One of the major themes of this series: DO SOMETHING! If you’re in a life-threatening situation, you have to overcome your initial, instinctive urge to freeze and take authoritative action. Hopefully, that means run. Avoidance should always be plan A. But it’s not always possible. If you find yourself looking at the business end of a gun, and your gun is holstered, you want to think long and hard about reaching for your gat. The chances of outdrawing a drawn gun are lower than an ant’s abdomen. The chances that the perp’ll shoot and miss are higher, but who likes those odds? You’ve really got three choices . . .
1. Do what you’re told
In a convenience store robbery, the bad guy or guys will probably be concentrating on getting money from the cash register. If you don’t see any obvious clues that they’re murderous—moving employees to the back room, shooting a “warning shot”, shooting the clerk, acting like psychos—it may be best to let them grab ‘n go.
On the street? Same deal. If they want your wallet give them your wallet. Other locations have other rules. If the bad thing’s going down in your house or somewhere else that’s private (e.g., an antique store), acquiescing to the bad guys’ wishes could be an extremely foolish move. As in fatal.
Like any Defensive Gun Use (DGU) it’s a judgement call—at a time when your judgement will be severely impaired by the thought that you or your loved ones are about to die. Doesn’t matter. Fight mental lock-up with stress-based training and, regardless of your level of preparedness going in, all your will.
Even if you’re doing what you’re told, plan an attack and a retreat strategy. In other words, if you submit, choose to submit. So you can choose to run and/or attack when you get the chance.
2. Run / hide
As I said above escape and evade are always your best option. If you can’t leave the scene at the beginning of the incident, you still might be able to do so sometime in the middle. There is nothing wrong with running from violence or potential violence as it occurs. Remember: you’re not a cop. Whether or not you’re carrying a firearm, it’s not your job to resolve the situation. Period.
You may not be able to run. You may be blocked, physically incapable or have children with you. Look for/move to concealment. Bad guys in full adrenalin flow are highly visual; they’re scanning the environment for threats. If they “suddenly” can’t see you, they may not remember you exist. On other hand, if you move “suddenly” it could freak them out. So . . . sidle.
If you can get to concealment, draw your weapon and wait. Make that draw your weapon discreetly and hold it discreetly. Best case, the bad guys will get what they want and leave. Oh, and motion for your kids, wife or friends to move away from you. If a gunfight breaks out, you’re a bullet magnet.
Jimmy Hoffa had a rule: charge a gun, run from a knife. And he put it into practice too, disarming a potential assassin (in court no less). Keep this option in mind when you’re at gunpoint. A small nudge against a barrel will move a weapon off-target. Combine that with some extreme violence (from you) and you may be able to give yourself enough time to draw your gun and defend yourself. Or run.
It’s also true that a gun is not a death ray. Gunshots are survivable. If you have to take one for the team—even if it’s just team you—it might be better than allowing yourself or your loved ones to be murdered. Who knows? All DGU situations are different. But they share at least one strategic similarity: when you’re in the thick of things, a bad decision is better than no decision. Even if that decision is to do nothing.
Strange but true.