The Keychain Flashlight and OC Combo

I’ll go on a limb and say you have people in your life who you love and who don’t want to be victimized, but they won’t carry a pistol (or pocket a flashlight, or Pepper Spray, or a knife, or Medical gear, etc). What do you do for these people? Explain their inevitable victimization in a WalMart parking lot and wish them luck? Write them off because they have a different moral compass, or because they’re lazy, or have a different lifestyle that precludes being inconvenienced by extra ‘stuff’? Would you write off your family if they wouldn’t follow this path exactly as you have?

I hope not. I hope you treat your friends, families, and clients as individuals and respect their lifestyle and moral decisions. I have several of these in my life (most of my people in meat-space in fact) who either can’t be bothered, lack the confidence in their skills, or are too lazy to carry a firearm or individual self defense tools. Even if I can get them to drop a light and OC in their purse, I know for a fact that they don’t have both of them out while they push their shopping cart through a dark parking lot.

I couldn’t write my people off because I was dealing with my mom, sister, and wife. They all understand and practice ‘mindset’ skills like avoiding task fixation in public, identifying alternate emergency exits, work M.U.C. skills in roll play to preserve space and get deselected, watch hands, and on and on. I only mention it to prevent someone saying, “No tool in an unwilling person’s hands will do a bit of good.” My girls have that.

I have two paths I can follow: Convince them to organize their life around cumbersome gear, or use clever gear to make it so they don’t have a choice. The first option requires that several things line up in a way that I’ve failed to do in 13 years or so. The latter only needs me to find the right gear that meets my needs of effective, reliable, and usable.

The Ideal Tactic (as I see it)

As you are about to push your cart out of the front doors, stop and:

  • Get your keys out of your purse/pocket
  • In your off-hand, palm your self defense light
  • In your strong hand, palm your Sabre Red Pepper Spray (OC)
  • Look out through the front glass to observe the space you’re about to enter
  • walk out the doors, and do a 3-5 second halt to scan the parking lot and along the building to the corners
  • Proceed to car, look into the car  and around the car
  • Load Groceries, taking a break every few bags to lift their head and do a quick scan to see who’s new, and where people are moving
  • Return cart to corral
  • Get in car, start car without delay, and get in drive (no instagram updates)

The Compromise

So that’s basically fantasy land for me. So I’ll use cunning to not give them a choice about having their tools at hand. Here’s my current best solution for my people:

  • The NITECORE TINI 380 Lumens. Rechargeable, Bright, Keyfob light. A super floody light that is only just bigger than those little disposable pinch LEDs. It’s not combat grade, but it’s not cumbersome and puts out enough light to see hands and beltlines at WalMart parking lot distances. It’s also $30.

  • The Sabre Red Gel key chain flip-top unit with inert trainer and target. This give you a robust and more leak-proof flip-top thumb activated unit in a key-chain size. It’s a bit bigger than those spitfire units that are now discontinued, but the spray quality is much higher on this unit. Sabre Red is HOT at 1.33% MCC (more on OC here). The Gel formulation has its advantage in semi-confined space like vehicles, or in buildings where you don’t want to flood an HVAC system with aerosol pepper spray. It takes a little longer to start burning, and can’t be aspirated as easily, but it still has a place. They also make stream configurations in this package, which I’m interested in.

PRoblem solved, problem staying solved

Now we’ve attached a seeing tool, with a force option, with the keys. We spent less than $50. If we can convince them to dig this mess out before they leave the store, there is no reason to be task fixated digging for keys in front of a locked car, there won’t be a panic at someone emerging from a dark corner to cause trouble, and there will be an option to take away an aggressor’s will to fight by impairing their vision and breathing. That’s enough to make the bad guys look for greener pastures. That’s a win.

Training

The great thing about the Live/Inert combo pack I linked above, is that it gives you a paper target to practice with the inert spray. So take your loved one through some basic MUC exercises. Practice footwork, the fence hand posture, verbalization and their verbal tape-loop, up to painting the guy orange. They get a feel for realistic range and the need to aim and how to aim.

How to convince them to buy?

Sometimes you can’t. I’ve been slowly outfitting my family with useful self defense skills and items. When it’s my birthday, I often give my family a shopping list of useful items I want them to buy for themselves as my present. This is the only way I can get them to invest some money in this stuff. Otherwise I just buy gear for them when they’re in town.

Mother’s day is coming up and it might be worth outfitting your mom and/or wife with something other than a card and some chocolate.

PS: These are the same principles I use, but with a handheld light and key-chain OC. Gun folks should have intermediate force options as well.

Thanks for taking the time to check in,

Mark

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Preemptive Legal Damage Control for a Defensive Shooting

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Note: None of the following is legal advice. Consult with your lawyer to clarify any details. I am not a lawyer. I write a blog.

At the Hebrew Hogger training event, Dana McLendon (career defense attorney and star of the Hot/Crazy Matrix viral video), described a hypothetical story about a defensive shooting and how that might play out from the time the police arrive, all the way through your court date. It was a great lecture.

My favorite part of the lecture, which reinforced my beliefs, were his recommendations about how to preemptively take ammunition away from the prosecutor by controlling your personal iconography (self-identity images you feel represent your beliefs) and social media footprint. He detailed how a prosecutor might leverage these things against you if the circumstances of the defensive shooting were slightly murky (or even not). We want to control what we can control ahead of time.

As Dana mentioned, we have no control over the time and place of the defensive shooting, but we DO have some control over details that may be used against us by the prosecution TODAY.

Since the tips are so easy to implement, and so important, I’m going to list them here:

  • Update your privacy settings on Social Media. Make your posts visible to your friends only (or friends of friends). Here’s the instructions for Facebook. There’s no need to allow the whole internet to see your private stuff.
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This Profile Picture needs to go.
  • Delete any aggressive/gun related profile pictures. These are available for the whole internet. Also, realize that the photo of you with a controversial firearms trainer might tie you to their public opinions, whether you share them or not.
  • Don’t be a racist/bigoted asshole on social media or in emails and texts. That’s public and/or permanent, and it CAN be used against you in court. Also, no one likes assholes. Here’s an article about it.

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  • Consider removing the gun-related bumper stickers from your vehicle/home. When the crime scene photographer takes pictures at the gas station at the scene of the shooting, and your car is plastered with MOLON LABE, NRA stickers, and ‘Kill Em All, Let God Sort Em Out’ decals, it’s very possibly this could become an issue during your legal battle. Also, the bad guys know you’re a gun guy and might rob you. Hunters aren’t immune either. 

  • Consider removing customized gun parts with aggressive verbiage on them. Take the Punisher back plate off of your glock, and the ‘You’re Fucked’ dust cover off of your rifle. Here’s a real world case.
  • As much fun as the gun-guy shirts are, consider how your mugshot will look when you’re wearing your ‘death merchant’ shirt after your shooting. As trainer John Hearne recommends, “Always wear a collared shirt when you carry your gun.” That’s prudent advice.

Those are the low hanging fruit. Control what you can control. You CAN control these things. Weigh these recommendations against how you want to express yourself.

Closing

We identify as gun guys/gals, and ‘a good shoot is a good shoot regardless of what gun was used’. I understand, but if it’s not immediately clear that it was a ‘good shoot’, then it makes sense to ME to limit things that could paint me in a certain light. I’m not 100% compliant on all of these myself, but I have changed some things after Dana’s lecture. I also understand that outward gun-centric swag is HUGE money. People (myself included) like to show we indentify as gun people. It’s our tribe.

I also couldn’t find real-world examples for all of the recommendations, but a reasonable person could extrapolate that they could be an issue. I only wanted to get you thinking. Your mileage may vary.

Buy This Book

The Law of Self Defense – Andrew Branca

Also consider joining the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network.

Thank You,

Mark

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Book Review: Surveillance Detection – The Art of Prevention

A critical aspect of personal protection is situational awareness. An important facet of situational awareness is the ability to know if we’re being watched or monitored. We as private citizens should practice surveillance detection. We want to notice if a person or group of people are patterning our behavior and monitoring us or our families (or businesses) with the intention of some sort of attack.

The surveillance could be as simple as someone loitering outside of a gas station for opportunistic crime or panhandling, through stalkers with violent intent, or as complicated as years long terrorism plots. Surveillance is a critical part of all of these criminal activities, and therefor surveillance detection is a topic you should understand.

I was interested in this topic, so I found the book Surveillance Detection – The Art of Prevention on Amazon and started to study.

The book defines terms and dispels some myths that exist around this field. Throughout the book the authors use anecdotal and hypothetical examples to illustrate their points and allow the reader to more easily visualize the techniques described. They carry the reader from designing to implementing a SD program, all the way through what to do if surveillance is detected. It’s quite thorough.

The authors give ideas for individual, small business, corporation, law enforcement, and even military level surveillance detection operations. You can be as elaborate as you choose to be.

I’ll quickly run down the major facets of SD and note things I found useful. The steps to building a personal surveillance detection program include:

  • A Risk/Threat assessment in which you list all possible threats you face, the relative likelihood of those threats, the risk factors that caused you to include them on the assessment sheet, the preventative course of action to mitigate that threat, and the residual risk AFTER you have taken the preventative course of action.
  • Route reviews which are sketched on maps that include your daily travel routes, where surveillance (SV) would be able to watch you on your routes, finding parts of the route that overlap so SV can find you each day, identifying likely attack points, and determining SV’s likely cover stories and possible escape routes. For most people like us, these are in our neighborhoods, at work, and at any other regular stops we make.
  • Building reviews which can be sketched on google maps printouts of your home/office. With this tool, you can determine the most likely places of your home/office that SV will be looking at. You can see where they will observe from, and determine where you can watch them observe you (both from inside and outside the structure). I did a similar exercise in this post.

arialhouse

  • Tips on observation. There are three categories: areas, people, and vehicles. The authors describe how to observe an area for possible SV, using arching visual fields and looking at hard corners of buildings and vehicles (think parking lot at grocery store). Noting features of people and vehicles are also covered. Practicing these skills allow you to “be a good witness”. They are valuable to everyone.

The book also goes into depth about building an operational plan for team-based SD. This is more in depth than we need to go, but I found it interesting.

While the focus of the book is primarily on a higher level, team based, corporate SD team (because it’s the most complicated), a little imagination will give you ideas that you can implement for your family. I found this to be an interesting read and worth of my time.

Thanks,

Mark
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Book Review: Drive to Survive!

During my yearly training audit, I reminded myself that I needed to get some more education on defensive driving and vehicle tactics. As a result, I purchased several book related to this topic on Amazon.

This is a brief review of Drive To Survive!

I started reading this book as soon as I got home from hearing Dr. Sherman House’s lecture on Becoming The Civilian Defender at the Hebrew Hogger Fundraiser last weekend. He and I were on the same page regarding critical skills to practice. His lecture reminded me that I need to get after my lagging skill-sets. Performance and defensive driving is something I don’t have official training in. I’ve started with this book.

The book’s author is Curt Rich, who was a Vietnam War vet and student of Jeff Cooper and Masaad Ayoob. So Rich wrote this book for the average person trying to drive in the real world, with discussion about avoiding everyday crazy drivers, everyday combat driving techniques, evading criminal activity on the road, high performance maneuvers to evade capture, positioning your vehicle in the real world, anti-kidnapping and carjacking techniques, and avoiding “Murphy” on the road.

Some of the topics I found interesting:

  • Setting up your mirrors to have no blind-spot, and proper seat adjustment
  • Hand placement on steering wheel. 9 and 3 with thumbs up, not wrapped
  • The two-second follow rule, and two-second green light rule
  • Maximizing ABS brakes. “Threshold Braking” with ABS brakes and how stop much shorter than fully depressing your brake in an emergency stop. He also includes some exercises you can do to practice.
  • How to be ‘smooth’ while you drive. (Smooth is fast, after all)
  • Dealing with tailgaters, erratic drivers, and someone following you (3 right turns)
  • Rules if you’re being chased. Evasive maneuvers and running through road blocks.
  • The section on car-jacking and kidnapping is very useful. Lots of tips that are easy to integrate into daily life.

This book was written in 1998, so several of the technological advancements he mentions on luxury cars are now standard in nearly all vehicles. The tactics are still completely applicable.

This book is DEFINITELY worth your time. It’s a short read at 125 pages or so. Considering copies are $0.01 plus shipping, you’re silly not to have a copy on your shelf.

If you’ll excuse me, I have some bootlegger’s turns to practice…

Mark

If you find value in my ramblings, please subscribe, share, and shop through our amazon affiliate link.