Mall Rage! – Can You Protect Yourself?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
7 Dec 2007

Omaha, Nebraska used to be known for their high-quality steaks but now the mall shootings will also come to mind. :( I reviewed a CNN article that focused on ways to protect yourself in a similar situation. Sadly, there have been many of these public shooting situations and each time people have asked, “What could have prevented this attack?”


The article did not really have any good answers but focused on training the nation’s security guards. I don’t think that training security guards will hurt but it is not an encompassing solution either. I don’t think you can protect yourself against everything – just hedge your bets by learning self-defense, being assertive, and more aware. 


Are you comfortable knowing that bad things can happen to good people? If not, let me tell you what I use to tell folks I was selling life insurance when I asked, “Why do you need life insurance?” They would say, “In case I die.” I would point out that there was no question they were going to die but the only question was “when?” I am not trying to sell life insurance or do estate planning but I want all of you to know – we do not have a contract with life – so live your life well and as you would want to be remembered. 


Now for tactics, gunmen prefer to come loaded for bear. That means they often times have multiple weapons and even reload! One thing I have often wondered about is what goes through people’s minds when they realize they will not make it. One of the trappings of civilization seems to be the rationalization that a situation is still salvageable. This is neither bad nor good… it just is. Many people running for their lives in a dead end area will still try and hide – even when the bad guy sees them. 


Do I have a solution – NO! Sometimes there is no good solution. I do see reports of fathers or teachers confronting these attackers at their peril. That, many times, is the rational response if you are going to be a casualty anyway. So you see there is not an easy answer.


My son was a student at Santee High School in Santee, CA on Monday, March 5, 2001. He was on a break, about to walk around a corner when students were running around the corner towards him. He found out a kid was shooting and high-tailed it. That was too close for comfort for me. Luckily for my kid – this happened in an outdoor school with plenty of barriers, so once a kid did get around a corner – he or she could run to safety. 


My suggestion is to always be aware of your surroundings. If a situation digresses for any reason, leave rapidly. Don’t wait around to figure out why the people are running away… get out of the situation and then figure it out. In this day of iPods and cell phone texting – many people walk around oblivious to their surroundings. I think this is bad normally but even worse when something is happening. This is like a teenager driving down the road with their radio blaring. They are being entertained but cannot hear a horn blast warning them of an impending crash! I have spoken to karate instructors that have told their students to be aware of their surroundings – watching their students leaving the school, walking through the dark parking lot, all the while merrily texting away on their cell phone – barley aware of their surroundings! 


I don’t know how Omaha is going to deal with this but at Santana High School, my next son to attend, had to put up with kids to trying to connect with other kids that were apparently sad. My son use to have to explain to them that he was not sad, just quietly trying to enjoy his lunch. All good efforts but I do not think we can defend against everything in life. That is why it is a good idea to make peace with our maker and try to live a good life. 


By the way… if the attacker does come within arms reach – all of my previous self-defense and karate solutions will apply. Please remember that simple awareness of your surroundings can increase your chances of survival in many situations.

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3 Responses to “Mall Rage! – Can You Protect Yourself?”

  1. Awareness is Part of the Training!! « Rants, Ramblings and Nothingness Says:

    […] to part of their surrounding while enjoying music or reading/writing sms. During my blogsurfing to John W.Zimmer’s website I found this paragraph to be […]

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Thanks for this pingback.. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Jessica Mondillo Says:

    You are very right about awareness. At the same time (and you seemed to agree with this point) armed security isn’t much help. If a criminal knows who is going to try to stop them and has the means to stop the criminal, then obviously the criminal will target the resistance first.

    That is why I am so progun. I know guns can be dangerous, but trained, law-abiding citizens are no threat to the common good. Criminals, in many cases, do not want to die and an armed citizen is a good deterant. Afterall, if a criminal is going to do a home invasion, he will pick the house where he knows they don’t have guns before he takes the house where there is a chance he could get shot,

    Also, I must say your son is lucky. Where I went to high school that would never have been an option. We had long straight hallways with very few corners.

    -Jessica Mondillo