We carry a gun to protect ourselves and those around us, but it does not have to be your first line of defense. Violence is everywhere, and you are kidding yourself if you think it’s not. Violence is not limited to major cities like Chicago, where they already had over 3600 shootings this year.
There is a little town called Ware Place in South Carolina with a population of 110 people. Not long ago, they had a fatal shooting in the parking lot of their local Dollar General Store so never say “that won’t happen to me” because life has a funny way of proving us wrong.
A “fight” can be a confrontation, situation, incident, encounter, conflict, whatever you want to call it, you want to avoid it whenever possible. Many people let their guard down, and I cannot stress the following tips enough. Be aware of your surroundings and try to prevent being the victim. It is called situational awareness.
I reviewed footage from many incidents that happened over the past few months. I would estimate the majority of people were distracted and were not paying attention. That means many victims would not have made the nightly news had they just followed some of these tips.
Most criminals are looking for a soft target or target of opportunity. You have heard the saying “taking the path of least resistance,” do not be that path, and the criminals will hopefully move on to the next person who looks more vulnerable.
#1. Keep Your Windows Rolled Up
Keep your vehicle windows rolled up, not only when you are parked but when you are driving. As soon as you stop at a light or get stuck in traffic, that unlocked door gives the criminal an easy way in. Criminals can walk right up and stick their arm in to unlock the door, or worse yet, stick a gun to your head.
#2. Lock your door every time you close it.
I had a girl in a Concealed Carry Class who had put her child in a car seat on the passenger side. She walked around the car to the driver’s door, and that’s when someone attempted to get her child out of the car seat. Fortunately, she had buckled her child in, and like any parent would have done, she freaked out. That is terrifying, and thank God the guy took off. Put your kid in the seat, lock the door, walk around, unlock the door, get in and immediately lock the doors. Now, you might understand how important it is to use your locks.
#3. Don’t Be Distracted
Do not be looking in your purse and stay off your darn cell phone. For example, find your keys before you walk out of someplace, not looking as you walk through a parking lot. Oh, and sorry, don’t get upset with me, but the car is not the place to put your makeup on.
#4 Driving Tips
We have all heard this one. Leave room between your car and the one in front of you. Did you ever think about staying in the lane closest to the center of the street? Even if you have to drive the wrong way down a road, an out is an out. You hear the “give your self space” statement all the time, but do you do it?
There have been over 180 shootings on the Chicago expressways this year, so don’t think driving at higher speeds on a busy interstate will make things safer. Driving in the right-hand lane can give you extra room to maneuver and quickly get off at an exit.
#5. Give Yourself Space
If a group of people is standing around and the situation makes you uncomfortable, take a different route, like walking across the street to the other sidewalk. Give yourself extra time to react, just like driving and leaving as much distance as you can to maneuver around a potential threat. Another tactic criminals use is to let you walk by and then strike from behind, keep an eye over your should as you pass.
#6. Make Eye Contact
A few weeks ago, I parked in a very secure parking garage and took a stairway to get back to my vehicle. I walked out of the stairway, and about 100′ away, three people seemed out of place. I wanted to make sure they knew I was watching, so I stopped and looked right at the three of them. Oddly enough, they turned around and walked about 20′ in the opposite direction. Then they proceeded down the up ramp. Did I prevent a confrontation? Who knows, but I was not going to find out. If they kept coming, I could always go back down the stairs that I had come up. By the way, I found out the next day there was a carjacking right by the building.
I took some pictures of the parking garage, and that’s when I noticed the broken window in the circle below.
#7 Never Leave Your Car Running
How many of you walk into a gas station and leave your car running? That’s an excellent way to see your car drive off without you, and you can watch the videos all over YouTube. Keep an eye out for people sitting in their vehicle or standing around that seem out of place. If someone does take your vehicle, you might as well wave goodbye because using deadly force to stop them is illegal in most states. Interestingly, it is theft instead of carjacking because there was no use of force. Theft is not included in the published carjacking numbers by the police departments.
#8 Secure Locations Might Not Be So Secure
The image below is of an ATM located in a small lobby where you need a credit card to get through the door. Believe it or not, that lobby is basically the home of the man in the picture. There have been attempts made to keep him out, but it continues to go on.
I wanted to know why this was an ongoing issue and reached out to David Drwencke, a local criminal defense attorney. “The man is loitering, basically ‘hanging out.’ The state and city have laws against people acting this way, but the police don’t usually enforce it because there are so many homeless people in the downtown area. These people will return to the locations day after day, making it a waste of time when there are so many other crimes being committed.”
Listen to that little voice because you can prevent many things from happening if you watch what is happening around you. Walk with confidence and try not to appear like an easy target.
A good concealed carry instructor will go over situational awareness. It may only be the basics, but it gives you an excellent foundation to build on. The more you can learn about watching for threats, the less likely you will need to use your gun. Avoiding the conflict and avoiding the dangers is part of being a responsible gun owner.
I want to make something completely clear. If you have no other choice and have to engage a threat, whoever threatens your life is not your friend! They are not looking to have a conversation, not looking for a therapist, and they will not play fair. Be mentally prepared and remember it may come down to your loved one’s life as well as saving your own. If attacked, you are there to stop the aggression and live to see your family. Carrying a firearm is all about surviving a potentially lethal encounter and protecting your loved ones.