  Law abiding citizens like you and I are going to obey such policies.  Bad guys target these areas on purpose.   So just avoid the place from the start.  Businesses need to get smart and realize that an armed society is a polite society.  I believe this policy is the thing that invited this murderer to this movie theater.

Use the lessons from this situation to better prepare you mentally.  No longer will you be a casual consumer of news information.  Take this Dark Night Massacre and learn from all of the things that went wrong.  With the proper training, equipment and mindset, you can survive this type of senseless violence.   You have a responsibility to come home to your family and loved ones at the end of the day.  Please, commit to yourself that you will never allow yourself to be a victim.

With love and respect,

Michael Steck


  1. http://John%20Semler says

    Well said. I totally agree. As a former police officer, when I first watched news reports on this, the first thing I thought, besides a deep ache in my heart for the innocent victims, was how would I, or a trained person with a concealed carry respond to this? With the body armor and helmet of the killer, only a very high risk defense had a good chance of success. With the pandemonium,when he turned his head, was to rush him, and fire my pistol into his neck under the helmet & above the armor, @ the same time knocking him to the ground, so @ the very least some victims would have a chance to flee. But you’re correct, with a no carry allowed, the theater sadly took these type options away from there patrons/victims.
    John S.

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