A Few Thoughts on the Orlando Massacre

Like so many Americans, I woke up Sunday to the news of the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  As of this writing, 49 people are reported dead and 53 more wounded.  I wish I could say that I am sad or shocked by this news, but, sadly, I think “numb” might be a better descriptor.

About two years ago, on one of the forums I frequent, I mentioned my fear of an actual terrorist attack here on American soil using guns legally purchased.  My fear was based not on the attack itself, but on what liberal politicians might do in its wake.  Although the events in San Bernardino in 2015 had some similar attributes (in that case, I believe the guns were acquired through straw purchases), it would seem that this attack is the first time my prediction—and fear—came true.  As predicted, the most liberal of politicians wasted little time in calling for stricter gun control.

 I am most likely preaching to the choir here, but the abject stupidity of this call for the banning of “assault weapons” (I actually heard Tom Brokaw call it an AR-14!!!!) and other strict measures just rubs me the wrong way.  After all, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but that didn’t stop the San Bernardino terrorists.  Likewise, the entire NATION of France is, in effect, a gun-free zone, and yet Paris was brought to its knees for hours by a handful of bad guys armed with….wait for it….assault rifles.  How did they get those???

Likewise, although Florida is a shall-issue state with generally favorable gun rights, patrons of nightclubs and bars cannot legally carry their firearms in those establishments.  Thus, we have yet another massacre in a gun-free zone.

I am not going to talk about Muslim extremism, the LGBT community, ISIS, or whether or not this was a “hate-crime” or an episode of some other form of “terrorism” (could it not be both a “hate-crime” and “terrorism”?).  The fact is, nearly 50 AMERICANS (I assume they were all Americans) were killed Sunday for nothing that could really be called a rational reason.  The cause really doesn’t matter that much, because we have seen similar incidents committed for an assortment of “reasons”.

So again, let us consider how YOU, the reader, can mitigate your own risk profile and/or defend yourself and survive.

Let us begin with John Farnham’s rule of 4 S’s:  don’t go to stupid places at stupid times with stupid people doing stupid things.  I have found that one’s risk profile elevates with each “S” added on to the pile.  I am in no way saying that the people at Pulse were stupid for being there; they had every right to be there, have fun, etc.  But, I am not just talking about mass casualty events, either.  The fact is, a club (place) after midnight (time) with a bunch of probably inebriated people (people) gets you to 3 S’s right away.  Indeed, the only physical fight I was in as an adult took place when I violated all 4 of these S’s:  bar (stupid place) at night (stupid time, though it wasn’t too late, around 11 PM) with my brother and his wife (stupid people, trust me on this) where she instigated things with a guy and my brother had to “defend” her (stupid things).  We emerged victorious but it could have been a Pyrrhic victory had someone been seriously hurt or the police been summoned.

Secondly, go armed EVERYWHERE you legally can.  A pistol is great, and the bigger the better (facing an AR-15, would you rather have a Glock 19 or a J-Frame?).  If you cannot carry a pistol, what about a knife?  It should go without saying that, whatever you might choose to carry, you should acquire the training to go with it and then practice what you learned during that training on a regular basis.

Third, familiarize yourself with improvised weapons.  Dry chemical fire extinguishers, pens, a beer bottle, whatever is in your immediate environment that could be used in such an event must be mentally inventoried should the need for their use arise.

Fourth, empty hand defensive tactics would be good to know.  There are many opinions about what “system” one should spend time on, and this remains an area of relative weakness for me, but something is better than nothing here:  boxing, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga, etc.  Find someone or someplace to train and get to it.

Fifth, medical knowledge (first) and equipment (second).  I list the knowledge first because, if you’ve been instructed well, you will learn how to improvise much of what you would need.  Nevertheless, having at least a tourniquet with you and the knowledge of how to use it can save your life or the life of someone nearby.

Sixth, avoid gun-free zones as much as possible.  They are criminal empowerment zones.  Find out if a “no guns” sign carries with it the force of law where you are located.  If they do not, then carry anyway.  If, somehow, someone recognizes that you are armed, then follow their orders and leave the premises.  But, don’t put on your giant holster at 4 o’clock on your belt, half cover it with a thin T-shirt, and think you are “concealed”.  “Covered” does NOT equal “concealed”; no one should know you are carrying a pistol.  For more information on carrying where it is generally not permissible, I highly recommend this recent blog post by Greg Ellifritz.

Seventh, and it pains me to say this, but if you are a member of a group that is routinely discriminated against, be it LGBT, your skin color, religion, whatever, you should probably be considering all of the above even more than someone like me.  Like it or not, and as hard to admit as it might be, there is already a “target” on your back, placed there by people who hate you for no legitimate reason.

Finally, acknowledge every morning when you look in the mirror that bad things can happen.  The cause might be an act of nature, accidental, or nefarious, but we see on the news each day examples of bad things happening to good people.  Almost like someone going through the twelve steps, the first way to solve the problem is to recognize that it exists.  Acknowledge it, prepare for it, and promise yourself that you will, at the very least, die trying to survive.

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