Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter. This week, we’re going to talk about the problems of hostile confrontation in a disaster situation as well as a couple of tricks to keep firearm components from working their way loose and folding knives opening smoothly.
There was a story that came out of San Antonio this week that emphasizes a point that I’ve attempted to make several times in the past.
A 27 year old man was home one evening last week when two armed robbers entered his house. He was able to defend himself with a shotgun, killing one and injuring the other. He took a bullet to the chin and was injured in the process, but this would seem like a very good example of defending yourself against violent attackers.
Then, this week, friends of the robbers returned and did a drive-by shooting on the house in retaliation for the homeowner successfully defending himself. They fired “several” shots, hitting the house and a neighbor’s car, but fortunately nobody was injured.
This retaliation scenario is exactly the type of situation that you want to avoid in an urban survival situation.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m a very tactically minded person and I believe in and train for defending myself and my family from violent attacks with the most efficient tools and techniques available. If I was in the same situation as this guy, I would have defended myself too.
But it’s dangerous, and I’d argue outright irresponsible to think that your primary means of defending your home, your family, your property, and your life in a survival situation is going to be with violence.
When some people think about preparedness, the first thing that they think of is going loud (shooting) or going kinetic (physically engaging an enemy/attacker). As a result, they think they’re not prepared unless they have guns and ammo and they think they ARE prepared once they do have guns and ammo. Their fallback position is using their weapons, and they don’t have too many “tools” that they have thought about using to help diffuse tense situations to keep them from getting out of hand.
Kinetic skills are important skills to have, but in many cases you want to do what you can to try to avoid unnecessary conflict that will lead to violent escalation and possible retaliation. If nothing else, avoiding unnecessary conflict allows you to have fewer enemies to worry about.
In Aristotle’s book, “Rhetoric” he says that it is absurd that a person feels shame at his inability do defend himself physically, but not his inability to defend himself through speech and reasoning, particularly given the fact that the use of speech is more common than the use of physical force.
That wisdom is as true today as it was in the 300s BC.
And, as another bonus, just like you have the opportunity to defend yourself with speech and reasoning more often than you have opportunity to defend yourself physically, you also have many more real life situations to sharpen your verbal skills than you do your physical defense skills.
Keep in mind that not every situation can be diffused…and sometimes a judicious use of force is exactly what’s called for, but if you can live at peace with others around you, it’s normally a wise move.
I’ll give you an example. You’re two weeks into a regional catastrophic power outage. A family comes to your door, knocks, calls out your name and says who they are. You don’t particularly like the father and don’t know the wife or the kids.
One scenario could be that you open a slot, stick a shotgun barrel out of the slot, tell them to get the heck off of your property, to find their own darn food, that they can’t have any of your stuff, and that you’ll shoot them if they come back before they and their kids starve to death.
But another scenario could be to tell them that your neighborhood needs help digging some new slit trenches, cranking a hand generator, breaking soil, gathering wood, etc. and if they’re willing to work, you’d be willing to try to gather up a little something from your neighbors.
In the first scenario, the situation will end with the family feeling powerless, dejected, and possibly like they don’t have anything to lose by gathering up some friends and coming back to attack you.
In the second scenario, you have proposed a scenario where both parties can get something of value, the family saves face, and you’ve set the expectation that there’s not much available and that they can’t come back to ask for more without contributing value. You’re not giving in and you’re not butting heads—you’re redirecting them so that you’re teammates for a short time.
A few other thoughts on the topic of escalating vs. deescalating conflicts in a survival situation.
- When people are desperate, law enforcement is busy, and the perceived reward of acting anti-socially outweighs the perceived risk, it’s human nature to act more like an animal than civilized if the person thinks it is necessary for survival. Under these situations, you can’t just act rudely to people and not expect some fallout.
- During any natural disasters, man made disasters, breakdown in supply chains, or breakdowns in civil order, we can expect the EMS system to be taxed, overloaded, or dysfunctional. Fight scenes are cool in movies and books, but in real life, they lead to injuries, abrasions, cuts, breaks, infections, and a loss of productivity. There’s nothing “cool” about winning a fight with a bunch of gang bangers, only to lose the use of your hand due to a cut or die from a simple untreated infection.
- When you’ve created a situation where there’s a good chance of retaliation, it might be a good time to temporarily relocate, permanently relocate, or increase security substantially. Increasing security isn’t really an option unless you have a tight knit neighborhood or a good sized mutual aid group, so it may not be a good option.
My personal thought is that I’ll avoid conflict wherever possible, deescalate verbally when possible, and decisively conclude the conflict kinetically when that is the only option.
Using your gear:
I recently bought a used M4 that had an Aimpoint scope on it as well as a screw-on accessory rail for the foregrip. It’s a great gun, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed shooting it…and I’m REALLY glad that I’ve had a couple of sessions with where I ran it through it’s paces.
What happened was that the mounting screws on the Aimpoint scope AND the screws on the accessory rail worked their way loose. I have to admit that I tried wiggling them both with my hands and they seemed tight and I assumed they’d been screwed in tightly, so I didn’t even attempt to tighten them down.
After running a few mags through the gun a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the foregrip and the scope were both loose. That’s not a nice feeling.
Fortunately, I carry a Wheeler Gunsmith Toolkit that has 89 different screwdriver bits so that I can get the EXACT right width bit when I’m tightening down gun screws. I also keep a small tube of Loctite blue in my kit, so it was simply a matter of finding the right bit, taking out the screws, putting a tiny dab of Loctite blue on the screws, and putting them back in snugly.
Keep in mind that many people say that you should never need Loctite…that your screws should just fit perfectly and not come loose if you tighten them snugly. I’m of the school of thought that I’d rather use Loctite blue and be confident when I’m a few hundred rounds into a shooting session, whether it’s training, competition, fun, or serious.
As an alternative to Loctite, many people use clear fingernail polish or “Guntite”, which is equivalent to Loctite Blue. It’s really important that you use Loctite BLUE and not red. Blue can be removed, but red is pretty much permanent.
This is a good lesson on why it’s important to use your gear. Anything that you think you might have to trust your life to at some point in the future had better be tough enough for you to test it out now…that’s the only way to really be confident in it, and to get comfortable with dealing with malfunctions.
Another trick that might help you out if you carry a folding knife with a nylon/poly washer in it like the CRKT M-16 series knives do is to put a drop or two of PTFE (Teflon) lube on it. I’ve tried lots of different lubes on my knives and this is my favorite one so far because of the fact that it lasts a long time and doesn’t seem to attract dirt & grit.
That’s it for this week…what are your thoughts on “verbal self defense,” deescalating conflicts, and other options that you could take after creating a situation where retaliation is likely in a survival situation? How about tips and tricks for maintaining firearms and knives? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.
Want to share this article? Just click on one of the colorful buttons below to share with Twitter, Facebook, email, and others. On Facebook? Like the article? Please click the “Like” link below.
God bless & stay safe!