How to Disengage During a Conflict or Armed Confrontation.

womanccwIn my last post I discussed a personal situation where I had the need to disengage while I was armed and how you can avoid such a situation. My bottom line was don’t get into a situation at all if you can avoid it, but what if you are already in it? How exactly do you successfully break contact and what are the reasons why you should? The reasons for breaking contact are more numerous that I can even count, but the biggest reason, and most important to me, is to stay on the right side of the law, and avoid taking the life of another human being if at all possible.

It really doesn’t matter what city or state you live in, if you are the aggressor in any armed confrontation then you are at risk for being charged with a bare minimum of manslaughter if it comes down to pulling your trigger. The reason for carrying a defensive handgun as a civilian is to protect yourself and your loved ones, not be Betty Jane or Billy Joe badass! So if you carry a handgun, do it right or not at all! Leave confronting bad situations to the men and women that get paid to do it if at all possible.

Now let’s discuss some techniques on how to break contact. The first is verbal de-escalation. You may or may not have heard of “Verbal Judo”, a standard technique that is taught for police officers. It is really nothing more than learning to effectively communicate during a stressful situation. There are books on Amazon, videos on YouTube, and seminars regularly in just about any city. Using your verbal skills to take control isn’t about being aggressive. What it’s about is getting the other person to listen to your words and concentrate on their meaning and what’s being said. In many cases taking the focus off their emotion and onto the conversation ends any type of aggression.  Sales people use this technique on a regular basis. As a business owner I try to take control of the conversation and erase any previous negative experiences the prospective customer has ever experienced. This isn’t rocket science, it’s good old fashioned common sense.

A second way to de-escalate verbally is to simply just agree. That’s right, agree with any nonsense they spew and apologize, then break contact. DO NOT do this in a condescending juvenile way; this will only add fuel to the fire. What I’m referring to is taking the higher road in the hope that they will remain calm enough for you to walk away.  The goal here isn’t to be right; it is to remove yourself from a volatile situation. Most confrontations are fueled by emotion, and by keeping your emotions out of play you are already on the winning side. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Just the facts Ma’am”, and there’s a reason for that. Police officers deal only in facts, and emotions should never come into play. The facts are what determine if you have or haven’t broken any laws. If your actions are wrong then your reasons have part in determining fault. Emotions don’t make you right, but the facts will, if you keep those emotions in check.   

If your verbal skills aren’t up to par then it will be extremely difficult to physically remove yourself from a confrontation that is going south. If things aren’t going well and your verbal techniques aren’t calming the situation then your only choice is a tactical retreat. A tactical retreat is acknowledging a small defeat in the short term to gain a long-term advantage.  Ok, so you let them win this round, again emotion has no place in any of this. Your goal is to safely remove yourself so that this doesn’t become a violent incident that ends with gun fire and blood. Don’t look at this as a defeat as you are doing the only thing possible in the moment. You are moving to a place that gives you cover and therefore an advantage, or you are trying to save both their life and your own possibly. Unless you are a stone cold killer, this only makes sense. If you are moving to a place of cover then you have acknowledged that the situation is more than likely going to end badly. Always prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Never just turn your back and walk away, this is the most dangerous action possible! Remain aware of your surroundings and your situation. Just because you are finished, doesn’t mean the other person is. If you have managed to break contact, the first thing you should do is alert authorities of what just happened. Even if no laws have been broken, making them aware and having a report on hand will place you in a better position if any further incidents occur. Always cover your 6 (watch your back) as no one else is going to.

1911You may question my opinions in light of the controversy surrounding “Stand Your Ground” laws these days. I support them, they open the self defense laws to make people more secure in their homes, places of work and communities. That being said, I believe that it is always better to try to avoid the fight in the first place, and in doing so may gain you a more favorable outcome in the following investigation. I feel that you don’t want to be walking a very fine legal line while in a highly emotional state, and playing attorney is never safe, even if you are an attorney, after an deadly force encounter. You are personally involved in this situation and allowing an attorney to speak for you may be your best bet. It always looks and sounds much better for witnesses to say that you tried to speak calmly and walk away from the fight, but that the other person pursued you. It needs to be clear that there was no other choice but for you to defend yourself.  You need to be able to articulate that you did everything possible to end the confrontation in a non-violent manner, but had no choice but to fire your weapon.  

Keeping all of this in mind, it is very important that you always remember to be prepared at any stage of this to use your weapon to defend yourself from attack. Stay vigilant with your situational awareness, body positioning, and surroundings. You need to know who is doing what and where they are. An attack can come from any direction and this confrontation may be used as a distraction to an actual attack.  That’s a discussion for another post, and until then keep training, your life depends on it!

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Avoiding the Fight

This is more social commentary than what I would normally write about, but I feel like it needs to be said.

concealed-carry-holstersLast night at about 1am while trying to sleep, my wife and I were disturbed by loud talking and laughing outside our window (we live in a townhome community). I looked out the window and saw roughly ten teens in the parking lot. One of which was a neighbor’s son, so I figured I’d give them a chance not to get in trouble by just asking them to move the party inside.  After slipping on my shorts and shirt, I put my gun in my waistband holster and proceeded outside. I motioned for the kid I knew to come talk to me, he refused so I approached the group. I was met with several racial slurs and a curse or two. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and they made it obvious they were looking for trouble. There was no way I was going to bite and be drawn into a pissing contest. I already knew how it would end. My training kicked in before I even went outside, and I had several plans in case something went wrong. I didn’t want a fight, I didn’t think there was even one to be had, but I was aware that it could go terribly wrong very quickly hence my gun being on my person.

Now these kids had no idea of my background, or that I was carrying a weapon. What they did know is that I was an “old” white guy telling them what to do. One of the guys was bouncing around like a boxer and wouldn’t break eye contact, another called me a hillbilly (I rock a pretty healthy beard these days), and there was even more colorful commentary that I don’t see a need to repeat. It was very obvious that they were begging for me to do or say anything that would act as an excuse for them to become violent. Honestly, I was more disappointed in them than anything and I certainly wasn’t intimidated. When approaching I positioned myself with a brick barrier on the other side of the group in case I did need to defend myself with my firearm, and I kept enough distance to allow a good amount of reaction time if needed. This was a precaution based on years of experience, training and the fact that I would never want stray bullets flying around my neighborhood.

copsinneighborhoodWhat I realized after disengaging and re-entering my home is something I never considered before going outside. I saw myself as being a nice guy for not calling the cops from the start and just asking for some common courtesy. What they saw was completely different and dangerous for me. Because of my race, I was perceived as the enemy and a threat to their rights right from the start(their perceived right to be where they wanted, when they wanted to be there). I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut, remain respectful even after being disrespected, and walk away. If I had not walked away, things without a doubt would have gotten heated very quickly. Calling the cops was without a doubt the best option for all involved.  I asked my wife to do so, and told her about what I had just experienced.

Now the point of telling you this story is to illustrate a few lessons that I re-learned from this experience. Even with my years of experience and training I placed everyone involved in danger needlessly because I didn’t see a dangerous situation when I should have. So what are the lessons I learned?

  1. Always think before you act.
  2. A situation may not be as benign as you assume.
  3. Your perception may be completely the opposite of your reality.
  4. Never put yourself in a situation where you are the cause of an incident.
  5. Let the Police do their job and remember that they are seen by the law as doing their job, not as being the aggressor.
  6. No matter how confident you are in your skills, 10 to 1 odds suck!
  7. A simple noise complaint isn’t worth anyone dying for.
  8. Never fall victim to instigation by an opponent.
  9. If things had gone badly, I would have been seen as the aggressor and instigator. I also would have more than likely faced charges because the situation could have been avoided by picking up the phone rather than going outside.  

The current social climate doesn’t allow us to base our decisions on common sense anymore. We have to look at the big picture of how society as a whole will perceive everything we do. The country is divided down the middle on politics, race and religion. Just because we don’t see a problem with any given decision doesn’t mean that someone from another view point won’t.  As gun owners we need to not only train ourselves in the use of our weapons, but how not to use our weapons. The best way to not be in a shooting incident is to avoid the situation all together if possible.

arrestI did everything right tactically to give myself any possible advantage, I was armed, I positioned myself well, I allowed distance and cover, and so on and so forth. What I didn’t do is give myself the ultimate tactical advantage…avoiding the situation all together!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Musings on Current Events and Concealed Carry

English: Taken by Paul F. Maul, an original ph...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a guest post from a very good friend of mine, Dave Windham. Dave has spent his entire adult life in the company of firearms much like myself. He is a former law enforcement officer and corrections officer and he and I worked together in some of the worst spots in central North Carolina without the luxury of backup.

Let me start by saying that I am in no way an attorney, nor do I claim any legal expertise in any area of the law. I’m not attempting to provide any legal advice or tell you what you should legally do or not do.  I am strictly writing this as a citizen that carries a firearm regularly and attempting to convey some concerns that I have as well as my personal observations and opinions.

Having said that, the Brew haha surrounding the Zimmerman incident and subsequent trial has raised a lot of questions and concerns with those who conceal carry on a regular basis. I personally have carried regularly since the age of 21 and I’m now pushing the big four-O. Some of that was while on duty as a police officer, corrections officer or as an armed guard. The majority of the time I carried off duty and I continue to do so.

When you are forced to use your weapon in self defence, some of the many things that will be called into question after any use of a firearm are { 1) type of weapon used, 2) the caliber of the weapon used, 3) state of carry, 4) features of the firearm used, 5) training of the user of the firearm, etc.} This is by no means all encompassing, but it’s a good foundation of what you can expect to be questioned by a prosecutor or attorney in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Let’s start with the type of weapon you carry. Most of us that carry concealed tend to carry smaller firearms of smaller calibers so that they are easily hidden and you have the maximum amount of ammunition.  I personally don’t subscribe to this logic as I carry a full sized duty gun chambered in 9mm with a twenty one round capacity. If you carry a larger caliber or one with a ton of ammunition on board, expect to be questioned on why. Study up on past shootings from both civilian and law enforcement. You need to have a well thought out and researched answer. Your choice of firearm doesn’t need to be arbitrary and ignorance is never a defense.

Patronen: 9mm LUGER; 7,62 TOKAREV ; .357 SIG; ...

Patronen: 9mm LUGER; 7,62 TOKAREV ; .357 SIG; 10mm AUTO; .40 S&W; .45 GAP; .50 AE; (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now let’s talk a little about the caliber of your chosen weapon.  If you decide on an oddball or large caliber it will definitely be called into question. In other words if you carry a 10mm Glock, .38 Super, 7.62 Tokarev, .50GI,  or 1911, people will ask why. Worse yet, if you carry a revolver in .44 Mag, expect to be called “Dirty Harry”. I personally like any of these choices for any type of carry. They are great stopping rounds that were developed to do just that, stop an aggressor. That is the goal in a life and death situation after all. Again, just be willing to explain why you carry said caliber. I personally carry a 9mm, and I do so for a couple reasons.  First, it is a very well-known caliber that doesn’t set off alarm bells if I have to use my gun. Second, it is a great round for stopping an opponent (modern ballistic testing has proven 9mm, .40S&W, .357 Sig, and .45ACP to be almost equal). This isn’t the movies, and people don’t fly off their feet in real life when they are shot. I read a recent article where a suspect was hit in almost every vital organ with .45ACP and continued to fight and he actually emptied multiple magazines of ammunition after being hit. There is no magical caliber, so don’t put yourself at risk legally under the assumption that your chosen oddball caliber will save your life over another effective round.  If you dare to be different, then be able to articulate your choice to do so and have good reasoning behind it.

Thirdly, the state of you gun will be called into question as well.  Do you carry a 1911 style gun that is cocked and locked? Do you carry with a round in the chamber and the safety off?  Does your gun even have an external safety? The correct way to carry any 1911 variant is with one in the chamber and the hammer back and thumb safety engaged.  The entire firearms training community advocates carrying your gun with a round in the chamber, and many modern firearms don’t even come equipped an external safety. It doesn’t matter how you carry or what you carry, you need to know why and you need to be able to explain why to a person that has never touched or seen a gun before in their entire life.  The media or ignorant will see you as gun happy and ready to kill because your 1911 was cocked and ready or because there was a round in the chamber. There is a huge divide between those that own guns and those that do not. If you aren’t educated then you have no chance to defend yourself in a legal manner. The way you carry your weapon should be backed by training and the person or business that trained you needs to be willing to testify on your behalf as an expert if needed.  This is one of the many reasons that training is so important. If you don’t receive professional training then you are leaning on your own opinions.  Your opinions will never stand up in a court room, because you are the accused!

When I say features of your weapon, I mean additions or custom work that has been done to your carry gun. I’m referring to optics, custom finishes, contouring or chopping of the grip, trigger guard indexing or anything else that makes you carry gun look like a professional race gun or something from Star Trek.  This even extends to the internal parts. If you’ve had trigger work done and now have a “hair trigger”, then you’ll have some difficult explaining to do. The external work just isn’t easily understood by non-gun types so, yet again have a reason and be able to explain why. You and I know that the holographic sight installed on your M&P helps you find your target and fire accurately, and that the work done to the grip makes the gun an extension of your arm, and so on and so forth. You have good reasons, but you need to find a happy medium that is easily explainable if needed.  Don’t go all Captain Kirk and hope people get it, they won’t.

Finally we should address training. Shooting in your backyard is NOT training. Get training, and I mean real training from a real instructor. The level of training in the concealed carry classes is laughable.  The basic training for most law enforcement and military is barely passable as training. If you are falling back on, “I can it a tin can 9 out of ten times” I hope you enjoy your cell block. The other thing that I touched on earlier is that a true firearms instructor can testify on your behalf and will have connections in the gun community that you don’t.

The bottom line is that carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. With every passing day you come closer to having to use that gun on your hip or in your purse. Don’t carry a gun blindly with no plan. Talk to an attorney, have a plan in case you do need to actually use that weapon you carry to protect yourself.  Lord willing you will never need to pull the trigger, but if you do your life will never be the same. Stack the odds in your favor so that you come out relatively unscathed after a critical incident.  You will be treated as a murder suspect, accept that. You may even spend some time in jail until you can be bailed out, you need to accept that too. You are going to be treated guilty until proven innocent, get over it! You are alive!!

Do your part to be responsible, know what you can and can’t do, and know what is just plain smart. I hope this made you think a bit and if you need to make changes then do so quickly. You may need to use that gun very soon. This world isn’t getting any better. As for now stay safe, train and have a good un’.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta