This is a very special Active Self Protection lesson, because it’s the first time we have received the video from the intended victim and been able to talk the incident through with them! Would you have been able to get your gun in the fight as fast as Daniel did? I think he covered his Active Self Protection pretty well! Thank you, Daniel, for being willing to share your experience with all of us to help us build our attitude, skills, and plan!
News story of this armed robbery: https://get-asp.com/c8ug
What does this video teach us about surviving an armed robbery?
- Situational awareness is your best friend. It doesn’t mean that you always are paranoid or living in “condition orange,” but it does mean that you know Col. Cooper’s color code of awareness and you live by it. Pay attention to your surroundings, and recognize that when you’re in public places you need to be more aware of your surroundings than when you’re in private. Because Daniel was aware, he used the mirror to see the threat early, and because of that was able to get his gun out and on target quickly! When you move from yellow to orange to red, you have to be able to process and decide in a flash.
- Transitional spaces are places where we MUST be more careful of potential attack. A transitional space is any location that (1) allows attackers to prey on potential victims with an element of surprise and (2) provides ready escape for the attackers. This jewelry store was only a transitional space because the armed robber propped the door open, which shouldn’t happen normally. But bad guys work to defeat your defensive setup, so be ready for that in places of high value items like jewelry!
- In a deadly force encounter, decisions of life and death will be made in the blink of an eye. On the range and in class we have time to consider and to think and to reset and to make multiple attempts, but when the balloon goes up in real life you’ve got fractions of seconds to decide what the best course of action is to protect yourself. The way to be better at decision making in the heat of the moment is training, specifically scenario training and force-on-force training that is designed to work on decision-making skills under stress. It’s offered all over the country, so get training! Daniel retreated by instinct from the threat, which is normally a good idea, but then he remembered mom was there and he had to go protect her. Train like it’s going to be chaotic and that the situation won’t be ideal.
- As well-meaning as police officers are, they cannot protect you from danger. As the old adage says, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!” You—and ONLY you—can protect yourself from danger when it comes upon you. A police response time of 5 minutes is considered perfectly acceptable in most suburban departments, and times upwards of 30 minutes can be the norm in rural areas! You need to have the attitude, skills, and plan to protect yourself from harm because the police simply can’t.
- Remember, at the end of a defensive encounter your goal is to get to safety and end the threat against you and your loved ones. Pursuing a fleeing bad guy for whatever reason is unwise because they very well may counter-ambush you or hurt you to make their escape. Once the threat ends, let the threat go and take action to make yourself safer. Daniel and the rest of the family went out to see what the armed robbers did when they left, which could have put them in danger again. Be careful not to add danger to a dangerous situation.
- If you have a family member who isn’t a self-defender, it’s very important to teach them what their responsibility is if you ever have to use your firearm to defend you both. The same holds true for children or elderly parents or anyone who you are around a lot who doesn’t practice ASP at all. My wife and kids know that if they see my firearm at all they need to get DOWN and, if possible, get away from me because I am about to draw fire. In the car they know to get low. Here, Daniel’s mom is a mama bear for sure trying to get in the way of the armed robber threatening her son, but she could have been badly hurt because she’s not trained or equipped. When you’re not trained or equipped, get down and get away.
- The rules of firearm safety apply in a gunfight, just like they do on the range or in your home. Whether you prefer to articulate them as Colonel Cooper’s four rules or the NRA’s three rules (I have a discussion of my preference here: https://get-asp.com/cfgf if you want to read it), you must have the presence of mind to keep your firearm pointed in the appropriate direction and only fire when you will not hit an innocent. You are morally and legally responsible for the rounds that leave your gun, so make sure to train and practice so that you take responsible shots in the moment of need. Daniel didn’t have a clean shot in this armed robbery so he didn’t take a shot. That’s maybe not our first choice, but it is an important one.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.