Dear Diary: 30 Days to Conceal Cary, Weekend Edition II½

So while I was eating lunch yesterday in the BBQ joint of my choice, I caught myself doing a scan of the room. Now keep in mind, since the day I realized I needed to be situationally-aware 24/7 (around the time my daughter was born, if you must know), I make it a habit to look for emergency exits, check choke points, get a quick read on the room for potential trouble – that sort of thing – whenever I enter a public place. Is that weird? And how do guns enter into it?

Room-scanning may be a little weird to you, but I’m not doing it with the idea in mind of what would happen if the place were overrun by terrorists. Actually, that scenario doesn’t logically enter into it, at least not if we’re playing the odds. I’m far more concerned with some idiot walking in to rob the joint at gunpoint, or maybe a Luby’s of Waco-style assault with a pickup truck-driving madman who is intent on slaughtering as many as he can before the cops punch his ticket.

Crazy? Maybe a little. But what about fire? What about if the power goes out? Tornado? You see you need the same kind of intel for ALL of those scenarios. So pick one. I don’t care. You wanna feel better about your SA mindset by telling yourself, I’m just doing my due diligence in case of a natural disaster/Act of God thing, I’m good with that. Long as I’m prepared, your ass is your own problem.

But I noticed that carrying a gun altered my mindset for my little 30-second SA drill. I didn’t by default think, how would I get out in case of a tornado, I thought, let’s say we had to deal with three bad guys robbing the joint. And let’s say they were going to herd us all into the back room. NOW what?

You see, ever since that fast food holdup in Texas where the employees were herded into the walk-in freezer and executed, I’ve been just the least little bit paranoid about armed robberies in restaurants and other public places. I’m pretty convinced that the likelihood of me encountering such a thing is fairly insignificant. On the other hand, my ex sat through a stick-up at a Starbucks, so this kind of thing does happen.

And I realize that, even if I’m armed, the likelihood is that I’d choose to stay quiet and not draw my weapon, largely because unless the bad guys shoot someone or I think my own life (or my daughter’s) is in eminent danger, I won’t need to risk a shooting. Fine. But that “herd the sheeple in to the back room and eliminate witnesses” worries the Hell outta me. So I like to pie the room, imagining scenarios whereby I can work it out where I live, even if the bad guys have to take dirt naps.

That brings me to the whole subject of the quick draw. Apologies to Messers Hanna and Barbera, but as much as I loved the alter-ego of El Kabong as a kid, I just don’t see a quick draw as a scenario that I’d have to deal with in maybe 1 out of 10,000 armed responses.

Let’s back up and take the restaurant scenario. Bad guy(s) enter and announce, “this is a stick up.” Now I’ve carefully chosen my place in the room, based on trying to get a decent, unobstructed view, easy exits, and nothing at my back. I like corners near exits. Sue me. So from that vantage point, I can survey the room. Bad guy(s) have to watch all the people in the place. I have to watch only the bad guy(s).

Advantage: patrons. Bad guy(s) would presumably be hyper-aware of things like sudden movements. A quick draw would be the Mother of All Sudden Movements. They presumably are already armed and ready to shoot. Advantage: bad guy(s). So a smooth, slow, careful presentation of a firearm would be better than something you’ve seen on every episode of Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, or Bonanza.

Now, of course, if you’re in a situation where the bad guy(s) outnumber the patrons, or you’re unduly exposed, you are S.O.L. and not much will help you. But let’s assume all is not lost. Okay. In this situation, you are likely going to need to have your weapon accessible but as far from obvious as possible. That leaves out fanny packs, ankle holsters, and possibly even pocket holsters, if you are seated. Belt holsters (inside OR outside the waistband), shoulder holsters (inside or outside the shirt) and for the ladies, (tactical) purse carry seem to be a better idea.

We should also consider what’s going to attract a bad guy’s attention. If your eyes are darting around the room, your body is tense, and you look like a panther about to spring, I’d imagine that will give off “hero vibes” more so than if you have a more relaxed body posture. Just sayin.’ So along with everything else, you’ve got to worry about the tactical sitch, what YOU look like to the bad guys AND how to get to your friggin’ gun.

In my scenarios, I think I’d be rolling over the possibilities, probable outcomes, and odds in my head. At least this would give me something to think about. I’d be hoping that I didn’t look like a threat to the bad guys, (you know – the way an Air Marshall in a crewcut and suit has that “shoot me first” vibe on a plane) and I’d be able to be off their radar as much as possible. I’d likely be weighing the odds of getting the pistol in hand, regardless of if I had to use it. And then I’d likely sit and wait, hoping for a way out without gunfire.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see anything wrong with training for smooth draws and ways to present a weapon seamlessly. But I think the need for such a thing is less than a lot of people imagine. I’d be much more concerned with getting my gun in hand undetected, getting the safety off, maintaining trigger discipline, and trying to insure that I didn’t accidentally shoot someone (especially the WRONG someone) in the midst of the adrenalin-fueled event.

That was my lunch. How was yours?