Allowed VS Able

Q: “In light of what happened recently at the Virginia Walmart, how does one try to protect or save themselves?”

A: “Fight back.”

I realize that when this this question was penned, the inquirer wanted me to respond to a specific incident.  However, surviving a situation like the recent shooting at the Chesapeake Virginia Walmart requires the exact same thinking, planning, and awareness necessary to survive any active shooter scenario.  So, let’s discuss some things that might help us stay alive or save others.

Pay attention to people.  Be aware of people’s behavior and be cognizant of changes in the behavior of those you are around most frequently.  Mass murderers don’t act on a whim.  They build up these atrocities in their minds long before they ever execute their plan to execute others.  If you see something, say something.  Look no further than the 2015 mass murder in San Bernardino, CA, to understand what happens when observers stay silent.  

“Run – Hide – Fight.”  I bet you’ve probably heard those three words spoken in that order more than once, especially if you’ve ever been required to undergo some nonsense “active shooter training.”  I say “nonsense” because what I see commonly being offered to people in the workplace is little more than a 2-hour, mind numbing regurgitation of some “training” video.  Or worse, being forced to sit through the video itself.  As a trainer, I HATE the Run – Hide – Fight methodology.

It’s hard to believe, but there are still instructors teaching adults to run away as a first option, and to hide if they’re not particularly quick on their feet.  Hide?  Really?  From actual bullets?  (Insert face-palm emoji.)  That might be good advice in some scenarios, but when someone is systematically killing people around you, the only thing that will stop them is somebody (ideally multiple somebodies) willing to fight back.

If you follow this column, you’ve heard me quote the late James Yeager of Tactical Response.  Here’s another.  In response to the Run – Hide – Fight methodology, James would say, “Run toward the danger, hide behind cover, and shoot the bad guy.”  One thing is incredibly common among the cowards that commit acts of mass violence – they HATE being challenged.  They don’t choose to murder people in businesses, schools, hospitals, or churches because they’re gluttons for competition.  A challenge is the last thing they want.

If you’re an able-bodied adult, you need to fight back.  Period.  Challenging the bad guy will shorten his killing spree.  I get it, he might kill you, but he might shoot you in the back if you run away.  For all you know his accomplice(s) are around the corner, waiting to pick off any stragglers.  Wouldn’t you rather die on your feet, fighting some evil bastard with all your strength than die on your knees, hiding in a broom closet?  

I understand there are exceptions.  You might need to protect someone who isn’t able-bodied.  Maybe you need to rescue a child or secure a patient in a hospital room for example.  I hear you, and I understand that the circumstances will always dictate the tactics.  I’m merely suggesting that there is more than enough evidence to predict the most likely outcome(s) when an active killer is challenged by a would-be victim, and that evidence is heavily in favor of the good guys.  Conversely, that pendulum swings both ways.  If there’s an active killer afoot, and no one challenges him, he’ll go right on killing.

“But he has a gun.”  No kidding.  Where’s yours?  “Well, I don’t carry one.”  Sounds like a personal problem to me.  “Well, I can’t carry one at ‘place X’.”  Can’t you?  “It’s not allowed.”  Ah, I see.  And therein lies the problem – Allowed VS Able.  “There’s a sign that says, ‘no firearms permitted on premises.’”  To whom does that rule apply?  You and the person who wants to come shoot up the joint, or just you?  “Crickets…”  So, you mean to tell me the person intent on committing heinous violence is going to obey the sign on the door?  (Insert eye-roll emoji.)  All “gun free zone” signs do, is instill fearful obedience in people who have no evil intent and show murderers exactly where to go to be successful. 

“But what if I get caught with my gun?”  What if you get caught without it?  Ever think of that?  That question doesn’t get asked nearly enough during times of self-evaluation.  And caught by whom?  If you’re carrying your gun properly, who will ever know you have it to “catch you” in the first place?  If you’re a good human with a gun and you’re properly trained to use it, CARRY YOUR DAMN GUN!  If you’re not properly trained, fix that – then carry your gun.  Remember, in good hands, a gun is a life-saving tool, not a life-taking one.

I’m not advocating recklessness or stupidity.  There are definitely places you shouldn’t “smuggle” firearms – like a courthouse for example.  I’m also not advocating you break the law – that’s a decision only you as an adult can make for yourself.  There are situations where speeding is necessary to receive timely medical care – where damaging property is necessary to save a life.  Sometimes breaking rules is necessary because bad guys don’t care about rules.  

I’m simply encouraging you to use common sense and to think outside the proverbial “gun free box.”  If you’re that concerned about being arrested, familiarize yourself with the “Doctrine of Competing Harms.”  Keep your gun concealed on your person unless and until a bad guy needs to see the muzzle.  Besides, if you’re forced to use your gun in a gun free zone, and you only shoot the bad guy, most mainstream media outlets won’t even learn your name because you won’t fit their agenda.

You can be ready when violence happens.  That doesn’t just mean carrying a pistol.  That means being situationally aware and paying attention to things that could save your life – or end it.  Be prepared to meet violence head on – with or without a weapon.  Until more people start doing that, the mass murder problem will continue to worsen.

I wonder how many murder victims, if they could talk to us now, would encourage good people to be armed?

Avoid what you can.  Defeat what you can’t.


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 (Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney or a medical provider, and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie,” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official legal or medical advice.)

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