Four Safety Rules

Note, I did not say the four “gun” safety rules. I have heard other instructors quote a firearms instructor by the name John Farnam of Defense Training International, as having common sense rules to stay safe. Rule 1: Don’t hang out with stupid people. Rule 2: Don’t go to stupid places. Rule 3: Don’t do stupid things.

I tweaked this a little bit as it’s prudent to 1) avoid dangerous areas, 2) dangerous people, 3) at dangerous times, 4) and limit your time in those areas of vulnerability.

There are valid reasons we sometimes go to dangerous areas. To hear the Word of God from faithful preachers who love God and who’s Parish is in a dangerous area. Perhaps it’s a specialty shop that has something we consistently need. Perhaps extended family or friends who live in dangerous areas. There is a major caveat to all this; If God calls you to some mission in that dangerous area, then by all means go do it. God’s first.

This goes to the heart of the question can I, should I? As a retired police officer, supervisor, and later administrator I knew well, the city that I served. There was a park in a dangerous area, where drug dealers and gang members would congregate, and play basketball. Now I’m an American. I’m free. I could (can I?) have taken my seven children and wife to have a picnic at that park every Sunday. I could have done that. Knowing my profession and understanding reality, I knew the probability that sooner or later (probably sooner), I may have to defend myself and my family with my firearm. I knew that if that moment came, I would not have been able to control where the unjust criminal aggressors bullets would go. I knew I couldn’t guarantee the safety of my children, and my wife. Yet, I have a grave duty to protect my family and part of that includes making good decisions, right? Right. Additionally, it wouldn’t be reasonable for me to draw down on every person who might approach us in that park. Unjust criminal aggressors wait until they have point blank range (say 3-4 yards) before surprising folks with their knife or firearm. They sink the ambush in deep because there are not a lot square ranges for unjust criminal aggressors to go practice at. Often these unjust criminals carry with them stolen firearms with the serial numbers filed off. Criminals don’t possess valid FOID cards, and may even be a convicted felon. So if that ambush is anything more than a robbery, the just defender will have to pay that bill with their life. If you have to go for your firearm when they’re firearm is out and they’re dominating the situation – that is not going to end well for you. That is a last resort self defense kind of thing. It amounts to mutual destruction. Why? It’s point blank range and you can’t successfully draw on a drawn gun. If you have to, you may still be able to stop the threat, but there is going to be a steep price for you to pay. If it’s for your people – pay it.

As far as missions go what’s my mission? As a husband and father it’s to protect, provide, and lead my family. That’s my mission. I have a grave duty to protect my wife and children. So I have to be prudent. I should be grateful for my family. I should not feel entitled to risk their lives over nonsense. Can I? Yes. Should I? No. I should not. So guess what? I never have, nor will I ever, take my wife and children to any park that I have knowledge is frequented by drug dealers, gang members, felons, and shooters. That is not – going – to – happen.

My daughter works at a place in a high crime area, where there are a lot of shootings each year. I have instructed her to plan well. I have instructed her if she needs gasoline to avoid stopping in that high crime area. To invest more time, in driving to a much safer area, to stop and get gasoline. To invest more time, in driving to a safer area, rather than stopping in that high crime area for something like fast food. These things are common sense. Common sense comes from God. When we disobey God, our intellects darken and eventually we enter into blindness, confusion of mind, and madness. Read Deuteronomy Chapter 28: 28.

When I drive through a dangerous area I revert back to ways I used to patrol. Odd and awkward, which amounts to unpredictable. On patrol we did not drive the posted speed limit. We drove slower, aware of the status of the next traffic control signal. We always left room in front of our squad, so that we could see the tires on the car in front of us. Why? Room to maneuver around that vehicle. We stopped short at intersections. We stopped short rather than even with the car next to us. We turned right and kept moving. If we were going to have to stop next to a sidewalk with a sign, or any other obstacle limiting our mobility, we’d stop short of that obstacle. It’s easy to get good at spending more time in the middle of the block, than stopping at the intersection. Many people today seem to be in a race. Race to the next intersection and then sit there. The posted speed limit seems to be a “minimum,” speed limit. Slowing down allowed me to see, and better read the environment, and any potential threats moving about in that environment. One of the principles I teach is throttle control. Sometimes it is necessary to speed up, to avoid stopping at a particular intersection. A great question to ask yourself is; Why now? Sometimes there are good reasons that things need to happen right now. If that be the case, don’t hesitate. Every tactical question in the world can be answered with just two words: It depends. The part to learn is exactly what it depends upon.

A few words about dangerous people. We have heard in our current generation we must not judge. You have to know what that means. I don’t judge whether you, or I, or anyone is going to Heaven or Hell. That’s called a biblical judgment. That’s God’s business, not my business. I don’t know the degree of graces given. I don’t know the mitigating circumstances. I don’t know the degree of slavery to a particular sin. I don’t know how this, that, or the other person will end. So I can’t touch biblical judgments. Those kinds of judgments are God’s business.

I can, and I must make moral and rational judgments. If I stop making moral judgments meaning I stop deciding whether something is right or wrong, then how can I do good and avoid evil? The Word of God tells me I need to do good and avoid evil. How long do you think I could remain married and out of legal trouble, if I stop making moral judgments? If I were to stop making rational judgments then I’d just walk right out in the street without looking left or right. That is a rational judgment. How long until that ends badly? This is common sense.

So if a man dresses himself up to appear like a member of a criminal motor cycle gang, he’s making a statement to the world. The statement is; he’s a dangerous man. Some would say ‘well, he’s just a want to be. He’s harmless.’ Is he? What is it that he wants to be? Answer the question – what does he want to be? He’s making a statement to the world that he places a high value, on the vices – yes the vices associated with this, that or the other lifestyle. He dresses and adorns himself with certain symbols or signs, that identifies him as a dangerous individual – or part of a dangerous group. Someone to be feared. Why wouldn’t I believe him?

If a man walks down the street cursing and yelling that he don’t “give no [fill in the blank],” then he’s telling the world he doesn’t care so much about social constructs. Angry spirit, right? Why wouldn’t I believe him?

If I start to pull into a gas station in a strange city and I see folks sitting on open window door frames, the hood, trunk, or roof of a vehicle, I’m not stopping at that gas station. Why? Experience as a police officer for over a quarter century. That’s why. Folks dancing on the tops of cars is not a good sign. Don’t expect good things in that atmosphere to be holding sway. Disorder and signs of lawlessness, means it’s time to move on.

If a man walks around talking, or singing loudly to himself, or he otherwise demonstrates signs that something isn’t quite right in his head, why would I think it a good idea to give him opportunity to approach me and mine? It’s said mental institutions had major problems in the first half, of the last century. Instead of reforming what may have been deformed, by sinful men, a certain way of thinking suggested it would be more compassionate to push those folks out onto the streets. Out on the streets they could have access to sharp objects, and interaction with police officers. How has that been working out for society and the common good?

If a man, pair, or group speak and behave like drunks, or like their on drugs, having party spirits, I’m going to give them a wide berth, as it were. I’ll go out of my way to avoid that. I’ll box around choosing another parking lot lane, and cut back over to my car once past all that. Why? I choose to believe what I’m hearing and seeing.

The way a man comports himself, dresses, adorns himself (prison or gang tattoos), walks, talks, and acts makes a statement to the world. Is he displaying his prison or gang tattoos with great pride? Does he demonstrate a spirit of entitlement? Does he hold high vices? Why wouldn’t I believe him?

It is simply false compassion to pretend like people are not what they purport to be. It is madness. I’m going to believe people when they’re telling me in every non-verbal (and sometimes verbal) way possible, that they’re dangerous folks.

Why should law abiding citizens be taught to feel bad about accepting things as they are? It is not prudent to ignore people who are telling you in all these ways, what they are about. Political correctness is a curse and a pox upon the land. Reject it, in all of it’s forms!

What times are generally more dangerous than others? There are no guarantees but don’t go to dangerous areas at night. Don’t go to dangerous areas in the summer time, at night. Don’t go to dangerous areas in the summer time, at night, on a Friday or Saturday. For some reason around the holidays (Thanksgiving & Christmas), armed robberies of businesses often increase. So if you must stop and pick up a pizza leave the wife and children at home. Delivery may be the best of all ways to get your pizza during this time period.

What is the best time to go to a dangerous area if that’s what you need or desire to do? Morning time, say between 7 AM and 11 AM. That is what I tell my family, and friends. Again, no guarantees but many dangerous people stay up late doing the party thing. In my experience many potentially dangerous ambush predators sleep during those early morning hours.

If I really have a desire to go out and get some food after dark I need to consider whether I’m stacking errors. Before becoming a police officer, I stacked errors. I didn’t know any of these things, so late at night if I was hungry I would drive up to a sketchy convenience store, in a dangerous part of town, on a weekend night, in the summer, and go get my snack food. I was fortunate. It’s about probabilities. I got away with it for awhile. Stack errors and you stack probabilities that you’re going to be a victim or you’re going to have to defend yourself, which may include the legal, civil, and social battlefields. If I had it to do all over again, I would simply have drove farther to a location where the probability of a problem would have dropped to near zero. In real estate we hear location, location, location. That is a pretty good way of looking at how to keep yourself and your family safe in these troubled times.

One of my relatives lives in a dangerous area. The kind of area where drive by shootings wouldn’t be a big surprise. So my children are not permitted to go to that area until they’re adults, living on their own. My house, my rules. That’s my call. If my wife decides to go to that location, I have offered some suggestions:

1) Leave early: If she leaves early she has options. When pulling up to park if she sees a sketchy looking guy passing by, she can simply drive on and in a few blocks turn right, and box back around. He should be long gone when she gets back. What I’m looking to remove is his opportunity. If their paths are logically going to come close to intersecting as she walks from the car, to the house, then he has opportunity. Leaving early gives her options she would not have if she is running late.

2) Don’t linger out front: The longer we stand in a dangerous area the more access we grant to transients passing by on foot. Some of those transients will be opportunists or dangerous men. Get inside. Stay inside. If the shooting starts, lay on the floor until it’s over. Basements are great for sheltering in place, if you live in an area where drive by shootings are common. If your friend wants to chat you up by the street, sidewalk or front yard – ask to use the restroom. When leaving look before you leap, as it were, to see if there are any potential dangerous people passing by and go use that restroom again to freshen up. Don’t chat in the front yard, sidewalk, or street. Tell your friend to call you. Get in your vehicle, start your car, and get moving. It’s hard to hit a moving target. Limit your time in areas of vulnerability.

3) Time of day: Go in the morning hours, if possible.

Sometimes I will drive my wife and simply drop her off. Being a retired police officer I have concealed carry, and I apply the above tactics. This is the preferred way. When she’s ready to go she calls for a ride, and I call her back when I’m out front.

It’s about being on the right side of as many good principles as possible. Since it is a dangerous area then do what you can to avoid dangerous people, dangerous times, and don’t loiter or linger in areas of higher vulnerability. Back yards are better than front yards. But that’s going to depend upon who the neighbors are. Privacy fences add a layer of security, but again, who are the neighbors? Inside is better than outside. Basements are better than main levels if drive by shootings are common place.

Again, the caveat is if God sends you on mission then go do it. But short of that, I’m going to strive to make good decisions and use sound tactics. I’m not looking for any problems. I’m looking for ways to avoid unjust criminal aggressors. It’s the job for active law enforcement to go deal with those guys. My job, is to protect, provide, and lead my family. Another important question for every person in a leadership role is: Where are you leading your people? If I’m doing my job I’m not leading them needlessly to their deaths, prison, or any other bad place.

Carl von Clausewitz in his book On War defined war as having to do with the will of men. Unjust aggressors have free will so solving your problem with early intervention means way before we’re entering into jeopardy and violent confrontations. I know, that’s not always possible but where it is possible, I’m looking to exploit the opportunities to avoid it.