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It’s often said that piloting a commercial aircraft is 90 percent boredom and ten percent terror. Other than the odd downdraft or mechanical failure, most people assume the terror part has to do with take-offs and landings. True dat. But fear-of-flying folk take that to mean that take-offs and landings are really dangerous. Not so. Going up and coming down are only relatively dangerous. They’re the bit of the flight where the pilots can’t kick back, check the markets and concentrate on not passing gas. For an armed citizen, the parallel is clear: the most dangerous part of the day occurs when you’re entering or exiting a car or building. To wit this from TTAG commentator Robin Paul . . .

I have a S&W 686 by my bedside and a 870 shotgun as well to protect me inside my home. But nothing to protect me in my driveway going out to my car! I was stabbed and my car stolen, purse, cell phone, etc, right in my driveway getting ready to go to work. Now I panic every morning since. And F***** Calif doesn’t allow the Taurus Public Defender or the S&W Governor. Small enough to be an equalizer…..I have lived here all my life but this Liberal crap is getting intolerable!!!!

Four spears!!!! That’s some major league agita. Aside from the political broadside against what Joe Matafome lovingly calls “Commiefornia,” Robin has a message for all of us: watch those transitions.

The nightmare self-defense scenarios for most armed law abiding citizens: a street mugging, a meth-crazed robber (or two) invading their home, or a spree killer letting loose in a public place. While horrific, these are not the self-defense scenarios you’re looking for.

The “real” danger lies elsewhere. Violent attacks are most likely to occur during transitions. When you’re going to or exiting from a car or building; when you think you’re about to be safe. That’s because predators do what predators do: hide, wait, ID vulnerable prey and attack. Speed, surprise and violence of action.

The best way to protect yourself against sneak attacks: avoid places where they occur. Don’t go to/park in bad neighborhoods. Don’t use bank ATMs at night. Another excellent idea: take preventative measures. Install, advertise and use an alarm system. Don’t leave your garage unlocked. Don’t keep bushy plants right next to your doors. Install security lighting. Buy a dog (preferably a Schnauzer). Etc.

In terms of armed self-defense, have a gun. And get ready. Not paranoid OMG ready. Ready as in don’t commit to entering or exiting your car, home or business unless you think it’s safe to do so. If in doubt, slow down and/or wait. Feel free to run your so-called OODA loop a couple more times: observe, orient, decide and then act.

By the same token, be prepared for fight or flight. Look for escape routes and cover. Be ready to draw your weapon; don’t carry anything in your strong hand (or at least be prepared to drop it like it’s hot) and don’t walk into or out of these transitionary spaces with your coat zipped up.

Consider keeping a snubbie in your coat pocket. It’s one of the best ways—if not the best way—to quickly prepare for trouble. If you’re feeling a disturbance in the force, you can have your hand on our revolver (with its million pound trigger pull), ready to rock and roll. If needs be, you can shoot through your coat.

[Note: never leave your revolver in your jacket. Don’t assume you’ll “keep an eye” on it. As soon as you remove the garment, place your gat in a safe or in your front pocket. If you can’t do this (a trip to the bathroom works for cubicle dwellers), don’t carry this way.]

Bottom line: armed citizens need to pay more attention to their surroundings as they reach their final destination (and I don’t mean it in the “we should have died” sense of the term). Ironically, you’re least safe when you think you’re about to be the most safe. Stay safe by activating your Spidey senses and readying yourself for the worst case scenario.

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  1. Agreed. Most assaults happen in these transitions. My wife works at a hospital and goes to work /comes home at odd times of the early morning/late evening. It’s the walk to/from the parking garage that worries me most. Of course, it seems no large hospital is in a nice sort of area and in the summer there was a man who made a number of attempted abductions of women at knife-point. More recently, there’s a group of people (usually 3) who are robbing people at gunpoint and usually beating them up in the process.

    • I work in a hospital in downtown Cincinnati, and it’s made me wish that hospitals weren’t designated gun-free zones. The only reason I venture into the jungle (aka the city) is when going to work, and that’s the time when I want most to carry, yet I can’t and don’t feel comfortable leaving a gun in the car for some junkie to break in and find…. Gun free safe zones don’t make anyone safe

      • Columbus here. I’ve been to Cincy before and there’s some nasty areas around the big hospital there. What is it about hospitals that make crime so attractive around them?

        • Who’s the easiest prey? The sick/their families, and the unarmed.
          Who’s the richest prey? Doctors, lawyers, and celebrities.

          Where do all of these people meet? The hospital.

          Thats my guess. And new hospitals build in urban areas to reach he most needy and the largest population. Turning them into treasure troves for criminal activities.

          • I live 50 miles from Cincy and try to stay away from it. I am south of Greensburg IN. Indy can be bad as well.

          • Think about it, a hospital built deep in an urban city cuts the commute time for the typical bad guy, he lives in or near that neighborhood and knows the streets and alleys better than the folks that work there.. The docs and nurses typically live out in the suburbs, and get distracted by fumbling with car keys, playing with their phone, etc.

  2. Great article, RF, thanks.

    All of it is corroborated by the real world experience of a great book I just read and recommend: The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse. The author describes what really happens (or at least what happened in Argentina) when the SHTF – there are a lot of similarities to what’s been brewing in Europe and the U.S. Hint: it’s not about defending against zombies, TEOTWAWKI, or surviving in the woods and having to start your cooking fire by rubbing sticks together – instead, it’s mostly about dealing with a large increase in poverty and crime. But, as you say, amidst all of that, life goes on.

    He says exiting and entering our home garages via electric door openers is a particularly vulnerable time (it takes forever for those doors to open and close), and to be especially vigilant then – and eliminate any hiding places (bushes, walls, etc) near the garage – if someone tails you into your garage and the door closes, it’s not good.

  3. The Gift of Fear is an excellent read about avoiding dangerous situations. One of the the simpler yet effective concepts it mentions is basically “Don’t let your mind race imagining threats that aren’t there, this only dulls your actual animal instinct. If however you do genuinely feel something is amiss, don’t doubt your instinct for even a second, take
    immediate action.”

    • It’s a great book about avoidance, but my takeaway from the book was that Gavin DeBecker seems to be quite against acting in self-defense.

      • I agree. I read the book, and my takeaway is that Becker is deathly afraid of guns and thinks everyone else should be too. Nevertheless, there’s a good message there. If you sense something is wrong, act on that sense.

  4. Buckling the kids into child seats is a really risky act. The door is open, your occupied with finding seat belts, trying to thread it in, between cars. A thug can come up behind and you’re in trouble. No room to draw and your child is right there.My child gets in the back and I buckle the belt from the front seat. Sometimes my child takes care of it themselves.If this isn’t practical, check around you for someone sitting in a car, or near you that is paying attention to what you are doing.

  5. I was always taught that when you are just about ready to get into our get out of your vehicle is one of the most vulnerable times for ambush. It makes good sense. If you were gonna jump some one, how would you do it? Thats the way you have to think. Sure, some criminals are dumb, but you gotta watch out for the ones that are just as smart as you or me.

    This brings to mind a vivid example from a few weeks ago. I was out fairly late in Seattle, dancing at a local jazz club and enjoying the band. I was in a less than reputable part of Seattle (Which is still very safe compared to most anywhere else in the U.S) and when I went to walk back to my vehicle, I noticed that there was a car parked very close to my door. Close enough it would have been a struggle to get into the drivers side. This is a classic ambush technique as far as I’m concerned.

    So I went across the street, got a pack of smokes and a cup of coffee, and loitered around, watching my vehicle. Sure enough, twenty minutes later (Around 2:20AM) a couple of rough looking characters with hooded sweatshirts slinked over to the car, looked around, and checked their watch. Then they pulled out and drove away.

    They were watching the club/bar for people coming out at closing time, people were maybe a little bit inebriated or tired. People try and attack you when you’re at your weakest. I’m very glad that I noticed this, because I am not allowed to carry a firearm in places that serve booze, and I would have had to confront the two men alone, unarmed, and unafraid.

    Goes to show you that situatonial awareness will serve you better than any firearm you can buy.

  6. I live in a crappy suburb that a “Shots Fired” call is a priority 2 at best if no one has been hit (thats the response time and attendance it gets, I swear). When I get home from work I pull into the driveway and check my mirrors. I pocket carry same pocket as my house keys (in addition to ankle carry), pistol on top in pocket and I get out of the car weapon in my weak hand, keys in my strong hand to approach my door each night. Weak hand lets me avoid causing undue panic as that side is away from passing traffic and no one will see my heat (not like anyone would bat an eye) and I survey as I take the nine steps and open my door.

    A good ambush is done in an enclosed space, fast and where your victim feels safest. That is why your driveway is a hot zone.

  7. I am finicky of where I live and travel. I really try to stay out of cities and urban areas. I am not big into bars and bad parts of town. Shopping malls and large city gas stations can be dangerous as well. I tend to shop in hick towns for that reason.

  8. It all boils down to if you would rather go to jail or the hospital or the morgue. If those are your choices, you live in the wrong place and need to leave, or you need to determine what’s more important to you. Believe me the look on mister bad guy’s face, when he notices your snarl and the .45 pointed directly at his nose, is priceless.

    How strange it is that one cannot legally protect themselves, in so called civilized society. How stranger still, that we have constitutional rights to do so, which are ignored by government, thus causing injuries and deaths that are the direct result.

  9. We had a doctor decide to take out another doctor who was the chairman of the Arkansas state medical board. Seems the first doc didn’t like the way a decision went after his hearing. The chairman was pulling out of his driveway when he saw a tire and wheel laying at the end of his driveway. Of course he got out and moved the tire to the side of the drive. Under the tire was a handy little grenade, spoon up, pin removed. A few seconds after he lifted the tire he caught the blast. He recovered after lots of surgery but he lost an eye.

    The transitions are the most dangerous times. You pull into your garage, reach up and push the remote control button while you grab what you need to take in with you. You didn’t notice the slender fellow who came around from behind the shrub and stepped over the safety beam, then dropped to the concrete and eased under the back of your car as the door finished its trip down the track. He now has all night to finish his work. Oh, you happen to be tonight’s job.

    The doc who aspired to murder is now convicted and serving a long, long sentence. Thanks to Robert for another good thread.

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