Foreman’s Forum – Assertive Disengagement

Years ago I had these mud guards on my truck. The mud guards had an image of Yosemite Sam with bold letters saying, “BACK OFF.” In case you don’t know Yosemite Sam, he was a cartoon character who was short but mean looking and had a big red beard.

Now old Sam had two pistols and he looked like he was ready to start blasting. That could get you in big trouble if there is NO threat against your life. But yelling “BACK OFF” when someone enters your personal space in a suspicious way, may be all that is needed to “DISENGAGE” and avoid a bad situation.

Let’s say you are walking to your car in a parking garage or shopping center parking lot. You are aware of your surroundings and realize a stranger is flanking you, and closing in fast. Is he just in a hurry, walking towards his own car? Or, is he preparing to attack his next victim? You take a second look and here he comes. Can you pull your gun and threaten him? NOT if you want to remain on the “free side” of the jail bars! Granted this has got all the signs of impending attack, but no one has threatened you, yet. The possible threat is still twenty or so feet away. You are still a long way from the safety of your car. You are the polite and courteous type and always acknowledge strangers with a smile or a “Good evening,” but this one has the hairs on the back of your neck telling you “something’s NOT right.”

“Back off! Stop now! Do not come any closer!” Now that doesn’t seem like the polite thing to do does it? But, polite people do not walk quickly toward strangers in an aggressive manner. The stranger may be insulted, but so what? A criminal is looking for an easy victim, someone who is going to give up easily without a fight. You have just shown him that you are ready for him. If this guy is more persistent, he may try to soften you up by saying something like, “Oh, I was just looking for someone to help me. My battery is dead. I have jumper cables; can you please help me?” Don’t fall for any excuses! “My sick mother is at home and I need to get this medicine to her right away.” “My car is broke down, please help me?” The stories are endless!

Be ASSERTIVE! Your life may depend on it! If you are armed, do not draw and display your gun, not yet. With your “off hand” raised, palm open like a traffic cop, get him stopped. Your strong hand is “staged” and already on your firearm, BUT your gun is still out of his sight. Your body is angled slightly away from him so your weapon is NOT seen by this potential attacker. Repeat the order, “Stop now! Do not come any closer!” Say it loud and sound as mean as you can…you know, like when your kids are wrestling and about ready to break some furniture!

Only if and when this miscreant makes a threat or displays a weapon can you legally pull your gun. Microseconds count here and you cannot take time to think about it. You must have a plan of action. Your planning and training will pay off. Avoiding bad situations, before they ever happen is even better. Park in well-lit areas, not way out at the end of the parking lot. Have someone with you, if at all possible. If you are leaving work, have a coworker walk with you to your car. If you see some seedy, suspicious characters hanging out near your car, go back inside the building. Most malls have security officers; ask them for help. Don’t be afraid to call the police! So many people I talk to express their concern saying they don’t want to make a false alarm. Believe me, the police would rather respond and find that you are safe, than arrive later and find you injured or dead. “Safe” is a whole lot less paperwork.

  • Exit and enter your vehicle quickly. Have your keys already in hand. You can find what you’re looking for after you’re inside locked doors!
  • When you enter your car, lock all doors immediately and get the vehicle in motion ASAP. Don’t sit in a motionless vehicle any longer than you have to.
  • Stay safe. Get trained in safe and proper use of firearms and self-defense.

By: Paul Foreman