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“On a warm spring night, after eating dinner with friends and deciding to do a little late-night dancing, a young lady walks across the top floor of a well-lit parking garage.  She’s tired, worn out from the night of dancing and to help combat her fatigue, one hand is carrying a latte from the local late-night coffee joint down the road while her other hand fumbles in her purse.

Since it’s the top floor of the garage, there are few really good places to mount a security camera, so the ones that do exist are not able to capture much outside of the fact that behind her, a black-clad man with his hood up approaches her from behind as she unlocks her car door, and attacks.  Within seconds, he slams the back of her head, knocking her unconscious with his blow, if not with the ricochet of her head against the roof of the car.  Picking up her keys off the ground, throwing her inside the car bodily, he’s driving off through the garage, and is out of camera range very quickly to do…well, just about anything he wants.”

While this is a fictional situation, it’s the kind of thing that I’m starting to think about now that my daughter is going to be attending college in the big city.  She has basic skills in martial arts, an interest based on an activity that I required of her when she was a young teen, but doesn’t have a firearm and doesn’t carry any weapons in her purse.  What can she do to prevent this kind of attack?

3 Ways to Discourage Street Attacks

#1 – Situational Awareness & Mindfulness

Millennials often get a bad rap for being too tied into their phone, but it’s not only them. People of every age do it and they need to beware of the risks of making their way through life oblivious to those around them.  In a world where any kind of media is immediately available through so many channels, it’s easy to put your headphones in and enjoy a little entertainment on those lonely walks down the streets.  I love podcasts myself, and I know how easy it is to get lost in what the hosts are discussing and become engrossed to the point of making secondary the thoughts about where you are, where you’re going, what you planned on doing, and how you’re getting there.

Situational Awareness is simply the act of being constantly aware of what is happening around you.  It is essential in any kind of potentially dangerous situation to be mindful of what is happening around you, keeping a clear head, focusing on the present situation and your present environment.  Use as many of your senses as you can – listen to the ambient sounds, notice the smells of your environment, put your eyes and your head on a swivel, looking behind you every thirty seconds or so, and more often if entering a new environment.

I used the word “mindful” in the last paragraph, because Mindfulness is becoming a part of the zeitgeist of modern life as well.  This age-old concept is very simply a set of techniques designed to help you focus on the present moment, and what is happening around you – very similar to situational awareness.  Looking up some simple mindfulness exercises like “leaves on a stream” or even practicing basic meditation is a good way to help build your tolerance for long periods of being in the moment.

In the above situation, the young lady who was attacked likely had no idea that there was someone else on the roof of the parking garage, much less that he was following her, even as closely as he would have had to in order to attack so quickly.  Having no situational awareness, and likely being lost in a world of her own thoughts or in cell phone music or audio programs was her first big mistake.  Had she been looking around, aware of her situation, and perhaps even made eye contact with the attacker on her way towards her car, she may have done enough to encourage him to choose a different target.

#2 – Providing Disinformation

If you were an attacker who wanted to prey on someone, would you choose a man or a woman to attack?  Young or middle aged?

Almost everyone would choose a young female. The reasons are simple – she’s less likely to have any interest in martial arts or combat sports, she’s probably smaller and less muscular than her male counterparts, she likely carries more cash or valuable jewelry, and is stereotyped as being more naïve by the media and society at large.  Whether any specific female fits those categories is unimportant, its true that the simple act of being a female makes you a bigger target.

Being a young female isn’t something you can control.  Or is it?

No transgender stuff here.  But it’s possible, highly likely even, that the attacker in the above situation has done at least a small amount of research on this car he found on the top floor of a parking garage late at night, and it’s surprising what you can figure out about someone based on their car.

Does she have custom vanity license plates?  If so, those are generally a strong indicator that this is a female, unless the plates say something decidedly masculine like “GUNDUDE8” or “PREP MAN”.  If he peeks inside and sees custom leopard print seat covers, a steering wheel cover, or fuzzy dice on the rearview mirror, then assumptions can easily be made.   Other information can be gleanes as well.  If he sees a Victoria’s Secrets bag in your passenger seat, then what’s he going to assume?  The contents of your backseat can tell a lot about a person.  Makeup bags, the presence of an infant car seat or a booster, bumper stickers – all of these things say something about you, and help attackers decide if you’re a good target. While they don’t all “scream” female, they do all scream “unfocused” or having their concentration distracted by errands, a child, whatever. We are all guilty of this, especially in places we have frequented where “nothing has ever happened.” Reality is it only has to happen once to be life altering.

The worst offenders of the car customization market are the stick figures that populate the back windows of far too many cars.  Sure, they’re kind of cute, but they give way too much information about who you are, who is in your family, their ages and their interests.  If you have a single woman with two children on there, chances are that you’re coming out to your car either alone, or with two little ankle biters who are occupying all of your attention.

The best tip I’ve heard for single young women who are at risk for being attacked near their car is to give would-be attackers plenty of disinformation designed to encourage them to choose a different target.  A big, well-worn pair of men’s athletic shoes in the back seat, or a duffel bag covered in visible weight-lifting patches and karate logos will go a long way towards indicating to any smart criminals that the person who owns this vehicle is not to be trifled with.

Bumper stickers are also a good way to dissuade people.  Pro-gun bumper stickers, particularly if they endorse concealed carry, are a good place to start, as are indicators that you’re interested in things like MMA, wrestling, martial arts, or bodybuilding, whether you are or not. I have heard the counter-argument, that people “looking for guns to steal” look for cars with an NRA sticker (USMC emblem, etc.) The normal pattern of such a person is to follow you home to see what house to target for a robbery, when they observe you have left the premises. Yes, most people like this have gun safes – do you put your bedside go-to weapon in your gun safe every time you leave your house?

Spiked dog collars are also a simple thing to throw in the backseat.  While that might not be something that will dissuade an attacker in the aforementioned situation, it will work wonders for dissuading attackers spying on your car in a park, forest preserve or who might be looking at your home as a potential target.

Use your normal routine and patterns to decide what kinds of things you want to decorate with, or stash in your car. Understanding the places where you’re likely to be attacked will provide the best understanding of what will work best for you.

#3 – Just do it

People who prey on others are often quite a bit smarter than you might think.  Most have done their homework, and having looked inside your car to find evidence that you may be a very strong male or have a very large dog, might be smart enough to avoid you as a potential attackee.  Despite this, an often cited fact about criminals shows that most crimes that are committed in the US are crimes not borne from passion or careful thinking, but simply crimes of opportunity.

The attacker in the situation above may have been in line behind her in the coffee shop and noticed a $100 bill in her wallet, and taken the chance to follow her.  He may have just been a normal guy walking to his own car when he had a desperate feeling that he could get something from her.  Sometimes, the criminals will ignore any evidence of misinformation you provide, or maybe they’ve cased your car before and seen through your deception.

Sometimes, you just have to fight.  Or at least look like you’re ready for a fight.

Many will advise keeping some kind of weapon in the purse, and it’s hard to deny that this would be a good idea, but I would advocate that, if not well trained in the use of a knife, pepper spray, a pistol, or whatever weapon might make sense for a young lady to carry, that weapon will be useless.  It might also function as a distraction – it’s mere existence forcing the attacked person to spend valuable reaction time digging around for the weapon instead of running, adopting a defensive posture, striking back, finding some other form of help, or doing almost anything else that may be more productive in helping the situation.

Instead, the simple act of looking ready for a fight is good enough.  Stand up straighter when you walk, turn your head when you look, not just your eyes.  Proactively say hi to people on the street to indicate that you notice them, as this can unnerve criminals who are doing their best to avoid notice.

Remember that if the need arises to defend yourself, it is nearly impossible to do so without a free hand.  If you carry a purse, consider keeping your hand inside it as you walk, not fishing for anything, but as if you’re holding onto something.  The fear of the unknown weapon in your hand may do enough to scare someone off.

Anyone, female or not, would also do well to consider what kinds of objects that you keep on your person and how they may be used as a weapon.  Pocket knives are an obvious choice, but making a fist around your car keys creates a deadly combination of striking and slashing weapons that can do serious damage.  Aerosol deodorant or hair spray is not a great choice, but it can certainly burn the eyes of an attacker if you get lucky.  Using the small, rounded edge of a hairbrush as a striking tool can be helpful to those who don’t have a lot of experience using their fists to punch, and it will likely cause more damage if you don’t already have any martial arts training.

Before exiting the stairwell or elevator, this young women should have had her keys ready in her dominant hand, with the key poking out through her middle and index finger, her hand in a fist.  Even with an improper strike, this will cause damage to any attacker.  That’s a nice easy weapon to carry that will do the damage, doesn’t require specific training, and will help you stay safe out there in the big bad city. And for those of us with “electronic key bobs”, consider investing in some sharp jewelry/bottle-opener thingy’s to add to the key ring. Also, never forget your extended thumb forward when making a fist as this can be devastating to an eye, a throat, even a kidney. Then again, there is this.

"On a warm spring night, after eating dinner with friends and deciding to do a little late-night dancing, a young lady walks across the top floor of a well-lit parking

Gun Control – how far will we go as a nation to further limit the 2nd amendment? Will it stop at full automatics, or will it continue against semi autos, large capacity mags, and other accessories? Whatever you believe, one thing is certain – the upcoming election will be the most important one in the last century as it relates to gun control.

The tragedy in Orlando and other mass shootings in the U.S. and abroad has even some Congressional Republicans wavering on their previous reluctance in allowing any gun control legislation to pass. In my opinion, some form of additional gun control is inevitable. While the current Congress favors gun rights, this could all change in November. If you haven’t noticed, Americans have a very low opinion of Congress in general. They could vote out incumbents, mostly Republicans, just because they are mad at the current legislative stagnation. However, the main reason why this election is so important is that the next President will likely have the ability to not only tilt, but actually create a decidedly conservative or liberal Supreme Court, which would be in power for the next few decades at the least.

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With Antonin Scalia’s death, three of the remaining eight Justices are older than 77. With the average age of Supreme Court Justice retirement at 78.7, you can do the math. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was installed by Bill Clinton, is 83. Stephen Breyer also from Clinton, is almost 78. Anthony Kennedy, who was a Reagan nominee, is almost 80. The remaining Supreme Court Justices are between 55 and 68. Let’s top it off with some recent reports that indicate Justice Clarence Thomas, 68, is said to be mulling retirement. As we know, he is the most staunchly conservative of the remaining Justices.

If you are a pro gun rights advocate, you should be very concerned. Don’t fool yourself into complacency. If you are a pro gun control advocate, you are probably salivating like a vulture circling a dying animal. Based on the above information, it is quite conceivable the next President would have the pleasure of nominating up to five Supreme Court Justices – one because of Scalia’s death, three because of retirement due to age, and one from a reported Clarence Thomas retirement.

If you buy into this line of thought, a pro guns right advocate might want to plan for the worst. For some, that might mean mortgaging the house and buying up as many ARs as possible, assuming they will be grandfathered post ban. It is hard to believe they would be not grandfathered since one might argue that an outright confiscation would cause too much of a civil unrest. So for this article I am assuming that every gun or accessory I mention will be grandfathered.

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Additionally, I am not even accounting for any state law changes like the recent Federal Appeals court ruling from California, which removes the 2nd amendment right to carry a concealed weapon. That ruling alone is enough to push any gun rights advocate over the edge since it paves the way for other states to do something similar, until an inevitable Supreme Court hearing – so here we are again. Everything points back to the Supreme Court.

Planning for the worst with gun control

So what can you do to plan, or insure, against a worst case scenario resulting from extreme liberal gun control legislation? While I am only half-joking about mortgaging your house, I will outline some hardware and accessories to buy while you can, assuming you don’t live in some of the already prohibitive states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Be sure to check your state laws on what you can buy, carry or conceal before trying to buy or use the equipment below in the manner described.

When investing in a firearm for defense, you have to first ask yourself, “What am I defending against”? Would it be for close quarter battle (CQB), home defense, a Car Trunk Backpack, need for extreme stopping power during CQB, protecting a small perimeter, or to keep intruders at bay from a long-range? In this article, I pick some of my favorites for each purpose. Some guns and accessories I mention will be specific, and others will be generalized in categories. One thing to remember, semi-automatic weapons are inherently more expensive. So some of these guns, especially the long-range selections mentioned, are not for those with limited budget. Also as a disclaimer, I own at least some of the items below.

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Each of the guns I recommend below are semi automatics. Keep in mind that I am recommending them based on a premise of a ban, so I realize there are obviously other cheaper alternatives that are not semis, particularly in the home defense and long-range categories. Additionally, for most, with the exception of the 458 SOCOM and a few others, the ammo is readily available.

Close Quarter Battle – up to 100 yards

Sig Sauer MCX – Chambered in .300 AAC Blackout – This carbine received a lot of bad press recently due to the fact that it was the same one used by the terrorist in Orlando. Mistakenly referred to by the press as an AR (furthered by the ignorance that they believe AR stands for “assault rifle” instead of “Armalite”), the MCX in blackout is very effective and light, designed for CQB. The blackout ammo is very hard-hitting and the subsonic 220 grain is very quiet when coupled with a silencer. The MCX barrel can also be changed out quickly in favor of other calibers such as 5.56×45 NATO. Recent news articles have indicated that some British counter terror units are using the MCX. Add a Vortex 3x magnifier to your red dot of choice for a very high accuracy within 100 yards. The MCX costs roughly $1700, but the quality is worth the extra coin.

Springfield Armory SOCOM 16 CQB w/Vortex Venom Red Dot (.308/7.62 NATO) – this gun is nasty, from its looks, down to its hard-hitting 7.62×51 ammo. A child of the M1A, Springfield has a winner by shortening the barrel of the original M1A1 to 16”, installing a collapsible stock, and adding a vortex venom red dot as an option. This rifle will destroy anything in its sights. Wear ear protection though. 20 or 25 round mags are prevalent, but if you want to really equip this gun, Beta Mag makes a 100 round twin drum mag for it that will set you back $450 (and it would significantly increase the weight of an already heavy gun – but you can’t erase the fun factor of having one). The SOCOM 16 with Venom could top out over $2000, so it is hard on the budget, but worth it if you can afford it.

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Century Arms AK-47 – while not Russian made, this AK is one of the most recognized and vilified guns in the US because it is the one people see on the news when ISIS or some other terrorist footage is shown. Additionally, all of the Hollywood movie bad guys use them. They are on the list not so much for their accuracy, but more for their high-profile, which equates to the probability of being banned. These AKs are affordable, having a price point under $800. The 7.62×39 ammo is hard-hitting and relatively cheap, especially if you target practice with bullets that have steel casing such as TulAmmo. I would not, however, use TulAmmo in a life threatening situation as I have experience in its failure to feed on occasion.

CMMG Mutant AKM2 – This gun is appropriately named. The Mutant is an AK/AR-15 hybrid. A regular AK style rifle is extremely reliable, but it is not inherently designed for aftermarket sights or other attachments. The Mutant fires the omnipresent 7.62×39 AK ammo through a 16” barrel, but, as CMMG’s site says, “it offers the modularity of an AR-15”. With the ability to add aftermarket sights, combined with the fact that every rifle comes equipped with a MOE pistol grip, SV muzzle brake, Geissele SSA trigger, 30rd AK PMAG, and CMMG’s lifetime quality guarantee, the Mutant offers the best of both worlds. The $1700 cost is more on the high-end AR price point, but it would be nice to have one of these at your disposal if budget permits.

SIG Sauer 516 Patrol – chambered in 5.56 NATO with a 16” barrel, a quad rail, collapsible Magpul stock, and a four-position gas regulator (which has a silencer position), this gun, in my opinion is among the most versatile and reliable ARs in the market. Sig Sauer’s reliability is legendary, and the 516 does not disappoint. The standard 516 can be acquired for about $1600. There are also different versions that come with a fixed carbon fiber stock and/or an extended carbon fiber fore-end, but it will add $4-500 to the price. Personally, I like the standard version for long-term reliability. Maybe I am old school, but I can’t see the carbon fiber holding up to many sustained battles and abuse. You trade marginal weight savings for reliability. I may be wrong, but I guess time will tell. I would become a believer if I see the military adopt the carbon fiber version.

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Car Trunk Backpack

Keltec Sub 2000 chambered in 40 S&W; paired with Glock 22 (also 40 S&W); the Keltec is an extremely accurate carbine that uses Glock mags. It also folds up nicely to fit in a small backpack. Add a TruGlo green laser/light combo to the bottom Picatinny rail to make it even more effective. It also has a threaded barrel waiting for a silencer. The Keltec can be bought for less than $400 as of this writing – one of the single best values for a carbine in the market. You can also equip your backpack with a Glock 22 and use the same mags between the two. Glock has a high-capacity 22 round 40 S&W factory mag. Alternatively, Magpul is coming out with the PMAG27, a 27 round mag for 40 S&W. The Korean company KCI also has 40 S&W high-capacity mags, but I would only use them at the range. I have seen both good and bad reviews of KCI, so I wouldn’t trust them with your life until I see a better track record. Load up your factory mags with Critical Duty bullets, and you have a very effective defense while on the road. As a footnote, the Keltec also comes chambered in 9mm if you prefer that caliber. There are some who believe 9mm and 40 S&W will have very similar stopping power over short distances. As always, check your state laws before concealing firearms in your car or on your person.

Extreme Stopping Power, CQB

458 SOCOM – The 458 SOCOM caliber was a result of our Special Ops soldiers’ experience in Somalia during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu (immortalized in the movie Blackhawk Down). Some soldiers noted that it took multiple hits of 5.56 to bring down the enemy since many of them were flyin high on “Khat”, an herbal stimulant from evergreen leaves that can cause hallucinations and manic behavior. They needed a bullet that would do the job in one hit, resulting in the 458 SOCOM. A SOCOM upper can be mounted to any standard AR15 lower, or you can buy a full factory rifle from Rock River ($1300) or Wilson Combat ($2500). You need to use 30 rd Lancer mags, which are a cross between a PMAG and steel mag. A PMAG will split open if you use it for this ammo. This bullet needs the steel support offered by Lancers. Additionally, the bullet size only allows for loading about 7-9 rounds in a 30 rd Lancer mag, which is probably why it never fully caught on with the military, and is reserved for special circumstances. The factory ammo is sometimes hard to get and expensive (up to $3 per round), but if you are a reloader, you can save quite a bit and the individual casings and bullets are more readily available. In any event, it is a great caliber to have when you need that extra stopping power.

Home Defense Shotgun

Fostech Origin 12 with 30 round Drum – this 12 gauge shotgun is down right wicked. Billed as the fastest semi auto shotgun in the world, the Origin 12 is Fostech’s answer to the Russian made Saiga 12. It looks like an AK on steroids, having an 18” barrel and collapsible stock. It comes with a 5 round mag, but when you add the optional 30 round drum mag ($400), you won’t have to shoot because the bad guy home invaders will run at the mere sight of it. There are numerous jaw dropping YouTube videos dedicated to this shotgun. Look it up. I guarantee you will be impressed, but you would need to part with $2500 to own it, not including the drum mag. If I was a liberal gun control proponent, this type of hardware would be on my radar.

Benelli Super Eagle with XRail – the Benelli 12 gauge semi auto shotgun is already used by many law enforcement officers. If you add a $800 XRail attachment, it ups the number of shots to 23 with a 26” barrel. If you get an integrated XRail, it comes with a 21” barrel and 26 shot capability, which would make the Benelli even more effective in a tactical environment. The integrated version, including the shotgun, runs about $3300. In my view, the XRail would clearly be in the sights of the gun control advocates.

Woodsman and Mountain Man Activities (whatever they might do)

Rock River Arms Lightweight Mountain Rifle – chambered in .223/5.56, this gun is light to carry in the mountains or woods, accurate, and most of all, cool looking. It not for a sustained battle though as the rail gets very hot to the touch, but it is fun to shoot. Use gloves.

Midrange 100 – 500 yards

SIG 716 DMR Gen 1 (.308/7.62) – buy the Gen 1 while still available. The pending Gen 2 version is more like a patrol style (16 inch barrel, collapsible stock, key mod instead of quad rail, two pounds lighter than Gen 1). If you haven’t noticed I am not a weight weenie. I always have felt that you should keep physically fit, and either lose weight yourself or pump iron, especially if preparing for battle. Don’t skimp on the hardware. The heavier Gen 1 serves a purpose. I would not use the Gen 2 for midrange because of the 16 inch barrel. Some may disagree, but that’s ok.

The Gen 1 comes with an 18 inch barrel, quad rail, Harris Bipod, and Magpul Precision Rifle stock – much more for the money, and definitely more accurate at the midrange. The 716 accepts standard PMAGS. In a pinch, while the gun will top out at 10-11 pounds, you could theoretically pick it up and use for CQB, but that is obviously not the main purpose. My dream sight for this gun would be the Trijicon ACOG 6×48 with the RMR red dot on top. Alternatively, any mid range scope would work for the budget conscious. The DMR costs around $2500 without the sights.

Wilson Combat Urban Super Sniper – barrel chambered with a .223 Wylde – this barrel is designed to be extremely accurate using either .223 or 5.56 ammo. It will run about $2500, but it will be hard pressed to find one as accurate for mid-range using a 5.56. That said keep in mind the Ballistics of a 5.56 bullet. This barrel is meant for tighter urban environments as the gun’s title suggests. It becomes significantly less effective past the mid-range, so you would not want to use this to hold off zombies past 300 yards unless you can get head-shots. Might work for slow movers, not the World War Z type though.

FNH M249S Saw – this gun got a lot of press at the NRA 2015 meeting in Nashville. Chambered in 5.56, the M249S is the semi-auto version of the military’s full auto version (originally introduced in 1988). It has the ability to accept belt fed or mag-loaded ammo, giving it an ability to fire a large quantity of ammo before needing to reload. It actually comes with an attached plastic ammo box to hold the belt fed ammo. WIth a 20.5 inch barrel, some would consider it capable of defending mid range. While I don’t doubt the fire power, I have some questions on 5.56 ballistics that give me pause to use this gun to defend against targets further than 300 yards. That said, the sheer volume of bullets that you can fire without reloading would put this gun on the chopping block. The Saw’s cost is approximately $8000, give or take a few hundred.

Long Range – over 500 yards (my definition of long-range – which is up for debate)

Barrett M107A1 – while cost prohibitive for many, I would be remiss to leave it out as the most effective semi auto long-range gun available on the market. With its 50 bmg bullet, this gun will stop most Mad Max style vehicles. Already prohibited in California via the .50 Caliber BMG Regulation Act of 2004, which prohibits the sale of guns chambered in the caliber, this weapon would certainly be on the chopping block of a liberal Supreme Court. If you go all out with the Barrett Optical Ranging System (BORS), which is an integrated ballistics computer, you can automate your ballistics calculations. This weapon can be yours for 12-15k, or you can wait for the SHTF and pick one up off an abandoned military vehicle. Keep in mind that the M107A1 is not only expensive to buy, but also expensive to shoot. That said, I would say anyone who owns one can’t help but smile every time the trigger is pulled, though the blast might be life altering.

Noreen Firearms “Bad News” 338 Lapua Magnum – the Lapua ammo has increasingly become a favorite of the snipers, but the military application has been limited because most Lapua rifles are bolt actioned. Enter the Bad News Lapua, which is the first semi-auto rifle chambered in this caliber. With a 26” barrel, a Magpul Precision Rifle stock, piston driven, and weighing in at 13 lbs, this gun is made to be mobile. In an ever-changing landscape, I could see the application up to 1500 yards. If I am not mistaken, the 338 Lapua caliber holds the record for the longest range hit at 2 miles (with an Accuracy International bolt-action rifle). While not designed to go as far or as hard-hitting as the 50 BMG, the Bad News offers a nice alternative for those that want a “cheaper” long range semi, topping out at $6000. The Lapua ammo, however, can run you up to $5.00 per round – so get into reloading to save some cash. It is a good skill to have, especially if the SHTF.

Nemo Omen – yet another effective gun for the longer range. The Omen is chambered in 300 Win Mag and would also be effective to 1500 yards. It is the “cheapest” out of the long-range rifles in this article at roughly $4000. The Win Mag ammo is readily available and popular with hunters as well. I would get the 20” barrel for a greater muzzle velocity. The mags, however, are not something readily available and are specific to the gun. So get a bunch upfront so you have them.

Keep in mind I realize bolt actions may be more precise and affordable. There are some like the Ruger Precision Rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Win that put out more than respectable groupings at long ranges. They can be bought for under $1200 as well, but I reiterate that this article is about insuring against potential bans.

Hunting Handguns

I believe a ban would not affect most handguns. It would most likely address high-capacity mags. However, there is one handgun that comes to mind as a potential target for a ban, and it is more related to the caliber, not the mag capacity. Magnum Research’s Desert Eagle 50AE would probably be on the radar due to the large 50 caliber bullet. The 50 AE is the most powerful semi-automatic handgun on the planet. It comes in an array of cool finishes, with my favorite being the Black Tigerstripe. The cost is around $1600, and the ammo is expensive and less available than its little brother chambered in a 44. Again, you would benefit by being a reloader.

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

For those with limited budgets, one way to help to insure yourself against gun control is to stock up on accessories, even if you don’t own the associated weapon. I believe the most effective thing you could do is to acquire some of the high-capacity magazines listed below. However, if you believe in the possibility of severe restrictions, there are other items to think about. What follows below are some suggestions without regard to price. With the exception of the Beta Mags, Fostech Echo Trigger, thermal sights, night vision, and silencers (I hate the politically correct word “suppressor”), these items can be bought relatively cheap (from $10 to $200).


  • Ruger BX25 or 2×25 – a 25 and 50 round .22lr magazine: Yes it’s a small-caliber, but it’s more about the capacity
  • 30-40 Round 5.56 and AK Mags from Magpul, Lancer, Hexmag, and others: if you can’t afford them, go with the steel – they work well and can be picked up for half the price of a poly.
  • 20 and 25 round M1A1 steel mags for the SOCOM 16 CQB
  • 20 round 7.62×51 mags by Magpul for the Sig 716
  • PMAG D-60: a 60 round 5.56 drum mag by Magpul
  • Surefire 60 and 100 5.56 round mag: only about an inch and a half longer than a 30 round mag, the Surefire gives a lot of added capacity.
  • Beta Mags: this company offers a ton of different 100 round twin drum mags, but they are expensive.
  • Korean Drum mags: KCI offers 100 round drum mags for a number of different calibers at very reasonable prices. I would reserve them for target practice or to trade/barter (assuming you can legally do so in the future state of gun control).
  • Origin 12 – 30 round mags: Specific to the Origin 12, but a must have if you own this gun.
  • Glock high-capacity mags (all calibers) – factory and aftermarket: While I believe the factory Glock mags are the most reliable, I have seen good reviews of the PMAG and Elite Tactical Systems (ETS) high capacity mags. Both the PMAG and ETS mags can be bought at a fraction of the price of the factory Glock mags. The same goes for KCI, though these mags have mixed reviews.- Stripped or Complete AR15 and AR10 Lowers: Buy as many as you can. As you may already know, the lower is the part that is considered the gun. You can always build an AR after the ban, again assuming grandfathering. You can get some very cheap by Anderson Arms, or if you want the cool factor, get the Spike’s Tactical “The Jack”, which has a forged skull, or the “Warthog”. Keep in mind, however, that some lawmakers believe that collapsible stocks should be banned. If you subscribe to this belief, buy a complete lower that includes a collapsible stock.
  • Foregrips: Believe it or not, foregrips have been scrutinized as some believe these accessories can increase the fire rate of a weapon. You can get a ton of these really cheap on Amazon.
  • Sig Sauer Pistol Brace: this accessory initially took the industry by storm, but it is very controversial since the ATF says that if you use it as a shoulder stock on a buffer tube equipped pistol, it can reclassify your gun as a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR), which is subject to ATF registration and tax. Per Sig Sauer, the pistol brace is designed to stabilize the handgun while shooting with a single hand. In summary, while still legal, make sure you use it as designed or risk a felony. I believe there is a high probability this brace will be outlawed in the coming ban as it is already being questioned by the ATF. As a disclaimer, I do not hold out myself to be an expert on firearms laws, so check these facts for yourself.
  • Fostech Echo Trigger: this trigger fires the gun not only when pulled, but also upon release. It is as close to a fully auto as you can legally get. There are other companies that make such a trigger, but I have seen reviews with some problems. Without getting specific, Fostech seems to have learned from other’s mistakes. This one has my head scratching regarding legality. While the ATF currently deems them legal, I have seen some YouTube videos, and once becoming proficient, you can reach a cadence that is pretty close to fully auto. You can switch to regular semi auto as well. These triggers are shipping later this year. I will be sure to get a few as I believe they have a high ban probability in the future.
  • Silencers: there are a ton of different companies that producer silencers. I prefer SilencerCo’s new Hybrid, which will work with pistols as well as higher calibers such as the 458 SOCOM. If you are lucky enough to live in a state where they are legal, get a least one. I believe that after July 13th, 2016, a new ATF ruling allows you to obtain a silencer without a Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) sign off, though you would still need to get your fingerprints and photos when submitting your registration with the ATF. If you were smart enough to start a gun trust, you can avoid the fingerprints, photos, and CLEO sign off until July 13th (again, check with your local FFL to verify the ruling). Gun trusts can be started for as little as $75, but time is running out.
  • Thermal and Night Vision Sights – less likely to be banned, but you never know. These sights give the operator a great advantage, and overzealous gun control legislators might believe they pose too much of a risk.
  • Reloading dies, primers, and powder for AR calibers: again, less likely to be banned but who knows how extreme a ban is coming. If you are a reloader, better to be safe than sorry.
  • Collapsible Stocks: mentioned previously as part of a complete upper, this type of stock is definitely on the radar of some liberal lawmakers.
  • Ammo: stock up on the AR/AK calibers. If you have enough of a budget for the longer range 338 Lapua and 50 BMG, more power to you. Get it while you can.

In summary, while it is hard to speculate the extent of any proposed ban, if you are able to obtain at least some of the above hardware and accessories, you will be somewhat insured. Again, I realize that many of the guns in particular might be out of budget. There are cheaper weapon alternatives, especially in the AR market for CQB. If that is all you can afford, it is better than nothing. If you can’t afford the full weapon, by some complete and stripped lowers for the future.

If you are frightened after reading this article, I have achieved my goal. Get out and vote in November. The only thing certain is that this election is critical on many different levels.

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We’ve never advocated violence; violence is inflicted upon us. But we do believe in self-defense for ourselves.

You think being in your car is always safe? Think again. Whenever you are about to enter or exit your car, you are a prime target for a violent or armed assault.

And this is not all. You are also a target when you are just sitting in your vehicle, including when you are stopped at a light or in traffic. Less likely, you can even become a target while you are driving. Predators look for victims who are distracted, otherwise preoccupied or trapped, and all of these apply in all of the above vehicular situations. This is compounded if you are a senior citizen, as we elderly fall into a “more often picked by predators” category.

It is therefore necessary to develop certain proactive habits to avoid becoming a victim.

  1. The first rule is: You need to have a gun
  2. The second rule is: You need to make sure you have instant access to it
  3. The third rule: Always be aware of your surroundings
  4. The fourth rule is: Be prepared and ready for uncertain times

You need to have a gun

Many of us routinely carry a pocket pistol or small-frame snub nose revolver. Such a handgun in trained hands can do the job at bad breath distances when called upon. However, if you are at the wheel and someone begins shooting at you from the street or in a drive-by, will you be able to deliver precision shots with the little gun? The answer is no.

Keeping your gun in your glove compartment while you are driving is a bad idea, since it probably will not offer instant access.

For one, little guns are difficult to shoot precisely beyond bad breath distances, especially under stress. Secondly, you may have to shoot through your car windows, and you will need bullets that have adequate penetration. Therefore, for serious armed self-defense at the wheel, you need to carry a substantial defensive handgun. Medium to large frame .357 Magnum and .38 Special revolvers with heft, such as Smith and Wesson K, L, and N frames, stoked with .38 Special +P ammunition are a good option, as long as you practice defensive shooting with your revolver of choice.

If you want to be prepared, then, in addition to standard square range marksmanship practice, your practice sessions should include shooting from launching platforms that duplicate those you will be in if the balloon goes up (such as in an unavoidable road rage attack) while you are in your motor vehicle. I am talking about shooting from close quarter, compressed retention positions.

If you are not driving, and thus can take your hands off the steering wheel, a compressed, right-handed Weaver position is what applies for two-handed shooting out the window to your left. For shooting to your right out the passenger window, one-handed shooting with your right hand is what applies. If you are driving, your shooting techniques need to be modified since you must retain control of your steering wheel. I will address this situation below.

Viable pistols. Viable semi-automatic pistols for vehicular self-defense are those that you can handle with precision: Glock, Smith and Wesson M&P, Sig Sauer (9mm and greater in caliber), HK, Ruger semi-autos (9mm and greater in caliber), Springfield XD, Kahr (9mm and greater in caliber), and 1911 platform pistols fit the bill if you have chosen one that you can handle well.

You need to make sure you have instant access to your gun

If you carry a gun in your pants pocket, the problem is that your carry gun will not be easily accessible when you are seated at the wheel. Since the last thing you need is to get capped by a bad guy while you have your hand in your pocket, you need to decide how you are going to tote your pocket piece when you are in the driver’s seat. What follows also applies to bigger, non-pocket carry guns such as those mentioned above.

One option is to keep your handgun next to you on the passenger seat (as long as no one is sitting there!), under a piece of clothing, a book, or something else that will stay put over your gun.

Keeping your gun in your glove compartment while you are driving is a bad idea, since it probably will not offer instant access. If you have a middle console compartment that your firearm will easily fit in, that could be a good option.

The challenge is to avoid engagements if at all possible, but if avoidance is not possible, to win the fight that you cannot avoid.

A third option is to carry on your body in an accessible location, such as your appendix or in the cross draw position. Think about an easy on/easy off belt slide or inside the waist band holster (IWB). An IWB, however, may be a tight fit if you have a big belly.


Most violent criminals are not afraid of the gun, but they are afraid of the resolute person behind the gun.

Another option is a shoulder holster. It keeps the handgun where you need it when you are seated at the wheel; that is, under your non-dominant armpit so it can be accessed by your strong hand. Still another viable option is an ankle holster. It offers excellent accessibility when you are seated, at the wheel or otherwise.

When I am just carrying a small J-frame snubby in a #3 nylon Uncle Mike’s pocket holster or the equivalent, I stick the holstered revolver inside my waist band at around the 11 o’clock position when I am driving. Just before or after I exit my vehicle, I transfer the holstered revolver into a pants or jacket pocket.

Always be aware of your surroundings

You must remain aware of your surroundings. Parking lots and driveways are dangerous. You mustn’t let your guard down. In traffic, avoid letting yourself get trapped in between other vehicles such that you cannot find a path of fast egress, should that become necessary. Don’t tailgate. Leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you can drive around that vehicle if you have to. As a defensive driver, you should be doing this anyway. You should be anticipating the moves of the vehicles around you.

The same applies when you are stopped at a light or in traffic. Apply the same defensive driving frame of mind and level of awareness. Do not let anyone creep up on you, either on foot, on a bicycle, on a motorcycle, or in any other type of motor vehicle. Make sure you see them approaching and have a plan. Always be prepared to do something, but know what you are going to do!

Make the surprise be on the stranger. If the surprise is on you, it is no joke. The late, great Col. Jeff Cooper, in his book, Principles of Personal Defense, described the Xs and Os game. You give yourself an X if you notice people who breach your 360 degree environment before they notice you. You give yourself an O if they notice you first and surprise you. However, there are no Xs and Os in real life on the street, where an O (the first letter of the word Offed) spells game over, which could mean you’re dead. So, maintain the defensive driving mindset whenever you are up and about, and have a plan.

Remember that action is always faster than reaction. Therefore, if you want to stay alive and in the game, you need to have the shortest possible reaction time if you are assaulted. The only way this is possible is to train for the worst possible eventuality, and to stay awake and alert not only at the wheel, but also when you are entering and exiting your vehicle. These are dangerous times, and there is no time to slack off on your due vigilance.

Be prepared and ready for uncertain times


A shoulder holster is an excellent carry rig for driving. But if you have to present your firearm, make sure to not cover your support arm.

An armed assault while you are driving can happen in several ways. For one, you could be shot at in a drive-by while you are driving. In such an instance, your first course of action should be to drop back out of the line of incoming fire by slamming on your brakes.

If you have to return fire, you must be capable of making precision hits with your handgun. You will be glad if you have the right handgun in a substantial caliber that you can handle, as discussed above. Little bullets, such as in .380 caliber and smaller, do not have the penetration power you will need.

You should be capable of shooting accurately from various sitting positions. When seconds count, you may have to shoot through one of your door windows or even your windshield. You can do this and still get precision shots if you have the right handgun and are skilled with it. Recognize that we are talking about close distances, as the vehicle carrying your armed assailants will be near your vehicle.

If the armed assault while you are driving is from a vehicle on your left, and you are still in the line of fire after dropping back, you will need to shoot back with your right hand. To do so, you will have to hold the steering wheel with your left hand and cross over the back of your left arm with your right hand (which will be gripping the gun). You will need to shoot one handed and make sure not to “laser” your left arm. You will need to bring the gun up to eye level and acquire a flash sight picture, or use the silhouette of the gun to aim.

This is a kind of one-handed Weaver position, which is actually similar to the Harries flashlight technique, except you will not be pressing the backs of your wrists together. You will be shooting one handed. It will be awkward! This technique needs to be practiced. Shooting moving targets is different than shooting stationary ones. As with shooting sporting clays from left to right or right to left, you need to lead your target a slight bit by shooting slightly in front of your moving target.


When shooting in or around vehicles, you may need to use unfamiliar or even awkward shooting positions. Here, the shooter steadies the back of her hand on the car’s frame to help maintain her accuracy.

If the assault is from a vehicle on your right, you will also need to default to your right hand. However, in this case, you will be shooting one handed to somewhere within your one to four o’clock direction, depending on the location of the incoming fire. Thus, you will not be crossing over your arm which is attached to the wheel! You will need to extend your right hand to aim at your assailants on the right.

If the attack is from a vehicle in front of you, your options are to press your pedal to the metal and drive right into your assailants or to stop your vehicle and low crawl out the passenger door so you can return fire from the cover of your engine block and flank your assailants. Your adrenaline will be pumping very hard. Your survival will be at stake.

Whatever you do, do not just sit there! You need to keep moving. A moving target is much less likely to be hit. If the attack is from a vehicle to your rear and bullets are flying your way, you will definitely need to make evasive maneuvers with your vehicle to find a better position.


When shooting through the driver’s window, you’ll need to be able to make precise hits in a seated compressed Weaver position.

If you are stopped in traffic or at a red light and you are assaulted, you should have seen it coming! In any event, drive away if you can. If you cannot, you must fight. Always be prepared to engage and fight, because you just might have to!

If you are approached by an assailant on foot, look for a way to distract your assailant to give you time to get away. It is almost always better, in civilian life, to find an alternative to engagement. Therefore, be prepared to issue strong commands to a stranger who approaches your vehicle on foot. Practice verbalizing commands confidently so that they become subconscious tape loops. For example: Sorry sir. I cannot help you … I said I cannot help you! Get away from my vehicle NOW! … I said LEAVE NOW! LEAVE ME ALONE! … DROP YOUR WEAPON! DON’T MOVE.

Hopefully, you can de-escalate the situation before it gets to, Drop your weapon! Don’t move, because at that point you had better have drawn down on your assailant! The assailant has a deadly weapon and your life is threatened.


Have I ever been in any engagement situation such as those I have described above? The answer is no‑and hopefully I never will. However, the goal is to stay alive, and therefore, we do need to think about these things, but we need to do more than just think and visualize. We need to prepare physically through focused practice on a range where we can run drills that allow us to develop the relevant skills. This I have done, and the training is very eye opening.

You can shoot through your windshield if you have no other option. But you had better have enough gun!

You realize that you really have to work outside of your comfort zone to train to prevail in an armed confrontation and survive. However, if the balloon goes up, as they say, the whole event will be outside of your comfort zone. Assaults don’t happen when it is convenient for you to defend yourself!

The challenge is to avoid engagements if at all possible, but if avoidance is not possible, to win the fight that you cannot avoid. Winning means getting to go home. If a bad guy chooses to threaten your life, he has made a choice and you must choose as well—to prevail and survive, or to lose the fight and die. We must do whatever is necessary to go home as planned.

Here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

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The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

We've never advocated violence; violence is inflicted upon us. But we do believe in self-defense for ourselves. You think being in your car is always safe? Think again. Whenever you are

You’re going to want to read this in order to put the following 10 points into context; regardless. Some will read it and agree, some will read and disagree, some will debate intelligently. 

Preparation to Act: 10 Important Things to Know About Violence

  1. Violence is not a bad word. It is just a word.
  2. Violence is neither good nor evil.
  3. More violence, sooner.
  4. “Use of Force” could just as well be “Use of Violence.”
  5. “OODA Loop” is the single best but most frequently misunderstood term in the profession of arms.
  6. Action may be driven by conscious and subconscious emotion, but does not depend on emotion to occur.
  7. A cryptologist, a psychologist and a Franciscan monk continue to shape how we fight.
  8. Training for violence is important, but training for what leads up to violent action is more important.
  9. Violence should, if justified, be used with neither hesitation nor regret.
  10. There is a silent A in OODA: Acceptance.


The word Violence conjures different feelings in different people.  For some it has an automatic negative connotation, something to be avoided or shunned for the visions, memories or sensitivities it invokes.  For others, it speaks of a tool; the physical application of force to reach a desired result.  Still others share both feelings, both views.  For those of us who carry a firearm to defend our life and the lives of others, violence is a possibility that should be viewed as an eventuality.  Violence is a neutral term describing the willful and intentional use of a physical power.  Because we are emotional by nature, we apply an emotional meaning to the word.  We don’t do this intentionally, and we don’t make the decision consciously (for the most part), rather our emotional view of violence is shaped by who we are; our experiences, upbringing, religion, fears, environment, objectivity and subjectivity.  It becomes implicit before most of us are conscious of the subject, though ever changing by our continued experiences in life.  The view of violence, for those who have not used it with the intention of seriously injuring or killing another, is often esoteric.  They may have an understanding of the steps to take, the methods, tools and techniques, but not the end result of those actions.  This lack of explicit experience is both a blessing and a hindrance, and it is something we all have to face at some point.  Those lucky enough, or those willing to seek it out on their own, can do so in training, provided that training prepares them, as realistically as possible, for what they will encounter with a real life use of violence.

Preparation for violence is both mental and it is physical.  Preparation is the total sum of training and practice that should be pursued by any student of force.  For training, there are many taboos about how we speak on the topic of violence, and some terms are taboo for good reason.  But the problem with a taboo is it assigns a negative view to a term that may describe an otherwise positive or neutral action.  Instead of kill we have incapacitate, even though any upward thinking person knows that the most efficient way to incapacitate a threat is to, well….you know.  So let’s see if we can avoid viewing our taboo words as taboo, as well as those Politically Correct as politically correct words. These were undoubtedly chosen by a well degreed committee with perhaps zero experience to preparation to choose such a word. Let us instead focus on the simple and direct preparation for violence by those of us willing to use it.

Violence isn’t evil, and it isn’t good.  It merely describes an action.  The same as force, though we say use of force, not use of violence.  Why?  I don’t know who made the decision or how long ago it happened, but at some point someone decided on the following naming convention: force is for the good guys and violence for the bad guys.

Fine, they ultimately mean the same thing but only the word violence conjures the emotional connection you have to realize in order to accept it as a tool.  There simply isn’t the same emotion assigned to force.  Semantics?  Perhaps, though consider that all those catchy shirts, tattoos, slogans, morale patches and stickers don’t throw around force as a motivator.  Sure, the head shed wants it to be a bad word but the alpha in all of us recognizes it for what it is; an explanation of something we all will gladly use to defend life.  I’m not going to use force, I am going to exercise extreme violence so long as that violence is justified, and I will continue to use it as long as it is justified.

In my personal and professional opinion, that is the mindset to have and a mindset I fear we are losing, especially in the civilian world (I’m talking to the cops, too). This is in large part due to the political and “progressive” nature of our legal system and the affects it has on teachers and instructors.  The military is somewhat immune from this pedantic shift, but whether this continues (and for how long) remains to be seen.

The study of the use of violence (or you can use force, if you like) has come a long way. Every student of the gun (and martialists) have been introduced to the psychological and physiological research that is the continuing result of decades of study—study into the application of physical violence against an enemy.

I don’t think I’m supposed to use enemy either.

Don’t get me wrong, I celebrate every bit of research that makes defending my life easier and makes me more effective doing so.  The dark side, so-to-speak, of some of this science is that it attempts to substitute itself for actual experience. It needs to be driven to the audience in a way that they can relate to and apply it; unfortunately this frequently does not happen.  What I mean to do now is lay out, as straightforward as possible, the process we go through in a use of force.  Some of this science and theory you may have been introduced to before, and some will be brand new.  This won’t be a short journey, but I will tie it together in the end and give an as complete picture as possible.

The curious case of the OODA Loop.

I can’t think of a single mental process more examined, charted, spoken on and misunderstood than Colonel John Boyd’s Observe-Orient- Decide- Act Loop.   OODA is a series of time competitive cycles that lead to an action; but what the hell does that mean?  Let’s break it down.

Observe: you perceive a stimulus with your senses, usually sight, though sometimes initially by sound.  This stimulus can be the presence of a bad guy, or the actual observation of a person or known bad guy going for a weapon or making a furtive movement; it can also be the audible perception of a threat, or the mechanical sound of a weapon being handled.  Observation is a potential loop.  Each new stimulus forces us back to Observation.

Orient:  This is perhaps the most misunderstood but the single most important cycle in the OODA loop.  Orientation is where we process our observation and focus on its source.  This is the critical moment where our emotional views, upbringing, religion, training, experience, environment, physical condition, mental condition, fears, conscious and subconscious knowledge are weighed against our observation.  This is also the first point where our Sympathetic Nervous System will activate (if not already activated) to prepare us for a fight.  The sum of who we are is going to seriously affect the next step in the cycle; meaning that if we are not prepared for violence, we are not going to be prepared for what comes next.  Orientation is a loop.  If the stimulus changes and we must Observe again, Orientation will occur again.

Decide:  The results of Orientation lead to the decision we make.  The physical and environmental stimulus we observed will guide the decision we make, weighed against the Orientation process.  What this means is that if we are not trained, or have not experienced a particular stimulus, our decision is going to be complicated by our mind accessing memory to search for a solution.  If we are emotionally unprepared for the observation (not committed to the use of violence against another person), this will further delay or completely prevent a timely decision.  Our decision is going to be based on the specifics of our perception (observation) and what options we have available to us to confront it.  Like Observation and Orientation, Decision is a loop.  If the stimulus changes, all must be processed through again.

Act:  Action is the end result of Observe, Orient and Decide. It is a process that occurs in a predominantly subconscious and very short period of time.  Action is where weapons are drawn and used, commands are issued, punches thrown, or where the terrible collapse of mental processing occurs and nothing happens.  This is where most people live and train, the physical acts.  Action is driven by conscious and subconscious emotional responses, but it is not dependent upon emotion to occur.  It takes the same amount of time to turn the page in a book as it does to draw a weapon; the urgency of the latter is applied by emotion, self-preservation and training.  Just as the other steps in OODA, Action is a loop.  Any change in the stimulus and the process begins again.

This is how I view OODA and how I explain it.  OODA is infallible in its concept, but convoluted in its application because most of the steps that take place during the process can’t be consciously appreciated.  Sure, the first time any of us get schooled in OODA we nod along, but how many of you honestly understood it the first time it was laid out for you?  If you didn’t, it was probably more about the fact that we are unable to pull fractions of a second out of our brain to compare them to the model than it was about the instructor’s inability to teach (or your ability to comprehend).  OODA is all about time; it’s an expanded explanation of our reaction time process and the segue towards more psychologically focused training.  OODA is also very much about minimizing emotional investment in anything that isn’t the direct application of violence when violence is needed.  But OODA doesn’t stand alone to shape the total picture; for that we need a cryptologist, a psychologist and a Franciscan Friar and no, I’m not kidding.

Paying attention and making decisions.

Claude Shannon isn’t a name many of you are likely to know, but his touch on the world is all around you.  See, Shannon was a mathematician, cryptologist, and electronic engineer working for Bell Labs during WWII and among some of the other amazing things he did, he developed what became Information Theory after the war.  Information Theory is based on human communication and reconstructed it to assist with data transmission.  Shannon’s Information Theory is nearly everywhere you look and you may not even realize it.  Information Theory, simply put, states that the transmission of information at all times should remain as simple as possible (it’s also the basis for all telecommunications and search engines on the planet, which makes him the Tesla of computers and phones).  The most common words in language are often the shortest and because the most common words only assist in the construction of a point, a listener could miss portions of the sentence and still glean the meaning.  What this means is that our perception of a stimulus need not harbor on conscious observations if we have trained and practiced for similar situations; basically if I have heard a sentence spoken before, I need only hear parts of it to glean the meaning.  Information Theory isn’t concerned with the intention of a message (the intentions of our bad guy) only with his actions.  For the quickest mental path through OODA, Dr. Shannon gives us the groundwork to strain out the emotional roadblocks we encounter during Orientation.  How do you consciously use this theory?  Bear with me.

Doctor William Hicks gave us Hicks Law (actually the Hicks-Hyman Law, but Hicks gets the credit thanks to history).  Hicks Law is a concept I’m sure most of you are familiar with, but for those of you who are not, the Hick Law focuses on reaction time when making a decision.  The more choices a person have available to them, the longer it will take them to make a decision.   For the use of force, this is important not only in regards to reacting to a threat and deciding on a course of action, but being confident in the ability to do so.  The number of choices is based on training, equipment and what you are actually reacting to.  Emotional concerns, our conscience or a lack of confidence can and does complicate the decision making process.  Further complicating our decision making process is a lack of sensory information, if present, which can slow the Observation and Orientation phase of OODA.

Once the mind has Observed and Oriented, a Decision must be made.  The time from Observation to Decision is measured in milliseconds, between 160-390 milliseconds (depending on if the initial observation is audible or visual, audible usually providing a faster reaction time Robert J. Kosinski , 2013).  Observations in low light extend reaction time (and have other particular effects on perception).    The selection of a decision according to Hicks is effected by the number of choices; for each additional choice, the mind takes an additional 25-38 milliseconds (Sternberg, S. 1969).  These numbers are somewhat academic in the fact that they do not take into account emotional considerations and psychological stress associated with a lethal force encounter.  But to you, how much does that matter?  Well, the first part of the problem in appreciating Hicks Law was already mentioned when we looked at OODA; we are not able to examine fractions of a second in our mind because that is not how we consciously process time.  We also must consider that reaction time is delayed by a lack of a solution; meaning that if you are encountering a situation you have not trained for, your mind will not find a solution in short term memory and be forced to call up long term memory, or if you are unfortunate enough to be lacking a choice due to lacking a piece of equipment.  These problems are also measured in milliseconds (best case scenario).  Given the choice of an equal reaction time to my threat, or a 190 millisecond head start, I’m going to take the head start every time; which is why understanding OODA is so important, though some of you are probably wondering what does this have to do with being prepared for violence?  Bear with me a little longer; first, our Monk.

Willaim of Ockam was a philosopher and a Franciscan Friar with a lot of time on his hands. This was because he lived through the late 1200s into the 1300s, a time when most people thought (and a few read) for entertainment.  Ockam didn’t originally invent what has come to be known as Occams Razor (it goes back as far as Aristotle) but Ockam gets credit for it because he used it often and to great success.  In the simplest terms, Occams Razor states that the simplest explanation for an event or observation is often the truth.  Meaning that we humans like to draw neat little lines between a question and a conclusion (or assumption)

An example would be this: when you hear a diesel rumble coming up the street you think 18-wheeler, not dump truck.  It may very well be a dump truck, but you need more information before you conclude that.  You could make a more complex assumption (or theory) at the sound of a diesel engine, but the time to do so and the additional factors in which you could be wrong creates needless thought processes.  From Occams Razor (in a roundabout way) came The Principle of Economy, stating that “Scientists must use the simplest means of arriving at their results and exclude everything not perceived by the senses (Ernst Mach).”  Now how does this apply to OODA, or Hicks, or Information Theory?   They all work together and do so based on the fact of human nature, that everything about another person’s intentions is an educated guess at best.  We simply cannot know, at any time, what another person intends to do without lending a degree of blind trust to their words and actions.  So to put it in a more useful example, someone running at you with a raised bat likely means you harm, as opposed to thinking that they may just be in a hurry to show you their bat.  This is the intuitiveness of the Razor, it is the guide for safe assumptions based on what our senses perceive.

Perception is all we have to make decisions absent placing a degree of trust in other’s intentions.  Is the Razor fallible?  Of course it is, so is OODA, Hicks and Information Theory; fallible due to the tricks of our own mind, a lack of information, too much information, or misreading the intentions of another person.  Perception is the first two steps of OODA, and it’s where the mind forms its plan, makes a Decision and Acts.

The key to acting efficiently and quickly, the key to being prepared to use violence is here.

Knowing Harm and Knowing When to do Harm

Our mindset towards violence must be one of acceptance.  I accept, and expect, that I will need to visit violence on another human being if their behavior and/or actions leave me no other choice.  This is what I train for and practice for.  The more training, the more practice, the better prepared I will be and the quicker I will be able to recognize the need for violence.  Emotions can cloud our decision making process, or assist in our response to violence.  An objective fear of injury promotes a faster reaction, which is how we have been able to survive on this planet for so long despite being ill equipped to, say, kill a bear or tiger with our opposable thumbs.

Those without healthy objective fear would make a series of stupid decisions and may not even make it out of childhood.  Fear attunes the senses, it is what activates our Sympathetic Nervous System and prepares us to fight, flee or freeze.  It is my personal and professional belief that an acceptance of the need for violence, no matter who it may need to be used against, promotes a faster reaction time to a threat. It minimizes nonsensical choices in what force we will or won’t use and builds resolve into the decisions we make that lead to our actions.  Outside of reality based training, such as that conducted with a Non-Lethal-Training-Ammunition in scenario structured events or hand-to-hand training, personal training experiences where violence is used in reaction or anticipation of a threat’s behavior are very, very limited.  Cardboard can’t comply, can’t shoot back, and even if it may move, it’s usually in a very unrealistic and somewhat comical way. Because of this, much of our mental preparation for the use of violence is either personal or through the pursuit of realistic training.

For the military and law enforcement, it’s a unit/department decision and quite often what looks like a good idea from the top, is watered down and prone to ineffectiveness at the bottom.  Things become more and more political-correct driven and because of this, your willingness to use violence at the moment it is needed is threatened by poor training, poor practice, fear of litigation or simply not knowing what to do or when to do it. Why? Because you have not been prepared for what you are encountering.

Cardboard can’t comply, can’t shoot back, and even if it may move, it’s usually in a very unrealistic and somewhat comical way

This is where personal preparation is more important than anything.  First, know the law; know when you can use force to defend your life or the life of another.  Know it well, memorize it and then train for the exigencies.

More violence, sooner.

This is where some people get uncomfortable with the conversation, and that’s fine.  I don’t have a crystal ball, therefore I cannot see the future.  I live on the premise that anyone who behaves in a manner that threatens my well-being or the well-being of another will continue to do so until stopped.  Since I cannot ever reliably know what another person’s intentions are, I can only act against their actions or their failure to listen to reason.  Can I warn someone to drop their weapon before I use force?  Of course, in fact for law enforcement, we have to when feasible.  The definition of when it’s feasible is left to the individual officer and the totality of the circumstances, as it should be.  The same should be true for every responsible citizen carrying a weapon for self-defense.

Your bad guy makes the decision to have violence visited upon them through their actions, the decision you have to make is when and how much.   As a law enforcement officer facing an armed threat that could immediately harm me or others, I have always lived with the One Warning Rule.  If feasible I will give one command to drop the weapon, that’s it.  Barring any additional changes in my threat’s behavior after my warning, I will use force.  I see nothing gained by acting otherwise because I am not willing to play a What If game, nor wait for someone whose thoughts I do not know, have a change of heart.  The longer I wait, or the more ineffective warnings I issue, the greater the danger to my safety and the safety to others becomes.

Of course it’s not that simple; because we have seen fit to yoke ourselves with polices, rules of engagement and many other administrative weights that serve to ignore the fact that Action is faster than Reaction.  We have to obey these rules, but we do not have to do so at the cost of serious bodily injury or death for there is no policy that can force me to suffer injury in the name of administrative comfort.  But for the ultimate sake of my point, let’s set aside policy and look at the mentality only.  As an example, I present the following;

A police officer confronts an individual armed with a firearm who has verbally threatened him; the police officer has the following choices;

Do nothing (emotional response to fear, or lack of confidence)

Identify himself Issue a verbal warning to drop the weapon (trained response)

Flee (emotional response to fear, lack of confidence or conscious decision based on being outgunned)

Seek cover (trained response, emotional response)

Draw baton/Taser/Pepper spray (disparity of force decision, lack of training or lack of confidence in understanding of legal/policy options)

Draw weapon (trained response, natural response to the level of threat faced)

Obviously a police officer has more “options” to confront this situation than a soldier or citizen would, right?  No.  The choices are the same.  Freeze, Flee, or Fight.

Now, consider that before a choice is made the threat is already in a position of advantage to use force, his weapon is in hand and he is ready to act.  Should the officer issue a verbal warning while taking no additional steps to protect himself, the threat gains an additional advantage in time. He also benefits from the knowledge that the officer has the means to meet force with like force, but at least for the moment, will not.  Suppose the officer draws his weapon and points it at his threat.  Does this now give him the position of advantage to issue a verbal command?  No.  If anything, this places the officer and the threat in a tie for who can use violence first.

I have in numerous training exercises I have put officers and citizens in this exact scenario. 99 out of 100 times, the threat is able to raise and fire his weapon just before or at the same time the officer/citizen fires his and in some cases, the threat fires with no response at all from the officer/citizen.  In the rare times when the officer/citizen is able to fire before the threat, the rounds still pass each other in midflight.  Action is faster than Reaction because Action must occur before a Reaction can be raised.

We must process through OODA, there is no way around it.

Even so called “muscle memory” is an unconscious reaction to our stimulus.  Training and repetition may build you to the point of Unconscious Competence in drawing and firing your weapon, but you are still doing so as a reaction to a stimulus.

When can, when should violence be used?  As soon as it is justified because I cannot see the future.  I must be comfortable with using violence and that comfort comes from understanding how my mind prepares to use violence.  When facing grievous bodily harm, no other option is reasonable.

Violence through OODA

Now we tie it all together right back where we started, by viewing OODA through the lens of committing to the idea of more violence, sooner.

Observe:  our senses perceive a stimulus, either through prolonged/deliberate contact (you already recognize and in some way are interacting with the threat before realizing they mean you harm) or in a spontaneous encounter (you are literally surprised by the sudden appearance of a person and their intentions to harm you).  Observation is the constant feed of information from an interaction with a person.  Their speech, mannerisms, body language and behavior can give you clues for safe assumptions as to their intentions.  Over half (as must as the often quoted Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s “93%”) of communication is non-verbal, though verbal clues are usually present in prolonged encounters.

Remember Information Theory?  This is one part of OODA where IT can play a huge part.  We need not hear the entire sentence to get the meaning, nor must we know why a person’s mannerisms give us the feeling that they mean us harm (assuming a fighting stance, clenching fists, attempts to physically flank you, etc.)  The more we know about the subject (in this case, verbal and visual clues) the more we are able to fill in the “blanks” on what our threat may intend.  Of course in a spontaneous situation, the immediate aggressiveness of our threat makes rapid recognition through good training critical to a fast reaction.

Remember Occams Razor?  The simplest explanation for a man to square into a fighting stance is that he intends to fight.  Observation is also when your Sympathetic Nervous System will likely activate upon observation of a threat.   Observation continually loops back to the stimulus to gather new information.

Orient:  Orient is comprised of who we are, and how we have been trained.  A man will hold his hand in a certain way when reaching for his wallet than when reaching for a gun.  This is largely explicit knowledge, it has to be learned.  Against a spontaneous threat, we are at the mercy of nature and training.  Our SNS may compel us towards deciding to flee from a recognized superior threat, to simply seek cover or prepare to defend ourselves.  Had you received training against the spontaneous appearance of a weapon, or pre-assault indicators in speech and body language, you will be able to progress past Orientation much faster.  If a man assumes a fighting or a shooting stance, we Orient to this based on our knowledge.  IT helps fill in the gaps and our friend Occam eliminates the ridiculous possibilities one would do such a thing if they did not mean us harm.  Orient is where any hesitation towards violence will complicate making a Decision.  Your Sympathetic Nervous System’s activation will elevate heart rate, dilate pupils, flatten the lens of the retina, narrow your field of vision, force your posture to square to your threat and begin to degrade fine motor skills.  All of our collective knowledge weighs the observation while continually looping to receive new information as it comes in.

Decide:  Decision may be where our first conscious thoughts take place, and where any hesitation, fear or lack of training or experience can affect the speed and effectiveness of your actions. If it is needed, this is where total commitment to violence needs to happen.  Short term memory will access the reflexive, repetitious training and practice that best fits the situation if you have prepared for what you are encountering; otherwise the decision will be delayed (relatively speaking) as your mind accesses long term memory to find a solution to a problem you have not trained for or have not trained enough for.   The number of tools you have to confront a situation will lengthen the time it takes to choose one (Hicks Law).  Factoring in IT and Occams, a clear Observation and Orientation with consistent feedback as more information comes in will shape your Decision and help to eliminate unsafe assumptions or nonsensical explanations for the behavior of your threat.  As the Decision is being made, the effects of SNS can complicate your actual reaction.  Proper stress inoculation training will help prepare for the real thing when it happens.  Once the Decision has been made, only additional information from the stimulus can prevent it from being carried out (such as a sudden surrender or realizing what you though was a gun is in fact a phone).

Act:  The Action is about intent.  It’s about violence.  You cannot shoot someone “a little bit.”  Action is where much of people’s training and practice takes place, the physical act of pulling (pressing, squeezing) the trigger, throwing a strike or using a knife/baton/Taser etc.  We focus on the fundamentals and put holes in paper.  You will be attacked 100% more often by people than paper, and our Action should always consider this truth.  Action training is important, but training for what leads up to Action is far more important.  Being prepared for the use of violence without reservation, the willingness to use as much violence as possible the moment it is justified will greatly solidify resolve and help reduce (along with good training and practice) any hesitation in Action.  Getting to Action from Observe requires urgency, attention to your threat and a strong understanding of how emotion can aid or delay your response to a threat.  When violence is justified, the Action is a response to the behavior of your threat.  They make the decision to have force used against them.  When it’s time to Act, do so and do so violently.

The Silent A: Acceptance.

I feel I need to be very specific in what I am talking about.  In no way am I promoting the use of violence or force in a situation in which it would not be reasonable to do so under the circumstances.  What I am promoting is accepting that if you have the means to use violence, the training and the desire to defend your life, you must accept that when that time comes, there are no half-measures.  You must subdue or incapacitate your threat as quickly as possible.  Violence will continue to be a taboo word, seeming to grow more so as time goes on.  Progressive attitudes and political correctness are reshaping the way our good guys come up in the professional and private world, and it’s not for the better.   I don’t want to go off on that tangent too far as that would be a whole different article, I just want to underline the point that something as simple as use of force  in place of violence has a sterilizing effect and takes away from what actually happens and needs to happen.  We know they are the same, yet the removal of emotion is the removal of acceptance.

What I am promoting is accepting that if you have the means to use violence, the training and the desire to defend your life, you must accept that when that time comes, there are no half-measures.

The use of violence is going to be an emotional event, perhaps before and certainly after.  We can go far to prepare ourselves for the use of violence by accepting that there are situations in which it is a necessary tool and when it is necessary, resolving to use it without hesitation or regret.


You’re going to want to read this in order to put the following 10 points into context; regardless. Some will read it and agree, some will read and disagree, some