Corner of Choices: Layers of Protection


Marlboro Man: “Guns are meant to be shot Harley, not thrown!”
Mr. Incredible, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

This article is to discuss “competence”, and how there is a need for “layers of protection”, that skill your skill with a firearm, or just even owning a fire arm goes beyond those two considerations and decisions.

For some people all that is known about firearms is what has been handed down to them in teaching or practice by their Father, Grandfather, Uncle or some sort of other significant family member; some of this may be accurate, some of it may not be accurate. For some all they know about guns is what they have seen on television, movies or read in fictional books and again, some of this may be accurate, some of it may not be accurate. One of the lessons I learned through training others over thousands over hours, being trained by others, working in the professional personal protection field; and working as a court certified expert in reviewing hundreds and hundreds of cases where firearms have been used in self-defense, is that we need to do our best to build in options to help create a cushion of time. What does this mean in “real time”? Here are some examples that may help you better understand:

Situation Example: You are sleeping and awake to the sound of breaking glass while in DELTA sleep cycle.

(If you have a firearm within arm’s reach are you really awake at that moment OR do you need time to become fully awake, cognizant and aware of reality? It is my contention that most people need time to become actually awake and cognizant of reality when waking from this level of sleep therefore most people would benefit from layers of protection such as an alarm, a dog, motion sensor lights, etc. These will allow them time to become fully alert and ready to make quality decisions… perhaps you do not need their firearm yet or at all.)

Real Life Situation Examples: A female realtor who shows homes alone to clients is faced with a male client that is acting in an aggressive manner.

(The female realtor could have communicated to the client in a professional manner prior to meeting him that she had let her office know his name and contact information, the appointment time, location, and approximate time the appointment should last.  She could also have her cell phone pre-programmed with 911 and her locator/GPS turned on so that she simply has to push two buttons, the speed dial button and send. All three of these actions build in cushions of time and options.)

Situation Example: A father comes home and is startled by a figure in the hall that has jumped out from the shadows before he can turn on the lights.

(Anytime a parent decides to carry concealed or own a firearm for protection this becomes a family matter and layers of safety should be developed. By having conversations with family members about NOT “playing pranks” and NOT telling others that they are carrying concealed the parents will build in a safety net of time and options. In addition to this the parents should take the time to get “shoot and no shoot training” so that they can learn to develop a tactical mindset and reflex that will also give them an added cushion of time in decision and options of reaction upon rapidly developing situations.)

Situation Example: A person carrying concealed has drawn their firearm during a life threatening situation and before they can pull the trigger they are rushed.

(I personally have worked on cases where this exact scenario has happened. In nearly every case the victim hit the attacker with gun and the gun discharged. In several of these cases innocent by standers were struck by the bullet and the person carrying concealed legally and while being the one initially attacked, was then later charged with varying degrees of crimes. Had anyone of these people been trained in weapon retention or close quarters fire arms tactics they would have  had a better chance at some other options that  could have prevented them from using their fire arm as an impact tool of defense, thus avoiding the unintentional discharge.)

The bottom line is that if the only tool (or option), one has is a firearm, then that leaves one of two options, shoot or not shoot; unfortunately “real time” does not always reflect nor provide the luxury of such limited scope in decision. By building in various skills, and layers of protection, you can give yourself  other possible options and tools for the reality of situations that are developing “in time’ and have not yet reached an epoch moment where it is the final frame decision moment to shoot or not shoot.

Layers of protection lead us to the crossroads of competency. Competency is directly related to stress. When we feel overwhelmed and our sympathetic nervous system is on overload with stress from desperation, and sometimes an added lack of confidence; our ability to perform physical skills rapidly diminishes due to these two factors; which in turn then often times is directly connected to resulting in limited options. In the professional protection field we have seen this time and time again; person’s that have believed or felt they have run out of options or are rapidly overwhelmed and then attempt to use their firearm with a less then desirable result of accuracy or application.

If you believe that you are going to use a firearm in self defense I hope you pay heed to the lessons of the past through others experience and results. This decision goes much further then “owning a gun” or “carrying a firearm”.  One has entered a world of critical decision making that many times the decisions you have made in the past now dictate your options and time/space continuum.

What this means is that to be competent in being to deploy a firearm under deadly threat and also have round accountability (hitting the threat), we must also be able to move, shoot or not shoot, while making decisions. We must have the layers of defense along with stress training that we have taken before the moment in time where a lifetime happens in seconds; by doing so hopefully we are able to slow down time some and giving ourselves some options in order to have the best possible outcome of a potentially bad situation.

No information in this article is intended to be nor should be taken as legal advice. This article is a professional opinion from a Use of Force training perspective and court certified Use of Force expert background. One should always consult a licensed attorney for legal advice. All rights reserved by 3Tier Services Inc. and Stephen Yerger. 4/2013