A Thought On Personal Safety And Security

I am encouraged by the fact that more and more people are seeking to take responsibility for their own safety and security. Many do this through concealed carry, which is absolutely a major (and good) step. However, simply having a firearm and not taking any other actions or precautions will not lead to the most ideal security situation, and I will not focus on firearms in this article.

Instead, I want to discuss how to balance safety and reality. More precisely, I want to put some things in perspective.

What Is The Threat?

Many people are alarmed by mass killings such as those perpetrated in movie theaters and elementary schools. However, the odds of encountering such a situation are infinitesimally low. Furthermore, if you live and work outside certain high-crime areas, you are not extremely likely to be the victim of a violent crime, especially one involving a firearm (if you do live or work in such an area, you should probably leave).

There is probably a higher chance of zebras forming a drill team than of you being murdered by a crazy person. But since they’ve obviously started on the drill team thing…

As a result, you are far more likely to face death from a vehicle accident or medical condition than at the hands of a crazy person. But we are inundated with media reports of crazy people killing people, while we are not often told in prime time about the dangers of colon barnacles or diabetes of the heart or other such dangerous conditions. Furthermore, despite similar nationwide numbers, homicides are often highly concentrated in certain areas, but same does not go for drunk driving fatalities, for instance. Someone living in New Hampshire is not very likely to be murdered compared to someone in DC, but the statistics flip the other way for drunk driving.

So we prepare for mass killings instead of cutting back on Big Macs or paying extra attention to that girl who just traded her MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron and is now driving 5 under the speed limit and weaving in her lane.

While this does not mean that people in New Hampshire should never concern themselves with being attacked by another person, it does mean that they should not spend all of their mental energy – and money – preparing for a violent attack. Why not divert some of your self defense training or gear money to taking a high performance driving course, or putting better tires on your car? Both might give you an edge when fractions of a second matter while trying to avoid an accident.

If you text or do other things which distract you while you drive, you are similarly at risk, because you are denying yourself the ability to detect potential threats outside your vehicle. So…pay attention.

Would the rhinoceros intentionally harm the ducks? Probably not. But are the ducks wise to get out of the way of the rhinoceros? Yes.

What I’m saying is, look at where you live and the things you do. Identify the things which are most likely to kill you, and work to isolate yourself from those threats. By all means, prepare to defend yourself against a violent attack, but do not do so at the expense of all other preparations.

I Survived Seven Minutes In Heaven With Nikki Lane

Nikki Lane, lovely lady and shooter extraordinaire, has decided to start interviewing personalities in the gun industry. The series is called “Seven Minutes in Heaven with Nikki Lane.” I was her first victim subject. She asked me how I came to choose the name Vuurwapen, what I think qualifies me to do what I do, what I think of the current situation we find ourselves in, and things that my “perfect girlfriend” would like.

This will come as a shock to longtime viewers/readers, but she made me laugh and smile several times. There is video proof of the event here.

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Camouflage

You shouldn’t wear camouflage patterns because they make you stand out.

“What?” You say. “Has this guy lost his mind? The whole idea of camouflage is to blend in.”

Yes, that is in fact the idea of camouflage. And in certain situations, you should attempt to camouflage yourself. However, camouflage is more than brown and green and tan. The true meaning of camouflage is to disguise something in its environment. For a tree frog, that might mean looking like part of a tree. For a person interacting with other people, that means looking like the other people.

Would Multicam help you blend in where you live? If not, maybe you should spend your money on something else.

For those in the military, camouflage uniforms do intend to hide the wearer in a field environment. But uniforms also serve to identify the wearer as a combatant on one particular side of a conflict. When not in a field environment, wearing a camouflage uniform doesn’t hide you, it identifies you as something. Whether others would see you as a combatant in a military force depends on the pattern worn, but they would definitely pay more attention to you.

Of course, the gear you carry also makes a difference. If you sling an AR and walk into a bank, people are going to notice you even if you’re wearing entirely nondescript clothing. But why draw more attention to yourself than necessary? And who are you hiding from – and in what environment – that you need to wear (or even own) a camouflage patterned uniform or gear?

No matter how you try to disguise it, some gear is going to be pretty obvious.
Side note – I don’t know the source of this photograph as it was emailed to me by a third party – if I need to give credit to someone in particular, please let me know.

I do not suggest that this is the case for everyone, but there is a definite attraction towards the newest and coolest camouflage pattern that is not justifiable. Playing tactical dress up at the range is quite pointless. Even some instructors get all dressed up for a range class – why? There is no need to hide at the range, and unless they are a member of some military or government unit, it is highly unlikely that they will be given the occasion to wear that uniform in a “combat” situation.

If you are “just a guy” like me – or “just a girl” – then camouflage has a different meaning than woodland, ATACS, or Multicam. I’ll admit, I think ATACS looks cool and effective. So does Multicam.

However, I don’t own anything in either pattern, because I have no need for ultra-effective camouflage. Solid grays and browns appear nondescript in a casual urban environment and are quite effective at the purely visual aspects of concealment, especially when you learn how to move effectively, whether that means low-crawling or adopting the mannerisms of a local populace.

At the individual level, successfully evading detection has far more to do with the manner in which you move from point A to point B than what you wear while doing it.

Luminox – The Worst Watch I’ve Ever Owned

I bought this Luminox watch because it had truly “glow in the dark” hands and markings – not luminescent paint, but fancy capsules that glow for 25 years. It was great, until it broke.

image

I was doing some laps in a shifter kart when the second hand simply fell off and prevented the other hands from turning. Luminox advertisements show fighter jets and imply world-class durability; needless to say, I wasn’t pulling 9 Gs in a shifter kart.

When I contacted them to fix it – I had owned it for less than a year at the time – they basically told me to take a hike. The chain I had purchased the watch from had closed a few locations, including the one I bought my watch from, and they couldn’t verify my purchase. Therefore, Luminox had a convenient excuse to not even accept my watch for repair.

It also gave me a convenient excuse to buy a watch that didn’t fall apart if looked at sternly. I now use a variety of Citizen Eco-Drives. The bands aren’t ideal, but as timepieces they are quite good.

PTSD

I was, like many others, shocked to hear of the death of SOC Chris Kyle. Many others, especially those who knew him, are far better suited to write about him. I never had the chance to meet him or his friend Chad Littlefield, who was killed alongside him.

I would like to discuss why I am quite simply dumbfounded as to how this happened, and then I would like to discuss PTSD. This is a difficult article for me to write on a number of levels.

For a veteran of the Iraq war – a Marine veteran, no less – to kill a man he knew had once fought alongside him against a common enemy is unconscionable.

I have never encountered an American military veteran who found justification in (objectively) unjustified violence. I have never encountered someone who I could tell was dealing with problems after a deployment who thought that hurting others who had done nothing to deserve it was a solution. Although veterans are often exceptionally skilled at the application of violence, they do not apply it to every situation with wanton disregard for its effects.

If anything, those fighting a battle against themselves did just that – they only wanted to hurt themselves or punish themselves – to hold themselves accountable for situations over which they had no control.

I don’t deny that people who fall outside these statements exist, only that they are so few in number as to be exceedingly rare.

For me to bring up the fact that the VA told me I had PTSD in conversation with people who have never been in the military is quite uncommon. It is not a point of pride and the greatest frustration comes from dealing with those who haven’t been there. Some pay lip service to veterans out of politeness, some genuinely mean it – but neither group was there with us, and all look at us differently.

I don’t want to be seen differently. I don’t want to be looked at with pity, fear, disgust, or mockery. I have had life experiences, ones that resulted from my choices, as have you. I joined to help people and wasn’t always able to. That’s my problem and not yours. It’s not anything I have ever used as an excuse to lash out at anyone else, verbally or physically.

But it’s easier to put someone with PTSD in the “crazed war veteran” box than it is to put real thought into their character or motivations.

I don’t know why Mr. Kyle and Mr. Littlefield’s killer (ym”sh) did what he did. Maybe we’ll know tomorrow or maybe we’ll never know.

What I do know in my heart is that his actions cannot be reconciled with the simple acronym “PTSD.”

The Importance of Mobility During Times of Danger

Recently I read an article shared on a Facebook which was apparently written by a Bosnian who had lived through that country’s extremely violent civil war. Although each type of danger one might face in is unique, I took issue with several items shared in the article. They may apply to that person’s situation, but they are not, in my opinion, universal.

While I do not have that particular experience, I have spent a significant amount of time studying (on location) the behavior of drug smugglers and migrants on the US/Mexico border. I also lived on the streets of Tunis during the Arab Spring and briefly entered Libya just after US and NATO forces started their bombing campaign, interviewing refugees about their journey as I did. Most recently, I crossed into Syria multiple times during the current rebellion, observing the flow of people in both directions as well as the training and organization of rebel forces and pro-regime terrorist groups inside Lebanon. I have been detained and interrogated (harshly, but not reaching a physical level) by the security forces of Syria, Lebanon, and Tunisia.

In all of these situations, what I have found is that the simple ability to move – whether that is within a specific area or to leave the area of danger – is absolutely critical to survival. This means not only one’s physical characteristics and abilities, but the vehicles that one has at their disposal. In the linked article, the author states that vehicles were useless inside the city; this may have been so, but in Libya, where the only escape lay across hundreds of miles of desert, only those with cars or the money to hire a car and driver were able to escape.

The rest stayed put (a difficult decision with pro-regime artillery razing their houses) or tried to walk if they could make it far enough. Hiring a car with driver cost the equivalent of a middle class man’s monthly salary, by the way. I initially expected there to be abandoned cars near the border with Tunisia, but there were none – all had been stolen by enterprising souls wanting to make a ton of money transporting people from the cities to the border.

In Syria, walking on foot near the border was reason enough for the Syrian Army to shoot you, or at the very least capture you and put you in a dark place for a long time. Thus, ignoring a vehicle as a possible mode of transport there was suicidal.

Camel futures were up in Libya.

This leads me to the second major issue I take with the article – that money will be worthless. Again, this may have been so in Bosnia as time went on, but in Libya two months post-uprising, American dollars were the currency of the land. Items of value had, of course, skyrocketed in cost, but money was still money.

In Syria twenty months post-uprising, food shortages caused massive inflation for basic items like bread. Again, those who could leave did so; those who couldn’t begged for food – or money with which to buy food, meaning that money still had value. Syrian currency did not, but Lebanese and American currency did. A currency is only as strong as the government backing it.

In summary – you should not ignore the importance of having a reliable vehicle suited to the terrain around you (in a city, a small car may be best; in the country, a truck or SUV might be better), the skills and abilities to drive that vehicle under stress, and enough cash or other valuables in reserve to trade for a significant amount of items. “Bugging in” may sound appealing if your home is well-stocked and well-located, but when bombs or artillery shells start falling on your neighborhood, you might find it a better idea to leave. Having options in an emergency will only be of benefit to you.

I may write more on these topics in the future, but these are two things I wanted to get off my chest tonight.