DEF-CON 1, everybody! There are three absolute certainties in DEF-CON 1:
-- The government always lies.
-- Systems always fail.
-- YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!
Below are some points to think about, things we've learned from similar situations, things I've learned from my own experiences, our research from THE BEST DEFENSE, etc. None of this was handed down on a marble tablets from a big scary cloud hovering over a mountain, so to borrow a phrase from Bruce Lee, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own."
1) Secure your home! We've talked about this for years on THE BEST DEFENSE.
2) Consider being armed while you are in your home — that's the great strength of pocket pistols. If you have a gun in your pocket (or your EDC), you do not have to answer the question, "How far am I from the gun?"
3) Be armed EVERY SINGLE TIME you go out of your house, even if you're just running down to the Stop And Rob for a quart of milk. Carry extra ammo. Guns jam, and sometimes you have to strip the magazine and reload.
4) Know what is going on in your community in your community, your city, your state. And assume the worst…what may look like a perfectly legitimate police shooting can trigger major rioting. For instance, if you hear on the radio that there has been a violent "incident" near your office, if might be an excellent day to come down with a bad cold. I have extensive experience in urban riots, and trust me, you do NOT want to be caught in one.
5) Always err on the side of caution…do you have alternative routes to your place of work and back home, to your children's schools, to your friends' homes? Routes that may be longer but keep you away from city centers, questionable neighborhoods, locales in your neighborhood that have been the sites of other protests?
6) DO NOT DRIVE, WALK, CRAWL, BICYCLE, ROLLERBLADE, RIDE HORSEBACK, whatever into an active "protest!" You have no idea how quickly a peaceful protest can turn into a lethal riot, and you have no idea how quickly you can be "it." Get the hell out of Dodge!
7) If you are trapped in "peaceful protest," think in terms of going to ground. Get off the street…into an office building, a commercial establishment, a restaurant. Make sure you immediately identify all entrances and exits…in the event of a Molotov cocktail, you want to know which way to run…and don't inadvertanty back yourself into a corner. I hid under a restaurant table once as the violence passed over me. Call me a coward, but I didn't want to pull my Combat Commander and turn what was essentially a fistfight into a bloodbath.
8) Keep your gun holstered until it's time to bring it into play. Do not brandish your gun — assuming no one else, especially one of the bad guys, is armed is a fool's game. Brandish your gun, and you become Target #1. One of the lessons I have learned from numeorus sims and F-on-F training is that if I can arrange myself where the gun remains hidden and, if I have to use it, the aggressor literally isn't sure where the shot came from, I (and those under my protection) become less of a bullet magnet from return fire from the aggressor or her BFFs.
9) We have increasingly seen violent protests seeking to block traffic on main arteries like interstate and state highways. My inclination is to NOT STOP! Notice I didn't say attempt to run down protestors or cause any injuries, but blocking roadways is a crime. I want to keep moving because I want to get as far away from the violence as I can….the violence may likely get worse. A moving, even a slowly moving, big steel box is compelling safety. I just saw on television where the police chief in Charlotte said if you encountered just such an event as I described that you stop, lock the doors and wait, because help is on the way. I refer you back to my three certainties — help is not on the way, or, at least, not on the way in any sane timeframe. Help arriving tomorrow does you no good today. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, "When skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed."
10) If you are trapped in your car, DO NOT EXIT THE CAR UNLESS YOU SEE MOLOTOV COCKTAILS BEING USED! I once dove under a car to get clear of flying debris when the car next to the one I was hiding under caught a Molotov cocktail…Michael considered wetting himself and moved very quickly to a different point of cover.
11) If you are in the car and the car is attacked by aggressors with bricks, concrete blocks, pipes or clubs that can shatter the windshield, allowing you to be pulled out of the car or pummeled to death in the car, or you see someone approaching your car with a Molotov cocktail, you are now in a lethal threat situation. Remember, the aggressor with the weapon — concrete block, pipe, Molotov cocktail, firearm — is the lethal threat. Other people might be cheering the aggressor on, but they do not necessarily represent the lethal threat. Your target is the armed aggressor who is threatening your or your family's lives…it's not a case of "spray and pray." In any case you WILL have dialed 911, given them your exact location, that you are under attack and notify them that you are armed, right?
12) If you have to, consider how you will exit the car and how you will remain in contact with your family/friends as you move through the crowd. We have an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY on that specific subject coming up in January…yeah, I know…but the key point is your family, especially children need to remain in physical contact with the adults (holding onto belt, etc.). The person with the gun leads. Do not brandish, or in any way wave around, the gun…I would suggest a compressed ready position, muzzle slightly down. If you stick your arm out, someone WILL grab it. With the gun in a compressed ready position, the gun is more protected and still ready to fire.
13) Your biggest challenge will be STAYING TOGETHER. I cannot emphasize to you how chaotic a full blown riot is and how easy it is to get separated from someone,..it is the equivalent of a human riptide. Your initial movement is to GET SOMETHING SOLID BEHIND YOU! You and yours do not want to be in the middle of a 360-degree ring of chaos. I always moved toward walls, business fronts, even park equipment in one case, because I wanted to limit my exposure to the panicked people running around. Be careful not to get trapped, but your worst position in in the center. If possible (and it probably won't be) have one adult stay in contact with 911 updating them on your position.
14) Try to get to a position where you can catch your breath and PLAN YOUR MOVEMENT! A riot is fluid, and it doesn't make much sense to move in the direction of the larger mass of people. THINK, then move!
15) In a terrorism situation, you're going to have to consider what has happened. If it is an explosion as what happened in New York City recently yoju need to get as far from the scene as you can as quickly as you can. Ideally, don't run with with crowds…as an Israeli counterterrorist expert once told me, the Israeli word for "Crowd" is "Target." The bomber will likely be in the vicinity, and the explosion may be signal to begin a larger attack with firearms or additional explosives.
16) If you do not have people in your care, the decision to render aid is yours. My first overwhelming responsibility is to get the people under my care out of the kill zone and to safety.
17) If it is a shooting situation — terrorist or active shooter — your response must be SPEED TO COVER. Your next response will depend on whether you have people in your care or are alone. If you have family, children people in your care with you. you need to plan your moves from cover to cover to get the people in your charge to safety, clear of the killing zone. If you must run in the open, RUN, ZIG ZAG, don't provide the aggressor with an easy target. Always remember that all cover comes with a timer — the minute you arrive at cover, the clock is running. Immediately plan your next move.
18) If you are alone and choose to respond, as was the case in the recent mall slashing attack, I refer you to Jeff Cooper's PRINCIPLES OF PERSONAL DEFENSE, specifically Decisiveness, Speed, Coolness, Ruthlessness and Surprise. A clean head shot to the back of an aggressor's head before he/she even knew you were in the fight solves many problems. This isn't a game, and there are no points for fairness.
19) Practice practice practice…the balloon has already gone up; the hour is late.