The first thing to know about riots is that there is no such thing as a winner; there is only survival.
The news today may be particularly ripe with stories about nationwide rioting in response to the death of George Floyd, but the fact is that rioting and uncivil unrest have always been with us, and always will be. That’s because the factors that go into creating a riot are more or less hard-wired into human psychology, and as much as the world has and will change, human beings never do. If you’re an armed citizen especially one who carries concealed daily, you’ve probably wondered how you would handle it if you found yourself surrounded by far, far more angry people than the round count in your CCW gun’s magazine. Here are three things you need to know to survive a riot.
1. Not all Crowds Become Riots, but All Riots Start as Crowd
The first concept you need to internalize is that of Crowd. Why the weird capitalization? Well, that’s because although a crowd is made up of hundreds of individual people, each of whom is a unique and special snowflake with their own hopes and dreams, you can think of their collective presence as being a single organism named Crowd. The way you determine the intelligence of any given Crowd is that you take the IQ of its dumbest member, and then divide that by the number of people in Crowd. The more people, the dumber Crowd is.
The second concept you need to internalize is that Crowd doesn’t need a rage-inducing scandal or an economic depression to turn to Riot. Sure, most of the time there’s an identifiable reason why Crowd went sour, but there doesn’t have to be. Rumors spread from one end of Crowd to another like a game of Telephone, and no matter how silly or dumb they seem in retrospect, Crowd will take them as gospel in the moment. It can be as simple and innocuous as “They ran out of free hot dogs.” Or as paradoxically joyous as “Our team won.”
So, the best advice to survive a riot, therefore, is to avoid becoming part of Crowd. Obviously (COVID-19 social-distancing mandates aside), it’s simply not feasible for most of us to never gather where there are lots of other people. So, what can you do to mitigate your risk?
2. Crowd is a Flash Flood
Crowd may be made of hundreds of people, but you should think of the way it moves the way you would think of a rain-swollen river that has finally burst its banks, a fluid, but a powerful, rushing one far stronger than any individual can stand against. Even peaceful crowds can become extremely dangerous if that fluid dynamics starts working against you; Crowd is more than happy to trample some of its components to death. Make a large enough crowd, artificially restrict its movement at one point, and watch 2400 people be crushed to death in 10 minutes.
In fact, trampling should be your top concern. What you want to look out for is a crowd that is moving into an artificially enclosed area with a pinch-point. This is the time to start treating Crowd the way you would a riptide at the beach; don’t try to move with it (into the enclosed area). Don’t try to swim against it (back through the crowd). Work your way horizontally or diagonally to the outer edges of Crowd, and then get the hell out of there like your heels were on fire and your ass was about to be.
3. What About Your Defensive Firearm?
By now you’ve noticed that our advice for surviving a riot is “Don’t Be in a Riot,” and that we haven’t talked about your concealed-carry gun yet. That’s because although drawing that gun is always your last resort, to be used in only the gravest of extremes, the situation in a riot is far more dire than a home invasion. You’re dealing with dozens, if not hundreds of people, and (as we’ve already established) they’re now subsumed into the monolithic Crowd. In addition to that extremely serious tactical disadvantage, there’s also the thorny question of what’s going to happen to you legally when Riot turns back to Crowd, which turns back to Individual People, which turns to We Need to Take Your Statement, Sir.
The crucial thing to remember is that the rules about justifiable homicide apply in a riot the same way they do anywhere else. You must be a reluctant participant; you must be in immediate danger of loss of life or of grave injury; and the majority of reasonable people must agree with your assessment of both of the above.
If you must draw your firearm to save your life, what you should be trying to do with it is to create distance between yourself and your attacker(s). You’re not trying to fight them, because no matter what happens, you both lose, you’re trying to escape. Make sure you keep your firearm as tight to your body as you can without muzzling yourself, because weapon retention is going to be critical to your survival. Do not shoot to warn; do not shoot to wound; do not shoot to kill. Shoot to stop the attack. Then get the hell out of there like your heels were on fire and your ass was as well.
Once you’ve reached relative safety, contact 911 to report what happened.
Stay safe and our and appreciation to Mo Rockwell and Gun and Gadgets Daily for this wise advice, and remember that this too shall pass.