I cannot count the amount of times that I have seen folks on net-wisdom forums or on the bookface make the statement that since they â€œcarry a gun for self-defense, they do not need to do anything else to keep themselves safe.â€
(This is the part when you should 1. Pour something good to drink. 2. Take a mouthful of said drink while re-reading the first paragraph and. 3. Spit out said beverage in Hollywood-esque style in disbelief.)
While I wish that there was an â€œUber-gunâ€ out there somewhere that held the key to my safety, it is unfortunately not that simple.Â A gun is a tool just like any other: if a carpenter cannot swing a hammer, let alone accurately, the hammer will not guarantee a completed job.
As I have written about previously, we and we alone are the keys to our own well-being, and it is the manner in which we exist in the world around us that assists us in our safety and survival.
What we can do to examine this further is to break ourselves down into four primary areas:Â Mind,Â Body,Â ToolsÂ andÂ Environment.
The human mindÂ is an amazing thing.Â It has created too many vast wonders and thoughts to list that are responsible for where we are todayâ€¦.and the human mind has also turned masses of â€œcivilizedâ€ people into violent, animal-like hordes with the combined IQ of a stick of celery just as soon as an uncommon stressor is introduced into their lives.
Stress, quite simply is the bodyâ€™s physical and psychological reaction to change.Â Our ability to handle stress, especially uncommon stress can often be one of the biggest factors in a personâ€™s survival or death. The ability to take a moment of pause, even a millisecond, to analyze what is happening before acting, AND acknowledging the effects of stress on our bodies is very difficult to train on. For those with a military background, they often have a higher tolerance for stress due to many hours spent in close proximity to two-legged stress known as Drill Sergeants (parents with small children also score very high in this department).
One thing that we can do to assist us in the mental preparation is to acknowledge two things:
- That there are people out there that will do us harm.
- That sometimes the only way to ensure we return home that night to be with our loved ones is to end the attackerâ€™s ability to do us harm.
The responsible citizen acting under the Whole Person Concept must understand that they must operate as a polite member of society doing what they can to further their fellow man, but also have the mental preparedness that when faced with someone who is not a responsible person out to do harm, the time for politeness and manners goes away.
The ability to switch from these two modes is key to ensuring that we act accordingly to any situation we encounter or could encounter on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, society has an unwritten rule that we must be polite, quiet, and docile at all cost.Â This lobotomized mindset has been responsible for many lives lost (and the creation of criminal friendly states like California and New York). And as such, most people you meet have no interest in taking steps to prepare themselves for worst-case scenarios because they have never been through a bad situation where their lives were in jeopardy.
(A great option for those looking to further themselves in the realm of mindset and mental preparations is to research and attend training that uses role-players and force-on-force training where you are pitted against other humans in a safe and controlled environment.)
The discussion of the role of our bodyÂ when it comes to the Whole Person Concept is relatively simple.Â If the mind is sound yet the body is unwilling or unable to act you are going to have big, big problems when it comes to your defense.
I have had the opportunity to complete two “Tough Mudders”, a Marathon, a Half-Marathon, 2 Adventure Race Sprints (6 hour races), Dauathlon, numerous 5K, 10K runs, and most recently, survival of a cross-country 2050 mile bicycle ride from Detroit to the Mexican border in Arizona. Â Now before you say, â€œSo what?!â€ I want to tell you about the Papa Johns pizza I hadÂ on Friday.
What I am getting at is that there is a common belief that in order to be â€œIn-shapeâ€ that you must either choose to lead a life of Tofu, or a life of KFC.Â Bullâ€¦.but you can find a balance.
Granted, everyone is different as far as metabolism and blah, blah, blah.Â The reality is, if you believe that a life void of physical maintenance of your body will be a boon to your survival when a life-or-death scenario occurs, you are sorely mistaken.Â (See: Drivers Training vs. throwing a 16-year-old girl the keys to a Ferrari and saying, â€œHave funâ€)
One point of contention that comes up is the classic, â€œI donâ€™t have enough timeâ€Â excuse.Â If we can agree that physical well-being is important to our survival knowing that we have a greater chance of dying from heart disease than in a hail of gunfire from Jonny Jihad and the boys, then wouldnâ€™t we say that itâ€™s a priority?
We live in a busy world and time is precious and there certainly isnâ€™t enough of it in our days, Â but we are grown adults and we do have the technology to make it happen.Â What stops us from setting our â€œsmartâ€ phone to buzz or beep every 15 minutes while at work where we drop and do 5 or 10 push-ups or crunches?Â Or every time we walk through a door we drop and do a burpee? Or park far away from the store instead of fighting every other lazy American for the one spot near the front door?Â Or substitute the McGrease breakfast with a banana, bagel and fruit juice?
The point is, we have the capability to do something. So DO SOMETHING. Otherwise a sprint to the car to retrieve a medical kit for another person could result in two casualties instead of one.
The toolsÂ we carry or donâ€™t carry are also a very important part of the Whole Person Concept.Â Unfortunately, there are far too many people that believe that by owning and possessing a tool on or about their person, makes them capable of the proper use of said tool.Â We must get past our ego and realize that we are never done training with the tools of our defense.
When it comes to tools we need to ask a few questions:Â Is it the right tool for the job? Can we/should we carry it? Do we know how to use it properly?
Just as we would not try to use a stick of dynamite to hammer in nails (ok, some of you might try) we need to take a good look at the tools that we carry to act as a force multiplier in our defense and safety.
In todayâ€™s gear-driven world, it’s commonplace to see people take a perfectly good defensive rifle and destroy it by bolting on so much mall-ninja crap that 30 minutes into an eight-hour rifle class, the shooter has lost their motivation and ability to raise the rifle to their shoulder (see: Body).
It’s important to analyze every tool in our defensive tool kit for the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of gear.Â If we find shortfalls in a certain tool, often the best solution is to get a different tool instead of trying to modify the wrong tool for the job.
Regardless of the task, terrain or tool, what each and every responsible person must do is work to make the proper operation of the chosen defensive tool as second nature as possible.Â We can work on this through training classes, individual practice, reading, research, etc.
As of 2015, there are a lot of great defensive tools out there at our disposal – Constitutionally, once a threat reaches certain levels of force, especially lethal, the manner in which a responsible person defends themselves is moot (i.e. bad guy pulls a gun, you hit him with your Prius).
Unfortunately due to backwards, brain-dead thinking, a lot of places that we live make ridiculous laws that only restrict the law-abiding responsible citizen.Â (Hey people, we are voting these idiots into power OR allowing them to work unhindered! Write a letter or something!!)
Where this can be an issue, is when we have â€œResponsible Citizen Aâ€ who is attacked by â€œThug Bâ€ and thusly uses a defensive tool that saves their life yet is illegal where the attack occurred and are therefore charged as a criminal by the local prosecutorâ€™s office for the use of the tool, NOT the use of force.Â If you think this is ridiculous, do some research and see for yourself.Â It happens all too often.
How we can work to avoid this is taking the personal responsibility to check with our local laws and regulations and the regulations for where we may be headed for vacation, business, etc.Â I highly recommend that if you find a law that is as asinine as TSAâ€™s â€œno tweezer, scissors or freedomâ€ rule, you get involved and remind the powers that be that bad guys donâ€™t give a shit about their laws (CLUE: thatâ€™s why they are bad-guys).
Finally, the proper operation of our defensive tools is critical whether it’s a gun, pepper spray, or our hands.Â There are so many great instructors out there along with so many disciplines that are focused on the protection of responsible people to choose from – the first and most important step is to check the ego at the door and start training.
And as an aside, so much time is spent on firearms training, yet the average gun owner has zero idea on how to deal with a gunshot wound. Why? Because profile pictures are FAR cooler with a gun in your hand than a roll of gauze. If you carry a gun, you should probably have a med kit on or about your operating area. If you have a med kit, and you look at it the same way Derek Zoolander looks at a computer, call Dark Angel Medical and sign up for a class (see: NOW).
So with our first three areas covered, we need to discuss the environmentÂ that our Mind, Body and Tools exist.Â Being aware of where we are and what is going on around us is critical to our safety and can often warn us well before a defensive tool ever need be introduced to the scenario.
In todayâ€™s day and age, we notice that more and more people are more focused on their small electronic tethers than the world around them.Â This attitude of â€œwhatâ€™s situational awareness?â€ is incredibly attractive to criminals as it makes their approach leading up to a target that much easier.
Our environment can be beneficial to the responsible citizen, or a hellish obstacle course in a stress-filled situation.Â A car that could have been a great barrier between us an assaultive subject can easily turn into a wall that we back into because we failed to acknowledge its existence as we passed it when things were hunky-dory.
Another factor to consider is that there are some places that we just should not be.Â As you read this, your mind is already identifying a handful of locations that you know are just trouble waiting to happen. With that in mind, why should we be there? On the flip side, could we get a call from a friend who needs a ride from that location in the middle of the night? These are all things to consider.
In closing, there are certainly no â€œabsoluteâ€ answers when it comes to our safety, but by keeping our well-being in the forefront of our mind, we are already way ahead of the curve.
Stay safe and keep training!