With every baby born comes the death of an ego. Children will humble you; no doubt, but more than that, when protecting your family, in order to avoid a potentially violent encounter with a stranger, swallowing your pride and apologizing or retreating should be your first move. Road rage may make you feel and sound like a man in some particularly narrow worldviews, but your manhood may get more thoroughly tested when the other driver, who has three of his buddies with him, is now following you and your family home. All avoidable with a second’s worth of self control and the knowledge that your highest duty is not to your ego, but to the needs of your family.
In no area does this hold more true than in my personal philosophy of active self protection. Even more so in the realm of executive protection. Combat operatives are trained to move in the direction of gunfire, but in executive protection, i.e. bodyguards, the goal is to get your principal “off the X”, and as far away from the threat as quickly as possible, putting yourself between that individual and the threat whenever possible.
But, before we get too far into mindset and tactics, it is my belief that 90% of being your family’s protector is more in what you do not do, than it is in threat response. Foster care exists in large part due to the point I’m trying to make. As a parent, you have the potential to be the most dangerous person with whom your child interacts, be it from poor self control, neglect, abuse, or simply a lack of thinking or awareness. I’ll give you an example: Several weeks ago, I was behind a minivan driving slowly, yet erratically, in front of me. The culprit? The glow of a cell phone screen, clearly evident through the rear window. Who, in that moment, presents the highest level of danger to his or her children in the back seat? As the protector of my children, what should my response have been? Honk at the vehicle to get the driver’s attention back on the road? Pass the slow vehicle to get back on schedule while getting the risk in my rear-view mirror? It is my conviction that my principal(s) (to continue with the executive protection mindset) are my own children and, therefore, slowing down to allow the van ahead of me additional space is the only move that fully ensures that I will have the reaction time necessary to respond to anything that vehicle happens to do. This response also avoids the manufacturing of conflict from an enraged minivan driver, now slamming on their breaks in retaliation.
Prevention is paramount in the protection of ones family. Said another way, the best way out of a bad situation is to avoid it in the first place. Said, unnecessarily, yet another way, the best offense is a good defense. What do I mean by that? Rather than devise a plan for how to safely traverse snowy terrain with small children, while dodging cars sliding all over the road, evaluating the tread on your tires before the snow falls, replacing your tires, carrying cables or chains, or, if possible, staying home would all be superior to the best laid plan or tactics for surviving a weather related incident. Being willing to add time to your drive to avoid areas that you may be less safe should you break down for any reason. Where knocking on the first door you find for help isn’t the last thing you ever do. Be methodical and vigilant at finding ways of anticipating and avoiding potentially dangerous situations, so that you never need to utilize the training and preparations you’ve spent countless hours engaged in, in the first place.
Ones home should be inhospitable to opportunists looking for an easy score. The mere existence of a well placed surveillance camera and home security sign can act as a deterrent to the majority of opportunists looking for an easy score, but this is only an illusion of security. Why? For the same reason the popular saying, “The racking of a 12 ga. shotgun is enough to scare off any would be intruder,” is flawed to its core. Both assume that the individual being theoretically deterred is of a sound mind. A variety of circumstances could cause your sign and camera to go unnoticed or ignored, including drugs, alcohol, or strong enough motive to perpetrate violence, etc.
Exterior doors should, without exception, be solid core. With that said, the only thing keeping your expensive deadbolt in the door frame is approximately half an inch of cheap wood in most cases. Your metal plate is generally secured by half-inch screws (or shorter) that will tear out with a single kick to the face of the door. Replacing these with 3 1/2″ or 4″ decking screws will usually require significantly greater force to breach as they are long enough to penetrate into your studs. Adding a metal plate, such as the Door Armor offered by Armor Concepts, with whom I am not affiliated, and a variety of latches and/or door blocks available on the market that can be applied when the family is all safely inside, can make breaching the door incredibly difficult. Certainly adding enough difficulty to the process to give you ample time to mount a response and notify authorities.
I am strongly against the over-sharing of lives and opinions on social media, bumper stickers, and t-shirts. Bragging about your upcoming trip to Hawaii on Facebook is a great way to let criminals (or even kids of your friends looking for a place to find beer) know when you’ll be out of town. A Glock Perfection window decal on your SUV or pick-up truck serves only to let criminals know to approach you prepared for an armed response or, in some places, get your vehicle keyed for being pro-gun. Better to believe how you will without giving an enemy a clear target to aim at. To quote Robert Greene, author or The 33 Strategies Of War and The 48 Laws Of Power, “always say less than necessary”. Not everyone needs to know everything about you, and most people don’t need to know what you think or believe.
Some of these thoughts have been more recently popularized with the rise in publications discussing what has been widely accepted as Grey-man Theory. The idea is to blend in, so as not to be identified as a threat or draw attention from criminals or, in some cases, the Government. I recommend doing some personal research into the merits and application of these concepts, adapting what makes sense to you and your personal level of paranoia, and discarding the rest. At the very least, it is my personal opinion that you (or I) do not need to seek constant attention or validation every chance we get. It’s okay to vanish from most people’s radar for a while, or forever in some cases.
IF the above methods of avoidance and retreat fail or fall short, and you find yourself in a situation where you are the only thing between your family and a verified threat to their lives, it is your responsibility as your family’s protector to put yourself between them and that threat, and, if necessary, to end that threat. In the book, When Violence Is The Answer, written by Tim Larkin, the author claims that, “Violence is almost never the answer, but when it is, it is the only answer.” And that, in those rare cases, you need to be prepared to visit violence at a greater level than that of your adversary. Because whatever personal hangups you may have with visiting violence upon another human being (or wild animal, etc.), the person intent on inflicting bodily and potentially life threatening harm upon you or your family, most certainly does not share your reservations and any hesitation on your part could be a fatal mistake for you and/or your family.
I am a proponent of the statement, “I am the weapon, the gun is the tool.” In other words, be trained, be vigilant, aware of your surroundings, actively participate in your own safety and the safety of those around you. Don’t rely on a police officer to be nearby in a bad situation. Don’t put too much trust in the decency of a stranger to intervene on your behalf in an attack. Both are unlikely, unfortunately. In a high stress situation you don’t rise to the occasion, you stoop to the highest level of your training. If you chose to purchase a firearm, buy a quality weapon and learn how it operates. Get training on how to use it safely and effectively. Store it in a quickly accessible, secure location. Teach your children about its intended uses and how to handle it safely, in the event they are required to. My children all know how to check if a weapon is clear or clear it if necessary. They do not have access to firearms, but in the event they were to stumble upon one somewhere, they know what to do and what not to do. At their current age, their instructions are not to touch it and to find an adult immediately.
I am a huge fan of SIRT (Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger) pistols and the like, which simulate the weight and function of a firearm but cannot chamber ammunition. When the trigger is pressed rearward, it emits a laser beam indicating shot placement. This allows me to train often without even the slightest risk of a negligent discharge impacting one of my children, a neighbor, or myself. The SIRT pistol was not cheap, but has paid for itself many times over in ammunition costs, and allows me to focus on skills that are not necessarily allowed or safe with live ammunition, even at a gun range.
Lastly, if this offends you, ignore it all. Who am I to tell you how best to protect your family? But, at least let us agree on this: If your are going to be protective of anything, be protective over the time you have with your family. Children grow up fast, and once their childhood is gone you will never get those moments back. Don’t let selfish hobbies or destructive vises rob you of that time. Live in the moment and enjoy even the most difficult stages, because you very well may discover they were the best times in your life. Keep a close watch over the influences that come into their lives. Ask questions; invade privacy. You are a parent, not a friend. Don’t obsess over front-sight focus and trigger control and ignore the toxic influences that are pulling your children down a self-destructive path.
Until next time…