Are You Prepared?

Be Ready For These Five Categories
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Where’s the danger? Those who carry a weapon in public are constantly asking this question. We’re always in what Jeff Cooper popularized as Condition Yellow. No threat has been recognized, but we’re actively alert for anything that might come up. Once a potential threat has been identified, we move to Condition Orange and begin planning for an attack. We evaluate the threat, the availability of cover and concealment, look for other threats and evaluate the overall environment in case we need to use lethal force. Condition Orange is a critical stage because you’ve identified the threat and must prepare. I propose some threats are already known to us, but most are not adequately prepared to respond.

Threats come in many forms. We can’t always know where they will come from. When we do, however, we’re always better off if we have already prepared rather than waiting until it is staring us in the eyes. A prepared response is always better than an improvised one. This is especially true when the threat is deadly. Massad Ayoob has an oft-repeated phrase for this: “Know where the threats are most likely to come from and have a proven strategy prepared to counter it.” You can’t prepare for everything, so you’ve got to prioritize.

Learning the most common instances where lethal force was used can give you valuable information about where your focus should be. I was listening to the Armed Attorneys (YouTube) discussing this recently. According to them, civilian uses of force cases (as opposed to law enforcement) overwhelmingly come in five categories:

1. Road Rage

There are many factors related to violence while occupying a vehicle. It would help if you made a tactical decision about your response now. Know what options you have to handle a situation like that. Don’t wait until a man is beating on your car door with a tire iron. Your survival may depend on your response. Further, there are legal issues beyond the incident itself. You can be held liable for failing to retreat, even in most stand-your-ground states, based not on the retreat requirement, but on the reasonableness of your actions.

2. Dog Attacks

Dog attacks are frequent enough they deserve a pre-made plan. The law considers dogs as property, so shooting one is much less serious than shooting a person. This doesn’t mean you’re clear of legal liabilities. There are many cases where people have been charged with reckless endangerment because they didn’t consider where their bullets would go if they missed the dog. The attack also presents the disproportionate use of force. Could you have handled it better with less-lethal force such as a stick, chemical spray or something other than a firearm? If you’ve not considered the ramifications, you need to do so now.

3. Neighbor Disputes

Neighbor disputes don’t usually happen in one incident, they usually build up slowly and come to a climax after many interactions. The problem is that the long build-up tends to make subsequent encounters begin at a higher level of force than would ordinarily be

justified. They also escalate faster than most other types of incidents. These disputes are best avoided. Don’t let it begin. Do you know ways to de-escalate situations? Are there alternatives available other than a confrontation? These are critical questions that should be asked ahead of time.

4. Bar/Restaurant Fights

Fights can happen anywhere. Adding alcohol to the mix is like throwing gasoline on a fire. A person whose inhibitions have been chemically lowered may do things they’d never consider when sober. Rationality goes out the window. Is there any way for you to know the amount of danger you face going into a situation? Unless you know the person, you might be surprised to find they are trained in mixed martial arts. What are your options if they are far more skilled than you are? Can it be considered mutual combat where both of you are equally at fault from the start?

5. Breaking up Fights

Do you know if your state’s defense of others is judged on the Reasonable Perception standard? Or, does your state still use the Alter Ego standard? Knowing who started the fight is crucial. Inserting yourself in their fight is dangerous. It’s likely one of the assailants, or possibly both, will turn against you by perceiving you’re coming to the aid of their opponent? What if there are more than two people involved? People who get into fights are the same ones who usually carry knives. Have you researched knife wounds to see how nasty they can be?

A person carrying a gun must consider the fact they are armed as they go through daily life. The fact that they have a gun means they must carefully consider the potential risks and already have a plan in place to deal with them. The first consideration is preventing situations before they start. If it’s not possible, the next option is to know how to get out of the conflict before it gets worse. Barring that, you need to know how to survive the fight. Finally, you must have considered the potential legal implications of your actions.

Every self-defense action carries risks. Entering any encounter carries the possibility that you may be hurt or killed. It also means you’ve increased your risk of criminal and civil liabilities. You may meet all the requirements to legally arm yourself, but if you’ve not taken the time to evaluate common situations and pre-planned your responses, you’re not fully armed. Always remember you can’t control other people’s actions. It would be best if you considered your actions and your options. The threats are there. Treat them as if you were in Condition Orange and prepare for them now.

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