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Rich Fleetwood on Survival & Preparedness - Founded/Established 1997

Opinion: Lethal Self Defense, Castle Doctrine, and you…Can you?

women-defenseYesterday, we had another school shooting, at  a high school just ten miles from Columbine, Co. We also had a potential suicide car bomber try to blow up an airport in Kansas, and a kidnapping/hostage situation, that ended up with one freed hostage, and one dead kidnapper, taken down by a SWAT team. These kinds of incidents seem to be an everyday occurrence now. Why is that? Where is our humanity going?

I’ve had my own confrontations in many areas of my life, many before my marriage, and the more dangerous ones after starting to raise my family. As a letter carrier for 10 years in southwest Birmingham in the 1990s, I saw near anarchy on the mean streets of a town called Bessemer (now listed on a few websites as one of the 16th most dangerous cities in the US).

I had the normal postal run-ins with gangstas and their Rottweilers and Doberman, and more than my fair share of pit bulls. I had guns pulled on me in attempted robberies and drive by’s, but never had to duck a shot, or go offensive. I had car wrecks occur feet away from me while standing on street corners that could have easily put me under ground.

It wasn’t war, but it wasn’t safe, nearly every day. I came across bodies on porches, from drug deals gone bad. I was first on scene to fatal and near fatal car accidents, near where I stood as it happened. I paid attention to my entire 360 area of operations on my route, and had a photographic memory for incidents. Situational awareness in these crime ridden areas, right here in the good old USA, kept me on my toes, and while not exactly antsy…at least knowing deep in my soul, that these streets at some point in the future, could be the death of me…at any given second…rendered thoughts that led me to bug out with my family and I to rural settings just a few years later.

6-Ralphie-fighting-bullyThe only two fights I was ever involved in was my brother at age 13, in our backyard, at my dad’s behest to deal with a sibling squabble, and it was one punch from me, and 10 from my little brother. I went for the stomach, and hit him in the gonads. He proceeded to beat me about the head and shoulders for a minute or two, before his pain took some fight his fighting spirit out. Wasn’t intentional, but I realized after my first punch, that “What the fuck am I fighting my BROTHER for? It was just not right…and I let him punch me until HE stopped.

The second involved my oldest son, a lost soul at the time, who was delving into drugs for bit of rebellion in his early teen years. I did what my dad did to me (years before), and got in his face trying to egg him on to get him to REALLY discuss what the hell his problem was. Long story short, and with him being 8 inches taller than me, and 50 pounds heavier, he took the bait….and he pushed me hard, back across the kitchen/dining area, into our fridge, with enough force to knock some frying pans off the top and hit me in the head with extreme prejudice. It took me a moment to see a fight has started, and got back to my feet, and jumped toward him, hitting him in the side of the head with a round house…the only punch thrown. My wife and other two kids were right there and the screaming ensued. Cops were called, and we both went to visit the PD, coming home an hour later. He went to the hospital for x-rays, which showed no damage. The next day I had a bruise on my ass the size of a medium sized watermelon…and I don’t know what the hell I hit to cause that.

Over those nearly 40 years, up until today, I’ve stepped into a lot of ongoing frays, usually of someone I know, and tried to bring tempers down several notches with rational thoughts and having them step back and breath for a moment. Somehow, in all those years, I’ve only seen a few fistfights break out in my presence…and one was little bro in middle school who got his ass handed to him with a broken nose while I watched on one afternoon.

So, years of experience on the fringe, in the danger zone, and refereeing.

guninhandLike I said, I’ve seen death up close and personal, but have not dealt it or suffered it personally. These days, however, are different. Now I work full time in Corrections/LEO for a western state.

I work with, direct, supervise, or manage all day, every day, dozens of inmates at a minimum facility. I am not an officer, which means on one hand, I carry no protective gear, handcuffs, pepper spray, or anything else but my wits at all times, while on the other hand, I have the training and skills, to take down anyone that is attacking me, or anyone else, with my hands and body only…including some strikes that if used incorrectly, and without power control, could absolutely be lethal, using training known as NRCT (look it up…).

Being a minimum facility, we have the entire spectrum of inmates: murderers, rapists, sex offenders, child molesters, blue and white collar crime, and even former cops, public servants, and the like. Every staff member, uniformed or otherwise, knows that THESE inmates are at the last facility they’re going to be at before they reenter society. All of our jobs is to keep the local community SAFE AND SECURE. The guys hitting the streets for the most part leave the town or county, including a lot that leave the state.  However, some do stay in town and reenter our own society and outside environment. I’ve seen many about town, and even done business with a few, learning only later they were former inmates…such as the gentleman I bought my Xterra from 4 years ago at the local Fremont Motors dealership.

Manned with a two-way radio and a personal protective alarm, I am around them, between them, working with them, teaching them, and oh yes, ROLE MODELING what citizens and non-felons need act like today. 800 sets of eyes, and 200 cameras watch me and everyone else on the facility…every day. You can add 400 horse eyes and 950 cow eyes if you really want a total count of eyeball spying at our facility.

Having been in this position for many years now, coupled with the 10 years on the truly mean streets of Alabama, I, too, like many of you, can read a man or woman’s eyes and gauge intent or potential threat. And, as I’ve just said, that includes men convicted (and of course capable again later ) of those same horrible disgusting crimes they came into prison for…murder…rape…child molestation….multiple DUI’s, and on and on.

Death doesn’t touch all of us, until late in life for the lucky ones. A very tiny number of war vets who sometimes might have personally killed dozens or hundreds of enemy combatants (and later suffering PTSD nearly every time), mentally disturbed sociopaths and psychopaths, many disenfranchised democrats (nearly every mass shooting in the last several years has been committed by registered democrats, including the teen socialist in the Arapaho High School shooting last week), and lots of new immigrants from nations who grew up seeing death and rebellion always around them in some kind of political or civil war, and let us not forget lots of wannabee criminals that grew up with one parent and a Nintendo with first person shooter games…all of these miscreants create most of the bad things in all our lives these days. The ever falling decrease in the value of human life by a majority of Americans is driving us down a proverbial road of IEDs, snipers, entitlement wars, and pretty much all but mostly dead liberal zombies.

Death is a part of the life cycle. Being aware of potential events that might touch us, taunt us, or barely miss us (that situational awareness thing) is a skill that can always be improved, every day, in some way. Whether through fiction, movies, history, or personal observation, the world is learning at a maddening pace just how far apart each side is from equality, justice, and the law…be it extreme liberals or flaming conservatives…violence is a foul beast, barely restrained, and easily loosed on those who don’t see the world through our special colored glasses.

I’m not a fighter, but I can fight. As our (and most other) correctional facilities in the country have, there is a use of force matrix that tells us exactly what we can do with an individual who is causing problems. We can only use that force necessary to gain compliance of that individual, in that situation. In higher level facilities, the Medium and Max joints, the use of lethal force can and will be used, if any life is threatened. It’s rarely used, but policy and procedure, during these times of emergency, are there…because at some point in the past, it was needed, and history is always going to repeat itself.

Once you’ve crossed that line and taken a life, even in defending yourself and/or your loved ones, you understand that you may have had to kill, or at least end the immediate threat with a shot of anyhomeinvasion caliber, because the only other alternative you could think of was your own immediate death. You have to know, both in your heart, and in your head psychologically and physiologically, what can occur in those precious few seconds of action to save those lives and end that immediate threat. Guilt, anger, self questioning (after the fact) is as inevitable as the sun rising in the east everyday.

Regarding Castle Doctrine, the short and sweet explanation is that if your home is invaded and your life is in imminent danger, you can shoot to kill. BUT, this law or variations of it are NOT congruent or supported by law in all 50 states. The news of the past few weeks has been full of home invasion stories…many where the homeowner died or was injured, and more to the point, MORE stories where smart families or older men and women have killed their invaders or wounded them seriously enough to end the threat.

If you’re going to have weapons in your home, know your legal rights for owning them, storing them, and USING THEM. Nearly every community of any conservative bent should have concealed carry classes that provide you with the law that you need to understand, what to do and NOT to do, should an incident involve a home weapon, and a fatality (hopefully the bad guy). There are also five states where you can concealed carry WITHOUT a permit, known as “unrestricted carry”. These states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont and Wyoming. Again, do your own research and investigations, including going to your local sheriff or police department and simply asking them what the current law is where you live.

Just remember this, should you ever find yourself in a life and death gun fight within your home. You didn’t make the choice to take a life…you reacted to an immediate threat. The perp who elected to receive for this game made the choice to cross that boundary. That door or window was locked to protect HIM. He get’s his just reward when HE has brought the aggression to your face.

It sucks to have to make a decision between life or death. If you’re the one doing the crime, good luck. You deserve what you get. If you’re on the other side, threatened with death, the death of your family and loved ones, or imminent deadly harm, you are the only one that can change the outcome of the situation, and it’s not going to happen unless you’ve prepared, mentally and physically beforehand. If your defense is going to be a handgun or shotgun, you want to have the experience and practice on a proper range setting, so that if and when needed…you’re ready.

Of course, as is always possible, your mileage may vary. Better to have it and not need it…than to need it and not have it.

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Updated: December 17, 2013 — 8:59 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 20th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural Missouri, just a few miles from the Big Muddy. Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises. Since 1997, he has provided guidance, authentic government survival history, and commentary on why we all need to get ready for that fateful day in the future, when we have to get our hands dirty and step in to save the day. He is an award winning videographer (2005 Telly Award), has received state and national scholarly recognition (2006 New Century Scholar and All USA Academic Team), and is a natural with computers, technology, gadgets, small furry mammals, and anything on wheels. Rich likes making friends, solving problems, and creating solutions to everyday issues. He doesn't mind mixing things up, when there is a teaching moment ready to happen. As a constitutional conservative, he's staying quite busy these days. The SurvivalRing Radio Show at www.survivalringradio.com will be coming back SOON!

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