I was outside working the other day when the weather turned. My nice sunny day deteriorated into a rainstorm. I had checked the weather online and knew there was a fair possibility of a storm moving in. First hints were the clouds turning darker and then a solid dark mass as the front began to move in. The wind picked up the leaves turned and I moved inside. If my work had required I stay outside and deal with it, as it oftentimes does as a firearms instructor, I had the Goretex rainwear to keep me dry. I could have stayed outside until the first large drops fell, but why ignore the coming storm, get soaked or struck by lightning before you realize that foul weather is upon you?
Self-defense is like that. First of all it requires a little preplanning or scouting the coming weather. You have to have the firearm(s) and spare ammunition to get through the violent encounter. This cannot be overstated. Far too many off-duty cops and private citizens with CCW permits leave their firearms at home when venturing out, or they use their cars like holsters. Few violent encounters give you that kind of time and if your pistol is in the glovebox in your car and the bad between you and your ride, what are you going to do then? Sufficient ammo to solve a serious violent social encounter is called for. How long? How many suspects and at what distances and circumstances, we just don’t know. Staying with our weather analogy, with it be a drizzle or a gulley washer? Since violence is harder to predict than the weather, you have got to have the tools and equipment to prevail regardless.
Avoiding a crime ridden area or location where violence occurs on a regular basis is sound tactical thinking. This can be done with a little recon or scouting of the location if it is foreign to you. A sad truth in most urban areas is that good businesses and commercial locations can be in or next to crime ridden neighborhoods. Knowing a safe route in and out can oftentimes avoid placing you in dangerous situations. But what if your home is located in that area or your business requires that you go to locations which are potentially dangerous? And truth be told, the sanctuary of your own home could potentially be the location of an attack, be it a burglary, home invasion or other crime perpetrated by a violent suspect.
Most important after insuring you are armed is awareness. Deviations in otherwise good weather as it were need to be paid attention to. Sometimes these indicators of a potential violence are ignored and law abiding citizens are forced to extricate themselves from bad situations. Remember the best fight is the one that never happens. Avoidance through awareness is paramount. Have you talked to your family about such things? Do you have trigger phases which you can use to exit a location if something bad happens? Unfortunately, too many citizens stay in locations as violence brews? The potential for being caught in the cross-fire, literally, is great. Do you monitor the tone and tenor of verbal exchanges going on around you in public? Increases in volume and anger in the voices indicating potential violence may mean, “Honey let’s get out of here. Now!”
Verbal loss of control oftentimes occurs prior to physical loss of control. A barking dog is giving a warning, are you paying attention before it bites? Physical indicators of potential violence are manifestations of the SNS – Sympathetic Nervous System (what laymen refer to as fight or flight) and the chemicals released in the bloodstream as well as physical preparations for attack. Some version of the “boxer stance” with hands raising in front will precipitate an attack. But make no mistake, veterans of street violence are masters of hiding their intent. What is certainly true is that they intend to get as close as possible, disarm their victims with meaningless chatter, i.e. “How you doin’ today?” and then spring their assault. They will attempt to stun their victims with some type of hand strike, possibly knocking them to the ground to elicit a state of shock or injury which reduces the victim’s propensity to fight back. The attack will be quick and violent.
The good thing is that victims seldom fight back. Oftentimes a suspect will be “dissuaded” by the mere threat of counter-violence. By paying attention to pending threat cues, body language and suspect’s closing the distance towards you, you deny them the opportunity. If a potentially deadly set of circumstances – suspects having hidden hands, the presence of a weapon are there, placing your hand on your holstered handgun or drawing and pointing at the suspect, all while giving very strong verbal commands, might be in order. If this backs off the suspect or stops the pending attack, remember to safely extricate yourself from the environment and then call the police and report the incident!
As I started my police career, there were times when I got soaked to the bone because I failed to pay attention to the weather or have my rain gear within close proximity. Experience can be a great teacher and nowadays I have the kit I need to operate when stormy weather comes. The problem with learning from experience is that the test comes first. Why not learn from my and other instructors experiences?
Arm yourself, pay attention to where you’re at and where you are going and constantly monitor the verbal and non-verbal communications in your environment. You can dry out from a rainstorm but getting hit by lightning will leave a mark…