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Concealed Carry of Firearms - Awareness
In Part 1 of this series I stressed the importance of developing the self-defense mindset. That mindset involves accepting the fact that crime can and does happen anywhere, anytime, and to anybody. Probably the most important part of this mindset is developing a heightened awareness. The best crime is the crime that never happened. If you are aware of your surroundings, you will reduce your chances of becoming a victim immensely.
So how do we do that? What types of things am I talking about?
For starters, what does a criminal typically look for? They want someone that they perceive to be smaller and weaker; that keeps the effort required on their part to a minimum and the level of risk low. After all, if they were ambitious, they’d have a real job like you and me.
If they can find someone that appears smaller and weaker AND isn't paying attention that's even better; that gives the attacker the element of surprise. If they surprise you, they are then ahead of you in the OODA loop. That is not good for you; whoever is ahead in the OODA loop usually prevails. I’ll explain the OODA loop in another article; there is just not enough space in this article to cover it.
Don't Look Like a Victim
When you are in public don’t make yourself look like an easy target. Walk confidently and with purpose. Project the image to others that you are very aware of what’s going on around you; not just within a 10 foot radius but as far as you can see. Look around. Listen!
Listening to an MP3 player with earbuds while you’re out in public greatly, if not completely, diminishes your ability to hear what’s going on around you. Sometimes while I’ve been out walking our dog, I’ve seen someone walking and listening to music on an MP3 player. I’ve walked up behind them to within three feet and they don’t even realize that I’m there. I wasn’t even trying to be quiet and my dogs leash, collar, and tags make noise too. They’re always quite startled when I move over and walk past them. Imagine if I were a bad guy instead of the good guy that I am trying to help you avoid becoming a victim. If you insist on listening to music using earbuds, do yourself a favor and just use the right or the left, not both.
Your Instinct is There For a Reason
You were born with instinct, trust it! If something doesn’t seem right about a situation, then something is probably wrong. In our politically correct society of today, profiling has almost become a four letter word; it shouldn’t be. Profiling will keep you alive. If you see someone that doesn’t appear to fit into the surroundings and situation that you’re in, take notice.
Typically people think of profiling as being based on race; that’s not what I mean by profiling. What I’m talking about is the way that someone is dressed, how they’re acting, unkempt appearance, body language, where they’re standing, or where they’re walking to or from. Do they appear nervous? Are they wearing a coat when it's 90 degrees? If you see a situation that raises your suspicions, don’t worry about offending somebody, do something about it.
Actions You Can Take
If you’re walking and see someone ahead of you or behind you that you're uncomfortable with, take some kind of preventive action. Cross the street, turn around and take another route, or if there are other people that are walking the same way as you, wait for them and walk with them for a while.
If the elevator doors open and the person inside makes the hair on your neck stand up, wait for another elevator. If they’re going down just tell them that you’re going up; or tell them that you’re waiting for a friend to come back. No matter how much of a hurry you’re in, it just isn’t worth the risk if your instincts are telling you that something is wrong.
If you go out to your car and you see someone sitting in their car right next to yours and it doesn’t feel right, take preventive measures. Go back into the store or office and have someone escort you to your car. Have a friend or neighbor do the same thing if you’re at home. Maybe even call the police. If you can articulate why something is suspicious they can check it out. They’d much rather check it out and have it be nothing than come out and have to investigate a violent crime scene.
Strangers asking you for the time or asking to borrow a cigarette is what I call the victim interview. Most of the time it is an innocent request. Most homeless people and panhandlers approach cautiously and keep their distance until or unless you make eye contact and then they might approach closer. Be careful however if the person approaches you quickly. I had someone do this to me and I took evasive action. He was coming in like a lion for the kill. Once I avoided him and effectively ended the contact, he became very agitated. It was clear then that he had something nefarious in mind. I’m glad I didn’t find out what it was.
Get into the habit of watching people’s hands; it’s the hands that are dangerous. When a stranger approaches and asks directions or some other question, look at their hands. Is there something in their hand? Are their hands tensed up or clenched? Everything and anything that you can do to give yourself an edge, even if it’s only a half second, will help you avoid or survive a violent crime.
Something similar happened to a friend of mine. Once the victim interview failed, the person became verbally abusive. It was apparent to my friend at that point that this person’s intentions were less than honorable and innocent.
Let's Wrap It Up!
As this series progresses, I'll include more in-depth detail. Only so much can be squeezed into one article. Right now, I just want to get your attention and get you thinking about it.
In my next article, I’ll share one of my experiences and tell you what I learned from it. Until then, be careful out there and stay safe.