Everyone recognizes that the world is an out of control dumpster fire right now. It seems like a lot of things are going very wrong at the same time.
With that said, I’m seeing two trends right now that worry me more than everything else with regards to criminal victimization.
The first is the obscene number of mass shootings that are happening in public places where young folks congregate. These aren’t the traditional “active killer” events many of us have been preparing for for years. These are far more random. Did you see the news from last weekend? If not, take the time to read the two articles linked below to get caught up.
What are the common similarities between most of these spree shooting events?
– Usually in urban public spaces
– Usually late at night
– Happening in large groups of young people with possible gang associations
– Most are in outdoor “party” spaces where participants are consuming alcohol and/or drugs
I know what most of you are thinking. I’m never going to go to one of those places. Problem solved. Most of you rightfully embrace John Farnam’s Rules of Stupid:
1. Go to stupid places
2. With stupid people (or where stupid people congregate)
3. At stupid times
4. To do stupid things.
Solid advice, but as my late friend Dr. William Aprill often stated: “But I love me some stupid people.” I bet that describes some of you as well.
While my risk tolerance/adventure quotient is a quite bit higher than most of the more intelligent folks reading this article, I generally try to avoid “stupid places” as much as possible…at least in the United States. Dodgy places in the developing world are irresistibly attractive to me, but I generally act smarter when I’m in the USA. The problem is that some of these shootings didn’t occur in “stupid places.”
The Tampa shooting happened on a street that is the center of the city’s nightlife. If you’ve gone out in Tampa, you’ve probably been there. I spent St. Patrick’s Day near the site of the shooting this year and had a great time. It didn’t seem like a particularly seedy or dangerous place. I’ll go to some sketchy neighborhoods by myself, but when I was out on St. Patrick’s Day, I had a date in tow. I generally won’t subject my female companions to the same level of risk I feel perfectly comfortable taking.
In fact, I took my date to a restaurant that Tom Givens recommended to me just down the street from the shootings. If I would take a date there and Tom Givens recommends a restaurant in the same neighborhood, you can’t really say it is a “stupid place.”
An ex-girlfriend lived in Indianapolis a few years ago. Her house was only a few miles away from that shooting location. We spent a lot of weekends shopping and dining a stone’s throw away from where the Indianapolis mass shooting took place. While the neighborhood isn’t the city’s best, it’s not the ghetto area most of you are envisioning. I felt perfectly comfortable traversing through that area and spending lots of time dining and shopping nearby.
Again, not a “stupid place.”
I embrace your commitment to criminal avoidance. It’s a good strategy. Stay away from where the bad guys hang out and your crime risk goes way down.
But the crime risk never goes to zero. You can do your best to avoid problem spots and problem people while still encountering this type of random violence. Have you thought about what you might do if you were caught up in an altercation between differing groups of people in a public space?
Before I start discussing optimal response strategies for random shootings in public venues, let’s look at the other global situation that is triggering alarm bells in my head.
Have you seen the large number of pro- Palestine or anti-Israel protests that are going on all around the country?
These protests are happening in the downtown business areas of most large cities as well as many college campuses. I think it would be relatively easy for some of my readers to encounter them despite a commitment to criminal avoidance.
My prediction is that these protests will continue to devolve and become more violent as the conflict between Israel and HAMAS continues. We might also start seeing pro-Israel counter protests as well. When these groups clash, you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire.
My biggest fear is that one of my readers will stumble into one of these protests or be in the area where one of the many mass shootings pops off. I worry that my readers will follow their training and draw their firearm to deal with a potential lethal force threat they perceive. That’s a losing proposition.
You off-duty cops and legally armed citizens have exactly one role in this situation: Make sure you and your family/friends don’t get shot. That’s it. End of lesson.
If I were to hear shots nearby, I would immediately get down on the ground or behind cover. I would assess where the shots are coming from and plan a path of retreat in the opposite direction, ideally moving between large pieces of cover as I make my escape. That’s it. There is absolutely nothing else you should do. Don’t draw your gun and attempt to shoot the “bad guy” here.
These are young thugs fighting other young thugs. These are gang bangers fighting other gang bangers. These are drunken idiots who decide to whip out a pistol when they are insulted. None of those situations involves you in any way, even if you are in danger of catching a stray round.
They don’t want to shoot you. The only way you will get hit is by accident. Don’t go looking for trouble. Don’t try to intervene. There is no “innocent third party” to protect. Let the dumb shits shoot each other. You don’t have to play their game.
And you don’t have to “be a good witness” either. If these jackasses get arrested, do you want them getting you and your family’s names, addresses, places of employment, and phone numbers? As soon as their court appointed attorney files for discovery, all of that information goes directly to them. Now you’ve become an active player in their game. And in that game, they don’t care about the same rules you do.
Don’t involve yourself in this stupidity. It will only harm you in the long term. If you intervene, you will either get shot by the thugs, shot by the cops, sued by the person you shoot, or arrested. If that doesn’t happen and you make a statement to the cops you take the chance of being hunted down by the arrested party’s crew at a future date before trial.
Say it again with me: “Not your people, not your problem.”
Get out. Not playing is the only route to victory.
If you are in a large public gathering and an argument breaks out, get as far away as possible. Stay far away from any of the protests in your town. If caught in a confrontation, seek cover and escape as soon as possible. Only draw your gun if your life is being directly threatened and your opportunity to escape if being actively blocked. Recognize that drawing your weapon in a situation like this will probably increase your risk of harm rather than decrease it.
The rules have changed. Your tactics have to change as well.