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Stop & Rob (courtesy

Over at, retired police officer Sara Ahrens councils readers how to develop a defensive mindset. (She calls it a divergent mindset, but I thought the movie was particularly dull.) According to Sarah, it’s not all about the gun, stupid. “If we conclude that the only response to a life-or-death situation is with a gun, then we impose limits and jeopardize chances for survival. Without identifying a ‘Plan B’ we will resort to inaction if our ‘Plan A’ fails. We need to focus on the goal, which is to stop the attack any way we can, not focusing on the tool.” To that end, Ahrens asks readers to look at the picture above from a self-defense POV. Her analysis after the jump . . .

  1. Dolly — This can be used as a barrier, a distraction tool when shoved at the suspect, or a use-of-force tool (if it can be lifted and swung).
  2. Van door — Depending on the circumstances it is possible to slam the door open or closed into the suspect.
  3. Pavement/parking block — In a ground fight, the pavement and hard surfaces are useful, blunt-force objects.
  4. Dirt or broken glass — The existence of dirt or glass isn’t necessarily obvious in the photo, but having been a bike officer in this area, you can trust me that it’s there … I’ve lost a few tires! Also, this parking lot overflowed with traffic during the filming of “The Shooting Gallery’s” episode Ride Along with Sara when beer bottles were launched at my squad car. Picking up a handful of glass or dirt and throwing it into your aggressor’s eyes is an often overlooked, but very effective use-of-force tool. Eighty percent of information processing occurs through the sense of sight. If we cripple that sense, we win the advantage. In addition, having had many physical fights on glass, I don’t fear using it to my advantage. I’ll headpin someone into glass or gravel, if the situation dictates. It’s effective pain compliance.
  5. Glass windows/brick walls — In a struggle, shoving someone through glass or into a brick wall is an effective stunning technique and may provide edged weapon access.
  6. The van — If I am at deadly force and behind my wheel of my car I will drive away if I can. If not, I already recognize that my car may be the best weapon I have.
  7. Bucket (near front door) — Anything that is not nailed down is subject to being transformed into a weapon. It can be swung or thrown at an offender.

Bottom line: Sarah is one bad-ass [insert “b” word here]. Actually, let’s go with an amended version of Marine James Mattis’ quote from Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq: “Be polite, be professional, but have a comprehensive plan plan to kill everybody you meet.” Including a gun, of course.

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  1. and here I thought you were gonna tell me this was the kiwk mart near Shannon’s house where I could go to pick up champagne and party favors . . .

  2. Your kidding. Choosing from the list, over a easily concealable handgun. As for a defensive mind set, how about lift shirt, reach pull, aim, squeeze, bang. Soooo much easier, less stress than manhandling a dolly, getting bad guy to walk in front of a door, and throwing glass. When you carry, one can dispense with this nonsense and get busy with the business end of a gun.

      • Clearly you understand! Im pro gun for sure…but I have seen what happens when people fixate – they get hurt. That was my whole/only point.

        • Your mind be wicked, Sara. Just like mine. Especially your suggestion of slamming them into a brick wall or running them over with a vehicle. Oh, and using the van door? Priceless. 😀

        • Agreed… having a firearm can be useful and lifesaving… but having that as your only contingency leaves you with a gaping hole in your “escalation of force” continuum, and leaves you in the unenviable “best outcome” position of explaining to officers and attorneys why you went from no force directly to lethal force (or threat of lethal force).

      • Not reaching for a bucket or dolly will give you more time to draw.
        In a defensive situation I am going to:
        A) create some distance and or take cover while drawing my pistol.
        B) take a clear shot if needed
        B.1) clear stoppage if needed while moving
        C) rinse and repeat

        When I am carrying (always) I will avoid confrontations so my plan A that might fail is to get away from trouble. Plan B is fight off threat with gun. Why would I grab a hand full of broken glass as a first resort while carrying a gun just to miss the attacker’s eyes and then go to plan B just to realize that I have cut my hand on said broken glass and can’t operate my gun properly?

        Sara has watched one too many Jackie Chan movies.

    • Your analysis assumes that
      a) everyone can carry a gun,
      b) everyone can always access that gun from concealment quicker than the suspect can hurt/kill you(action vs. reaction disproves that belief)
      c) that every gun goes ‘bang’ all the time
      d) shooting someone is sufficient in ending a deadly force encounter
      You know what they say about assuming. I hate to break it to you…but you are in for a world of hurt if push comes to shove. I’ll pray you never have to know what I know first hand. Good luck

      • My point wasn’t have a gun, and all is well…but think how having a gun simplifies self defense. One doesn’t clutter the mind with ummm which surrounding kit can I use to protect ones self. Also finding it ironic that a LEO extolls the defensive mind set to use objects to fight, when the most effect tool is a gun.

        • What if you don’t happen to have it?
          What if it malfunctions?
          What if you’re attacked before you can draw?

          The point is not “you can do X so you don’t need a gun” the point of this is “your gun is plan A. You need a plan B.”

      • Thank you for your insight. In my last profession there was a chance you could find yourself in indian country armed only with a handgun, a radio and what was on you when you and the airplane parted company. Some of the best self defense advice I’ve had from guys who do evil for the side of good was to run, hide and not engage unless it was the last resort. An M11 and three mags puts generally puts you on the disadvantaged side of the gunfight. You have to look at everything you have on you and everything around you in terms of its utility as a weapon or survival tool. We do take it for granted that the gun will be available and ready and put us on par with the opponent when we need it.

        • Thanks. In the course of my career I spent almost 4 years running training, I read about 1,500 use of force reports every year. It is VERY common for trained police officers to get ‘stuck’ in a violent encounter once the intitial plan fails for whatever reason. Armed citizens have to consider their options. It’s probably more likely than people realize to be disarmed or experience a gun failure, or if the bad guy gets the drop (which is usually the case because chances are it’s a spontaneous attack). I know these forums like to see evil but I promise I chose this topic based on real world experience and in an attempt to share my knowledge and hopefully prevent harm. You know what they say…You can lead a horse to water… Lol

        • A long time ago I said when seconds count make more seconds. This is something I was taught in force protection training. I used to travel often I always instructed my wife to close doors and dump obstacles on the path to the master bedroom. I positioned easily tipible items or objects to create a barricade right behind the doors. The objective was to create extra time for the police to arrive and dissuade him from continuing his pursuit. However, if the bad guy was intent on pressing the issue the obstacles and barriers would create a situation where he would be blindly pushing his way into the final defensive position while my wife would be waiting with her pistol. My instruction were for her to at the center of the door between 3 and and 5 feet which roughly corresponds to the center of mass.

      • situational awareness and for rapid executive action gun or knife worked for me, Macgyver adhoc weapons are for the movies

      • Guns are an equalizer. They take away barriers based on physical condition, size, strength, age and alcohol/drug content.

        If you let a perp get close enough to you to need an edged weapon, for instance, you are going to lose.

        Mindset would keep you AWAY from the van! What you can use, unless on your person, can be used against you!

        “The article isn’t written exceptionally well but a reread will indicate that it’s about what to do if not armed with a gun, gun malfunctions, or you’ve been disarmed.”

        Well said! I would use these techniques if forced into retreat.
        Your mindset should tell you “I am the weapon!” Your gun is a tool and yes if you lose that tool there are others and the ability to adapt other things into a ‘tool’ will help you survive.

        I try to stay out of areas that have a greater chance of bad situations. Your typical ‘liquor store’ has probably been robbed multiple times….just don’t go there!

      • Ma’am? I, for one, can assure you that I see the world as a weapons rich environment, and I watch everyone around me. Especially nervous appearing people in convenience stores, liquor stores, gas stations, rest areas, malls, grocery stores, bars, school events,,,,,,,well, you get the picture.

        The problem is in getting others to that state. As Anne Frank put it, people are generally nice, the majority just don’t look around every minute of every day and see bad people or suspect their intentions. Personally I prefer it that way. Makes it easier to spot people who ARE bad and have criminal intentions.

        Not to say I am a nasty, suspicious person. I am actually one of those nice guys, first to offer assistance, open and hold doors etc etc. I am just very aware in multiple directions and levels. Helps that I look like a cross between a hippie and a redneck and radiate my willingness to engage when confronted.

        One major component in the “helpless citizen” syndrome is the society wide emphasis on backing down, submitting, not fighting back. Kids have been drilled with this for a long time now. They get in trouble for defending themselves against a bully in schools anymore. Giving in when attacked on the false premise that they will hurt you less for it. The whole “don’t lower yourself to their level” mentality. Defeat with honor is still defeat.

    • What happens when the bad guy takes your gun from you? Or it fails to function? Or you put 12 rounds into the ground in a panic and are now out of ammo? All of these happen to people. Her point is to have a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan, and so on.

      And I know. Everyone on the internet is GI Joe, Billy Badass. Never happen to you. Until it does.

      • Well I am a internet bad ass / keyboard warrior. Think of me as the white version of Shaft or the mans man Howie Long…..tall good looking, ruggedly handsome, still wearing polyester though….ok maybe a bit rounder in the middle, and pipe cleaners for arms, and I take a lot of naps….naps are good.

    • All guns jam, all guns run out of ammo. Gun’s aren’t the end all be all everyone thinks they are. I’ll bet on the warrior minded, well trained, observant one with only what they have around them against some punk fool spraying his 9mm all over the place.

      • If you check my DD-214 it says qualified to to kill with and MRE box. Add a sharpie and I can handle a squad of bad guys. Note….corrugation nor a sharpie runs out of ammo, but will concede that a dolly could, in the right circumstances, be a force multiplier. And should the SHTF (first time I’ve used that acronym) I’ll refrain from chatting on the cell phone, cause when your busy, you gotta focus.

        All seriousness, I appreciate the article, however (and it’s not a but) 99% of the population will lock up, including LEO’s because for the most part we live in a civilized society. People do not expect bad guys working their bolt and why I maintain an armed citizen is the best deterrent against criminals, not constantly sorting out what object can be used against a bad guy.

        • That’s true, unless active duty or prior, and a combat mos, most people aren’t ready to get down, sneak around, get behind, attack, and bludgeon somebody to death with a piece of rebar laying on the ground they managed to find. For a while I used to have a length of piano wire on me at all times, but that was when I was younger.

        • Truthfully MK10108; you sound arrogant, elitist and Ummm, lacking in wisdom. I would doubt that you have ever had a life and death confrontation where a split second decision, or a moment of hesitation could get you hurt or killed.

          I would much more trust some one like Sara if the “SHTF” over some one like you that shows such a closed minded, bigoted and rigid approach to self-defense.

    • Hey that gas station has a liquor department, class A opportunity to grab a bottle of ever clear of 151 and make a Molotov cocktail and set the psychopath on fire. I mean if were in a full on fire fight here and run out of ammo.

    • I know I do.

      Years of living in progressive enclaves of thumb-sucking sheep makes this type of thinking necessary.

      When I was young, the common tactic for improvised weapons on the street was to jump over to the nearest car, rip off the radio antenna and use that as a foil. Whipping people with radio antennas hurts like hell and makes someone want to back up right quick.

      Still, after years of living in progressive gun-controlled paradises, and dealing with progressives and their ilk, the best I can suggest to people is to adopt Sara’s mindset along with the ability of spotting people, trouble and traps that you should avoid.

  3. I hope badass “b” is a compliment…?! I certainly took it that way! LOL. I like your ending quote very much… it reminds me of a quote from a former SWAT teammate of mine, “I may have a smile on my face but I have murder in my heart.”

    • I’ll try again. You’ve got a cop walking around professing to have “murder in [his] heart” and it’s treated like a joke? And we’re really supposed to trust you? Seriously? Really lends credence to the psychopathic bully protected by a badge theory of policemen.

      • Oh, get over yourself, fer chrissakes. I’ve heard a couple dozen different people use that phrase, at least, all with some level of humor behind it. Some were trained in the lethal arts, like current or ex-military, and some were as innocent and peaceful as a clerk in a retail store. It’s just a piece of American idiom, and it’s stupid for a cop to not be able to say it without offending you, just because he’s a cop, especially when you have no context other than “he’s a cop.” The only reason to be upset about hearing this comment is if you’re looking for a reason to be.

        • @Matt in FL, excellent! Thank you for that. I get tired of the whiney, pissy, nancy boys complaining about their hangnails….it gets real old.

        • 1. Do you agree that use of the murder-in-heart “idiom” (a debatable description) lends credence to the above theory, whether the theory is generally true or not, and whether the person has the right to say it or not?

          2. Do you understand the concern folks have when a badge carrier, whose job it is to be prepared to engage the public in armed conflict, uses such a phrase?

          3. Do you think it displeases some other badge carriers (or non-badge carrier armed folks) when such phrases are used, especially by badge carriers?

          4. Finally, to cover the ad hominem front, do you think my use of the term “badge carrier”, the fact that I am not one of them, or the fact that I have not been involved in armed conflict makes my questions or implied statements invalid?

          • Absolutely not what I said, and you know it. But to make it explicitly clear, it shouldn’t be wrong just because a cop does it, if it’d be OK for anybody else. If anyone else used that line, most anyone would just blow it off, but because it’s a cop, people like you just fall all over themselves to point the finger.

        • I care very little what a cop says, especially over a beer with his/her compadres. I care what he/she *does*.

        • It’s disconcerting when some of the cop-hate around here start to resemble the gun-hate displayed by the antis… blanket statements, logical fallacies, jumping to conclusions, emotional rather than factual arguments, etc.

  4. I thought it was pretty obvious, use the payphone and call the cops, right? /s

    • There’s no phone in that box…too many false 911 calls so they removed it. True Story:)

      • They all got yanked in our region because they were mainly used for making deals of various types. Wifey made me get some pics of the last one a couple of years ago.

  5. I like that this argument does not assert itself as an alternative to armed defense, but is practical wether your have a gun or not. I seem to remember hearing about some libtard giving advice for defense against rape (in place of defensive tools) such as: vomit on the attacker, or tell the attacker you have transferrable diseases. As if a violent attacker would be “grossed out”, or reason through the consequences of his actions.

    • This article was never meant to suggest not using a gun if it is accessible, and functions! I don’t know what it is about ‘suggesting’ a thought process in case something fails but these forums go bananas. I’ll take my gun over anything else any day of the week. Im just suggesting that sometimes what we want can’t happen for a variety of reasons. Living in Illinois… there are few places our cc holders can actually carry. That is sad.

      • Sara, it just occurred to me after you made that statement about IL concealed carriers not being able to carry in many places that there are no police associations/bodies that I’m aware of in the entire U.S. that actively work to enable more people to exercise their 2A rights. And I’ve read thousands of articles and comments across the internet. Don’t you think that more citizens carrying would make your job easier? What do you think?



      • I’m awfully tired and might have some reading comprehension deficits at this point of the evening but I think all the venom you’re getting is a result of the wording of the article seeming to suggest that planning to use a firearm defensively was a bad idea. It’s obvious now that isn’t what you mean, and now that I understand I fully agree, having other options is always a good thing and thinking outside the box can save your life. However when I first read the article my initial reaction was pretty hostile. Remember that the regulars here have been exposed to so much gun control propaganda that we’re becoming paranoid and reactionary.

        Once I ‘got’ it though, good article and I agree fully. It’s important to consider every option, often, while calm so that when the SHTF you have a repertoire of potential solutions.

        • It’s called battered gun owners syndrome, we’re well acquainted with it here in Maryland…

      • wow, no venom here. I understand you are not saying using a gun is bad, I was saying that is a breath of fresh air. It seems like so many times that alternate defensive techniques are suggested it is “see nobody needs to carry a gun, only cops need to shoot people, you can just reason with your attacker.”

        I see that you are pointing out that just having a gun is not enough, If one is not aware of their surroundings, defensive tools are not of much use.

        • You have it, it took me a minute too. What she suggests is not only perfectly reasonable but also something many of us have been and all of us should be thinking about: What exactly are you going to do if you don’t have a gun, it malfunctions, your opponent takes it from you, you have to ditch it to keep them from taking it ect.

          Freezing behind a non-working gun isn’t working. Do you train to transition to your knife? Do you think much day to day about the objects you encounter and how you might use them as weapons if you had to? These might seem like extraneous thoughts, but much like ammo, no one ever left a lethal force encounter saying the wish they hadn’t had so many options.

          I personally EDC 2 guns and a knife but still consider the options available including improvised weapons and just flat out running away.

          She mentions vehicles, I’ve trained to reverse, turn right and stomp the gas to deal with a threat at my drivers window. It’s better than a handgun, especially if your response to someone approaching is to shift into reverse and turn the wheel all the way to the right while you roll down the window.

          I’m not trying to brag, I’m trying to point out how situational awareness and the ability/willingness to consider how the environment might benefit you is an enormous advantage.

          Sometimes the gun isn’t the answer, sometimes it’s not the best answer, and sometimes it’s not even an answer at all. Situational awareness and a basic plan for how to deal with common threats is often worth more than a gun when push comes to shove.

      • Sara…when you write something on the Internet you are going to get ‘ragged on.’ Your article prompted discussion. That alone serves a purpose and adds to our ‘mindset.’ For that, thank you!

        I’m an Illinois Resident and legal…well…sometimes.. [Finally!]

  6. Self defense is an end-to-end process. To many of the armed intelligentsia concentrate on the G in DGU and ignore the rest of the process. The D in DGU is much more important than the G. D not only stands for Defensive it also goes with Deny, Disrupt and Deter. Only when these fail do you get to the U part of DGU.

  7. I was looking at the picture from a “how easily could a bad guy attack this place” perspective. Believe me this place would be so easy to rob. And the open beer van is just asking for it.

  8. Well, if we’re gonna do that–then I expect the back of the van is stoked with potential blunt-force and potential edged weapons in the form of bottles, and missile weapons in the form of more bottles and cans that can be thrown at an aggressor. Also: Am I wearing boots (foot, hand, and head stompers) or sneakers (running-away shoes)? Leather belt (for slapping, whipping–bonus if it has a solid buckle)? Stiff cap or hat (throw in aggressor’s face to distract)? Bunch of keys? Coat, jacket (wrap around arm for protection, throw in aggressor’s face, over head). My problem is that I usually only do that when I’m out without my handgun and 4-cell Maglite.

    • Forgot to mention–Is there a place to run? Both in terms of an escape route, and in terms of shelter, possible aid, more weapons (eg is there a house, open store, public building I can run to, a stack of bricks or a pile of rocks I can get to, things like that).

  9. Excellent mindset. On duty I wear a tool belt with several weapons. They are for fighting my way to an AR or an 870 should I encounter a lethal threat(s). Off duty I have less options, and more plans. Plan A – when available – should always be a firearm to counter deadly force. A handgun can work but a fighting rifle or shotgun is better. Plans B through FUBAR should be about getting cover, improvised weapons, knives, vehicles as a weapon, retreat, etc.

    Cell phones die, guns can jam, shots can miss, and sh!t happens. I have a general paranoia that Murphy is out to get me – especially when I’m driving in a sea of morons. Everyone needs a set of plans to deal with Murphy. Situational awareness, mindset, and a reliable gun(s) are a great start.

    • My (fully concealed) EDC keeps looking more and more like what some patrol officers are packing: Large can 5.2 pepper spray, knife small, knife large, small high power flashlight, 1 compact pistol + 2 spare mags and a 7 shot BUG. I’m missing an impact weapon but I’m out of pockets and ‘real estate’ to mount it all to.

      I said that to say this: With my full EDC I’m comfortable, confident and relaxed but once you get all that gear off me I become slightly paranoid and begin considering everything in the environment for its usefulness as a weapon and being highly motivated I’m pretty creative about what might give me an edge.

      What fascinates me is the remarkable loss of calm and sense of security that I have when disarmed. I try to remember if I always felt that way or if it’s a development of being armed so much of the time for so long. I think I always felt that way and that was my motivation to cultivate the carry of so many personal weapons in the first place.

      • “…once you get all that gear off me I become slightly paranoid …”

        I hate to be the one to point this out, Ardent, but if you’re not a LEO and are carrying all that kit on a regular basis you are ALREADY slightly paranoid.

        • Lol Cliff it’s ok, you wouldn’t be the first. There is an old saw that goes something like “Why do you carry TWO guns, what are you afraid of?” “What? I’m not afraid of anything, I have TWO guns!”

          I’m not a LEO but I did cultivate my taste for being so armed while working as a private defense contractor, so it did start as a professional thing. Now my work takes me into contact with the most vulnerable members of my community; Substance abusers, homeless persons, those with mental health issues and those of severe economical disadvantage.

          Every piece of kit has been thought out over years and has it’s own purpose or reason for being on me or it wouldn’t be there.

      • Well Cliff H: My normal carry is my OC 1911 with two 10 round mags, a back up .380 pocket gun; a large flip folding pocket knife; a sure fire lite and leatherman on the belt and a key chain pepper spray.

        Just the minimum for most situations that might come up. Some might say I’m being paranoid, I say people that aren’t as prepared are walking around with their head in the sand depending on luck and wishful thinking to keep them safe.

        Or maybe it’s just depends on what each person individually see’s as needed for their particular place they live and the level of immediate threat they have to deal with. (Whoa! You mean what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for everybody? What a concept.)

        • Well, I’ve gone through a lot of life with essentially nothing, haven’t run into any murderous maniacs or whatever, tend to be close to Condition White except for a puny li’l LCP, generally don’t worry. I guess I’ll never be an operator, huh?

  10. Hell yeah, this is great article. This is how you need to be. All guns jam, all guns run out of ammunition. Everything can be a weapon. Have the mind of a warrior.

    • Yes, this was an interesting article, but…

      Situational awareness is key. All guns (might) jam, but…with modern firearms the chances of a properly maintained pistol of reasonable quality malfunctioning at a critical moment are slight. You might run out of ammo, but…it has been well documented on this site and elsewhere that MOST DGUs do not require firing a shot, those that do require firing the weapon usually require a minimum number of rounds to obtain the desired results. The chances of any one of us in the course of our usual daily routines running into a situation where even a tactical reload is required, much less firing up all available ammo before resolving the situation, are even slimmer than the odds we will ever have to use our pistol(s) at all.

      So, in the event that EVERYTHING goes wrong, your pistol stops working or you pissed away all your ammo without satisfactory results and you have no option to retreat, this is all very good plan “B” advice.

      If you are going through your life constantly reviewing every location you approach as to what improvised defensive options you have then I might suggest that you are either visiting/living in the wrong neighborhood, or you need to seek professional counseling, possibly both.

      Stay away from stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. Do not enter a confined space without assessing the possibility of danger and your exit options. Do not carry cheap or unreliable guns you are not familiar with. Unless you are a LEO who may be required to go into hazardous situations that should be enough advice to keep the majority of people safe in almost any aspect of daily life outside of “gun free” urban zones.

  11. I understand what the author is trying to do but it is so over the top that it reaches the point of absurdity.

    Best tool you could use is just know who is around you, identify potential threats and avenues they could approach you and potential blindspots. After that there are too many variables with regard to the person to make any type of list.

    • The list was simply to provide a visual to give people an idea of how to identify potential environmental weapons…why the hate?

      • Not hating on you, it just it is so vague and so over the top to present this picture and to ask for defensive possibilities, with no background info, no setup, nothing at all except the initial premise. Its practically worthless as a exercise. IMHO.

        No hate to you. I understand what you are trying to do, its just I feel the execution was terrible.

      • Tell your man, or should you bat for the other team, you still got it. No way we’re hating a lady who SMOKIN.

      • Ah, it seems it doesn’t take long in the forum to start to feel like everyone is out to get you. Don’t let it bother you, we’re an extremely opinionated bunch but the worst of us doesn’t know anything to begin with.

        Incidentally I just read your bio and I have to say it’s highly impressive. Kudos and thanks for the write up.

      • No hate whatsoever. The advice would be most appropriate if I were an undercover cop infiltrating drug cartels in Tijuana, and I understand that’s where you’re coming from. I would be surrendering the best parts of my retirement if I stayed so “on edge” constantly. It’s not worth it!

        • Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to carry kit, and situational awareness just like they do for everything else. As you pointed out there are also trade offs and compromises with EDC, situational awareness and everything else. If your preparedness is, from your own perspective and by your standards, diminishing the quality of your life by all means scale back, however there are those of us who are actually more comfortable with more kit and who are happier with a higher level of situational awareness. We’re all unique and within a range each persons approach is about as valid as another.

    • I’m with The Man on this, when I saw the pic I assumed one was supposed to come at this as if there were some indication that something might not be right with the scenario, as if your “Spidey Sense” was activated and you came upon this store with the intent to assess what could possibly be going on which might be dangerous. Such as 1) Empty parking lot except for… 2) A van curiously with nobody around but with an indication that it was being unloaded…3) Its an establishment that looks like a common target for robberies and also advertises alcohol…and so on. The absurdity comes into play because most of the assessment of using said environment to advantage in a conflict is being made before there is an indication of what might happen. Sure all that stuff brought to attention is true, but ultimately means nothing until conflict is met. You could delve into ways to do stuff with things around you almost infinitely but until it happens or is seen to be inevitable (or chosen to be a course of action), only then can you begin to assess such improvisation except on a superficial level.. In short, without any parameters to go by, it would be futile and autistic to delve into the minutiae of your environment except on a very general level as precaution (ie noticing a shovel handle nearby, knowing to sit somewhere facing entrances) until conflict is perceived. This is just a criticism based on how I thought I was supposed to approach the picture and then saying “whaaat?” when some examples were given showing what was possible. As example, the suggestion that the van door could be use to slam someone…of course it could…but unless the BG is in the perfect position to do so already or you are planning on going through some plan to get him to that spot so you can wail him with it, it isn’t something that’s likely and I don’t think people see open doors everywhere they go thinking to themselves “if I get in a fight in this exact spot I could nail someone with that door”.

  12. If you guys are gonna do this, give us some context. Am I in the store, or outside the store? Am I just driving by, and deciding whether or not to stop in for yum-yums? Am I in the van? Am I the delivery driver, dropping off some Bubblicious bubble gum?

    • Your inside the store about to purchase a bottle of Jack, which is in your hand. Begin.

    • It’s an exercise, a lesson, a practice point. Be it any or all, whatever you want. As you drive up, scope the place out. As you stand in line to pay, look around. As new customers come in, look at them. As you exit, look around.

      So many prissy little whiners. It’s something to think about and keep your brain occupied, to make you think differently, to open your eyes. Do you know where airliner exits are, or movie theater exits? Do you keep track of cars around you when you’re driving, try to keep from being right alongside others or in their blind spots? Do you watch a car passing you slowly and think what you can do it it’s front tires start edging closer, or that ladder falls off the ickup ahead of you?

      Stop whining and take advantage of the lesson offered.

      • And here I thought I was offering a helpful suggestion. I’m sorry if you don’t like my idea, but you don’t need to get so upset about it.

  13. Fun and informative piece. Dirt and shards of glass: the poor man’s Fuji salt.

  14. I like this post. The point is: always be thinking. You don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to be able to figure them out.

  15. See, now, I’m thinking handy van full of bottled beer: Functional edged weapon (broken), decent blunt weapon, decent thrown projectile (especially in quantity), tasty beverage. And if I’m inside, store full of same.

    • I was thinking of locking myself in the beer truck for protection and drinking up as much of that now free sudsy goodness as I could until someone came to make me stop.

    • Or, if that’s not an option what comes next? That’s the question she’s posing; what are you going to do if you either don’t have a gun or it malfunctions?

      • Well, in his defense a hit with a .45 to the pinky toe still leaves the BG without a soul and might well propel him into the next county so at least he’s not your problem anymore, I mean, you can’t argue with that, which is why I posited the question of what to do if you don’t have a .45, you know, like if you’re only carrying a .40 or a 9mm.

  16. Well hopefully the jury/cops are sympathetic while you explain why it was necessary to beat someone’s brains out with a dolly, brick, or car door. I think her special status as a ex-leo might be blinding her to possible fallout faced by normal citizens if they get too exotic in even arguably justified self defense. I know, I know better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6…

    • Hitting someone with a brick is now an exotic form of self defense? Really?!

      • I guess like everything it all depends on circumstances. Melees tend to be a little more drawn out affair. The prosecutor is going to asking if the 3rd and 4th strike with the brick on someone’s head was really necessary. When cops beat people down with nightsticks they tend to skate no matter how ugly it looks. I.E. Rodney King. When an average Joe goes all medieval on their fellow citizen it doesn’t always go so well for Mr. Joe later. It looks more like rage or maybe Joe had the upper hand on the situation all along. I was afraid for my life so I beat the bad guy to death to stop the threat vs I used my pistol to stop the threat just seems like a harder sell to the grand jury. But certainly if you are deadly danger; any means necessary.

        • I’m almost there. . . except I’d hit someone with a brick as many times as it took to get them to stop being a threat. As a veteran of a few scuffles I can say with some authority that whatever is at hand is fair game not only in stopping the threat but in the eyes of the prosecution. If someone initiates a violent felony, say robbery, and you conclude it by striking them with an object in the environment you’re still good. Unless you live in a slave state, in which case you should move anyway.

        • Are bricks registered where you are, or something? Beat him to death and walk away.

  17. Why is this article offensive to anyone? It’s kinda’ like Bruce Lee ” fighting without fighting”. Use what’s available, be aware of your surroundings & never give up the advantage. A gun is not the be all & end all of self defense. I’m a big guy, very strong but nothing like I used to be at 60. I can’t run anymore but I’ve learned to be quite intimidating if I have to be. And I don’t carry a gun( yet ) in Illinois. Pepper Blaster, knife, ax & baseball bat in the truck. Prissy keyboard commandos indeed.

  18. I used to be proficient with improvised weapons, and the good thing is that they are everywhere. The bad things about them are that they are not as reliable as guns and require close contact with the BG, which is something that, at the age of 66, I do not want.

    So, my plan A is to GTF out of Dodge. Plan B is to shoot my way out of Dodge. Plan C is to grab something and use it as violently as I possibly can as often as I possibly can, which is something I learned over 50 years ago.

    • That’s about as simple as it gets but also wise. Even before it comes down to improvised weapons one had better be serious, once it does, one had better be maniacally homicidal in ones approach to application of improvised weapons.

    • The article isn’t written exceptionally well but a reread will indicate that it’s about what to do if not armed with a gun, gun malfunctions, or you’ve been disarmed.

      Save the hate, the author appears to be very seriously 2A, just offering some ideas that we might not always think about.

  19. I worked as a bagger at grocery store for a couple of years. Had this customer that disliked us immensely for some trivial reason, you know, typical retail bs. Anyway, he bought a pair of sunglasses simply to give him a reason to whip out his pocket knife like “a badass. and snap off the tag.” The moment he did it the checker and I looked at each other, we were quietly laughing to ourselves, he was a real peace of work. A few minutes later the dude was walking past behind me. I retained a nice firm grip on the bag hanger. I was ready to pop that baby off and give him a nice concussion before he could get in a second step, if he so chose. Thankfully he was just a smug bastard and not a violent one. I also had a small pocket knife, wholly violating company policy, but that bag hanger would have been much quicker to deploy.

    • You’re onto the idea alright. In familiar (such as work especially) environments we often have identified things that are devastating weapons at close quarters that others would completely overlook.

      I work in an office these days and there isn’t much there in the way of devastating, but many years ago I was a forklift operator and always thought that the massive steel body would protect me from small arms fire at least long enough to run over the shooter. While that might be an extreme example, I wonder how many people in their jobs where they are disarmed (unlawfully I’d argue) have identified means with which to defend themselves anyway. I’ll bet a foray into a tire shop would net a serious head wound due to extended socket wrenches just as I’d assume becoming violent with a carpenter might result in a smack down with a level or square. Look around, think, act when you sense you need to, and be safe.

    • ^This. I work in a hospital ER, so can’t carry at work. Frequently walking down long hospital hallways at night and have encountered shady looking individuals. Multiple times have considered the degree to which my steaming hot coffee in their face would deter an attack.

  20. On behalf of those of us who live in countries (or states) that do not allow us to carry weapons for our and our dellow man’s defense, thank you. A truly great piece of mindset.

  21. Shooting someone in PUBLIC is always a harder sell. Just ask George Zimmerman. Or the late Trayvon ( Barry’s son) Martin.

  22. I think the most important take away from Sara’s posting is that you can’t always choose your battlefield. Like I mentioned, for aviators you had what you brought to the fight with you and the playing field may be deep in the bad guy’s back yard. Your survival depends on a lot of things, not just packing what you might need, but were you injured in the egress, where did you land, etc…I understand bailing out in combat and this scenario aren’t the same, but…there are some basics that remain the same. If every fight took place at home, on your turf, you should always, in theory come out ahead. But in the real world, it may be the convenience store in downtown hell, because you just got a flat, or had to pick up a friend who was not as smart as they should be…and the list goes on. When I find my self in a sketchy place, I try to size up the situation going in, looking for barriers to egress and mobility and whatever else may turn into a factor. It’s a good drill in “what if”. The most effective weapon you bring to the fight is mindset.

    • I’d say you’re example isn’t far off, just as you might be injured during egress we might already be injured coming into a violent encounter too, or simply old, or disabled. ‘You’ve only got what you brought’ includes body as well as kit but it also includes mindset and intelligence. There is a time for all out violence, but that’s only when there isn’t time for thinking about other ways to diffuse, deal with, or escape a bad situation.

      • Word police here. The word you want is “defuse” as to remove the fuse to the explosive, not “diffuse” as in spread around.

  23. Sara,I spent 12 years pushin’ a dolly every day- and I can assure you that I had a plan to use it in self defense if anyone ever attacked me (had a vending route). My employer didn’t allow concealed carry (nor many of my customers), so I gave this some thought. If it was loaded, I planned to dump the entire load on/in front of them (this would be either cases of canned/bottled sodas, or large plastic totes). If empty, they were going to catch the blade my of dolly in their shins (and not see it coming- an experienced dolly user doesn’t need to look to kick the dolly out), and then the top of the frame in the face (very tall dolly!). Fortunately, I never needed to do this, but I did have a plan in place.
    Yes, a gun is preferable (and I certainly carry one now, and insist that my wife does, also), but not always an option.

    • There are often things specific to our work/environment that would make effective weapons if properly employed that wouldn’t occur to outsiders or those lacking a defensive mindset. It sounds like you considered the possibilities and developed the mindset. I have little doubt that you could have quickly gained the advantage with a dolly just as such can be had with many environmental objects if you have a plan to use them for such. 12 years with your hands on a dolly and with a combat mindset. . . I’ll bet you have some serious dolly-kata!

  24. I have been surrounded by an angry crowd backing me up to my car to get me out of their neighborhood (and it wasn’t a nice one)- I was doing some low level law enforcement and was unarmed. The fact that everybody was much smaller than me helped – they let me get to my car.

    If faced with offensive action by a comparable male, there is only one option – attack! Toujours l’audace! In NZ the entire male population knows how to tackle in rugby, so that’s the first move. After that, whatever’s to hand. But you don’t want to lose. Most of those guys have already trained in prison. Have you?

  25. Stuff like this baffles me. It’s like the anti’s saying “but if someone has they *might* shoot an innocent” So…make everyone defenseless. Right. That makes sense. You keep trying to throw your bricks at the man committing mass murder. I’m going to use .45acp.

  26. Actually, no Sara isn’t bad-ass. She’s the one that was on Top Shot that made up excuses why she shot poorly on the show. (Something about if she shot the wrong colored bulbs, it could impact her defense if she was ever in another street shooting.) Ever since then I don’t listen to what that bag’ette of wind has to say. Ridiculous.

    • What? Someone with a lifetime of training and experience performed badly in a single competition in which they might have misunderstood the instructions? Wow, yeah, I’d totally never given credence to anything they had to say again!

  27. glad to see ‘another robert’ mentioning keys- a good key wad will break a windshield on the second attempt. outerwear is also mentioned: i watched a much smaller man inflict pain over and over to a burly agressor by snapping him with the zippered end of a windbreaker repeatedly.
    not breaking out the gun is primary to me. why would i advertise unless out of options? the axe handle in the van is followed by whatever’s handy.
    and all that comes after distance.

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