So much is happening these days. Roads being blocked by protestors, random violence, protests, recently a man pulled a gun and started shooting while in a checkout line at a discount retailer. Short of never leaving your home, what can you do?
Avoidance is your best defense. In other words, no need a defense. Instructors talk a lot about situational awareness. Basically it is processing information quickly, almost on a sub-conscious level, about your surroundings. I think of the space around me in concentric circles. 8-10 feet is really close, I need to know who is in that space, and if they might be a threat to me. Then, moving out a few feet at a time, evaluate what you see. The minimum awareness space is considered 21 feet. If, like me, you are measurement challenged, about 2 to 21/2 car lengths. Anyone within that area should have triggered my awareness and gotten at least a quick assessment as a potential threat. Any sudden changes in their behavior should cause re-evaluation. If someone seems to be heading toward you, try to keep a barrier between you, retreat, or use verbal commands to stop, stay away, back off, not interested…said with authority, these can help. Afraid of being thought a jerk? Do you really care if a stranger, who is acting inappropriately, thinks you are a jerk?
See a crowd forming, veer off. Leave the area. See all the cars suddenly stopped for no reason? Look for an exit. If you are driving and find yourself blocked by a mob swarming the road, think carefully. I can’t tell you what to do, but I would prefer to keep moving, slowly, horn blowing, than be surrounded and helpless to a mob mentality.
Do you know what a gun sounds like? Rarely sounds like firecrackers. Do you know the difference between cover and concealment? Cover will potentially stop a bullet. Concealment hides you from sight but offers no physical protection. Train yourself not to look. Humans are curious creatures, they want to see what is happening, without considering the risk. These days every fool with a cell phone wants to film for You Tube! I was once waiting at a traffic light when suddenly to either side car doors flew open and people with guns drawn jumped out. Luckily they were wearing jackets that read POLICE. They were running toward a car in front of me. I put my car in park and ducked down thinking the engine might protect me from a stray. I didn’t get up until people started honking, and by then it was all over. I was with a friend at a dinner theater that was in a strip mall. We were in the lobby, looking out the window when a car came screeching in to the lot, followed by multiple police cars. I grabbed her and we went deeper into the building behind a brick wall. Other patrons went running into the parking lot to watch the action? Is your life worth a 45 second You Tube clip?
Consider everything you see, practice processing quickly to rank the potential threat that needs a little more attention. Consider where you are, know you escape routes. Do you like to go to the movies? Do you sit on the aisle of in the middle of the row? Nightclubs or restaurants? Do you know where the exits are, and is your back to the door? (I know that can be a trade off with your date.) But if something suddenly happens can you get to a safer place?
You don’t have to carry a gun to defend yourself, but it does help. However, your defense starts long before the gun. Be aware, know your surroundings, stay safe.