Follow the Ronin Rule: Following The Rule Of Escape And Avoidance

In the 1998 film, “Ronin,” Robert De Niro plays a CIA agent who joins a group of spies in Europe to steal a briefcase filled with the usual spy stuff. It’s a great film and one of my favorites in the genre and if you’re into the “Mission Impossible” and “Jason Bourne” series movies, you’ll like it too. De Niro is joined by an all-star cast, including French actor Jean Reno (who was great in his own spy thriller, “The Professional”); Sean Bean (from “Game of Thrones”); Stellan Skasgard (from “Good Will Hunting”); and Natascha McElhone (from the ABC show “Designated Survivor”).

Ronin | Following The Rule Of Escape And Avoidance

De Niro’s character has a great line in the movie, which he says several times and we can all learn from: “I never walk into a place I don’t know how to walk out of.” This is useful advice for you and your family, on all the days you are carrying concealed, which should be every day that ends in a y. You, your gun, your EDC bag (which should include a gunshot trauma first-aid kit), and anyone else who accompanies you out into the Great Big World, need an escape plan if things go south. Whether you need to get away (first best choice) or fist-fight your way out (second best choice, when dealing with an unarmed bad guy), or shoot your way to safety, you need a getaway safe plan. Simple plans work best in the stress of a life-threatening event: if a crook comes in to rob this restaurant, my first move will be to run through the kitchen and out to the street. If I have to engage with him, I will use the corner of this booth for cover.”

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And even a brief plan is better than no plan. Using Mr. De Niro’s wise words, you should always scout the exits, as in knowing multiple ways out of every building you enter. Look quickly, file it away, go on with your day. It’s easy to spot the obvious entry and exit ways in most places; the true tactician sees the not-so-obvious ones too. Hotels have elevators but also service elevators, lots of businesses have doors marked “Employees or Staff Only,” which may be unlocked and can lead you to a rapid exit outward.

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There is a dynamic here which bears mentioning. The national protocol, per the Department of Homeland Security, for active shooters in our malls, schools, workplaces, churches, and other public places is Run-Hide-Fight. I teach this standard in my workplace violence classes for city and county clients, when I cover the rare but catastrophic possibility of an active shooter. Some misguided people misinterpret the “Run” part as somehow not being manly or not wanting to stay to protect yourself or others. Let’s be clear: Run is one choice, not the only choice.

We may need to move to get ourselves and our loved ones out of a bad situation, where using your gun is not possible or practical. Further, as we know from seeing so many civil suits filed by injured bad guys, you are always, always, always going to be second-guessed as to why you shot first versus disengaged. Examples include: “Before you so brazenly fired upon my client, did you not have the chance to get into your car and drive away?” and “At the time you so rashly and wildly shot at my client, was he, in fact, backing away from you and preparing to flee?”

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In my view, I will shoot to protect myself and my family first, then, given no other choice but to save the life of an innocent person about to be killed, I will shoot to protect them. This means my gun stays holstered and I move out smartly, away from bar beefs, arguments between warring couples in the parking lot, or shouting matches between mentally ill and drug-crazy street people. If the scene doesn’t affect me – and I will go to great lengths to drive, walk, or run from a bad situation before it oozes over to my part of the world – then I want to be known as a middle-aged white male, last seen leaving in an unknown direction. If I need to call the cops, I’m doing it from a safe distance, where I can observe what’s happening and not get hit by a stray round, a slashing knife, or a wild fist.

Going back to Run-Hide-Fight, some people (men again) think that the “Hide” part is not macho either; they’d rather stay there and fight it out, not run and hide. Again, I’m not hiding to hide and give up my self-protection duties; I’m barricading myself behind bullet-stopping cover, when possible, and preparing to fire back if it’s safe to do so, or waiting for the arrival of the cops (and staying out of their way and not creating a tactical hazard for them), or drawing my firearm to the low-ready position, in case I need to protect myself or the people hiding with me, should the shooter breach my door.


Active Self Protection shows a video on how a self-defender inexplicably faces charges for defensive gun use:

There are so many things that can go wrong in an active shooter situation, ranging from your round missing or going through the bad guy and hitting someone else, to getting shot accidentally by the cops as they try to hit a moving target. If you draw smoothly from your concealed holster, shoot accurately, and stop the bad guy, you could be a hero for a day or a week in the local papers, or in the eyes of your family, or from a relieved and grateful business owner, but you still might need a criminal defense lawyer and/or a civil defense lawyer when all the handshakes and thank-yous are done. Better to be a vapor trail as you leave a bad situation, not stay one second longer than you need to, to keep yourself and your family safe.

“I never walk into a place I don’t know how to walk out of.” So true, Bobby D, so true.

Do you have a Ronin rule of your own? Please share it with us in the comments section below.


Contact Steve at [email protected] or on Twitter @DrSteveAlbrecht

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