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Chances are that today will be like any other day. You'll get up, have breakfast, go to work, take the kids to a movie, and come home--all without a single incident occurring. Unless you're a criminal whose intent on hurting someone, purse snatching, or robbing a person, your life is going to be relatively safe.
Unfortunately, because there are career criminals who thrive on fear, the element of surprise, and the defenseless citizen, there is a chance for trouble finding you; especially if you're unaware of how to avoid a confrontation or are unaware of what causes confrontations. This section will discuss common ways you can protect yourself and how to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
Self-Defense Against Popcorn
Sadly, this is a true story. A movie patron is watching a film when the person in front of him begins texting someone with his phone. The movie patron asked the person texting to stop so he could watch the movie without being distracted. The person texting escalated the situation by throwing his popcorn at the movie patron. The movie patron escalated the confrontation by shooting and killing the person who was texting!
This is a classic example of how matters can get out of hand quickly. By all appearances, neither of these law abiding citizens left their homes that day looking for trouble. Perhaps the movie patron was not as polite as he should have been when asking the textor to stop. The textor certainly didn't need to be childish and toss popcorn at the movie patron. And, instead of the movie patron leaving to avoid a further escalation of the situation or responding with a reasonable level of equal force, he shoots the texting patron claiming, of all things, self-defense!
What was the proper way to handle this? Both patrons could have simply moved to different seats, left the movie, or extended a little common courtesy to one another.
Remember stories like these--as these are the stories gun control activists love to cite, repeat, and use against law abiding citizens who are against gun control. Never contribute to this type of irresponsible behavior. If you cannot control yourself with your firearm, please, leave it at home and do not carry it in public.
Planning your day ahead of time can help you avoid potentially dangerous situations, such as shopping late at night. This is especially true if you live in, pass though, or have to go to a shop that is located in a high-crime area. If you must go to such a place, do so during daytime hours or on the weekends to avoid having to go late at night. Making a late night run to the local convenience store that sells alcohol in a high-crime area should be avoided at all cost--whatever it is, it can wait until the morning.
Other common scenarios you can avoid is going to the beach late at night; it may be romantic but it is also extremely dangerous. Stick to well-lit parking lots and the pier if you must go. Doing your laundry at a 24X7 laundry mat at 2:00 AM--not such a good idea either. Using a little common sense can keep you safe by avoiding areas that are dangerous.
Avoid Suspicious Looking People
There are obvious people to avoid. If they look like a gang, your gut tells you they are a gang (or a group of people looking for trouble), there's a good chance you should avoid them.
There are also the more 'clever' criminals who work alone, such as the common pick-pocket, street mugger, purse-snatcher, or robber. These criminals may approach you for what will appear as an innocent excuse, such as asking for directions.
Avoid the Dark when Possible
Criminals love to take advantage of the darkness; it is their 'day time' working hours and many are very astute to using darkness to their advantage.
If you must go out at night, try to minimize your risk by choosing well-lit neighborhoods, shopping centers, and parking garages. Avoid badly lit corridors, alleys, and walkways by attempting to find alternative routes with better lighting. Finally, try to park under street lamps and as close to the building entrance as possible to avoid long-term exposure.
Stick Together with Friends
There's truth in the saying "There's safety in numbers". If you must leave home, try having a friend tag along with you...it's far more difficult for an attacker to attack two woman walking on a trail than the single woman jogging with her headphone blasting. The same goes for those who enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, any kind of outdoor activity that lends itself away from others should always be enjoyed with one or more friends--the safety factor alone is well worth the company. If you work at night, consider having the manager, security guard, or a few co-workers walk with you to your car. Even during the day, having others around you in a group will significantly lower your changes of being attacked.
Beware of Hitchhikers
Hitchhikers, no matter how sweat and innocent they may look, regardless of how handsome and well-dressed they appear, are a very, very dangerous group of people to pick up. There have been far too many reports of innocent drivers lending a hand to a hitchhiker and ending up missing or dead afterwards. The same is true for hitchhikers--there are plenty of psychotics just looking to pick up an innocent hitchhiker as their next victim.
Beware, however, there are sometimes situations where the driver is required to pick up a hitchhiker--usually under extreme, life threatening situations, such as an extreme snow storm or hurricane where shelter is not readily available and the Act of not picking up the hitchhiker places their life in danger.
Broken Down Vehicle or other Stranded Situation
Always have a cell phone fully charged together with a car charger whenever you leave home. The cell phone has saved countless lives, both documented and estimated. If you are in an area where cell phone reception does not exist, ask anyone who stops to offer assistance to call for assistance at the next gas station or where cell phone reception is available. Always remain in your vehicle with the hood raised, emergency flashers enabled, and doors locked. As mentioned earlier, if someone offers assistance, roll your window down only enough to communicate your request for them to call someone.
Never leave your vehicle unattended to hitch a ride with a complete stranger; even if you have others waiting for your return. Leaving your wife and children on a deserted street while you go for help with a complete stranger is not a good idea, even under the best of circumstances.
Avoid Dangerous Cities and Locations
Not surprisingly, the cities with the highest populations, the most poverty, and the lowest education rating per-capita are also the most dangerous to live, visit, or vacation. These are also the cities with the strictest, anti-gun laws around, placing their citizens in harm's way against criminals who, ironically, have guns.
You may not live in one of these cities, but every state has them--the areas you know you should avoid. If you are new in town, vacationing, or traveling through, you can check with local residents and law enforcement for high-crime areas you should avoid.
The chart includes (descending order): Detroit, MI; St Louis, MO; Oakland, CA; Memphis, TN; Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD, Stockton, CA; Cleveland, OH; and Buffalo, NY.
Avoid Being a Target
Everyone want to look their best, and there's nothing wrong with looking your best provided you don't stand out in the crowd. There are plenty of ways to stand out--we're not just referring to clothing. For example, spending a lot of cash in a predominantly lower-end neighborhood is just as likely to attract attention and make you stand out as would wearing a full caret diamond and driving a BMW. "When in Rome..." is the best advice while traveling to new cities, communities, and even those you are familiar. Try to blend in and get to know the culture and the neighborhood before appearing too flashy, extravagant, or permissive.
Avoid Having a Pattern
If you live or have to travel through a high-crime area of your city. Remember, criminals come from all walks of life and not every one of them is after your money. You may be taking reasonable precautions but have caught the eye of a sexual predator, kidnapper, or sadistic murderer. By changing-up your routine, you make your habits a bit less predictable and a little less obvious.
Avoid Fights and Upsetting Others
Never go out of your way to upset a person you've never met. As mentioned earlier, the mere request to stop texting during a movie could end extremely badly. Even if you don't say anything to a stranger, that person may be having an extremely bad day and may not like that you dress in a suit, in casual T-shirts, or in western wear. They may not like your western style hat, the team on your baseball cap, or the saying on your shirt.
If someone approaches you and appears to be angry at you for no reason, try to avoid a conflict at all cost. Remain calm, raise your hands, apologize for upsetting them, and try to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. As in any situation, the first obligation you have is to avoid using your firearm at all costs--even if that means humbling yourself or running away. If you cannot leave, or the person is clearly intent on harming you, by all means be prepared to use your firearm if there are no other options.
Keep an Eye Out for Escape Routes
Always be consciously aware of as many possible escape routes that may exist to avoid a confrontation. Look for emergency exits, stairs, and dividers; anything that can separate you from any impending, dangerous encounter. When driving, follow the 2-second distance rule to allow plenty of maneuvering room in case you need to change lanes quickly; allow sufficient distance between you and the car ahead when stopped at an intersection in case you need to pull out quickly. If you have a truck, can you cross the center divider if necessary?