Personal Safety and Security: Your Responsibility
From NRA Woman's Outlook, By Il Ling New- I am very fortunate to work with a number of law enforcement personnel, and always learn a tremendous amount from them. But one thing I’ve learned may surprise you. That is, I’m not going to depend on them to keep me safe, even the biggest and baddest among them. As one of these very dedicated and courageous professionals likes to remind us, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” In other words, as much as they may want to help, your local law enforcement might not be able to get there in time.
Furthermore, It turns out that law enforcement officers are not legally responsible for my safety and security. In fact, as an article in Police Chief Magazine pointed out:
“Law enforcement generally does not have a federal constitutional duty to protect one private person from another.”
And this has been further supported by various court decisions, including these particular cases:
Warren v. District of Columbia
Castle Rock v. Gonzales
What all this means is that you must take on the responsibility for your own personal defense. This is common sense to many, but think again. Deep down, as we relinquish more of the “job” of our security to someone else—even if it’s just someone in your family, your home, your car—we begin to lower our own defenses. We get lax. We are less prepared to respond.
So consider starting here:
1. Learn how to minimize your risk and exposure.
2. Learn how to defend yourself, if #1 doesn’t work.
3. Have a plan.
Minimizing your risk—avoiding danger: There are many ways to begin strengthening your own defenses—some almost effortless, and some warranting more work. But it all starts in your head.
In particular, developing your sense of what’s around you—your “situational awareness”—is step one. Pay just a little more attention to your surroundings:
• Where is that secondary exit?
• Do those windows open?
• Who is driving behind me?
• Who is sitting around me in the restaurant?
• Is anyone looking at me?
• Who and what is parked around my car?
Look around you just a little more and a little longer. Notice something more than you initially did. Pick out faces in the crowd. Pay just a bit more attention.
Defending yourself: How you defend yourself, and with what, is going to depend on a lot of variables. Choosing which tools and techniques can be daunting. But one sure thing is that your strongest, most dependable and secret weapon is with you all the time—your brain.
We’ll be going much further in talking about firearms and their use in our own personal defense, but remember that even if you don’t think you have any “tools” with you, your brain is your primary weapon. In fact, you can have the best training and tools available, but if you don’t have your wits about you, they’re useless.
So start now by recognizing and exercising the awesome power of your primary defensive weapon. Develop your mindset. Two great ways of doing this are described right here in this article! Start upping your awareness of what’s around you, and start thinking about the first steps in your plan.
Having a Plan: Having a plan—or even the baby steps of a plan—is better than having no plan at all. Knowing what to do, especially in the earliest moments of any conflict, is absolutely critical to starting the response process. Having a “first step” to revert to can shake you out of the shock of finding yourself in a life-or-death situation, and can be the beginning of your fight to safety.
But how are you going to generate a plan for every possible scenario out there? How can you possibly be prepared for something you can’t predict? Just as we diligently worked through fire drill exercises when we were kids, even though most of us had never thought of being in a fire before our teachers taught us the steps to take, we imagine and visualize what could happen, and then what we would make happen. This is the first step of developing a plan.
Start asking yourself little “what if” questions. Simple is best: What if my car breaks down tonight, nowhere near help? What if a fire breaks out at the entrance of this restaurant? Where would I go? What if the cars in front and behind me get too close and box me in? What if someone bangs on my front door at 3 am?
As you start leading yourself through these problem-solving exercises, your brain begins to form a plan, deciding on your first step. It could be as simple as reaching for the cell phone. Dialing 911. Locking the car doors. Heading for that secondary exit you noted when you first came in.