What is war? Probably the best working definition of war, as it would apply to legitimate defense, comes from Carl von Clausewitz. Clausewitz in his book On War, stated: “War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” In other words, war has much to do with the “will,” of men.

What is the “will” of a police officer? Police officers are tasked with enforcing the law. Their “will” is to stop, detain, investigate, cite, and sometimes arrest law breakers. Those are things a police officer desires to do. Criminals do not desire to be stopped, detained, questioned, cited, or arrested. Who’s “will” triumphs? What exactly is the criminal “willing” to do to avoid being stopped, questioned, cited, or arrested? Likewise what is the officer “willing” to do, to fulfill his mission? Wait, what was the definition of war: “Acts of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.”

Let’s take a look now at the “will” of an unjust aggressor and innocent citizen. Unjust criminal aggressors have a “will” to steal and rob others of their money and material goods. Unjust criminal aggressors have a “will” to sexually assault or beat down the innocent at their pleasure. Sometimes unjust criminal aggressors use their “will” to take the life of an innocent. Innocent Citizens have a “will” that is the exact opposite. Innocents do not “will” to be robbed. Innocent citizens do not “will” to be raped or beaten. Innocents do not “will” to be murdered. So we arrive again at our definition of war; an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.

To understand things we often have to go back. God said:

Genesis 3: 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.

Going back to the beginning we find enmity. The word “enmity,” as defined by Merriam Webster’s means: an instance of such ill will or hostility. That is why we cannot, and we will not all just “get along.” Unjust aggressors have free will. They can and they do reach forth their hand and try to take what they desire from innocents – what they “will.”

This battle isn’t only between competing wills. That’s a major part of it however, good and evil battle in ideology. We see this with some states attorney’s, politicians, media folks, and others undermining and attacking a police officer’s “will” on the legal, civil, and social battlefields. “Some,” being the qualifying term. Some of these folks place obstacles in the way of just defenders like police officers. Realize that this ideological siege currently directed at law enforcement will work it’s way down to the level of innocent American citizens. I believe, Americans have a right to use any force reasonable and necessary to stop an unjust criminal aggressor from imposing their will upon the innocent.

War has much to do with the “will.”

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.

First Things on the Streets

Where are you? Do you even know your location? When I started in Law Enforcement in 1991, police officers did not have locators showing dispatch the officers location. It was a high priority for new recruits to study the city streets. It was critical to know the direction you were patrolling. If you conducted a traffic stop and that transitioned into a foot pursuit the initial direction of travel was very important. That was the basis for all future twists and turns.

Squared away Field Training Officers would do things like suddenly shout out “Stop, the car!” As a probationary recruit you would immediately stop the car. That got the blood in your heart pumping. The Field Training Officer FTO would say something like: “You’ve just been shot at.” Or, “I’ve just been shot!, You need help! Where are you? What is your current location? Advise! Where are you recruit?” Of course the FTO was paying attention. He noticed you were not paying attention. You had no idea where you were. That’s a problem. That sort of thing makes a lasting impression. Years later you still find yourself paying a lot of attention to street signs. Every now and then you get caught not paying attention, and somebody flags you down. You get that panic feeling – Oh no, what’s my location? Knowing where your location may be the difference between life and death.

As new officers we studied the maps (before smart phones), and memorized the major streets. In the city of Springfield, Illinois we knew odd addresses were on the north and west sides of the street. Even addresses were on the south and east sides of the street. What’s it like in your city? I don’t know, it’s up to you to figure it out. We knew the hundred blocks preceding and following the major streets. We new this in all directions. We paid attention to what directions we were travelling. If we had someone bail out on a traffic stop and run, we paid particular attention to their initial direction of travel. St. Thomas Aquinas said “an error in the beginning is an error indeed!” Why? Errors in the beginning especially at the level of fundamental principles tend to compound. Great care must be taken in the beginning to ensure we’re not compounding errors. Knowing that initial direction of travel we could make adjustments as they turned north, south, east, or west.

How is this relevant to civilians? Why should a civilian care about this?

Think about it for minute. We take the same roads to and from work everyday. Do you even know the name of the roadway your on? Does your wife know? Does your teenage son or daughter know? Do you know the names of the major cross roads? Do you know if you’re travelling north, south, east, or west? I live in Tazewell County, Illinois. I know the Illinois river runs north and south. That is just one reference point. Do you know if you’re a little south of the next major cross road and what the name of that crossroad is? An awareness of where you are, that’s what we’re talking about here. It might mean the difference between life and death, especially if your commute takes you through dangerous areas where there are a lot of crimes each year. A lot of firearm related crimes every year. There may be police officers just a couple blocks away, but if you can’t provide your location to the call taker those police officers may miss an opportunity to help you.

The 911 system is on the verge of getting much better. Currently it varies from place to place. It may vary widely from place to place. Next generation 911 may be out late 2021. Depending on where you are in the United States current technology may triangulate your cell phone within say 50 meters in any direction. May is a qualifying term. It may be far greater distance or less. Emergency communications are gaining ground, and sooner than later, they will have the capacity to locate your cell phone within a few feet in any direction. The next generation may also provide what floor of a building the caller is calling from. To my knowledge that is not currently the case. The more details you provide a 911 call taker, the better.

Does that mean there’s no reason to do the work of learning where you are? No. Technology can fail. Systems can experience glitches. Mr. Murphy (Murphy’s law) sometimes shows up and wreaks havoc. Learning the map, as it were, is still a worthy pursuit. Knowing what direction you’re moving in relation to your map, or landmark, is a good thing to know.

As I spoke about in an earlier post, going out into the most dangerous neighborhoods of any city USA is so much easier as part of a brotherhood. Trust in your brothers and sisters gives police officers a major boost in confidence. You have no doubt they will take great calculated risks to get to you, and help you in your time of need. That said, I always knew the radio (cell phone for a civilian), could be a liability rather than an asset. How could it be a liability? If someone was about the business of murdering another human being in front of me, or drawing a bead on me, I decided I would forget about my radio (or the phone), and solve the problem. I knew then, and now, time is a precious commodity. I knew I would either solve the problem, or I would be killed. Should I win that battle even if I were injured, that would be the time (timing matters much) to key up (or dial 911) and call in the cavalry. That is where the lines are. Never forget that. That phone is not any kind of guarantee for you and for yours. If you have time to use it, do so. If you don’t have time, solve the problem. It’s that simple.

What does Leadership have to do with Legitimate Defense?

Leadership is the cornerstone to the twelve fundamental principles that I teach. Leadership is a matter of life or death.

So why would anyone want to sit and listen to a whole day on leadership? I’ll try to paint a picture of how important leadership is to each of the five battlefields.

The most important of the five battlefields is the moral battlefield. The good news is God is not anything like a progressive elected states attorney. With God the advantages still go to the just defender not to the unjust aggressor. God doesn’t suffer any kind of false compassion for criminals bent on doing evil. He has compassion but not false compassion. There are moral lines. Those who study the bible know vengeance is God’s alone. We’re not supposed to be about vengeance or revenge. When someone insults a Christian, we’re to turn the other cheek. A distinction must be made between an insult and the threat or use of physical violence. Those are radically different things. In antiquity men were less likely to unsheathe the sword, for a slap in the face. Our current generation has grown weak in the knees and soft in the spine. Today we often indulge our egos over slights and insults. That is the wrong way. I know, easy to say and hard to do.

Leadership is about doing right things. Doing good, and avoiding evil. Leadership is not afraid to define clearly where the lines are. It’s about doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason, and in the right way. The right Way, with a capital “W,” isn’t a something. He is a Somebody and His name is Jesus.

If we do the work to learn where the “moral,” lines are we have a far higher probability of staying out of serious trouble on many of the five battlefields.

Why do I need to know how leadership applies to the physical battlefield? Acknowledging the truth of the fundamental principles that hold sway is the bulk of the physical battlefield. Knowledge and skills. We need both. Knowledge is more important than skills. That doesn’t mean we should neglect the skills. We need both. Failure to understand the truth of things may result in physical death. Your physical death or the physical death of someone you’re gravely responsible for. This battlefield has much to do with fundamental principles. Lets look at an example. Action beats reaction. That is a fundamental principle. But you might not believe it. You might not like that principle. Okay, so what? It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not, or like it or not. It does not change the principle. If we were to watch a violent video of an unjust aggressor in the “act,” stage of the OODA loop (Col John Boyd’s OODA loop), we’d observe that he can draw and shoot in about a quarter of a second. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (that was given to the world by John Boyd). At my old police house a trainer used to add a silent “a,” on the end of OODA, for “accept.” How long does it take a trained person with good reflexes to see it, understand it, make a decision, and act? Did they “see it?” On average somewhere around three quarters of a second. For some longer. For a variety of reasons some will never find their way to the act stage of OODA.

Leadership is the cornerstone of my principles. Is there a cornerstone to leadership? Yes, humility. St. Teresa of Avila defined humility as the acknowledgement of the truth. Truth is crucial to winning the physical battles.

If we don’t even know the principle action beats reaction we may come to believe all sorts of goofy ideas. Lies lead us to a false belief that a just defender has some mythical ability to “slow things down.” De-escalation, right? If you value your life and the lives of those you’re gravely responsible for, realize, sometimes you must speed things up in order to win. A hard saying. Not a convenient saying in our current generation. Rejecting a principle like action beats reaction gives the advantage to the unjust aggressor. Advantage should go to the legitimate just defenders. Advantage should never go to the unjust aggressors. It is madness to seek to give advantages to unjust aggressors. How did it come to this? How has our great country fallen so far as to have a desire to give advantage to unjust aggressors? Sin. Acknowledgement of the truth of fundamental principles of combat is a matter of life or death.

Poor training due to a crisis in leadership may result in the physical death of those being poorly trained.

The legal battlefield. How is that related to leadership? We must define where the lines are. Let’s take one example. Andrew Branca wrote a great book called The Law of Self Defense. I liked that book so much I now have two copies of it.

Andrew Branca writes about five elements necessary for us to win a claim of self defense on the legal battlefield. The five areas of concern are innocence, imminence, proportionality, avoidance, and reasonableness (both objective and subjective). The term self defense is a legal term. It doesn’t matter how you feel about what happened. You either are rightly within these five elements or you’re not. If the elected states attorney doesn’t believe you are, then you probably get indicted. If the states attorney can prove to a jury you failed in just one of these elements you will end up in prison. One of the areas mentioned is innocence. So I’m going to say a few things about innocence.

If you have a problem with someone and they say to you: You want to step outside and handle this like a man? If you silently and tacitly agree, then follow him out and fight, you’ve lost innocence. That is called mutual combat. The legal term self defense is not longer an option. If someone dies in that fight the winner of the fight is most likely going to trial. If someone flips you an obscene gesture in a road rage type situation, and you roll down the window and say: You want to go?!! Pulling over at the side of the road and engage in a fight. You’ve – lost – innocence. That is mutual combat. Mutual combat removes your ability to lay claim to lawful self-defense. That is not “nice,” to know. That is “need,” to know. That fits in perfect with the moral battlefield and turning the cheek, as it were, to insults and offenses. Clarity about right things is a big part of authentic leadership. Leaders prepare their people well. Authentic (meaning genuine) leaders train their people properly. The leader must understand the dangers that lay ahead for their students or clients, and then do the work to prepare them. The truth is there are no guarantees. So the best we can do is keep our people away from the fantasies and lies, that will be of disservice to them, and tell them the truth. Show them what lays in wait ahead of them.

Humility (acknowledging the truth) is the cornerstone of leadership. On the legal battlefield, leadership is a matter of freedom versus incarceration.

On the civil battlefield leadership is a matter of maintaining wealth acquired versus bankruptcy. Are there things you can do to hedge against this? Yes. There are strategies. Humility is the truth. Humility is also a willingness to take the lowest seat. Taking the lowest seat can gain you a gift, a present, as it were. The unjust aggressor see’s you avoiding him and that act of avoidance plays to his ego. The gift he gives you is to underestimate your capabilities. To underestimate your will, to defend yourself or your people. It’s easy for the arrogant to puff up even more into an over confidence. That’s a strategy. In Boyd’s OODA loop it was said as a fighter pilot he could begin in an inferior position in an aviation dog fight, and within a matter of seconds reverse positioning and win the fight. It is my opinion John Boyd learned how to use his opponents will to pursue and overtake him. He let his opponents will led them right into a position of disadvantage. Think about this. As a civilian, as you move away to avoid an unjust aggressor, you move towards better ground. What’s better ground? Cover. A big old oak tree. Something that stops bullets. That is the gold standard of better ground. High ground is generally better ground. You move to a tactically superior position. Think about it from the unjust aggressors perspective. You [their perceived victim] suddenly have cover. He suddenly feels very vulnerable, because he didn’t make it to cover. Here is where the confrontation takes place. Get the idea?

Carl von Clausewitz in his book On War wrote: “War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” In other words war is in the will. So the unjust aggressor has free will. He decides. He decides if and how much force it’s going to take to stop him. He could change his mind. He could surrender to the police officer. He could turn away from his selected rape victim. He could do a lot of things. He decides how things will play out. Some unjust aggressors will turn away. Some will burn it in. That’s just the way it is. Free will, right? Right.

War ain’t fair. If you’re looking for a fair fight go compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Go somewhere with a referee who will intercede to ensure nobody dies. Competition ain’t combat. They are radically different things. Don’t ever go looking for fight, but if one comes to you, learn the fundamental principles that will hold sway and then strive to make good decisions. Strive to be decisive and strive to win. Forget about mere survival. It may come to that – but we’re not starting there. That is a losing mindset. Think like a winner. That’s what I believe and that’s what God willing, I will strive to do.

Leadership on the social battlefield, can be condensed, distilled, and synthesized down to a matter of staying in your home or moving, staying in your job or being fired. What’s my mission? Protect, provide, and lead those I purport to “love.” My family. If things get bad enough, I hope and pray that I’d have the grace to humble myself and move. My mission is not to feed my ego. Ego is often about posturing. It’s about reassuring your sensitive, insecure, insatiable ego that thinks it needs to be patted on the head and told – it’s okay, you’re are very courageous! So we postures and talk smack to feel better about the whole perceived injustice – whatever that might be. Perceived being the qualifying term.

To grow stronger in mindset (a principle) we need to deny our ego’s illicit desires to posture over insults and slights. That is one of the best ways to avoid situations that can easily escalate.

Now don’t misunderstand me. Some things are worth standing your ground and saying the truth. Authentic leaders stand up and say hard things that will cost them as it pertains to speaking truth and standing up for their people when they act rightly. A distinction must be made. That is not the same thing as someone insulting or giving offense to you and you falsely believing your honor is on the line. Two different things. You have to know where these lines are.

When I talk about the social battlefield I view and care more about the part relating to a learned capacity to be unpredictable. To be awkward which facilitates being unpredictable. To be willing to rebuke an unjust aggressor which does test his will. Which does reveal your jeopardy. More on that later.

Our country is philosophically divided. In these last couple of decades the divisions have deepened. The black and the white, as it were, have gotten larger, while the gray in the middle, has thinned out. Many there are who have become blind, confused, and quite crazy as it relates to right things. We see it in the criminal justice system. States attorneys pitting themselves against police officers. States attorneys exercising a false compassion with the unjust criminals, and an overzealousness with innocent police officers doing a hard job. We see it in some activist judges wielding a false compassion for unjust criminal aggressors. As we watch the legal, civil, and social battlefields struggle to know and do right things, we still have responsibilities to protect our families. The police officers still have responsibilities to protect the innocent within their communities. Every one of us has a right to insist upon more respect for own life, than any number of unjust criminal aggressors. They have no rights to threaten or cause serious bodily injury or death to innocents. We cannot compromise our responsibilities, due to fear of the legal, civil, or social battlefields. The best we can do in times such as these, is to adopt strategies making it more difficult for folks in positions of authority on those battlefields (legal, civil, and social), to successfully do the wrong things.

In conclusion, leadership is a matter of life and death for the moral and physical battlefields. Leadership is a matter of freedom or incarceration for the legal battlefield. A matter of maintaining ones wealth or bankruptcy for the civil battlefield. Leadership is a matter of staying in your home or moving for the social battlefield.

That is why leadership is the cornerstone to all the first principles I teach.

Five Battlefields

There are five battlefields as it relates to legitimate self defense. In the Old Testament it was revealed to us King Solomon asked for wisdom and God granted it to him. King Solomon said the following:

Ecclesiastes 1: 9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already, in the ages before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to happen among those who come after.

There is nothing new under the sun. I’m simply going to give you my understanding of principles I learned over a twenty six career in law enforcement.

In starting this blog it’s become clear to me how difficult it is to write a post, and be satisfied with it. Perfection is always out of reach. The difficulty in covering all the angles. Writing and re-writing, and writing again. Using various editors which seem to sometimes contradict one another. I have known for awhile now – I don’t write so well. Bear with me.

The Five Battlefields are:

1) Moral Battlefield

2) Physical Battlefield

3) Legal Battlefield

4) Civil Battlefield

5) Social Battlefield

The moral battlefield has much to do with right things. Good things. Who decides what’s good and what is evil? Well – God. As a Catholic I look to my Faith to understand morally where the lines are. It is my opinion that the moral battlefield is by far the most important of all the battlefields. The Word of God asks what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Leadership is the first fundamental principle that I teach. Leadership has to do with doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason, and in the right way. The right Way isn’t a something, it’s a somebody and His name is Jesus.

There are many and various qualities or characteristics of leadership that need to be developed by good leaders. Purpose involves both mission and will. Leadership is not about you, it’s for your people. Leadership is not about power – it’s about responsibility. The authority involved is not given to you for your self aggrandizing or to reassure your ego. It’s – for – your – people! How important is leadership as it pertains to concealed carry or home protection? It quite literally is a matter of life or death. It might be the death of someone you purport to love. We always find our true selves out, when we get tested. We find out just how much we really “love,” the one we purport to love when there is a cost. When there is a price to be paid. When we have to say to the waiter, “Check!” That proverbial check perhaps being our very life. It’s easy when things are to our liking to say “I love you.” To say “I care about you.” Not so easy when we have to pay a price.

Leadership is the cornerstone to the twelve fundamental principles I teach. Humility is the cornerstone of leadership. A great working definition of humility is the acknowledgment of the truth – St. Teresa of Avila. The truth of things. Humility is also found in little things. Humble things. Small things. The four safety rules seem so little yet they carry such a profound effect at all levels of skill building as it relates to defensive firearms. The four safety rules go right to the heart of our mission. What’s our mission? Protecting those for whom we’re gravely responsible. The adage that we don’t need to sweat little things is incorrect as it applies to becoming a craftsman. Little things do in fact matter. Sweat them.

Questions like can I should I, and where am I leading my people, are great leadership questions to frequently ask yourself. Just because you can do something does not mean you should do it. Where are you leading your people? Do you know what it is you’re preparing them for? Have you done the work. Have you reflected on hard sayings? Are you prepared to pay a price for telling them the truth about this, that, or the other things? Do you have your peoples best interest at heart? Or do you have your own interest at heart? Is this about you or is it about them? There is an old Latin saying Nemo dat quod non habetNo man gives what he does not have. Have you put out doing the work to gain that which you need to give to your people? To become a craftsman at anything in life you have to invest of time and hard work. You have to be willing to put out and do the work necessary to come up to speed and competency in whatever your profession happens to be.

There has never been a time where there is more game film, as it were, of actual violent and deadly confrontations available as there is now on the internet. We see police videos. We see violent robberies and citizen on citizen attacks. We see a lot of competent instructors educating folks in skill building. We need knowledge and we need skills.

Are there principles that hold sway in all physical confrontations? In deadly force confrontations? Yes.

There are fundamental or first principles that hold sway. I have a desire to educate and share with people fundamental principles. I have twelve in mind:

1) Leadership 2) Mindset 3) Problem Solving 4) Jeopardy 5) Threat Awareness 6) Tactical Staging 7) Time, Distance, Cover, & Concealment or Obstacles 8) Loud Rebuke 9) Relative Superiority 10) Surprise, Speed, & Violence of Action 11) Action Beats Reaction 12) Throttle Control

Why twelve? Why not twenty eight, or forty seven? One could prepare forever before embarking on a journey, but then one would never begin. It is a work in progress, just as we are a work in progress. To paraphrase the late great Vince Lombardi we may not achieve perfection in this life, but if we chase after perfection we may in fact catch excellence. We have to begin. We have to take the first steps. There will be principles within these twelve fundamentals. To the degree we stack as many good principles as the circumstances allow, we will probably (probabilities) do better than if we stack errors. There are no guarantees in anything in life. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. There are principles that apply for winning or losing, adopt the winning principles.

These first two battlefields have held sway since the beginning of time. The moral and physical battlefields. They will hold sway until time gives way to Eternity. In other words until Jesus returns for the final judgment.

The next three battlefields depend upon civilized society.

The legal battlefield concerns elected officials. An elected States Attorney SA, making a judgement call on whether your use of force fits within the legal definition of “self defense.” Laws vary from state to state. I cannot give legal advice as I’m not a lawyer. I don’t believe you came here for knowledge that relates to what a lawyer thinks. I’m willing to share what a retired police lieutenant thinks about this, that, or the other law, or case law. I’m willing to share my understanding. There are no guarantees for you, or for me. Change one nuanced detail and you may change the entire context of the “what if?” Every tactical or scenario based question in the world necessarily must be answered with just two words: It depends. That’s not avoiding any questions it’s telling you the truth. If the context changes – the right thing to do may change. You can still do the right thing and have a legal problem with an elected SA who may see things very differently than you do. Where are you? Where did the violent confrontation take place? Are you in a county that elects liberal, left leaning, folks?Where are you? It matters. It might matter to the point of your use of defensive force being justified or you being indicted and tried. I don’t even like that reality but my not liking it doesn’t change it. Read the news and you’ll see madness. You’ll see a movement in various places to decriminalize crime. You will see demonstrations of a very false compassion for the unjust aggressors of this world. You’ll see bail bond reform. It is what it is. A great friend of mine would at this point sarcastically ask – is it? To which I’d respond – It always is.

When I first retired a friend asked me if I planned on obtaining concealed carry insurance? Arrogance is somewhat of an occupational hazard in law enforcement, so my response was something like; ‘No, if I’m forced to use my firearm I will be receiving an award.’ Thinking that would only be in defense of my life, my family members lives, and other innocents against an active shooter. Time passed and I began doing what I did in law enforcement. I began studying Illinois case law as it relates to self defense. I methodically studied, highlighted, annotated, and learned lessons from dozens of civilian self defense cases. I read Andrew Branca’s book; The Law of Self Defense. Little by little I realized – concealed carry insurance was in fact a good thing.

The civil battlefield concerns being sued by unjust aggressors or their families should they perish during the a deadly force confrontation. Early on in my career I had a couple of good city attorney’s drop the tip of titling my home by entirety (if married). Titled by entirety, is supposed to protect my spouses interest, in this personal asset. I have had my home titled like that ever since.

The Social battlefield as described by other instructors, has much to do with public opinion. Crowds are fickle; Hosanna! Hosanna! The next day; Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Don’t worry about what media, social media, or anyone else is going to think. Focus on doing right things and know your mission. If things get stupid enough you can always move right?

For a police officer the social battlefield includes both police leadership and secular leadership. Administrative rules, right? Policy. A community within a community. If you were to do an internet search for the words “etymology,” and “society,” you’ll find that part of the Latin understanding of “society” includes “community.” The social battlefield includes government leadership. Elected politicians then often pick governmental heads like the Chief of Police. The social battlefield includes politics and politicians. If there is a crisis of leadership that will absolutely trickle down to officers on the street. That affects you and I, the citizens. It’s not just the officers problem that they suffer under the weight of a crisis of leadership, it’s our problem too should we be forced to defend ourselves, our families. For the citizen the social battlefield includes all legitimate societal authority. These are social constructs.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed thinking about all of that. That’s not what we need to focus on as protectors and defenders of our families. We need only to prioritize, and do right things. Here’s the list of priorities:

1)Moral 2) Physical 3) Legal 4) Civil 5) Social

Social is last for a reason. Are we going to strive to please God, or please man? Increasingly we have to make a decision.

As a police officer having worked high crime areas I learned early, the high value in being awkward. Awkward often equals unpredictable. That comes through doing odd things like stopping short. Like not doing what everyone else does. Socially those are things we’re all expected to do. Social awkwardness at times is priceless. These are also social constructs. They are constructs that the innocent can use to avoid the unjust criminal aggressors. To demonstrate to the unjust criminal aggressors their target is not predictable. Being unpredictable is a dangerous to an ambush predator. I assure you ambush predators, use social courtesies, and constructs, to get close to you to do their will. Some are masters at closing the gap. Using ruses, lies, and other techniques. Masters at concealing their intentions until they’re close enough to sink the ambush in deep.

This area of the social battlefield is priceless, because it is an opportunity for us to avoid ending up at the will of a confused, blind, or crazy politician. An opportunity (not a guarantee) to cause the unjust criminal aggressor, to pause, and go in search of another victim.

This post is a first step. It lacks more in what it fails to say, than in what it actually says, about these battlefields. It isn’t a book. I simply wrote down a few things. It will take time, and effort, to give you a better tour of these battlefields. May God give us the time, and the grace to journey on.