There’s been a tremendous increase in firearms ownership in America in the past few years. From concern over the availability of firearms under this political climate to the threat of active shooters, Americans are arming themselves more and more as of late.
Arming yourself with a gun, however, is an optional checkpoint on the road to personal security. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A firearm is not a talisman against evil, it requires a skilled and determined operator to be effective. If you’ve decided that a gun should be a part of your personal security inside and outside the home, get the training you need to safely own and/or carry your gun, and then get some more. After all, no one ever survived a gunfight thinking “Wow, did I ever overtrain for that!”
Before buying a gun, however, consider all the other things in your lifestyle that might be points of vulnerability in your life. Using a firearm to defend your life should be, in the words of Massad Ayoob, only in the gravest extreme*. If it’s possible to avoid a situation where a gun is needed, do so first, last, and foremost.
John Farnam is one of the most-respected trainers in the firearms industry, and he has a simple, easy-to-follow mantra to help keep all of us out of trouble:
Don’t go to stupid places to do stupid things with stupid people.
Sounds simple, but defining stupidity is never easy. When I lived in Quito, I did a photo shoot in some indoor bazaars that overflowed with great photo opportunities. They also overflowed with pickpockets, muggers, and the dregs of Ecuador’s capital city. I was fortunate that I had a guide who knew his way around the place and I was overly polite to all I met, so even though it was a stupid place to be, I was there with smart people and I wasn’t acting stupidly.
Would I do such things by myself, after dark? Oh, heck no. Let’s break each of those items down, one by one, to help with the process.
Don’t Go to Stupid Places
Knowing where the stupid places are is crucial to keeping safe, and that’s a skill that is fading in today’s GPS-driven world. I live in Southwest Florida, and I recently needed to drive out east to pick up a family member late at night at the Miami airport. Unfortunately, my smartphone wasn’t all that smart, and it gave me directions to the airport that led straight through the heart of one of Miami’s more … exciting neighborhoods. Had I known more about the city and my projected route, I’d have avoided that area or I’d have chosen to stick to the interstate and stayed away from trouble altogether. Lesson learned, and fortunately learned without an unfortunate incident.
Don’t Do Stupid Things
This is a little more hard to define in today’s world of active shooters, but to quote a great line from a great movie, whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt. If there’s any question that violence may happen where you are, such as a loud argument which involves large groups of people or activities that tend to attract the criminal element, leave, or better yet, don’t go there in the first place. After all, the easiest way to avoid trouble is to not be where trouble is happening. This also applies to situations where there might be an active shooter. We’re beginning to understand some of the warning signs for a heightened possibility of an active shooter; keep your eyes open if you recognize some of them in your surroundings.
With Stupid People
Defining “stupid people” is both easy and difficult. There are the obviously stupid people who’ve done stupid things in the past which have put them in jail, but there’s the not-so-obvious things as well. Ask any cop, and they’ll tell you that responding to domestic situations is one of the worst things about their jobs. Messy divorces are a fact of life in all levels of society today, and bitter custody battles can turn ugly very quickly. Nothing sucks more than being an innocent bystander who is in the wrong time at the wrong place, so be careful about who’s in your close circle of friends. Also, take care if you have any friends with a hair-trigger temper who tend to “not take guff (or another four-letter word) from anyone”: Those type of people tend to not know how to walk away from a fight that is headed their way.
Being aware of what’s going around you is the foundation of personal safety. You can’t put out a fire you don’t know about, and you can’t defend against an attack you don’t see coming. Knowing what the “stupid” elements of your life might be (and then avoiding them at all costs) is an important first step on the road to safer, happier lifestyle.
* I’ve been a photographer, writer, salesman and a fry cook at Dairy Queen, but one thing I haven’t been is a lawyer. Talk with them about this sort of thing, not me.