The headline above comes from reader Ryan C in response to this [via nytimes.com]: “When the first shots of automatic gunfire burst out, Raju, a member of a local gun club, was waiting in line in a bank at the Westgate shopping mall. He crouched down, pulled out his phone and feverishly pecked out a text message: ‘I am inside and I can confirm this is not a robbery.’ Within minutes, his fellow gun club members, neighborhood watch volunteers, off-duty police officers and other armed Samaritans rushed to the mall . . .

They found no command center, no SWAT team — in short, no coordinated government response as heavily armed Islamist militants shot civilians at will.

Waiting for the police is a viable, indeed desirable strategy during a violent attack. Grab friendlies, hole-up in a safe space, assume a defensive position and wait for the cavalry to show up. If that’s doable, do it. It’s a lot better self-defense strategy than engaging the bad guy(s) and risking life and limb.

Provided it is. And even if it is, a defensive strategy has an expiry date. At some point, something will happen. The bad guys will go away, pretend to go away or attack—perhaps before help arrives. Cops can take a lifetime to arrive. They can go to the wrong address. They can go to the right address, look around and leave.

In a defensive gun use, in a defensive position, you need a plan B. What do I do next? When do I do it? How do I do it? What should other people with me (where applicable) do? More than that, you need to revise your plan constantly, in accordance with what’s going on around you. Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Repeat. Even when “acting” means waiting.

One more thing: don’t assume the good guys will win. A cop or cops can show up and lose a gunfight with the bad guys. Then what? Then the stakes are even higher. What are YOU going to do?

18 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: “When the SHTF, you are your own first responder”

  1. This is why I don’t shop in Nairobi. I don’t care how good the prices may be, I just won’t do it. And don’t even ask about the Food Court.

  2. Man, that video hits hard. You can feel that woman’s terror. That guy shows us what real courage is. Whomever was video taping that had some stones too.

    • Not sure. At least West Edmonton Mall (previously the largest in North America, prior to the opening of the Mall of the Americas) has an indoor gun range with guns you can rent. Unless the BGs get there first, I know where to to tool up.

      http://www.shootingcentre.com/

      It’s pretty cool – and it’s where I introduced my lovely wife to shooting, much to the horror of her sister.

    • Much as you saw here – take notes and consider training for what-ifs.

      I defer to LEO’s and anyone with current brief-in at fusion centers, but from attending a seminar by Col. Dave Grossman,(“Bullet-proof Mind”) who DOES train and consult for them,

      the mall attack or Beslan school scenario is what concerns many the most, for future events, and how to train for them is the biggest challenge. Not surprising to me at all the Kenyans were slow and ineffective using army troops in a relatively affluent 3rd world nation. Just look how long its taken for effective response to aircraft hijackings and hostage releases/assaults on the ground to evolve from lessons learned over the last 30 years, from Entebbe, etc..

      Since no SWAT team can be everywhere at once, and we have seen from the relatively disorganized, multi-entity response at the WH, and in Boston, we can expect it to be chaotic, and slow, compared to what you need if you are there inside, despite the very best efforts to prep and respond.

      So its only logical that it really comes down to doing what you can, for yourself and loved ones, until the first responders get there. You can be a sheep, or a sheepdog, when the wolves come. Or hope they wont, and take your chances that you dont end up as the statistic.

      Our kids and grandkids will look back on the War on Islamic Terror, much as we did the Cold War- except it will be longer, and more difficult, and much of it on our own soil. Thats the nature of terrorism- and I expect some of these are practice runs, for exactly that, just as the embassy bombings in Africa, the USS Cole, Khobar Towers, etc series were working up to 9/11.

      • Keep in mind that at Beslan and in Nairobi the bad guys were able to prepare the sight before the event. There is not a whole lot anyone could have done to keep them from initiating their attacks.

        These types of terrorists (like the plan to take down WTC on 9/11) may be crazy (to our minds), but they are NOT stupid. If the intention is not discovered before the attackers are ready to strike your only hope, really, is to be close to an exit with no BG between you and the nearest cover outside the kill zone.

        Do not underestimate your enemy.

        • I would actually probably suggest LOOKING for them. It is the last thing they would likely expect. Any terrorist who has that much time to plan probably is just hearding the crowd to another gunman or an IED.
          Being said, I’ve never had to deal with this and haven’t trained for it so it’s just a thought.

        • Very true.

          And the tips from that seminar were:

          1. dont follow the crowd- you may get herded and channeled, as in Beslan, to a confinement area or kill-zone.

          2. Break out, find the exit- and watch for multiple attackers.

          3. run as fast as you can to get far away, if you have loved ones to protect.

          4. After they are secure, then and only then get back into the fight and understand you may be a victim of blue-on-blue by first responders, EVEN IF YOU ARE AN LEO with a badge, off-duty attire, if you have your gun out.

          So consider keeping hand on holster until you need it.

  3. #1 survival tip, avoid gun free zones like the plague. I don’t have a CCW because of the potential for what happened in Missouri, but I like that there are people mpore trusting of the gov then me in places where I shop.
    Go to the Mall to get mauled is a slogan to remember, and not just in Chicago.

  4. With the reports of how much planning went into this Kenya attack, I would bet that if/when Islamic terrorists try to hit a mall in the US of A, they will pick a mall, or malls, in gun free states. Sure they could first try and hit the Big 5, or whatever other sporting good stores that sell guns in malls, but why would they even pick a mall with that kind of wild card?

    • I hate to be the first to use the dreaded P-word (gasp), but damn it, PROFILE these bastards!

      We will fall as a civilization and a society if we fail to recognize that while individual or even paired attacks may be home-grown, there is no large group of white guys likely to plan and execute a terrorist attack on a soft target inside the United States of America. We MUST be ready and willing to first look with suspicion on every person who appears to be of middle-eastern descent and then apologize after, if necessary. It is unfortunate that this may cause distress to Muslims who are not radicalized, but perhaps in the end it will give the 90% who are not radical the cajones to slap down the 10% who are. Until then, if it looks like a duck….

  5. As my friend tells me, “Evil finds a way”. The only reason why Good prevails over Evil is because we are numerically superior and eternally vigilant. For every one person who would do evil with a gun, there are 100 good people who would take a bullet and plug evil person with their own — I’m proud to belong to TTAG.

  6. There are still places where crime is low and CCW is the norm. I did some shopping then got a hair cut in a local mall this evening. I ditched my cover garment to reveal my 1911 and 2 spare mags on my belt for the hair cut at a Regis chain store in the mall. The lady who was attending me hung my cover up for me, eye balled my weapon, then cut my hair without comment. When it was done she asked if I’d put my cover up back on before I walked away from her chair, presumably so as not to frighten others. She helped me into my jacket and that was all. No fuss, no muss. Perhaps the OH,WV,KY tristate is simply the most gun friendly zone there is, or perhaps people here are just more practical.

    I suppose it’s possible that the more of us they encounter the more normal it will be. What was that, open or concealed carry?

  7. Thank God that guy was there to help them… that woman was so scared that she basically was laying there waiting for her and her kids turn to die, though she obviously had the means to escape.

    Just goes to show you, the most important thing is a life or death situation is the will to live.

  8. Between the Navy Yard and Westgate I no longer go to public spaces unarmed unless it’s a felony, i.e,, I have to go to the court house or government building. I will live with the embarrassment of being escorted from the mall if it means that I survive an attack by if some crazy shows up to shoot the gun free space.

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