I saw a poll posted on the Internet today that asked “If you knew there was going to be a gunfight on your route home, what would you take?” At the time of writing this blog post, there are so far 328 comments, many of which talked about which AR they’d take; how many knives as backup; discussing if they were terrorists or not; carrying multiple spare magazines; and countless debates on the wording of the poll question and how literal it should be taken.
I currently own five guns, many spare magazines and thousands of rounds of live ammo. I have at least one gun with me at all times, as well as full spare mags. MY first thought to answer this question, without hesitation for even a second was: TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE! No question about it, not even another thought.
I was saddened and actually a bit scared as I read through the responses and saw the reactive, aggressive comments about the need to protect oneself, family, fight terrorists, etc. All of these are true. But how about NOT getting into that situation in the first place? How about making informed, thoughtful decisions and actions to avoid confrontation at ALL cost? THAT is the smartest answer. Once you make a decision to be confrontational or once a bullet leaves your gun, there is never a chance to take it back. Changing your mind later and trying to run away may not be an option and may not work.
There are a lot of seminars and videos out there from lawyers and insurance companies that cover the topic “The Aftermath of a Shooting” and how to handle things when you’re left holding the gun after it’s been fired. I’ve taken these classes, and I’ll tell you, they’re SCARY. There are so many things that can wrong. One wrong word out of your mouth (or someone else’s) when you dial 911 or police arrive can put your life as you know it in jeopardy. You could be locked up right away and even if eventually found not guilty, spend tens of thousands of dollars, if not easily more, on legal defense; not to mention the emotional trauma that ensues.
Of course, I’m not talking about the unexpected. I’m not talking about someone barging into your home with the intention of hurting you or your family, and I’m not talking about being caught in a surprise ambush by a crazed terrorist or other assailant. Sometimes we’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that sadly can’t always be helped. I’m talking strictly about AVOIDING the dangers in the first place and making sure we’re NOT in the wrong place at the wrong time as often as possible.
Here are some helpful tips to avoid danger and confrontation:
Constantly survey your surroundings. You’ve probably heard it before (especially if you read my blog regularly), but it can’t be stressed enough: situational awareness. If someone or something doesn’t seem right, your spidey senses should be working in overdrive, along with all of your other senses -- and PAY ATTENTION to them! Be aware, stay aware and get OUT of the situation before something bad may happen. It’s better to be inconvenienced than sorry or dead. And if you decide to stay, constantly look around for escape routes and exits – any way to get out of the situation.
Avoid isolated areas. If no one is around, no one can come to your aid if needed, and offenders may feel they have an advantage.
Avoid known bad areas. It's a sad but true reality that some areas are simply more crime-ridden and dangerous than others. All you need to do is read your local newspaper or watch the evening news, and you can see that much too often it's the same neighborhoods time and time again that seem to experience the brunt of violent crime. For the most part, I know where they are in my city, and as sad as it is, I try to avoid driving through them when I can. One I know of in particular has a crime rate 68% higher than the rest of the state and is certainly a lot more dangerous than the relatively quiet and safe neighborhood where I live. There have been 754 violent crimes to date (and it's only June) in that neighborhood versus just 11 in mine. There have been multiple innocent persons shot and killed there in drive-by shootings just this year. So I believe I reduce my risk by simply avoiding the area altogether. Even if it's more convenient to take a route through a bad area in order to get to your destination, it's best to find another and drive a few minutes longer.
Don’t hang around with people who are always getting into fights – even verbal ones. We all know people like this, and they may even be a close family member or friend. But play with fire, and you’re bound to get burned eventually. That person may just piss off the wrong individual, and if you’re around, you’re caught in the fire – figuratively and literally.
Don’t put both earplugs of your mobile device in your ears, particularly if you are walking, exercising alone or even driving alone. Even if you’re just talking on the phone, don’t get lost or distracted in your conversation, and make sure to leave one ear free to allow yourself to stay more aware of your surroundings.
Trust your instincts.Your intuition and senses are your best line of defense in avoiding a dangerous situation. If something doesn’t feel right, get out of that situation before it escalates.
Understand that alcohol or drugs can cloud your judgment and awareness. I don’t drink, rarely ever did, and I attribute this to my mother drilling into me as I was growing up the need to stay aware and in control of myself at all times. She was never worried about MY behavior, but was very afraid of the behavior of others around me, even my best friends. Certain substances can dull your senses and slow down your reaction time to danger. You likely won’t notice that something bad is about to happen, and even if you do, you may not have the faculties – either physically or mentally – to deal with it.
This may seem like a lot of work, and to some people in some cases, maybe even unrealistic. But in the end the best way to not find yourself in a confrontational situation is to simply NOT PUT YOURSELF THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!