In 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 , 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 “ 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 standard technique that is taught for . It is really nothing more than learning to effectively communicate during a stressful situation. There are books on Amazon, videos on , 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.
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.
You may question my opinions in light of the controversy surrounding “ ” 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 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!