Sunday, August 23, 2009

voicing your concerns

In the Self-defense community there tends to be two unofficial schools of thought. That an individual should either avoid or non-verbally deter a situation before it starts or go straight to a full bore gun fight. We tend not to talk about the weird middle ground where walking away may get you attacked and the situation doesn't constitute the drawing of a firearm on your part. I suspect this lack of discussion stems from one of two points of instruction.

One is the police officer who also teaches CCW classes on the side. Typically he/she is use to large amounts of conflict and confrontation on the job. Yet they bear one distinct advantage over the civilian. They have the law on their side automatically, and they have the benefit of rolling back up. Understand this is not a side glancing judgment on my part, rather a police officer's confrontation with an unruly-to-violent individual ends in the arrest. Rarely can a miscreant confront a police officer in a highly aggressive manner and not end up in the back of a squad car.

Meaning: both parties are not mutually deterred by the other.

The flip side of the coin is a civilian instructor who may work in the firearms industry at a local store and is an avid gun enthusiast.More than likely his/her experiences with hackle raising situations-to-confrontation-to gunfight/shooting is either rare or non-existent. This is not about their experiences being inferior, just different.

Focus too much on gun-on-gun resolution we take a valuable tool out of the tool box, our verbal skills and a calm demeanor. If you can't be verbally calm and mentally collected in a verbal altercation, I promise you, you are not going to shine on through when it comes to a gunfight.

Having to engage against a verbally aggressive person who for all appearances is not physically violent requires being smart on your part. One be polite and two be firm. These two are separate but equal. Being polite in a verbal confrontation isn't you being a coward. Rather quite the opposite. The capability to remain polite, unapologetic and firm shows who is in control of the situation.

Being rude or insulting doesn't show that you are strong, it simply points out your lack of decency, capability or both (i.e. you are an asshole just like the other guy). Likewise its not appropriate to be "nice" either. Being nice and apologetic in a bad situation says that you are soft. This is just as unsteady as being rude, and unnecessarily aggressive.

If your BIQ (bad guy in question) is screaming and yelling at you and you respond in kind you just lost all tactical placement in controlling the situation. Because now you have no other levels on the scale to go. Once you're in a screaming match and throwing around threats, YOU either have to get physical or run. And frankly if you're screaming and yelling too. It's your fault.

Conversely being too nice you set yourself up on losing ground mentally. Start off apologizing and backing down trying to de-escalate the situation by blaming yourself appears weak or unprepared and left racing to find the appropriate level of response.

Look like food you will be eaten.

Think Cooper's Condition Colors. Its the verbal equivalent of white and red with no yellow. If you're a hot head and can't control your temper you're likely the same guy who flashes his pistol during rush hour when he gets cut off (yeah its rare...and yeah it does happen). Yet the person who has no self-respect AND a CCW permit will forever doubt themselves of whether or not its the right time to engage unless someone else starts the shooting first.

For a number of years I had the benefit of protecting a very wealthy bachelor who enjoyed night clubs and bars and was always surrounded by beautiful women. At some point an intoxicated individual or a few of them would inevitable decide they resented my Principal's presence and his ability to “take up all the girls”. Some protection agents can go their whole careers and can count on one hand the number of verbal altercations they've had. I could expect several a week.

I had to remain professional and confident and not lose my temper. The same applies to you.

If we look at what causes our tempers to flare it is generally the result of taking something personal. Some cases its perfectly justified, but on the street it's not.


Ask yourself this. Does the overly verbal BIQ actually know you?

If some one calls you “a mother fucker.” You need to realize that in this day and age its more slang than insult, but are you? If you are not then its rather a moot point. If you are then he's right and you need to seek help.

Once early on in my career a very disgruntled individual was yelling some things at a Principal of mine as we walked out of a very nice restaurant (money does not equal class by the way). I maintained my vigilance throughout the situation until she said “fuck you and your fag bodyguard”. My temper flared. I didn't react in anyway other than a nasty look, but a couple of minutes later as we drove off in the Suburban I realized that it was meant for shock value and response, nothing more.

Don't get lured in by words.

Some people go around looking for a fight and they look for non verbal indicators from everyone else to see who to select. Its that simple. Sometimes you get picked, not because you look weak, in fact it may be because you look like a challenge.

If they start it, you end it, but be smart about it. Stay steady in your pitch of voice, maintain eye contact, watch the hands, and say things to them like “Sir”.

In a potentially violent situation don't ask them to do anything. Instruct them.

Don't make open ended statements like “this is the last time I'm telling you.....”. Because then you are faced with what to do when they do, whatever it was they were doing, again.

Don't fall into saying “I will kick-your-ass.” instead respond with a calm toned “do you have five grand for bail money?”

Once with the aforementioned Principal we were in a bar and a intoxicated individual was mouthing off and eventually walked over to our area. I placed myself between him and my Principal, the BIQ a little over arms length away. His threatening tone was blather but that didn't mean he could be ignored. I noticed a knife clip sticking out of his pocket and said “Is that a Benchmade?”, he gave me this cross-eyed look for a second and I continued with “yeah yeah yeah it is, I carry an Elishewitz Stryker myself”. The man stumbled over his words for a second and I said to the bar maid “hey get this guy a beer” then turned around and said “Seriously, nice blade man. Hey gotta get back to work though. Take it easy.” He beemed and said thanks went back over to his buddies and there was no more problems.

For $2.75 I avoided a physical altercation, police reports, and a potentially liable situation for myself and my Principal.

My client's friend, an out of town executive told me later that I handled that very smooth I simply said that I get lots of practice. And I still do.

I get it in the car, in the shower, waiting in line. It's called "the What If" game. I constantly look at situations around me and think "if this individual responds this way I will in turn do this." I then think of any other scenario that could happen and problem solve may way through. Everything from an irate person in front of me to multiple gunmen walking in.

Instead of practicing some witty remark to say if you ever have to pull your gun, work on what to say in order to prevent it.

Think it through and break your statements down. Are they feasible? too long an tongue tying? inflammatory?

Its not about memorizing the right thing to say, its about practice. Just like going to the range.

Practice serves to make you familiar with what you are doing and to build muscle memory so you know the appropriate response, build confidence. Bad guys don't wear t-shirts with bulls-eyes on them, that we all know. However it's nice to know that you can put a magazine or two through an ever increasingly ragged hole at the range.

People watch. When two people interact poorly and you witness it, think how you would have reacted initially, then stop think it over and think how you could have desolved it. Maybe it's by ignoring them all together, or maybe its by responding firmly and calmly.

Why is this so important. Because you may face a guy who is unarmed while you are carrying and he may be willing and very capable in hand to hand fighting where you are not. And you not being capable in that arena doesn't necessarily mean you have the right to lethal force.

Play the what if game, study your appropriate level of verbal response anywhere. Given that people are people you certainly won't lack opportunity.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do your damn duty!

I was visiting here (a very good blog by the way if you don't frequent it) and he posted a link on jury duty.

I went into the comments section to post my thoughts when I read another blogger's comment about not getting paid to serve and what he thought was an otherwise waste of a day.

It causes me no small amount of anger when I hear of people doing their best to avoid jury duty in general.

It's especially irksome when it comes from fellow Concealed Carry License holders or others who like myself who have strong conservative leanings and will go to great ends to write and talk about the sacrifice of our soldiers and tell us their feelings towards Liberty and Justice for All.

How many blog posting have we all read where a fellow CCW holder was either involved in a justifiable shooting (or was simply and rightfully carry their arms) only to find themselves arrested and charged and headed for court. Civil or Criminal. The comment sections are filled with angry rants towards Law Enforcement, the Prosecutors and the District Attorneys. Yet never at the jury.

How many times have you uttered the phrase "WELLLLL I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six!".

Given the current judicial climate in this country I'm not sure I would rather be judged by twelve. Especially when I hear of fellow gun owners and conservative activist not wanting to be "inconvenienced".

What if you found yourself on a jury where a man was being sued in a civil trial for shooting and killing his attacker, and now the dead criminal's family was suing for wrongful death. What if because of you a concealed weapons permit holder who has extensive knowledge of firearms, self-defense tactics and the like were able to delouse scare tactics (read: An evil plastic gun that holds 17 rounds of deadly 9mm) brought on by the Plaintiff's attorney.

Go read the ordeal of Harold Fish and then tell me how nice it was that you were able to skate out of jury duty.

What if because you failed to do your duty a fellow citizen who is innocent had to leverage their home and retirement in order to pay for legal fees.

As I sit at my desk and write this post I am looking at a pile of file folders and manila envelopes from this client's case that appeared on 48 Hours Mystery over three years ago. I strongly encourage you to watch the episode called Dream Killer and then pay particular attention to the interviews given by some of the jurors. Because the easily swayed may one day also be judging you.

Having testified in dozens of court cases and sat in the jury pool I can say this about the American Justice System. That when we as the backbone of society, both morally and financially fail to do our civic duty we leave it to the bummers and the dregs to weigh the future of those who sit at the defense table praying for Justice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys: Break on Through to the other side

One of the best weapons for getting out of a crisis isn't necessarily a gun. A decent size vehicle, even one that may not run so fantastic has more versatility and overall practical use than a pistol...not that you can't have both of course.

Faced with breaching a road block made from stationary vehicles a car makes a very serviceable battering ram. But like everything, there is a right way and a wrong way. Do it the right way and you not only surprise everyone, but you may also disable a few of the bad guys cars along the way. It just won't won't be in show room condition afterwards.

Do it wrong and you're gonna have a bad case of whiplash from the impact and a bloody nose from the airbag for the next thirty seconds until someone rearranges your school girl beauty with a magazine full of copper.

So first things first: Hands on the wheel. Just like the old man said, hands at ten and two or at nine and three.


Should the airbag deploy while you ram through the barricade your hands are going to be knocked away from the steering wheel in approximately 60-80 milliseconds after the first moment of vehicle contact. When your hands are at 10/2 or 9/3 they get knocked back and out of the way, but not into you. This allows you to quickly recover and get back on the wheel.

If you hands are in the 12 O'clock position when the airbag is you're going to break your nose, probably some fingers and maybe your face altogether. Why? Your hand is between the rapidly deploying airbag and your face. And airbags impact with some 200lbs of force, so instead of getting a face full of polyester goodness you get your own fist flying at you like Mike Tyson.

This applies on the beltway just as much as an evac out of Panama.

Your Fist+Your Face+Physics=Not good.

Ram through a barricade correctly and there is little likelihood that your airbag will actually deploy. Airbags are designed to open in frontal and near-frontal collisions that are of a severe nature. Think striking a parked car of similar size across the full front of each vehicle.

So how fast do you need to be going when you hit the bad guys cars to break through?

Between 35-45 mph is best when you make initial impact. Once you ram keep on the accelerator to force your car through and push the barricading cars to the side.But what keeps the airbags from going off?

If you try to ram the center of a broad sided car for example you displace too much force over too wide an area (essentially fighting the entire weight and body of the other car). This is where the airbag sensors read as you essentially hitting something akin to a brick wall and deploy.

The other car will move, but not out of the way. And along with deploying the airbags, it may also disable your engine temporarily or permanently. Preventing you from getting out of the kill zone and leaving you at its door step.

However you can force barricading vehicles out of your way, you just have to aim for the right targets.

General rule of thumb: Aim your car's headlight for the center of the tire of the car in front of you.

The reason it's unlikely airbags deploy here is because while it may look like you are trying to move two cars out of the way, you are actually only forcing away 1/2 of each car, and thus they are movable.

In most cases the people who set up road blocks are not use to having them breached, so they tend to park cars front to rear. Generally, its the rear of cars that are the lighter half and they will move first and farther out of your way.

As you approach a barricade at around 50 or so feet out brake and drop your speed to around 40 mph but no lower!!! At the moment right before impact floor it and stay on it, even though your mind is going to want to brake at the moment of impact. I can not stress this enough..... Don't!

You need every bit of inertia to force your way through and keep going.

At impact the other cars will start moving out of the way. Since these vehicles are stationary there will be resistance, hence the holding down of the accelerator. Tires are going to be squealing (yours) and metal crunching and grinding (everyones), but they will move out of your way.

As you force your way through the cars may try to momentarily drag along side. This won't last more than a split second. If you are fortunate and these are the bad guys only vehicles you may luck out and blow out one or two of their tires in the process.

You are creating an open wound the barricade that allows you and anyone else behind you to follow.Push on through and get out of the kill zone.

Your car may cough an sputter but, as long as its moving you keep moving until it quits or you are a safe enough distance away to abandon it.

The key things to remember:
  • Hands are ten and two or nine and three.
  • Headlight is your front sight, center of the tire is your target.
  • Approach at about 50-55mph
  • Brake to 40ish mph at about 50 feet out
  • Accelerate right before impact and all the way through
  • Do not brake
  • Do not brake
  • Pray
Special thanks to Matchbox for their five pack for $5.00 in making this posting possible.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Failure to Comply

Last night the Wife and I went to our local gym to work out and as I rolled into the weight room I saw a bright pink flier on the community bulletin board that read :


It's being offered by a gal who titles herself as a thirty-year martial artist, and gave a brief course outline. All par for the course stuff, but there were two things that left me shaking my head. One was a cute little Charlie Brown/Lucy-esque cartoon at the bottom with the girl standing over the boy while his head swirled from being knocked out.

Seems innocent enough.

The other was "How to be more aware of your surroundings and avoiding dangerous places!"

I don't know the instructor, nor her course so this is not intended to be a "puff my chest out piece" about what I know over her. But there are weakened, albeit good intentions, set sub-consciously into the flier.

I had the opportunity last week to see a guy get cut off in traffic and proceed to verbally berate the driver now five cars ahead of him. A few minutes later we ended up at the same drive up ATM. When his turn came he allowed a guy to walk up behind his car and wait while he did his transaction. From the review mirror he was looking an craning in his neck to see where the guy on foot was, which was less than ten feet away. For all of his earlier traffic bravado he didn't have the gumption to break societal politeness and tell the guy on foot to back away from his car.
Understand this isn't about yelling and screaming, but about looking at someone who is rapidly invading your personal space and telling them to walk away.

I'm a follower of Christ, love my God, but I also know that a flat even toned "Back the Fuck Up." does wonders in situational avoidance.If you can't handle a verbal confrontation with the average person on the street you're gonna lose the real fight.

And when the real fight happens it is going to be bad, and by bad I mean violent.

We are taught early on and reminded as adults constantly that violence is bad and that it never solves anything, and that no one wins in a fight. This is simply untrue. In fact it is horribly untrue. This is the result of political correctness infesting everything. It skews how we set and train our minds to win.

Violence does solve problems.

Reactive violence can and does routinely stop evil offensive violence. When you are left (regardless of your sex) on the ground and fighting to win to keep your life violence is the answer...and it is the only answer. And you should not apologize nor back peddle for that.

Don't allow yourself to be drawn into the false expectations of some protective incantation like "...and I hope I never have to use it". No one in court will ever ask "and why didn't you ever tell people 'I hope I never have to use it'". If you're worried about your character ever being referenced in court then you should be concerned about how you conduct yourself in daily life and the measure of your character as a whole. Not some silly phrase useless phrase that can lead a moments hesitation when the crisis starts.

Using violence to save yourself is an intense experience and while we know that a condition white mindset sets you up to fail so can a condition yellow mindset if you don't know how to move beyond it and into the fight itself.

For far too long we have taught statements like "be aware your surroundings" and "avoid dangerous areas".

Those who sat on the planes that crashed in the World Trade Center were very aware of their surroundings. They were on a plane that had been taken over by terrorists with a bag of peanuts in their lap. And the rest of the populace is beginning to understand that dangerous places include going to church and the gym.

Some live in areas of increased danger, like the inner city and the majority of those who dwell there are working class folks trying to make do. Perhaps you can afford to make statements like "I would never live someplace where I can't sit on my front porch for fear of being shot.", but others can not. Neither could the folks who settled this land. Pioneers of this country lived in fear of Indian raids and having their scalps taken. Blacks in the south lived in fear of having their homes set on fire.....and their churches bombed.

Former NatSec Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice talked openly about living through the 16th street Baptist Church Bombing in September of 1963 and how her father (a pastor) and other men patrolled the streets at night with shotguns prepared to defend themselves against Night Raiders of the Ku Klux Klan.

The simple reality is we live in a world where single moms may have to leave the safety of their homes in the middle of the night and go find the errant teenager who hasn't come home at 2am. Telling her to avoid dark parking lots doesn't do her any good.

The Wife's job is not only located in a "bad area" but she also works with several dozen juvenile offenders...some of them sex offenders. Her feel good, do no harm school of social work feelings of ten years ago no longer exist.

The fight never will be what you want it to be, and you should train accordingly. Shooting tight little groups at seven yards with that pocket gun doesn't prepare you for the first time someone slams a fist into the side of your head and knocks you to the ground.

You can make a cushy statement like "well you never should have gotten in that predicament".

Nice statement. My profession is being paid to think and to be aware and I can tell you that everyone gets caught off guard, simply because we are human and human factors come into play. Always. You need to learn to react instantly when you are caught off guard just as much as you need to learn to read the signs of a rapidly escalating situation two blocks away.

The suburbanite mother who is loading kids and groceries into her mini van at 2pm on Thursday needs to learn to react when her thinking about seat belts on a car seat and the bread in the bag are interrupted by a would be rapist delivering a hard right to her face. Followed by trying to drag her into his mini van.

I don't care that she got a bruised face near as much as I do that no one ever taught her to pull a Spyderco Endura out of her waist band and slam it into the side of his face and back.

We must learn to understand both in society and the courtroom that when an individual is in place of brute force that they must fight/attack in order to win. Because at some point the defensive must become the offensive. In combat there is no such thing as a defensive attack, there is only a counter attack. A badman must....must be beaten back so far and with such intensity that he either flees or is killed.

If you can't handle the thought of your clothes covered in someone else's blood from fighting them off or a body laying dead in your kitchen after he has come to kill your family..and you. Then its time you made some harsh real life decisions about that little pistol you like to carry around and the consequences that come with it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dark Arts for Good Guys: When No One is Coming

There may come a point when you learn that no one is coming to help. Not from out of or in town. No local security spooks or your mother. Sometimes its because there is no money. It can be as simple as that, sadly enough. Other times (think Katrina) due to weather, communications can break down or can be completely absent.

And there you are.


Being left in the wind can drive you into a panicked state. Or.... it can be liberating.

In a live or die situation there can be an amazing clarity received, burdens that can be lifted, because here there is only one thing. Live.

Mentally, you apply a liberal dose of Rule #25 and you do what it takes to keep it.

So if you're cut off and the Calvary ain't coming then you go to them. That means getting mobile. Sooner or later you're just going to have to, and better to go by your own volition.

While there is never a clear cut answer to anything a mob or civil unrest does to a city, there is one thing you do know. Mobs are made up of individuals who at some point get tired and hungry. The day before they were leading a normal life just like you, so they aren't exactly rested up for the big event. Lulls have to happen at some point. They may not last long or be as quiet as you hoped for, but they will happen (usually a couple of hours before dawn). Don't be disillusioned into thinking that peace is restored its just a gap. And it maybe the gap before the real show starts. Be ready for it, and have your people ready to go.

Tell them to be ready to roll out when you and (a buddy) get back to the hotel.

Where are you going???

Stealing a car is not as difficult as you might think.

Backed into a corner where this becomes the only option to flee from a social meltdown the likely hood is that no one will care...or even notice.But you need to go about it intelligently. While there are several ways to go about hot wiring vehicles the two following are what I know work, thus I pass them along to you....for educational and nuclear meltdown purposes only. I could include a disclaimer here I suppose, but its implied. Besides with roughly over 1.2 million stolen cars (inside the U.S. alone), there aren't any big secrets here.

But understand where you are. Your about to commit grand theft auto so it better really be do or die. Because brother if its not, Bangkok has some real swell shit holes for jails and you can't dance, and you don't speak Thai (or muay either).


Rule 1 in obtaining vehicles without pre-approved permission. Stay away from something that is going to be missed (read:noticed). Trying to make down a muck-racked road with chickens all over in an E-Class gets you noticed (these don't float in lakes by the way). Where as a dented and scratched plain tan '91 Isuzu trooper found all over the world goes less noticed.

Think economy line vehicles (regardless of age). 1992 Cadillac DeVilles had integral key chip technology. So even older cars of luxury class can be a little more difficult to fire up. Base/Entry level vehicles are just that and tend to have fewer security features (if any) on them.

Work trucks, vans, shuttle buses, and taxis tend to be a little more loose in the ignition switch area from constantly being turned on an off. The same holds true for fleet vehicles and rental cars. They also tend to be more reliable than the average beater on the street, because of having in-house mechanics. Not to mention rows and rows of options.

Tow trucks sometimes have a book of master keys inside, not to mention tools, with the only thing separating you is a piece of glass. The nice option about this, is that it enables you to switch (and ditch) vehicles as need be.

Its worth mentioning that if you are moving a large group of people it maybe worth it to steal a shuttle bus or van for a few reasons. One is that it enables you all to stick together. They are also heavy vehicles that have good ramming potential (but a little more prone to being top heavy). Should you get caught by the the local police its a little easier to plead your case that you all are running for your lives (its as good a time as any to let those hysterical people cut loose with the crying too) and trying to get out. Yelling thank you over and over and telling him that he has saved you all doesn't hurt either.

And should it all go south and everyone get thrown in jail at least you won't be lonely.

The Second method is a little more involved, but a cordless drill a few smaller sized bits, a large and medium size flat head screw drivers should get you going.

They idea of forcing a flat head screw driver into the ignition and using it as a key to turn on the car is (allegedly) feasible, however if there are pins in the lock your hand isn't going to generate enough torque to break them and fire it up. In some cases though the cylinder can be popped out using a large flat head and then used to turn over the ignition (specifically a beautiful Black Jeep Cherokee 60th Anniversary Edition stolen on the same day Johnny Cash died, but I've moved on).

So as not to waste time position the drill on the keyhole about 2/3 of the way up and drill in about the length of a key. This destroys any lock pins and makes the key switch able to be turned on and off without a key. If the vehicle has pins in the ignition switch it has 2 sections of pins, followed by a spring, so drill it more than once, removing the drill each time to allow the bits of the lock inside to fall into place. Put the screwdriver in the same way you would a key (it doesn't have to go in deep because the pins are already broken) and turn.

It can also take any where from 1-10 minutes depending on your level of skill and luck. If it's not happening move on to the next vehicle, and then the next till you get one fired up. Once you are moving check the fuel level and if you don't have a full tank get one. Figure out if it takes gasoline or diesel too. If there aren't any petrol stations around you can always siphon gas from another tank (gas theft seems tame at this point doesn't it).

Get back to your people, get them loaded up and head out. Whether its to the border or the airport. Don't move any faster than the situation dictates. If you're fleeing driving fast is understandable, but otherwise keep it business as usual. Driving normal keeps you calm(er) and doesn't draw undesired attention.

When the time comes to ditch your vehicle reconnoiter the area (specifically airports and secured areas) for surveillance cameras. The last thing you want is to have your face matched with a stolen vehicle. Granted if the country has gone south its doubtful anyone is paying attention, but you need to maintain vigilance.

It will keep you sharp, alive and committed to rule # 25.


Our conversation had started with me asking “ So who shot you in the throat? ”, a basic conclusion on my part, b ecause on one sid...