Defensive Gun Use: Head On A Swivel, Edition
A dramatic rescue
Last Sunday, as Americans remembered the heroism of many on September 11, 2001, others demonstrated their own kind of heroism in the parking lot of a Kansas Walmart.
A woman was securing her baby in a car seat at 1:30 PM when two male assailants launched a surprise attack, including striking her on the head. She screamed for help, and a person described only as a good Samaritan proceeded to approach. One of the attackers shot the helper multiple times, critically wounding him or her.
Another bystander, a gun carrier, witnessed this and drew his gun, shooting the gun-wielding criminal and stopping the attack, as the second assailant took off on foot. As of this writing, the woman and Good Samaritan #1 are hospitalized in critical condition, though it has been disclosed that Good Samaritan #1 was able to provide investigators with some information already.
The shooting assailant died. Police deployed a K-9 and caught the suspect who fled.
Regular readers of these Defensive Gun Use reports already know that licensed concealed carriers bear no obligation to help a crime victim. They also know that initiating help is something to envision and ponder in advance—having made some decision about for whom you’re willing to risk your life.
With that understood, let’s look at two other factors involved in this criminal attack.
- Trouble often has company
Gun carriers should remember that, about half the time, those who commit violent crime upon a stranger do so with company. Like most all mammals, criminals find confidence in numbers. In the face of a deadly encounter, the responding party will likely experience tunnel vision, if only momentarily. In our classes, my co-instructor and I teach shooters to scan their surroundings and visually identify objects other than the target immediately after a shot sequence—and before looking at where the new holes are in the target!
There are lots of scanning techniques as well as a bit of controversy from some who say it offers no benefit. I believe scanning is useful if done regularly, and as a way to develop the mental habit of re-orienting to the surrounding area after shooting. It’s useless if a student is just going through the motions without the mental work, or if done so seldom that it doesn’t become habit.
Fortunately, both amateur and professional street thugs tend to flee when their partner in crime is shot or targeted by defensive shooting. “There’s no honor among thieves” is a saying that applies, most of the time.
Tragic and recent history has shown us that, when assailants perceive themselves to be fighting for a cause and not just loot, their associates may well need to be your next target if you want to survive. Consider the 2015 San Bernadino massacre, which took more than a dozen police officers to halt. If you make the choice to fight, with a gun or something else, decide now that you’ll stop fighting when you win! Mental defeat leads to physical defeat.
- Use smart techniques to prevent and deal with an attack
Regular readers already know that maintaining a relaxed awareness of one’s surroundings is the first step of preventing an attack. There are moments, like the one in this incident, where you must turn your back to the world to attend to a task. Here are three common-sense ways to stack the odds in your favor:
- Minimize distractions. Stay off the phone on crowded sidewalks, retail areas, and parking lots. Turn the music down.
- Look confident and maintain the ability to deploy a weapon quickly. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can walk with good posture and make eye contact. Ne’er-do-wells seeking an easy target will look elsewhere.
- When possible, load purchases or rearrange things in the car as you face outward. Although it’s impossible to do for the entire process of putting a little one into a car seat, as much as possible, load bags and such into your vehicle while facing the parking lot. It sounds harder than it is. Doing this keeps you aware of what’s happening around you, and gives would-be thieves and assailants little to no window to catch you unaware.
I hope you find this week’s suggestions useful. After all, these lessons came at a high price to the people involved.
Would an instructional article on scanning techniques be of interest? Please respond in the comments.
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October 23, 2016 at 4:51 PM
The holidays are just around the corner. Who does most of the shopping? Women. They are the backbone of American purchases. They have no compunction to go to the mall and come out with an arm full of items in a bag(s) under their arms. As they walk towards their automobiles, they fail to see that they are being watched. These thugs are waiting for their chances to catch these women at their most vulnerability, when they are distracted and concentrating on putting their newly purchased items in the car or putting their toddlers in their car seats. It is at this moment these cowards strike. These thugs can either inflict violence upon their prey or force their will upon the unsuspecting victims. In any case, the newly acquired packages are taken from these women and fear and terror hit its mark.
The only recourse is to be vigilant of your actions and your surroundings. First, if you have to shop by making multiple purchases, do so in a reputable location whereby the store may have security on patrol to ensure that you are in fact safe while shopping at their location.
Second, if you have to make a lot of purchases do so with company, another adult. A child that is 8 years isn’t a deterrent to a thug. If you really need to make multiple purchases then do so sparingly. Make your purchases then take them to your car and put them in your trunk then go back and get the rest. Remember, do not buy too much stuff where you can’t just throw them into the trunk and slam the lid shut nice and tight. Nothing says that I will not be attentive than an arm full of packages that I am putting into the car one by one. By tossing your purchases into the car and closing the lid quickly will deny your attackers their booty and quite often securing your safety. Of course, you will be screaming your head off as they are trying to steal from you. Scream “rape” or “fire.” This will make people near you to turn and look in your direction. Thugs don’t like attention brought to their location. Nothing like witnesses and hero’s coming to your aid.
Third, if you do go to your car, whether you are alone or with company, be aware of your surroundings and the people near you. That means in front as well as behind you. You need to look to the right of you and to the left of you. You need to see who is walking in your direction, if not pacing you, in the car lane next to you. It is these people that can cross over into your area in an instant. They maybe stalking you. Sometimes you will find someone hanging around a car near you as if they are waiting for something or someone – they are, they are waiting for you so that they can rob you. Sometimes they may follow you in their car. One guy jumps out, rob you, then jumps back in and they are down the street before you know it. So keep your eyes moving. Scan all around you. Just don’t focus on what is in front of you nor be on your phone. You can wait until you are safely inside your car to make your call(s). By keeping your eyes moving you are looking at what is around you. You will notice those things that stand out as being suspicious to you. If you are concern there is something wrong or suspicious then there is nothing wrong in turning around and heading back to the store and ask for help.
Finally, the time of day matters a lot too. If you go shopping in the late afternoon then come out of the store and it is dark then you are setting yourself to be rob while giving your assailants the best advantage possible, the cover of darkness. While their eyes are adjusted to the darkness, your eyes are adjusting to the darkness. This makes it even harder for you to see and recognize anyone or anything.
Over all be safe by staying alert, keep your eyes moving. Have your keys in hand. Put your purchases in the car as quickly as possible. Put your child in the car seat then get inside the car and finish putting your child in their car seat while you are secured by locking the door behind you. Better yet, try shopping without your child, another distraction eliminated and another person safe. Shop with another adult and don’t shop at night. You don’t need to help you assailant any more than you have to.