Dec 07

Mentality: Unarmed but NOT Helpless

This past week I had to travel to Chicago for work which meant 4 days of powerpoint slides, note taking, breaks every 90 minutes and other mandatory fun.  To put it succinctly: I gotta pay the bills and it is what it is.  As all of you are aware Chicago has some of the most draconian gun laws on the planet which meant that before leaving home I locked my pistol and spare magazines in my safe.  I would be traveling unarmed and the old phrase “I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6” simply did not apply.  If you disagree (or endorse becoming a felon) remember that we often cite the fact that ridiculous gun control laws only serve to remove guns from law abiding citizens (which it did in my case). But how can we be law abiding if we pick and choose which laws apply to us?  There was absolutely no way I was going to walk around Chicago for 4 days carrying my gun, nor would I store my gun(s) in my hotel room or car.  I did have my survival bag with me and a few tools but that was the extent of it.  The fact that I was unarmed most certainly impacted my ability to defend myself but it did not render me completely helpless.

A gun is a tool and it’s an effective one, but if you believe that the ONLY way you can be a Sheep Dog is when carrying a gun you need to take a hard look in the mirror.  Does the suit make the man or does the man make the suit?  Does your chest only stick out and does the strut in your walk only happen when you have 5.11 gear on and a 1911 on your hip, or is that confidence a result of a MINDSET?

While in Chicago I still followed many of the same TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) which I normally do even though unarmed.  I maintained my SA (Situational Awareness) while moving through crowds, I sat facing the door while in restaurants, I didn’t keep my head buried in my phone while out and about.  In essence I paid attention to what was going on around me and was STILL prepared to react to most situations depending on how they might have unfolded.  As you might expect there would have been a difference in how I would have reacted because I was unarmed, this versus the feeling of having my trusty Glock 19 on my hip.

I don’t want this post to trail off into a handful of “what if” scenarios where I discuss reacting to a myriad of situations while armed and unarmed.  What would I have done, what actions to take, draw and fire or pick up a chair and toss it etc.  The fact of the matter is that a time could come when I AM armed and still end up NOT using my gun to de-escalate a situation or defend myself.  There are simply too many variables at play and I don’t want to go down that road.  What I want to emphasize is that when was impossible to carry I still maintained the correct mindset: the Alpha Dog, always watching, plan having, ready for just about everything, forward thinking and calculating individual who is prepared to do what it takes to survive.  Would I have been more comfortable carrying a gun?  Absolutely.  Does a gun define who I am or what I am capable of?  Absolutely not.  Just something to consider…


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    • Muleskinner on December 8, 2013 at 1:17 AM
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    Yes, yes, yes! This is an excellent post with more then one lesson to be considered. I am a huge fan of SA as a means of avoiding having to use deadly force; whether that force is with a firearm, knife or my hands. To that end let me add the following.

    Watch anyone and everyone; you can tell who is dangerous and who isn’t by a very simple method.

    First, watch people’s hands and arms. If they are hanging naturally to their side that person is unlikely to be a problem. However, if their hands are close to their waistline, in their pockets, or in a position that is not showing a relaxed posture they are a potential threat. If their hands are clinched or in any configuration that screams danger then avoid that person immediately. You will know it when you see it but you have to look.

    Second, how is someone standing? Generally an attack will come from a stationary threat. Most threats are telegraphed by what is known as blading. This is when a person turns sideways with their dominate foot behind or slightly to the rear of their weak side foot, both feet evenly spaced under their shoulders, hiding or obscuring their dominate hand. Think of how you draw a weapon if you are right handed. Your left foot is slightly ahead of you right foot you turn your left hip slightly toward your target with your right hip cocked to the rear. This is blade stance. Here again you will know it instinctively but you have to look.

    Third, look at the eyes. This may not sound too important but it can tell you a lot about what the person is thinking. Are they watching you intently or was it a casual glance? Are their eyes dilated? Humans are funny animals. When they intend to attack they receive an adrenaline rush that dilates their pupils and they stop blinking while staring intently at their intended target. This is you final warning they are a danger but you have to look.

    There is more to this science but this gives the basics.

      • Lynn on December 8, 2013 at 5:47 AM
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      Looks like we read similar sights for SA info. Below is a link for more detailed items to look for from the 2 legged threat.

        • Muleskinner on December 8, 2013 at 12:31 PM
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        Very interesting article. The author did a nice job of simplifying the subject. I have been exposed to watching other’s body language since the mid-70’s and it is fascinating how accurate it can be. One of the very best books I have read on this subject is by by Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins entitled “What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People”. For those interested in more insight into this subject the book is available here:

      • PJ on December 8, 2013 at 9:02 PM
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      Great info Muleskinner, thanks for adding it.

        • Muleskinner on December 9, 2013 at 12:20 AM
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        I commend you on keeping a cool, and vigilant head while in Chicago! There is so much that should be discussed in this post it would write a book.

    • The Maj on December 9, 2013 at 7:45 PM
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    True on all counts PJ. Too often “we” forget that there are other, sometimes even more important, things we can and should practice without the comfort of a firearm. I may not like it and may feel more comfortable with a firearm, but unfortunately it is a reality we have to come to grips with.

    Being aware, whether armed or not, is the one thing that will always give you a fighting chance.

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