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Friday, April 9, 2010

Survival Mindset: Being Ready for a Violent Encounter, by AK in Tulsa

Most of us who spend any time at all thinking about “Survival” or “Preparedness” have probably spent some of that time considering the subject of Self Defense. If you’ve spent enough time thinking about it, you’ve probably spent more than time on the subject. Like many of your survival-minded brothers and sisters, you’ve likely spent some of your hard earned dollars on a weapon or two. Perhaps you have a small arsenal at home. Owning a weapon may save your life but not if it’s not with you when you need it or if you’re not prepared to use it.
As a law enforcement officer in a fairly large Midwest town, I’ve seen both the very prepared and the completely unprepared come out on both the winning and losing ends of violent encounters. I’ve seen a man beaten half to death by an unarmed intruder in his living room when he had a baseball bat sitting in the corner behind the door. It wasn’t a thought in his mind. I’ve seen the smelly result of a wood-be attacker picking the wrong apartment to break into and finding a young lady in the bathroom with a disposable cigarette lighter and a can of hair spray. She didn’t just have them; she knew how to use them.
In a violent encounter, having the right tools won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t know how to use them. If you have the correct mindset, even the wrong tools will often make do.
A cop carries a gun on his hip at work every day. Most people who work outdoors or in warehouses carry knives or box cutters. You’re average office worker or department store clerk doesn’t carry a gun or a knife. Many people don’t carry guns or knives. In uniform I may have two or three of each at any time. For those of you who typically don’t carry anything that is traditionally thought of as a weapon, it may be a consideration that you wish to make. If you choose to walk around unarmed, that’s okay, as long as you’re prepared to protect yourself.
Violence can strike at any moment. In my town, there was a somewhat recent incident where a mother took her two teenage daughters to tan at a tanning salon. While they were tanning inside, she and her infant and her toddler were waiting in the family van outside. While waiting outside, a man approached the van and physically made his way into the van. He left the mother and took her children. Due to some sensitive subject matter, I won’t discuss the incident further, except to say that if the mother had been armed or at least considered the weapons at her disposal, the story may have had a much happier ending. What is the most powerful personally operated weapon most of us have at our disposal and that this mother had that day?
What has four tires, weighs 2,000+ pounds and can be easily aimed at an attacker? If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s your vehicle. Not only can a vehicle act as a shield or a shelter, it can make a fine impact weapon. Find yourself in a riot and you know that stopping means you’re not making it out alive or at best seriously injured? I understand that there are legal ramifications to doing what I am about to express but we’re talking about living and dying here. If it comes to me getting my family home safely or letting someone have their way with my wife and daughter while I’m lying unconscious in my own blood, I’m going to apply enough gas to keep moving quickly, tell my family to get as low as possible and I’m moving forward. Should rioters or attackers choose to stay in my path, they will have made the wrong choice.
Survival is about choosing to survive and carrying out whatever actions are necessary to complete the task. I once had an instructor who would say “Be polite and professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” Does that sound harsh? Absolutely it does but to some degree, this is the way that people must live if they wish to continue to stay on the top side of the grass. Many violent crimes begin with some thug putting a smile on his face and asking for directions or some unsuspecting parent answering a knock at the door. Bad things don’t just happen when you accidentally drive through the rough neighborhood or when you’re walking to your car after work one night. They happen when you least expect them. You’re sitting in church and some lunatic walks through the door with a 12 gauge and starts mowing down the flock. You’re standing in line at the local convenience store and suddenly you realize the guy in front of you is putting on a ski mask or has just pulled a revolver from his pocket.
Mental preparation is important to survival. You have to have an acute awareness of your surroundings. You have to pay attention to the people around you at all times. You absolutely must have your eyes open to what is going on around you. I cannot count the number of times I’ve worked a robbery that took place in a public place with several witnesses who should be able to give an accurate description of the suspect and then find out that half of them didn’t even realize the store was being robbed until after the robber was gone. Instead of walking around like a sheep with your head down, grazing, you’ve got to keep your head up and your eyes moving. Be the sheep dog, not the sheep. You need to notice when the guy walks into the gas station with his hood and sunglasses on. You must see the guy approaching you in the parking lot after work. You can’t be talking to the other soccer moms when that weirdo is approaching your child on the other side of the playground. You have got to have situational awareness. There are times when you can’t prevent a situation from unfolding but if you are aware, you can at the very least try to protect yourself or your loved ones. The only appropriate action may be to run or hide or dial 9-1-1 on your cell phone. You may find it appropriate to draw your .40 S&W from your purse and create a cloud of pink mist where some bad guy’s head used to be.
Go back to the office worker. We’ll use Jane as an example. Jane works in a call center as a customer service representative. She has never fired a gun. The only knives she owns are for use in the kitchen and they don’t leave the kitchen. She spends 40+ hours per week sitting in a cubicle talking on the phone. One night Jane is stuck at work late on a long call. She gets off the phone finally, finding that she’s the only person left in the office except the creepy manager that always sniffs her hair when he walks by. Jane is grabbing her purse and keys when she sees him come around the corner and he has a slightly creepier look than normal. She suddenly feels very frightened. What does Jane have to defend herself with? Yes, pens and pencils make pretty good stabbing weapons if you’re strong enough to use them. I suppose you could try to strangle someone with your mouse cable. No, I don’t think the stress ball would do much to slow down a wood-be attacker. How about a stapler? The common desk stapler will open up and double in length in order to be refilled. Most people never look at their stapler as an impact weapon but the one on my desk weighs almost two pounds, is made mostly of steel and swung at someone’s head could do some serious damage, if not dispatch them permanently. Those scissors that she usually only uses to make paper dolls when calls are slow, they are an edged weapon and when jabbed into someone’s eye are pretty effective. Suppose creepy manager guy is a rapist and he’s been waiting for this opportunity to get Jane alone. Jane needs to be aware of the possible weapons at hand. Jane needs to be aware of the exits in the building. Jane needs to know where the fire-alarms are (fire alarms are just as good as calling 9-1-1, they bring firemen and firemen bring big muscles and axes, firemen can be just as effective as cops).
As far as having “a plan to kill everyone you meet.” I think the point is being ready for whatever may happen and being ready for whoever may bring it to you. There are people in the world with nothing but evil in their hearts. Those of us who are willing to not be sheep must be willing to stand up to these wolves and must be ready to do so at a moment’s notice. As far as dealing with the District Attorney or cops after you’ve beaten a burglar’s brain out with the toilet seat, there is an old saying; “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.” Living is priority number one. I’ll worry about the details later.
Now, if all of this sounds a bit too extreme for you, you probably haven’t ever had a gun pointed at you or had someone trying to take your head off with their bare hands. I have and I’ve talked to many people who have. I’ve seen what happens when people are unprepared physically or emotionally for violence. Violence is often unprovoked. Bad guys are like wolves. They take the weak sheep from the heard. The ones who aren’t paying attention when they sneak up, the ones who are still eating after the others have already run off, those are their prey. If you are the sheep dog, you smell the wolf before he ever gets close and he doesn’t approach you because of your strong, confident demeanor. If he is foolish enough to approach you, he gets the business end of a stapler stuck in his skull. Be aware and be safe.