A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Layers of Response by John Farnam

Years ago, Jeff Cooper delineated the "Color Code" and the "Principles of Personal Defense" in an effort to provide us with a logical model for one's thinking on the subject of mental preparedness. I'd like now to go to the next step and apply the same logic to the issue of personal appearance and demeanor, as we all agree that, in the domestic defensive environment, avoiding a fight is preferable to winning one.

Layer One: Nonattendance. The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is:
Don't be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don't go to stupid places. Don't associate with stupid people. Don't do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the "penalty" for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.

Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of "stupid places." Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can't be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.

"A superior gunman is best defined as one who uses his superior judgment in order to keep himself out of situations that would require the use of his superior skills."

Layer Two: Functional invisibility. We all need to practice to art of "being invisible." It is in our best interest to go our way unnoticed, both by potential predators and by the criminal justice system alike.

Whenever I travel, particularly to foreign countries, I endeavor to be the one that no one notices; no one recalls; no one remembers. I silently slip through the radar, leaving no trace, a nameless, faceless tourist. When in any public place, I try to be clean and well groomed, but I never wear bright colors, any kind of jewelry, or anything shiny. I smile a lot, but talk softly and as little as possible. As we say in the law enforcement business, "Courteous to everyone. Friendly to no one."

Loud talking, bright colors, Rolex watches, etc will consistently accumulate unwanted attention. On the other end of the spectrum, tattoos, poor grooming, loud and offensive language, a slovenly appearance, etc will also garner unwelcome notice.

Layer Three: Deselection. Any successful predator has the ability to quickly screen potential victims, focusing in on the ones who look as if they will make good victims and rejecting those who either (1) look too strong for expedient victimization or (2) don't conveniently fall into any particular category.

When invisibility fails, we need endeavor to be consistently deselected for victimization. We do this by making it a habit to appear alert, uninviting, self-confident, and strong. At the same time, we never loiter or appear indecisive. We are always in motion.

"Weakness perceived is weakness exploited!"

Layer Four: Disengagement: Our best interests are not served by any kind of engagement with potential predators. Successful disengagement involves posturing, bearing, verbalizations, and movement. It is in our best interest to disengage at the lowest reasonable force level, but we must simultaneously be prepared to instantly respond to unlawful force with superior force.

Potential predators, as they attempt verbal engagement, should be politely dismissed. Bearing and eye contact should always project strength and confidence. We should continuously be moving off the "line of force." We should be observant in every direction, giving potential predator duos and trios the distinct impression that they will not be able to sneak up on us.

When predators are confused, they are unable to focus sufficiently to carry off their victimization. Therefore, never let a potential predator seize the agenda. Don't answer his questions, and don't stay in any one place very long.

Disengagement, separation, and exit are our immediate goals when we have been selected or are being seriously evaluated by predators. However, if there is to be a fight, the best one is a short one. If a predator menaces me with a gun or a knife, I know that, before it is all over, there is a good chance that I will be shot or cut. However, within that prison of circumstance, I also know that the faster I can end the fight, the less hurt I'm going to get! If there must be a fight, I must explode into action, moving smoothly and quickly, in an effort to confuse and overwhelm my opponent before he has a chance to process all the information I'm throwing at him.

Ultimately, we must "have a plan." Potentially dangerous encounters must be thought about in advance. Decisions must be made. Skills must be practiced. Confusion, hesitation, and vacillation will always attract the attention of predators and simultaneously stimulate predator behavior.



Blogger Sterno said...

While what you've posted is true, there are some cases where it is not possible.

For instance, I'm a musician. I have to go to bars to make a living. I also have to be a guy no one forgets so that the people who see me on stage will come back for more.

To offset this I use the "bad target" strategy. Like you said, I keep aware of my surroundings, I don't drink, and I just generally try to seem like any attempt to mug or rob me would be trouble. It doesn't hurt that I'm 6'4" and about 275lbs.

This strategy does not ward off the "I wanna fight 'cause I'm drunk" guy, but if his friends are even just the least bit sober, they alway stop him before starting something with me.

I just really wish I could carry in a bar in Louisiana (or the rest of the country for that matter). But there's always pepper spray, my knife, and the most important self defense weapon of them all - my brain.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

What's that saying? "Be polite, be professional. But have a plan to kill everybody in the room."

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous zoom said...

Great post. I especially like the quote about the superior gunman. Is that original, or is it attributable? It would make a great sig line, but I'd want to be able to credit it properly.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The oldest attribution I have heard on that quote is from aviation. When I first learned to fly in the mid-'80's, new pilots were constantly reminded that, "A superior pilot is one that uses his superior judgment to avoid having to use his superior skills." I believe I later read this in a W.W.II training manual for the DC-3 I found in Powell's books in Portland, OR. It may be much older, and may have come from some other arena of deadly environments (I'm thinking nautical).


9:36 PM  

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