Defensive Gun Use: Head On A Swivel, Edition

defensive gun use

A dramatic rescue
Last Sunday, as Americans remembered the heroism of many on September 11, 2001, others demonstrated their own kind of heroism in the parking lot of a Kansas Walmart.
A woman was securing her baby in a car seat at 1:30 PM when two male assailants launched a surprise attack, including striking her on the head. She screamed for help, and a person described only as a good Samaritan proceeded to approach. One of the attackers shot the helper multiple times, critically wounding him or her.

defensive gun use

Photo by Mike Mozart of WIBW

Another bystander, a gun carrier, witnessed this and drew his gun, shooting the gun-wielding criminal and stopping the attack, as the second assailant took off on foot. As of this writing, the woman and Good Samaritan #1 are hospitalized in critical condition, though it has been disclosed that Good Samaritan #1 was able to provide investigators with some information already.
The shooting assailant died. Police deployed a K-9 and caught the suspect who fled.
The lessons
Regular readers of these Defensive Gun Use reports already know that licensed concealed carriers bear no obligation to help a crime victim. They also know that initiating help is something to envision and ponder in advance—having made some decision about for whom you’re willing to risk your life.
With that understood, let’s look at two other factors involved in this criminal attack.
  1. Trouble often has company

Gun carriers should remember that, about half the time, those who commit violent crime upon a stranger do so with company. Like most all mammals, criminals find confidence in numbers. In the face of a deadly encounter, the responding party will likely experience tunnel vision, if only momentarily. In our classes, my co-instructor and I teach shooters to scan their surroundings and visually identify objects other than the target immediately after a shot sequence—and before looking at where the new holes are in the target!
There are lots of scanning techniques as well as a bit of controversy from some who say it offers no benefit. I believe scanning is useful if done regularly, and as a way to develop the mental habit of re-orienting to the surrounding area after shooting. It’s useless if a student is just going through the motions without the mental work, or if done so seldom that it doesn’t become habit.
Fortunately, both amateur and professional street thugs tend to flee when their partner in crime is shot or targeted by defensive shooting. “There’s no honor among thieves” is a saying that applies, most of the time.
Tragic and recent history has shown us that, when assailants perceive themselves to be fighting for a cause and not just loot, their associates may well need to be your next target if you want to survive. Consider the 2015 San Bernadino massacre, which took more than a dozen police officers to halt. If you make the choice to fight, with a gun or something else, decide now that you’ll stop fighting when you win! Mental defeat leads to physical defeat.

  1. Use smart techniques to prevent and deal with an attack

Regular readers already know that maintaining a relaxed awareness of one’s surroundings is the first step of preventing an attack. There are moments, like the one in this incident, where you must turn your back to the world to attend to a task. Here are three common-sense ways to stack the odds in your favor:

  • Minimize distractions. Stay off the phone on crowded sidewalks, retail areas, and parking lots. Turn the music down.
  • Look confident and maintain the ability to deploy a weapon quickly. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can walk with good posture and make eye contact. Ne’er-do-wells seeking an easy target will look elsewhere.
    defensive gun use

    Stay upright and facing away from the car as much as possible photo by WTAE

  • When possible, load purchases or rearrange things in the car as you face outward. Although it’s impossible to do for the entire process of putting a little one into a car seat, as much as possible, load bags and such into your vehicle while facing the parking lot. It sounds harder than it is. Doing this keeps you aware of what’s happening around you, and gives would-be thieves and assailants little to no window to catch you unaware.

I hope you find this week’s suggestions useful. After all, these lessons came at a high price to the people involved.
Would an instructional article on scanning techniques be of interest? Please respond in the comments.
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