Posts Tagged ‘warning’

after-the-shooting-stops-cover

I think a lot of people who carry a concealed weapon are under the false pre-tense that if they actually have to draw their handgun, it will be a certain shooting situation. Firearms are used for personal defense hundreds of times a day in the US alone and out of those situations less than 1% actually end in an exchange of gun fire or fatality. Chances are highly likely that the introduction of a handgun into a tense situation can bring a resolution. It does not always, and that is why we train to shoot and practice weapon retention and martial arts.

In the cases when your bad guy realizes he is out matched and that today is not a good day to die, you will need to give verbal commands that are simple, clear and will not come back to haunt you in a courtroom if you say them. Using verbal commands may still result in you pulling the trigger, but challenging your suspect at least creates witnesses out of those around you, and you gave the bad guy a chance to surrender.

Not every situation will provide you with enough time to give a verbal warning, so, as you read this run through the various scenarios and apply the warning as you see fit based on your training and experience. Also in a worst case scenario when shots are fired, you should also train yourself to give verbal warning and instructions to the downed bad guy.

I train my students to use a short phrase that is easy to remember, general and minimizes liability. I want to keep it simple so under stress so we are focused on the problem in front of us, and not trying to string words together. The verbal challenge should begin with a sharp attention getting statement, like, “Stop!” If you are in law enforcement this would be replaced with the words, “Police,” or “Sheriff’s Office.” As a civilian, I do not advise you identifying yourself as a member of law enforcement.

Once you have a sharp and loud attention statement, follow up with a command, “Drop the weapon!” Notice I use the word weapon instead of gun or knife. Weapon is generic, simple to say and remember. It covers a large variety of objects that could be used as a weapon. A crossbow or screwdriver are equally as deadly as a firearm but under stress, you dont want to divide your focus by trying to identify the object and search your higher brain for the matching word. You want to get your point across quickly and the word weapon sums up everything in a concise manner.

Finally I include what I call the plea, or my witness statement. “Don’t make me shoot you!” While it may sound odd to plead with your suspect, what you are actually doing is creating witnesses of the people around you. If you shoot someone, there will be a police investigation and possibly a trial. When that occurs, I want the people around me, the nearby neighbors, etc. to tell the investigators that it sounded like I really didn’t want to shoot. While your state of mind is irrelevant under the 4th Amendment test of Reasonableness, (Graham v Connor) we want to create a situation that works towards our advantage.

If a shooting does occur, the words, “Don’t make me,” give the strong impression that you as a shooter had no other choice and the bad guy forced you to pull the trigger due to his overt actions. The suspect could have surrendered and you gave him an opportunity to do so during your verbal challenge, but he declined to comply, forcing you to fire.

When we are talking about home defense I recommend a verbal warning as you defend your home, especially at night. While you should have a good flashlight or weapon mounted light (I recommend both) issuing a verbal challenge to someone in your home gives a family member the opportunity to respond or identify themselves and avoid a tragedy. Imagine this situation,” Stop! Drop the weapon! Don’t make me shoot you!” and hearing the words, “Dad, it’s me! Don’t shoot.” Anytime there is uncertainty a verbal warning might be in order.

Not every situation will give you time to provide an audible warning, and a challenge should only be used when the opportunity arises. Just like giving the recommended warning above, the mere fact you did so also bodes well under court scrutiny. By issuing a verbal challenge, you tried to minimize the risk to the suspect. Anything that helps you on scene and during your court defense is certainly worth considering.

Even if you begin to give the warning and have to shoot, complete your statements and repeat them. For example, “Stop, drop the weapon -BANG, BANG- Don’t make me -BANG- shoot you.” Then repeat the statement even if the suspect goes down. In most circumstances pistol calibers do not kill outright unless you target the electrical system of the body (brain or spine) and your bad guy could still be alive on the ground after being shot. Continue repeating the warning to also let everyone know that even on the ground he can still be a threat, and if you have to make follow up shots, you are again justifying your actions on scene and later in court. Just because a suspect is down, does not mean the threat is over and you can still be hurt or killed by someone who is on the ground and injured.

Whether you borrow my challenge or come up with one of your own, make sure it is clear, simple to say and understand and train it!

Be safe, Godspeed!

Scott S

One Weapon Any Tool

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intuition1

Everyone is equipped with a unique early warning radar deep inside of them that has been described many different ways. Some call it a “gut feeling,” others call it, “instinct,” or a “sixth sense.” Regardless of the name you assign it, and for the purposes of this article I will call it your Intuition, we all have it. How credible your Intuition is and whether or not you trust or ignore this is a result of your conscious mind overriding your subconscious. Let’s take a few minutes and talk about what this “sixth sense,” is and how it works.

We have to start with what experts call the baseline. The day to day world you live and interact within has several objects, people, locations etc. Each of these has a proper place and a pre-defined role in the social and spatial order. Humans in particular have a series of universal behaviors that are common across every culture. Each culture however has its own unique baseline, so what you define as “normal,” in your neighborhood, school or work life is very abnormal to someone who lives in another country. Imagine for a second that you were whisked away to Japan… There would be a host of unusual sights, signals, customs, and people that are very abnormal to an American. You would stick out, and be very uncomfortable in this diverse and unusual setting until you lived and worked there for a while and developed a new baseline of behaviors you would consider to be the norm.

Living in your baseline allows you to recognize mostly unconsciously things that are abnormal or out of place. These objects or people stick out and you notice them because they are an anomaly to you. Think about how many things you do daily and do not even notice. Have you ever driven your car to work and not remembered how you got there? Chances are this is because your baseline environment was intact and nothing spoiled it, so you didn’t notice it. Have you ever had a favorite store or restaurant you frequent and one day you walk in and it’s under new ownership. Suddenly the people are different, the service, the décor and the menu are all anomalies.

Living in your baseline environment and interacting with people who follow the social norms in your baseline allow us to live basically on autopilot as long as nothing abnormal or unexpected occurs. These variances are called anomalies. An anomaly is something that is or is not happening or someone or something that should be or should not be present. When you detect a behavioral anomaly your mind begins looking at the universal human behaviors like subterfuge, aggression, dishonesty, passivism, submission, etc. People in your baseline life give off body language cues you do not even know you are detecting and based on what you are subconsciously perceiving, you are conducting a threat analysis.

Over the recent series of articles we have looked at the brain and how it scans for threats and functions under stress. Before you initiate a stress induced response (before the fight) you scan your environment and interact with it. Each and every thing or person you see gets processed through your Amygdala. Based on your prior experiences in life living in your baseline environment your brain decides if who or what you are looking at is a threat. If something is a threat a series of chemical and physiological things occur and your programming takes over.

If you see something or someone that does not appear to be dangerous or threatening but based on your subconscious ability to analyze human behavior your mind will initiate another physiological response. Rather than an adrenaline dump, accelerated heart rate or fight/flight/freeze response, your subconscious will turn the data over to your conscious mind for further processing. As the more advanced parts of your brain try to interpret the signals you will begin to feel discomfort. This can be in the form of an ominous or wary feeling, as itchy or hypersensitive skin, or pressure in your abdomen. You begin to get those “gut feelings,” or an Intuition about a person, area or object.

Intuition is your early warning radar that tells you what you are seeing, or who you are talking to has danger potential that is not immediately obvious. It could be that lone stranger that comes in just before closing at night when you are alone in the store, or the unfamiliar group of teenagers hanging out you’ve never seen before. It could be the overly friendly stranger who wants to help you too much or is just a bit too charming. Each of those examples above are in and of themselves nothing unusual. The guy who comes in at the last minute before closing could be there to buy a last minute gift or he could be plotting to follow you for nefarious reasons. The group of teens could be a youth group from a local church or a gang looking for easy prey. The charming strange who offers to carry your bag to your door could be a Good Samaritan or he could be trying to get you alone.

What separates the good and bad intentions is the subtle but detectable cues they display. When their intentions are honest you will perceive it and you will be trusting and open. Humans are terrible at lying and honesty is a virtue that is readily recognized. The bad or evil intentions can be masked, but your subconscious will kick in and recognize these hidden intentions and activate your intuition. While your higher brain processes the intuitive feelings, you stand at the threshold of decision.

Eventually you will come to a point where you will have to act based on what you see, hear, sense and recognize. You have the option of listening to your intuition or suppressing it. I have met dozens of people who have said to me, ‘If only I’d listened to my guts, then _____ would not have happened.” I see this often in the police culture I live and work within. Veteran cops know that when they contact a suspect and get a “bad feeling,” there is a good reason why. Usually they know this because early in their career they ignored, suppressed or overrode that phantom feeling and ended up getting in a fight, hurt, injured or worse.

People who listen to their intuition usually do not regret it. I’ve never met anyone that said, I had this feeling it would turn out badly and I’m glad I got screwed over. Listening to your intuition gives you a chance to extricate yourself from an area, confront or challenge the intentions of a person or begin to transition to your defensive plan. When you suppress or ignore your minds subconscious defensive mechanisms, be prepared for the consequences.

There is one major problem with intuition, and that is too is developed based on life experience. Kids who grow up in dangerous areas or with abusive families usually have a more developed “threat database,” to draw from. They have “Thick File Folders,” from having spent a lot of time in their lives in a fight/flight/freeze cycle. Being able to glean underlying intent for violence early on helped them survive or escape. Just like building schema or behavioral threat recognition patterns, sharpening your intuition can be done.

The key thing to remember is to trust yourself. You have the world’s most amazing super computer between your ears and it is feeding you self-preservation data constantly. Make good use of that data and stay safe!

Train hard and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!

Stay safe, Godspeed

Scott S

www.oneweaponanytool.com