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My Army buddy Jeff has kicked my ass so often playing chess that I quit playing him. Jeff rocks the board because he has the ability to think multiple moves ahead. I’d ponder my next move for quite some time, but because he could process the next several possible moves, he’d usually snap off a move in seconds because he already knew what he wanted to do. This is the essence of preparation . . .

I know my reactions in a self-defense scenario will be faster if I think about them ahead of time. A few months ago, some punks flooded into a convenience store and just started grabbing things and raising hell. The clerks were behind thick layers of protective glass, but if I had been shopping when they came in, I would have found myself suddenly surrounded by fast moving kids stealing, shouting and destroying property.

In a more violent case, a minor riot broke out at the Mall of America a few days ago. The miscreants were attracted by rumors of a celebrity appearance. Watch the video and see the heavy aluminum chairs fly.

My grandkids were at the mall to see Santa, and I can only imagine what could happen to Seven or Eight if they’d been struck by a flying food court chair. I don’t know if anyone was hurt, but it’s not hard to imagine someone being seriously injured in a melee like that.

I now own a can of pepper gel, though I don’t carry it as often as I do my every day carry piece. In the convenience store scenario, my thought would be to back into a corner, keep my strong hand near my piece and start hosing down any a-hole who approaches with pepper gel. Where retreat isn’t possible, in a confined space with more targets than you have cartridges, I’d be hesitant to engage with a firearm.

In a situation like the mall riot, clearly retreat is a more viable option. I also imagine that pepper spray or gunfire would induce more panic than flying chairs, perhaps creating more injuries than otherwise might happen as people trample one another.

Some odious punk hurling a chair into a crowd is quite a bit different than one coming at me or my family with the chair held as a club. Looking at the distances – greater than seven yards by my reckoning – I do not see that as a situation for a gun.

What do you all think? What would you do if a riot broke out at an open shopping mall, or a flash mob appeared at the local Quickie Mart while you’re picking up a bottle of Mountain Dew?

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  1. No tactical mystery here guys,the best thing to do gun or no gun is to just GTFO.

    Let us not forget that there will be an aftermath of whatever riot you are stuck in. In this day and age someone in the crowd will be videotaping events. A citizen who pulls a gun and uses it to blast his way out of a riot risks being caught on camera killing ‘unarmed kids’. The calls on behalf of the rioters’ family for the gun user’s head may be loud enough for the DA to try anything to lock said user up.

    This of course assumes no ne’er do wells in the riot are armed. A pistol won’t save you if multiple people charge you with knives or sharp improvised weapons.

    Best to find the nearest exit and get out.Save the mob heroics for TV where it belongs.

    • +1 concur. Thanks Tim for the thought experiment.

      Heres my take: following Ayoob and others who recommend practicing scenarios just like you practice dry-fires and malfunction drills, and range time to put 8 of 10 in the pie plate. Until you have practiced, you are at risk and might not be fully ready to CCW.

      1. I am a chunky fiftyish guy who is most likely to break out in hives shopping at a mall. So the only reason I would be there is with my kids, if the wife cant take them, and my responsibility is first to see to their safety, and that means in almost any scenario, as a civilian,
      contrary to LEO or MIL type training – who run to the sound of gunfire, my job is to go the opposite direction, to get out of the way and let the cops do theirs.

      2. My Condition Yellow scan and SA includes marking the back way out of the restaurant, bar, store, mall, camping area, whatever, and having a plan how to move there expeditiously.

      3. Only if confronted and no way around it, does that change-
      and I try to also dry-fire and practice the mental habit of making the decision to go from Yellow to Orange to Red as fast as needed-
      if you consider it only takes a couple seconds for a bad guy to get to you from 10 yards out = you have to be in the habit of practicing answering these questions fast, in your hypothetical.

      a. is there CAPABILITY for lethal harm? (chairs thrown wildly= maybe)
      b. is there demonstrated INTENT to harm me (no- its random passsersby who are collateral damage from at best some dumb greedy kids, and at worst a fight between rival gangs)
      c. is the need to react IMMEDIATE – “Now! = Condition Red” ~Col Cooper. (No, I am not pursued or confronted, so the solution is “Run Away, Run Away, said Brave Sir Robin” ~ Monty Python).

  2. They have these punks on video and they should all be prosecuted, and do some jail time as a lesson to all criminals. Now you can’t pull a gun in either of these videos, so the best thing to do is get the hell out of dodge before you become a victim.

    • Willing to bet that there are no prosecutions, and if there are, the sentences are wrist-slaps.

      Also note that the Mall of America is a no-carry zone by order of the owners, Simon. They also have a mall up here in Manchester NH. Which I go to only if I have no other choice. As in once in the last six months. And when I go, I carry anyway.

      My guess is that you would get into more trouble defending yourself than the perps would for attacking you [“they were such nice children; why did you have to shoot them?”]. That being said, sometimes there is no choice. And that is a good argument for carrying multiple magazines or speed loaders.

      • My guess is that you would get into more trouble defending yourself than the perps would for attacking you [“they were such nice children; why did you have to shoot them?”].

        The news here in Detroit is, daily, littered with such reasoning.

        Whenever a perp is shot dead by a would-be victim or a member of the Enforcer Caste, there is always a grieving mother or grandmother on the news describing what a tragedy it was, and wondering why little Demetrius had to be shot – he was such a good kid, he played high school basketball, he was an aspiring rapper, father of X number of children… Oh, the humanity!

      • The issue with the mall of America is that the landlord/owners/operators CANNOT legally ban guns. Their TENNANTS may do so, but the landlord may not.

        That’s the gist of 624.714, subdivision 17(e) of Minnesota state law.

  3. If you notice a lot of gang activity in a mall or store on a permanent basis; I would advise shopping elsewhere. I would also advise not shopping in bad areas of town.

  4. ST has it right. You’re not responsible for stopping the disturbance. Armed or not, just get as far away as quickly as you can, especially if you have others with you.

    Your carry piece is an absolute last resort, meaning only if the thugs are directly targeting you or members of your group. As others have said, any other scenario where you shoot someone is likely to end up with you being arrested and charged with a crime, and/or sued by the person you shot or their family members. Not to mention being targeted for retribution by angry associates of said person.

  5. Hey at least one girl in the flash mob at the store picked up a package and put it back on the shelf at :53. She could have been worse.

  6. Reviewing the flash mob tape at the convenience store, you really would have no idea they are miscreants until they start leaving without paying. I also only see one or two areas where one could retreat.

    Same at the MoA – It happened fast. GTFO really is the best option, and as we all know every scumbag has a mother who loves him – and a lawyer who will find her.

  7. If you’re a witness with a usable escape route, no shoot. If a mob of people is about to rush you with intent to do harm, shoot until click. If a mob of crazies is going to disarm you and harm you with your weapon, they should be forced to beat you with the thing because it’s empty.

    How about we just make it legal for retailers to deploy stingball grenades and beanbags?

  8. Was GG a punk or a stand up comedian? I never could figure that one out ha.

    If Darby Crash was alive he wouldn’t shoot folks over a pair of Air Jordans.

  9. In the case of the convenience store:
    How about leaving and locking the doors on the way out. Anybody left locked inside gets arrested.

    I would think something similar could have been done at the Mall Of America riot. Lockdown the mall, and almost noone leaves until the rioters have been arrested.

  10. #1 strategy for dealing with any riot situation, whether indoors or outdoors, is get out.

    If you’re in a big enough riot situation, guess what? You’ll run out of ammo long before you run out of rioters who will beat you to death with whatever they have at hand.

    Identify an exit and use it.

  11. I think we need to make a clear distinction between what I would like to do as a citizen to curtail such behavior, and what I ought to do for self-protection.

    My pepper gel has an ultraviolet dye that can be used to identify an attacker. Not sure how legal or wise it would be to hose an entire flash mob down for ripping off a neighborhood merchant, no matter how satisfying or helpful to the prosecution.

    May not be illegal, perhaps even laudable from a law-and-order perspective, but definitely not wise –

  12. As ever, we’re stuck in the middle of what would be lawful and what would be right. Funny how often “lawful” and “right” go in opposite directions.

  13. If you’re in the middle of the mob, you’re in a world of hurt. Can’t shoot your way out, and short of a stingball grenade you’re unlikely to change the events that occur. Mob behavior occurs because there is a sense of invulnerability associated with being part of a large mass of people, it’s a kind of psychosis. Pain (e.g., stingball grenades, tear gas. etc.) tends to break the psychosis, people come to realize that yes they are vulnerable and they lose connection to the mob. I am unaware of stingball grenades being legal for civilian ownership and use, those are likely LEO-only. In terms of inflicting pain on the portion of the mob that can reach you, pepper spray is your best bet, one of the big bear foggers with a good reach. Hard to conceal, but handy if you need to push back a mob. Of course, at that point you’ve converted a mob psychosis into specific anger at you for spraying them with pepper spray, so that’s probably not ultimately productive. Short of stingball or pepper spray, a noisemaking device (e.g., something that sounds like automatic weapons fire) would be a good choice to thin out the crowd around you. People don’t like loud noises.

    Your best bet is to always keep a good map of the exits from wherever you are, try to stay positioned so you can see what’s coming, and use the exits when appropriate. And remember that the point at which you decided you need to leave is probably somewhere between 30-90 seconds later than you SHOULD have left, and depart with some alacrity.

  14. All the perps in the video were well fed and in obvious good spirits so the next time someone tells you we don’t take care of the less fortunate and this is the result, ask them if any starving skinny people were taking food out of that store..

  15. I was just at the Mall of America food court today. Keep your eyes open, stay away from groups of utes roaming around, and when things start to happen, GTFO. If you can’t do that, retreat back to where they can only be on one side and encourage them to leave you alone by displaying what they can expect if the behavior continues.

  16. I have seen a riot firsthand. It was an alcohol-fueled college protest run amok, and rest assured no weapon would have saved me that night from being jacked up by a 50 strong group of drunk and violent people if I was in the mix.Being in the riot is bad news. My first cue there were problems was seeing a police cruiser fly by with Darth Vader at the wheel. Once I did a double take I noticed it was merely a riot-vest clad officer speeding toward the campus quad….and then I saw the mob. If things pop off won’t be time to ‘evaluate’ options. Once its clear youre inside or near a location of a mob action its time to get out, fast, before the cops launch tear gas and /or start arresting everyone in sight. This was before I acquired a CCW permit, and now that I have one I will definitely GTFO of any area with mob activity. Being jailed for rioting with a gun is to be avoided whenever possible.

  17. I’m not closing this thread, but I am going back and removing all comments related to the mob’s racial makeup. This is NOT to say that it isn’t an important area worthy of debate. Just that I don’t think it’s firearms-related enough to justify the digression, which is descending into a flame war.

    If someone wants to pen an article explaining why African Americans perpetuate more gun crimes than other racial groups, or suffer more from gun violence, email [email protected].

  18. I was at the MOA for the flash mob scene. Very disconcerting! Not a situation where I would want to draw my weapon there were absolutely no other options. Pepper spray seemed somewhat more appropriate at the time. Our course of action was to leave and reenter Nordstrom from the outside since it was locked down from the interior of the mall. For what its worth the Nordstrom entrance is not posted:)


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