Do What Your Stripes Can Handle

A friend asked a question yesterday that I felt warranted a little exploring. Allow me to set the stage:

This buddy reached out to me with the following scenario: He was planning an excursion to the zoo with his wife and newborn. He had some questions for me about the validity/legality of the signage posted that bans the carriage of concealed firearms. Now, technically the property is owned by the city, so the signage shouldn’t be enforceable (due to my non-lawyer understanding), however I advised him to err on the side of caution. While it may not be enforceable and result in a conviction, someone could very well find themselves in a long, drawn out, and expensive legal battle as the test case to establish that precedent.

Everyone treats “No Guns” signage differently

Personally I have a specific, dedicated toolset for the times where I’m going somewhere that bans firearms (30.06 or 51% postings). The gun isn’t the end-all be-all solution, and there are times where it’s not situationally appropriate. Now there are those that take the staunch hard line of “I don’t go anywhere where I’m not allowed to carry a gun”, to which I reply ” Cool story bro. Enjoy your stunted life where you don’t socialize, travel, enjoy the arts, or drink.” I think it’s silly to limit your life experiences based on where you can and can’t carry. But that’s just my opinion. You live your life how you want.

Getting back to my friend’s question, I did a quick analysis for him. I suggested that the likelihood of he and his family being targeted within the park was pretty limited, so the transitional space between his car and the entrance was the most likely battleground, and in that instance good verbal agility, some OC, and decent situational awareness to head off an impending altercation would likely suffice. This is an instance of not having to outrun the bear, but just having to outrun someone else in your hiking party. As long as his little entourage didn’t neatly fit into the victim profile, any potential predator would likely move on to a weaker target.

Those who stay up on these sorts of things may try and sight the Disneyland fight from back in July, or the Great Fredrick Fair event. Here’s the difference. In the Disneyland fight, if you listen carefully, the video starts off with the man ranting at the woman about “disrespecting his daughter”. Sure videos don’t show the whole story, only a limited perspective. But if you watch how this unfolds, it’s pretty apparent that this was an ego driven confrontation that could have been easily avoided, and probably deescalated if the woman had apologized.

Disneyland Fight

Now here’s where a lot of people get wrapped up: I don’t know who was truly at fault, whether the woman did something so egregious that the man was justified in getting on her like that, or if he was just an asshole looking for a fight. It doesn’t matter. If you were in that woman’s position, wouldn’t you rather swallow your pride, and make dude feel like he won instead of having him swing on you? Are you more interested in being right or being safe?

Now, as for the Fairground fight, there’s really only 2 resolutions that I can see: Either a) the teens were looking to jack someone up, and this guy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or b) because of how the verbal exchange went, the teens felt offended enough that they were compelled to get even and/or save face (this is something William Aprill covers in depth in his Unthinkable class. Take it)

Great Fredrick Fair Assault Results in Fatality

Point being that, had the man in the video managed the teens more effectively, he may have been able to either disengage entirely without incident, or have gotten a bigger clue thus allowing him to prepare for and defend against the incoming assault. Craig Douglas talks about this verbal agility when he covers his block on Managing Unknown Contacts. It’s one of the most useful skills anyone can learn, and you’ll find yourself using it multiple times a week.

The Gospel of MUC According to Craig

Here’s the kicker: sometimes, if the dude’s just hassling you for 5 bucks, you know what Craig says to do? Give ’em 5 bucks! If you’ve read the situation, and that’s really all they want, that’s all it costs you to prevent things from getting worse. Sometimes it might cost you a fiver. Sometimes it may cost you a little pride. But ultimately, if it avoids further conflict, you’ve gotten them to do what you want, therefore you’ve won.

There are of course those people who take the stance that “concealed means concealed”, so short of there being metal detectors at the entrances, they carry a firearm with them everywhere, regardless of policy or law. My final piece of advice was the same as the title of this post: Do what your stripes can handle. Meaning all actions have consequences, and everyone has to do their own risk analysis.

The last thought I’ll leave you with is this: I’m fortunate enough to know quite a few people who are good at violence. They’re capable people. The interesting common thread amongst all of them is that they don’t seem overly concerned with where they can and cannot carry a firearm. The ones that truly know and understand their own capabilities as fighters simply take the available tools into consideration. It may force them to adjust their tactics, but it won’t have a major impact on their survival. The ones that cling to the firearm as a thing of refuge tend to be the ones with less training, and limited experience pressure testing their abilities.

I forget what gun magazine I saw this in, or what the ad was even for, but the tagline caught my attention: “Either you’re the weapon and your gun is a tool, or your gun is the weapon, and you’re a tool”. Not necessarily the most eloquent, but it certainly drives the point home.

What do you think? Please leave your comments below. I think this is an important dialog to have.

*DISCLAIMER: The Suited Shootist in no way condones violating laws (federal, state, county, city, municipal, etc). At no point should any of my content be construed as a endorsement or encouragement to break the law.
Nor am I a lawyer, or in any way equipped to give legal advice. None of my content should be taken as such. These are merely opinions derived from my personal experiences. They are open to your interpretation. You’re a grown ass adult, so act like one
. If you have questions on these topics, feel free to post them in the comments or message me directly and I’ll be happy to connect you with the appropriate subject matter experts*

4 thoughts on “Do What Your Stripes Can Handle

  1. Not all confrontations are “reasonable”. Sometimes groups of people (wolf packs) are looking for sport and your handing over of five dollars may not mollify them. They could be looking to grab your wallet when you present it, or even simply punch your lights out when you occupy both hands and look down into your wallet. While paying a small amount may seem like the perfect solution, a wolf pack may be looking forward engaging in physical violence, and you may be in a situation where next to nothing you say or do will prevent the beating. If you go for a weapon you are going to be in a struggle over it immediately. Good luck.


    1. You’re absolutely right that you’ll have to read the situation and make the best decision possible.

      Craig covers this stuff in much noe detail in his coursework, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

      There’s a lot of nuance to this stuff that is easily an article by itself.


  2. Steven, back in the ’80s Mas Ayoob used to talk about carrying a $20 wrapped around a matchbook (we’ll set aside finding matchbooks nowadays). No need to pull your wallet or look away, your less-awesome hand reaches into the known pocket and the matchbook gives it weight to toss.

    Can also be used to do the “buy you guys a beer” deflection if dealing with a bar loudmouth.

    Most of these tactics take physical prep to go with the patter.

    Heck, if they’re young enough, the matchbook might leave them confused as to what the hell this thing is.


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