The premiere of the seventh and likely the most highly anticipated installment of the Star Wars films, is bringing the fans and their costumes out in droves, but may also attract the wrong element.

While I hate to be the guy that tosses a metaphorical wet blanket on all the fans sleeping outside theaters, I have to remind you that it was the midnight premiere of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, when an active shooter stepped through an emergency exit door and opened fire on theatergoers at the Aurora 16 movie theater, here in my home state of Colorado. To a terrorist, or even a psychopath vying for attention in the worst way, the media focus on Star Wars could be irresistible for another similar attack.

Movie theaters across the country are inspecting backpacks and purses for dangerous items, but remember two things, the Aurora shooter entered through an exit door, and the theater was a gun-free zone. I guess the shooter didn’t see the no-guns sign. But, because the chance for an attack exists, doesn’t mean you should cancel your tickets (I’m sure as heck not giving mine back!). It just means that you should take reasonable precautions.

  • Check with theater staff to ensure they have secured exit doors from the outside (but that they of course still open on the inside). That won’t stop an ally on the inside from opening a door for a shooter (the same way “some people who shall remain nameless” used to sneak into the theater in high school), but if someone opens that Exit door from the inside, it’s very noticeable and you should pay attention.
  • Know where the exit doors are. In some cases, there are exits at the back or entrances into office spaces. Just like in an airplane, count the number of rows to the exit. If the theater is filled with smoke, you can use this strategy to work your way out.
  • Run-Hide-Fight – well, maybe. In some cases, it may be more beneficial to get low, beneath the seats and stay out of the line of fire. A lot of people will be there with their kids so you need an exit strategy, or a protection strategy, for them as well. Parents’, if you can’t get your kids out, get them on the floor and lay your body over the top of them. Some of the victims in Aurora were killed this way, but they were protecting loved ones.

And of course, keep a casual awareness of your surroundings. A commotion maybe someone (like me) getting ticked at some moron texting in the middle of the movie, or it may the signs of a serious incident. Just by considering these things in advance, you’re preparing your mind for possibilities. This puts your subconscious on watch so you can enjoy the film!

May the Force be With You, Always.

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