By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Over the past few years, and certainly in the past week or two, there have been a number of protests that have devolved into random violence. One of the tactics employed by some of the malefactors causing trouble has been to block major highways or arterials and attacking cars, usually smashing windows and doors while the vehicle is occupied.
Sometimes, protestors blocking roads is totally peaceful; they’re just blocking the road which is aggravating but otherwise not posing a threat. Sometimes, they’re doing more than that.
By now, you’ve likely seen some footage from one of the many protests nationwide where this is happening. A stationary vehicle in such a situation is a sitting duck; you can’t move, and egress from the vehicle is even more dangerous for obvious reasons.
Incidentally, this isn’t the only instance in which a person might be faced with one or more persons attacking their car, as your vehicle might be attacked in a road rage incident. Some nutter might come out of their car with a bat or a crowbar for some perceived slight on the roadway and start taking out your headlights. It’s been known to happen.
Also, periods of civil unrest come and go. This is just the civil unrest we’re having this year, which to be fair has been a real drag so far.
Just what the heck is a person supposed to do?
Let’s start with an example of what you don’t do.
During the recent protests in Salt Lake City, one Brandon McCormick was driving through an area where active protests were occurring. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, he got out of his vehicle, started yelling “all lives matter” and otherwise started antagonizing the protesters, pulled a compound bow from his vehicle, pointed it around in various directions and fired an arrow at apparently nothing and/or no one at all. Ostensibly, it was a warning shot.
His vehicle was not being damaged at all, nor was he in the midst of being assaulted.
The crowd descended on McCormick, beat him up, took his bow and eventually totaled his car after he was rescued by police. McCormick claimed to have previously been punched through the open window of his vehicle, but wasn’t pointing his bow at the people who did it. Presuming he was telling the truth, they sucker punched him (or punched him after he antagonized them) and ran off. He was pointing a weapon at people that weren’t posing him any serious threat.
Not that it’s okay for people to jump somebody en masse or to destroy property because it’s not, but clearly he escalated the situation and could have killed someone for the egregious crime of just being in the immediate vicinity.
So how do you respond?
Let’s start with the obvious. Don’t drive into areas that are hotspots of unrest unless you have no choice. Find a different route to work if possible. A week or two of a longer commute won’t kill you while letting civil unrest die down a little.
It should also be pointed out that the rules change when attacked by a group of people compared to being attacked by a lone nutjob. Lone nutjobs can be fought off; groups of people have numerical superiority, and they often know it.
Here’s a great primer from John “Shrek” McPhee, retired Delta force and firearms and tactics trainer.
The first thing to do is stay calm.
Avoid escalating the situation by not making eye contact with whomever is beating on your vehicle. Don’t antagonize them and don’t yell threats about how you’re going to do this or that. Dents in your car and broken auto glass can be fixed.
If you can find an opportunity to drive away safely, take it. Don’t jam the throttle; move forward slowly until you can safely accelerate.
As far as legal concerns, someone bashing your window in with a skateboard, crowbar or bat could certainly be taken as a lethal threat, but then again this isn’t legal advice, so don’t take it as such. However, if there was a demarcation point between mere property damage and when a legitimate threat to someone’s person or safety is present, it’s if they’re trying to get through the door or the window rather than just cause property damage.
At that point, the threat is real, because they really do mean you harm, as opposed to just harming a tangible object that happens to be in their vicinity. What rioters pretty much do is trash anything around them; a car, even if it has people in it, is just a thing to break or damage to make some sort of a statement.
If you have to shoot, take Alan Rickman’s advice and schieß dem fenster. (Shoot…the glass.) If the threat is real, what you don’t want to do is exit the vehicle. Unless your car has autoglass from the 50s, the windshield or window won’t shatter; it’ll just have a hole in it. You will be swarmed if you get out of the car.
Exiting the car can change a possible threat into a real one, and in a situation where you’re surrounded by multiple people, you are at an immediate disadvantage. McCormick was mobbed, and if you get out of your vehicle, that’s what can happen to you.
Make sure that any weapons are secured in the car while driving. Pistols should either be holstered on the body or secured in a holster mount of some sort; an unsecured weapon will go flying in the event of an accident. At least one of the agents in the 1986 Miami FBI shootout lost his primary service revolver in exactly that manner; the driver crashed their patrol car into the suspects’ vehicle to pin them in place, which sent the gun flying out of his hands.
If you’re the sort that keeps a “car gun” or “truck gun,” such as a carbine, compact shotgun, SBR or an AR/AK pistol, make sure it’s easily accessible, meaning within reach. A lot of people keep it either in the trunk or somewhere in the back seat. You probably aren’t going to be able to get to it fast enough for it to make a difference.
If one could offer an opinion here, it’s that a gun that is not within immediate reach in an emergency is basically of no use. This is why the “truck gun” is a concept that’s used to sell guns to the sort of people who are soon parted from their money.
So to sum up, the first thing to do is remain calm. Don’t escalate, antagonize or threaten anyone, and definitely do not get out of the vehicle. If it’s clear that the person intends you real harm, start shooting through the window or the door. The first chance you get? Drive away, and then call the police.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.