All you need to do is check the evening news to realize that there is no safe place. It’s somewhat naive to assume that bad things can’t happen in any city, town, village, or rural setting. Neither is it reasonable to decide to be a hermit and hide out until things get better—because there is no guarantee they will. The smart move is to be informed, be prepared, and learn to deal with it.
Some of us grew up in a time, one nearly forgotten, when “a man’s home [was] his castle.” It was a place where you relaxed at the end of the day. A refuge away from the cares of the world. And then home invasions became popular among the criminal element. We know now that we have to be just as alert and careful at home as anywhere else.
Realistically, we look at ways to harden the target where our home is concerned. We want to make it hard to get into, requiring a noisy effort on the part of the criminal. A good start is to install heavy-duty locks on all the exterior doors and windows. The next step is to keep those doors and windows locked, even when we are at home. Good exterior lighting allows us to check things out without having to unlock anything. The addition of a dog to the household makes for an excellent early-warning system, too.
Guns in the home ought to be as readily available as possible while keeping family safety in mind. And, where home-defensive firearms are concerned, bigger is better. Shotguns and carbines trump handguns of any kind. And, full-size service pistols are going to be easier to handle, and therefore more effective, than compact models.
Just about all of us have some sort of smaller pistol or revolver that we carry when the weather is hot, or circumstances don’t seem to allow carrying a bigger handgun in public. It is a good idea to keep these instances to a minimum. A short trip to the range will reinforce the fact that people shoot and handle a service-size pistol more accurately and effectively. So, instead of preferring to pack that little gun, the better idea is to alter your dress to allow for the larger handgun. It can be done if a person is serious about it.
When people are out and about, it is even more important to know that there is no safe place. We work to keep ourselves in Condition Yellow (relaxed alertness) as much as possible. And, believe me, it takes practice—and lots of it. The person who says that they are always alert is fooling himself.
One of the main things that relaxed alertness does for the citizen, even the armed citizen, is to help him or her spot potential trouble while there is still time to get away from it. When I spot someone acting strangely, or who is seemingly out of place, I leave as quickly as possible, keeping an eye on them while doing so—even in the middle of a meal. Leaving a meal unfinished is better than being in a gunfight. As a citizen (I’m no longer a peace officer), I also consider it my duty to notify law enforcement if I think the situation warrants it.
In my view, the least-safe places are often those styled as “gun-free” zones. It is a good idea to avoid these areas when possible. If that means that we miss some sporting events and concerts, then so be it. There is always television if we just can’t stand to miss our favorite team or musical group. When we are simply forced to enter a “gun-free” zone, the best tactic is to get in and out as quickly as possible.
In short, a person who is serious about surviving in today’s world will make an effort to educate themselves about personal defense. Numerous training opportunities are available to those who are serious about their own safety. Just as we make our homes a harder target to attack, we make ourselves harder targets for the criminal. We learn ways to spot trouble. We learn ways to avoid trouble. And, we learn ways to make our defensive handgun a more-effective exit ticket.
It’s tempting to reminisce about the world that you remember as a child, where doors were seldom locked, kids played up and down the street, romped out in the woods, and neighbors looked out for each other. Who wouldn’t want to return to that kinder, gentler society?
But, we live in the present. We can philosophize and wax nostalgic about the “good old days” as we remember them, but we had better deal in reality. The cold, hard fact is that there is no such thing as a “safe place,” so therefore improving our personal-defense skills needs to be a priority. I have studied and trained in hopes that, if attacked, it will be the biggest mistake that criminal has made in his life. I sincerely hope you will do the same.
This article originally appeared in Shooting Illustrated.