Spoiler alert, your greatest weapon is your brain. A saying I find true is that not every problem has a gun solution. In an effort to help you understand what I mean by this, allow me to walk you through a scenario.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to travel from your home to your place of employment with a stop at Quicky-Mart for your morning coffee. Today is no different from any other day for you. It’s Tuesday. Other than deciding between chicken or beef tacos for dinner, nothing will differentiate this Tuesday from any Tuesday in the past and possibly, the future.
You climb out of bed, do a quick set of pushups, shower, brush your teeth, put on your suit, strap your Glock 43 into its ankle holster, and head out to your car. After pulling out of your driveway you head west as usual towards Quicky-Mart which is 4 blocks away on the corner of a busy intersection. Several things are absolutely true about this intersection and this store. One, the intersection is busy and is a dividing line between your middle-class neighborhood and the run-down industrial area to the South. Two, there is always a small contingent of homeless people sitting outside this store begging for spare change. Three, this store has been robbed several times, but that only happens very late at night.
Let’s zoom out on this scenario for just a minute and discuss your city. Using military terminology, your city could be considered your area of interest. Your neighborhood is your area of influence. The seven blocks you travel from your home to the Quicky-Mart and then to work is called your area of operation or AO. It’s the small area inside the larger areas where you conduct your normal missions. (coffee-run, work, back home)
Unless you live in a small rural community you most likely don’t know the names of all the streets and businesses in your city, let alone the individual people that might frequent those locations. It would be virtually impossible for you to feel completely safe and secure in a city the size of Chicago (an attempt at humor) armed with only the knowledge you currently possess. But what about the neighborhood you live in? You most likely still don’t know the names of all the roads, businesses, and people, right? Now narrow that down to the specific route you usually take to get from your home to your job. Do you know the street names? Possibly. Do you know the businesses along that route? It’s plausible. Do you recognize the people that work at the Quicky-Mart, and would they recognize you? It’s a strong probability.
Now back to our scenario. For the past week, you have seen the same new “homeless” guy sitting outside the Quicky-Mart. He seems to be a loner. He doesn’t sit with the others. He seems grumpy and never asks for money like the others. Maybe he’s just lonely? You say to yourself, I’d be grumpy too if I were homeless in Chicago. You blow it off and jump out of your car to go inside the store for your coffee. Back in the car, you go to work. The street vendor is selling tacos for lunch, it is Tuesday after all. While eating your lunch you notice “new homeless guy” walking down the block. Upon returning home that evening you notice the same guy just a block away from your home.
Friday morning, the same routine. Leave home, get coffee, drive to work. Two blocks from the Quicky-Mart you’re stopped at a red light when all of a sudden you feel something hard press against the side of your head and a man that looks a lot like “new homeless guy” says he will kill you if you don’t get out of your car. So many thoughts are running through your head right now. Should I just try to slam on the gas and drive away? Can I get to my gun in time? Maybe I should just let him have the car? You take option number three and get out. You lose your car, but you have your life. You lived, but let’s discuss what you did wrong.
- You created a pattern – try to vary the routes you take to and from your frequent locations. Consider changing the times and days you visit certain businesses. Mix it up. Be unpredictable.
- You didn’t listen to your gut – you noticed “new homeless guy”, but you mistakenly lumped him into the same category as the other homeless people who frequent the Quicky-Mart. Even though something didn’t seem quite right about him, you decided he wasn’t any more of a threat than the others. You also wrongly assumed that the convenience store would be the most likely place for violence to occur. Had you researched your AO you would have found that carjacking was the most probable crime.
- You failed to recognize the threat – when you saw him on the street outside your work, why didn’t you consider that more than just a strange coincidence? In your neighborhood, in your area of operation, if you see a sketchy new person more than once or twice on your exact route of travel, especially close to your home, you need to take steps immediately to determine whether they are a threat or not. Running counter-surveillance on a homeless dude is not paranoia if it ends up saving your life. You failed to realize that he was patterning you. He was watching you and planning his attack.
- You drove with your window down – don’t do this. Carjackers can easily just reach inside the door and open it by using the door handle. Most modern vehicle doors automatically unlock when opened from the inside. Many real-life attacks have happened due to driving with open windows. You made yourself an easy target.
- You carried your pistol in a way that made drawing and presentation very difficult inside a vehicle – I’ll grant you that it’s a very comfortable way to carry, but how quickly and efficiently can you draw, present, and fire from that location? Be honest. It’s extremely slow compared to somewhere on the waistline. (inside a car just plain sucks generally speaking) Also, go ahead and try to draw from an ankle rig while running for cover because I want to point and laugh when you trip and fall on your face.
There’s actually a lot more to this but we don’t have time to go into all the details in this short article, so with that, let’s summarize, shall we? You live close to your work and you love the coffee at Quicky-Mart. The homeless guys are harmless and you recognize each of them. You take the same route from the convenience store to work and you drive with your window down. You know the streets, businesses, and people in your area of operation and if you don’t you absolutely should! You, unfortunately, carry concealed using an ankle rig but at least you made the best choice possible and chose a firearm known for its reliability. Good job! Pro-tip: carry a tourniquet and know how to correctly apply it.
This carjacking scenario (it could be any crime) could absolutely happen to any one of us. Understand that this situation could have been avoided altogether by using your greatest weapon instead of assuming that just because you carry a gun, you’re able to take care of any problem that arises. We should be putting way more thought into why and how we carry. We need to study our personal area of operation and be prepared mentally and physically to deal with the situations we are most likely to find ourselves in. Roleplay the bad guy and try to figure out how you would rob, attack, or kill “yourself” in that area. Practice your draw, presentation, and firing from each of the positions you might find yourself in. Determine the three to five most probably scenarios you could encounter in your AO and be prepared for those contingencies. Understand situational awareness. If you need a refresher on that, here’s an article from Pete. https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2018/09/28/situational-awareness/
Thanks for reading today. Leave some comments below with any real-life stories or close calls you have experienced in your AO and I’m especially interested in your great ideas with respect to carrying concealed. Cheers.