I don’t know about anyone else, but I read good books and watch entertaining movies to lose myself in a storyline. To shed my worries and cares, to let my feet leave the planet of my reality and head off to explore the alternate realities presented on paper and in film is liberating.
I don’t read to pass time, I read to use time to experience vivid and exhilarating memories, emotions and actions of others. I don’t go to the movies to be an inactive participant in the film; I throw myself heart and soul into the action and hardly notice it isn’t real until the lights suddenly flicker on and I have to blink myself back to earth.
In short, I read and go to the theater to escape from the world, not to keep an eye on it.
For this reason, maintaining my situational awareness while reading or watching a movie isn’t something I can do. That is why I don’t lay in the park under a tree and read on my lunch break. It would be relaxing and enjoyable; it would rejuvenate me after the stress of a morning’s work. But it would also leave me easy pray to those who lurk and stalk, seeking to do harm.
To me, suspending my situational awareness to do things like read under a tree or walk with headphones in carries potential for too many negative and severe consequences to be worth it.
Going to a theater hasn’t (yet) reached that level of risk in my mind. Maybe that’s because my first two activities which result in a decreased level of situational awareness are solitary activities. There is no safety in numbers in being alone in the park or on a walk. But it turns out being in numbers doesn’t always result in safety.
In fact, all mass shootings occur in highly populated areas. This is a painfully obvious statement; it’s hard to have a mass shooting without masses. But it’s something I haven’t given too much thought to before. Most of my situational awareness habits come from a desire not to be sexually assaulted. Some of my situational awareness habits are a response to a threat from an solitary, known person. I need to develop a whole new set of situational awareness habits to increase my chances of surviving a bad situation going down in a public place, especially in public places which are designed to snuff out my situational awareness.
Shopping malls: Malls don’t just happen. They are carefully designed, crafted to give shoppers an “experience” which helps mall-goers to forget the outside world and spend more time and money inside. A mall’s purpose is to transform me to another reality in which I am happy and rich. With artificial light, trees, sounds and scents and limited access to the outside world in the form of minimal windows and no cell phone reception, it would be easy to drop my guard here. Someone paid a lot of money to get me to do that.
Movie theaters: As explained above, going to the movies is an escape from reality. Big movie producing companies spend a lot of money to hire good actors, makeup artists, wardrobe creators, music composers and stunt and special effects staff. I’m sure that the exact lighting, sound, seating positions, room temperature, etc. of the theater itself has been studied and optimized to help me forget my real surroundings and delve into those on the screen.
Concerts: Music has many positive qualities. It entertains, lifts moods, heals emotional hurts. It has the ability to dramatically change the lives of its listeners. With our hearts, minds and ears involved in its sounds and with it presented in the visually-camouflaging, visually-distracting background of a crowded venue… it would be easy to lose situational awareness or miss situational awareness triggers when listening to music at a concert.
I Googled “situational awareness in crowds” and “situational awareness in crowded places” and didn’t come up with much. Does anyone out there have any tips and tricks to staying alert in those busy places which lull us into a sense of false security? Are there body language signs or foot traffic patterns which are important to look for? Help me out!
Below is a “Campus Safety Alert” issued by Adam Garcia, the Director of Police Services at UNR. The incidents described below are just two examples of why I feel uncomfortable visiting the UNR campus as an unarmed female.
University Police Services and the Reno Police Department have received two separate reports of suspicious incidents. On March 8, 2012 at approximately 7:00 P.M. a victim reported that she was followed from Virginia Street and 10th Street to Angel Street by a male in a black unknown model truck with a small white rectangle shape on the cab of the truck. The male subject drove alongside her, then parked at the cemetery in the area and continued watching her. The subject was described as being male, unknown race approximately 40-50 years of age.
In the second incident, a UNR student reported that on Monday March 12, 2012 at 3:30 P.M. a male driver drove alongside her and attempted to coax her into his vehicle. The female ran to her vehicle while the subject followed her. This subject is described as a black male with scruffy facial hair, approximately 40-50 years of age, driving an older white Isuzu Rodeo with two blue stripes on the side and no license plates.
If you have any information regarding these incidents, contact Investigator Jaime McGuire at 682-7284 or Regional Dispatch at 334-COPS(2677).
University Police Services also wants to take this time to remind you of the following safety tips:
Make personal safety your number one priority. Awareness, Avoidance and Risk Reduction is the best way to not be a victim.
Travel in groups of two or more and always travel in well-lit, heavily traveled areas.
Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Carry a whistle or noise maker. This can serve as a reminder to exercise caution, and can alert someone in the area that you need help.
Be alert! Look around you; be aware of who is on the street and in the area. Make it difficult for anyone to take you by surprise.
If listening to music, keep the volume low so you can hear what is going on around you.
If you know you are going to be working late, plan ahead as to how you will get to your vehicle or home safely.
Use Campus Escort or University Police Cadets to get you to your vehicle safely. Campus Escort operates 7 days a week during academic semesters from 7:00 P.M. – 1:00 A.M. They can be contacted at 742-6808. Police Services Cadets operate Monday through Thursday from 6:00 P.M. – 12:00 A.M. during academic semesters. Student cadets can be contacted at 745-5921 or 745-7505. When these services are not operating, contact the duty officer at 745-6195 and request an escort.
This message is being sent in compliance with the timely warning provision of Title II of Public Law 101-542 34, CFR 668.46 (e), the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act.
Adam GarciaDirectorPolice ServicesUniversity of Nevada, Reno1664 N. Virginia St. MS/250Reno, NV 89557(775) 784-4013 Main(775) 784-4689 Direct(775) 327-2220 Faxwww.unr.edu/police
I want a car safe. I can carry to and from work, but not at work. Additionally, when I’m running errands, sometimes I stop by places I can’t bring my Bodyguard in with me. I have a locking glovebox, but I don’t think that’s enough.
There are different kinds of car safes out there… at a gun show once, I saw a metal mesh bag gun safe. I haven’t been able to find one of those again. There are also key locked gun safes and combo locked gun safes. I’m not sure how easy either of those would be for me to open quickly in the dark. I wish they made car gun safes with the same sort of open-sesame technology that is utilized on lockers for students with disabilities.
Abus 150/40 C
Masterlock makes a lock that has four buttons: up, down, left and right. The combo can be entered purely by touch. Abus makes a lock whose combination is entered by aligning mini-switches to positions numbered 1-4. It seems these locks would be easier to open in the dark in my car than a key lock or a combination lock would.
I’ve also seen fingerprint locking safes. Those just creep me out. For those of you who have a car gun safe, do you use the fingerprint, lock or combination type? Do you have any tips, tricks, advice, recommendations for me?
I babysat for a family in my ward recently. I bought with me to their home a strong feeling of love for their children, a sense of fun and adventure and my gun. I carried it in a holster made by Discreet Carry. It is the DCH-1 holster, typically used by men. I turn the holster from the armpit area as men tend to use it until the holster sits just below my breasts and is aligned to the center of my chest. In this way, my holster is situated in the “rain shadow” of the girls where it is not visible. I can carry kids on either hip and piggy-back style with no little feet catching my gun or holster.
We cuddled during movies and I hugged and rocked the criers of the crew. None of the kids noticed my gun and as you all know, kids don’t keep quiet about awkward things. They would have no qualms asking me why my belly is so poky or asking what hard thing I have under my shirt. My holster worked perfectly. I could move and bend as I needed to, it wasn’t in the way at all and it kept concealed carry concealed.
No misadventures were experienced that night: no home invasions or rabid dog attacks. But if the stuff had hit the fan in that strange home, at night, in an unknown neighborhood, with vulnerable children in my stewardship, I was properly equipped to respond to the situation. And I’m glad for that. I love those kids and I don’t want anything to happen to them.
If Nevada’s colleges and universities allowed concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns on campus it might have prevented two rapes and a murder, a sexual assault survivor told state lawmakers Friday.
During emotional testimony before the Senate Government Affairs Committee Amanda Collins, 25, testified for Senate Bill 231, which would eliminate a restriction that prevented her from carrying her legal concealed handgun the night she was raped in a University of Nevada, Reno parking garage.
The attacker, James Biela, went on to rape another woman, and was convicted of kidnapping and killing a campus visitor, Brianna Denison.
“On Oct. 22, 2007 my right to say ‘no’ was taken from me by both James Biela and the Nevada Legislature,” said Collins, recounting the night she was attacked. “If the purpose of the current law is to ensure safety to those on university property then it is not serving that objective.”
I have always been cautious about the location of my purse. I learned that lesson early on. I left my first purse in a bathroom stall at a restaurant as a small child and it had $40 in birthday money cleverly tucked inside a flap on my glasses case inside of it. I didn’t have a wallet, phone or anything else awesome in there; just kid stuff. But I’ll never forget leaving behind my purse and my $40. Ever since then, I’ve taken carrying a purse seriously. Knowing I’m a forgetful person and that I’ll set it down and leave it if I’m not careful, I’ve since selected purses that are harder to lose. Backpack purses, purses with straps long enough to be worn like messenger bags are worn; I’ve even skipped a purse and have carried a wallet instead as it stays in my pants where it belongs when I am shopping and can’t be set down to pick up something sparkly at a store. The concern I’ve had about my purse, weather guarding it from thieves or from my forgetful self has escalated recently though.
Ever since I trained for, applied for and received my concealed carry weapons permit, I’ve been even more mindful of my purse. This is because my concealed carry weapons permit is inside of it. If I lose my purse or if it is stolen from me, not only am I out money, as I was out $40 as a child, I am also out of my permit. A replacement concealed carry permit isn’t very much money, but the gun-naked downtime of not being able to carry a firearm concealed on my person as I await the arrival of my new permit is just too much to bear.
Additionally, my mind has been processing panic situations. What if my purse is stolen from me or lost and I am concealed carrying at the time? Do I take off my gun, knowing that concealed carry without my permit no es muy bueno? Or do I continue to conceal carry until I can get home and change? Being in Nevada, open carry is legal, but what if the outfit or holster I am wearing that day doesn’t work with open carry? Or what if I am in a situation where I don’t feel comfortable open carrying? How would I switch from concealed to open carry without causing those around me to be uncomfortable? Even changing in my car could get me “(wo)man with a gunned.”
GB and I talked about it and he suggested that I conceal carry straight home and if a cop pulls me over, I can explain to him my stolen purse as the reason why I not only don’t have my driver’s license but also my concealed carry license. That sounds a little scary to me. I decided I can switch from concealed carry to open carry in a nearby restroom or dressing room without causing a ruckus. From there, I can continue my outing or head on home depending on the open carry friendliness levels of my prospective destinations.
Concealed carrying causes lots of thoughts to run through my head… my outfits, my destinations, the people around me and now my purse. Carrying a gun has changed nearly every aspect of my life.
My blog has been receiving a lot of hits from people Googling for information about which concealed carry gun to buy their girl for Christmas. The correct answer is: DO NOT BUY YOUR GIRL A CONCEALED CARRY GUN FOR CHRISTMAS!!!! Don’t buy her any guns for Christmas. No plinkster .22 handguns, no rifles, no shotguns, nada.
Now, before everyone jumps out of his tree, just hear me out on this. A gun you like, that has the stopping power you want and feels good in your hand probably won’t be the gun she likes, she can easily carry and feels good in her hands.
For example, GB carries a Springfield XD and I can’t even reach the trigger on that gun when its backstrap is properly seated in the web of my hand. Should he haul off and buy me one because it’s such a great gun and it would be a good Christmas present for me, I won’t like it. Shooting it will hurt because I won’t be able to hold it right and in an emergency, I’ll be throwing shots away because I can’t aim while wiggling my hand around the side of the handle of the gun trying to reach the trigger.
Another example is that GB carried a Bersa Thunder .380 before he got the XD. Me? I’m not carrying that thing! It pokes the crap out of me with the little nubby prominence near the hammer and the handle. If he had bought me this gun thinking it is small, easy to hold and hide, with decent stopping power in light of it’s weight, he would’ve bought me a paperweight. A gun I leave at home isn’t a good Christmas present.
One more thing to think about… You might think she needs a carry gun. What if she’s not into concealed carry and instead wants something she can hunt with? Shoot clay? Defend the house with? Plink? Attend an Appleseed shoot with? Before you think about picking up a gun for her, worry about not only if it’s the right gun for her, but also ask yourself: “is it the gun she wants?”
Do I have you talked out of buying your girl a surprise gun for Christmas yet? Good. Instead, buy her a gift certificate to her favorite gun shop and let her pick out her new present. Or, if you don’t need the “surprise” factor in your Christmas experience, sit her down, tell her your plans and invite her shopping with you to pick out her gun.
When she goes to redeem her gift card or if you take her on a non-surprise shopping spree, there are a few things to keep in mind:
If she doesn’t (yet) shoot, go over with her some gun-store etiquette before you leave the house. Let her know the counter-person should check the gun to make sure it’s empty before handing it to her. Tell her that although it’s just been checked, she should check it too. Teach her how to check it and be prepared to be right at her side, patiently walking her through it at the store if she forgets or is unsure of herself. Train her not to sweep anyone in the shop, especially herself, you and the salesman. Demonstrate that looking down the sights is a good thing, but that it should be done when the gun is trained on an empty wall or the floor and not on any other shoppers.
If she isn’t too green, but you still shoot more than she does, she might try to rely on your opinion because she knows your expertise is greater than hers. Do not let her do that! Because, again, a gun you like might not be the gun for her. Try phrases like, “I think it’s a good gun, but you’re the one that is going to shoot/carry it around every day. Does it fit you?” And, “What do you think, honey?”
No matter her experience level, be sure she tries every gun on in her hands and that she can easily manipulate all of its buttons. Be sure she can reach the trigger properly, even on that first double-action shot. Please take her to a gun shop with an on-site range and pay for her to shoot her top three chosen on looks/feel/button pushing to make sure she’s going to like her present for a long time to come.
Make sure the man behind the counter knows your honey is the boss of this shopping expedition and that he must impress her to get a gun sold to you two today. If he tries to hand you a gun out of the case, don’t take it from him. Tell him, “it’s her gun, not mine.” Force him to hand it to her. He wants to tell you about some awesome features? Bring your girl into it. “Honey, it sounds good to me, but you’re the one that’s going to be using it. What do you think?” The focus should be on her, not on you guys.
Buying your girl a gun for Christmas is one of the sweetest presents you can give her because it gives her confidence, skill, determination, protection, freedom, fun and more. But the gun is only able to give these things to her if it is the gun for her. Shopping without her there might end in you making an expensive, bad gift selection and therefore a bad purchase. To avoid such a disaster, go shopping with her and take your time in the store. Try everything on and put each selection through the paces, including shooting it. Doing this will show her you value her comfort, safety and opinion. It will make her a more confident gun-shopper and will increase the amount of brownie points you reap from Christmas gifts.
Once a week after work GB and I go grocery shopping. I can’t conceal carry to work due to their anti-gun policies, so before we head out the door for shopping, I take a minute to strap on my gun. Frequently my work outfit won’t accommodate concealed carrying. Here’s an example of that. In the first picture you can see that my shirt comes down past my waist and its tails are below crotch-level.From the side, notice how my shirt comes more than halfway down my butt. And yet, the length on this shirt isn’t enough to conceal carry a Bersa Thunder 9mm PRO UC.
From the side
If I were to lift my arms over my head, maybe to get something down from a high shelf at the store (and they’re all high shelves when you’re as short as I am), I’d flash my gun. Ugh. That’s not concealed enough to be conceal carrying and it’s not open enough to be open carrying.
I hate coming home from work and changing every week before I go shopping. GB hates it too, like all guys dislike waiting on a woman.
Reaching for something.
Well, I found the solution to my dilemma. It’s called a “Mini Midriff” shirt. I’m not even sure though that it should be called a shirt because it’s only half of one… the bottom half. If I had a brown one in my closet, I could have added the shirt to my outfit easily. I like this idea because I’ve already got enough clothes on. In the photo, I’m wearing a bra, my garment top and the brown and teal stripped shirt. I don’t want to add a cover-my-gun shirt to the mix. That’d make 3.5 top layers on (the bra only counts as 0.5). I’m pudgy enough without adding the extra bulk of too many clothes. And while it’s not too painful now, Nevada desert summers do not permit layers.
The Mini Midriff by Molly's Clothing. Photo courtesy of www.mollysclothing.com.
Here’s a description of the Mini Midriff from the manufacturer’s website:
“Coverage is key. The Mini Midriff adds length where you need it. Perfect to wear under stylish, shorter-length tops without the needless bulk or bother of a full undershirt. You’ll stay covered with complete freedom of movement. The Mini Midriff is part of our complete Molly’s “Mini” Line, created to accentuate your existing wardrobe and work with today’s hottest fashions.
• Comfort fit • Stays put for complete freedom of movement
• Durable, silky material • Fade-resistant colors designed to go with any style • Machine washable”
As soon as I can get some pocket money together, I plan on purchasing one in black and one in chocolate. When I do, I’ll let you know how they worked for me as a concealed carry cover garment.