Between race baiters fanning the flames regarding a shooting in Florida, people like Van Jones encouraging the Occupy protestors to step it up and get violent this summer, etc I thought it was time to write down a few thoughts on staying safe in unsettled times.
These are mainly my thoughts on Joe Civilian and riots (seeing as how I've never been in a riot, just done lots of reading, you can take or leave the advice as you see fit).
Seems that most civil unrest/violence in the US occurs in commercial or very low income/rent residential neighborhoods. That being said, how to react in order to keep yourself safe from an angry mob is going to be wildly different depending on which area you are in, commercial or residential (or more simply....are you at work or home when things happen).
Some things you should do regardless of location:
1) Be Aware
Look outside occasionally, check the local tv/radio news for reports of "crowds forming" or "unrest". Be aware of any national news that could incite violence (for example...Zimmerman goes to trial. Once the jury is deliberating, I'd keep a very close ear to the ground waiting for an announcement of guilty/not guilty). If you don't realize a riot is going on until the mob is breaking into your business or setting your car on fire in the driveway, you're already way behind the curve.
2) Have a Plan
You should always have a plan. If a riot is in or heading to your area, what are you going to do? When would you try to get the heck out? What situation would necessitate you holding your position? What would you need to do either one? What supplies would be good to have in the event of a riot?
A lot of those questions don't have universal answers, but will depend on your specific situation. A few things that I think are universal:
Have gas in the car. If you can only drive 30 miles before you run out of gas, it makes it a lot harder to flee from a bad situation.
Have at least a weeks worth of food/water. If you can't get to the store because they're closed or the mobs in the way, can you feed yourself something?
Have fire extinguishers. Even if its not the mob setting your property on fire, your local PD/FD will be busy with the mob...so if something happens at your home/business being able to take care of it yourself is important. Their response times to non riot related calls will likely be VERY long, if they're able to respond at all.
3) Be armed.
More than that, be armed enough to face multiple assailants. I know people love their 5 shot J frame, or their pocket .380. Would you care to face a crowd with them? Try to carry the largest capacity gun in a service caliber (9/40/45) that you can. And carry reloads. Make sure you have a rifle or shotgun and reloads handy. Fairly self explanatory why.
Now, regarding commercial/residential.
In a commercial/business setting:
If at all possible, get the heck out! Insurance will cover any damage done to the business. Whether you own the place or work for someone else, your life isn't worth defending those computers, or twinkies, or whatever random item the rioters decide to steal. Your life is more important. Make sure your coworkers are able to get out, and leave! If you are not able to leave, retreat to a warehouse/backroom that has at least 2 exits, lock the doors and dim the lights. Hopefully anyone who breaks in will only be interested in grabbing what looks good out front and leaving, not exploring thoroughly.
Leaving a commercial location
Okay, so you've decided to flee. Smart call. Since you're being smart, you probably can grab that long gun from the trunk and throw a towel over it to keep it up front with you, right? Good. That being said, you're driving a 3000 lbs weapon. Simply put...if you can avoid the riot at all, do so. If you somehow manage to take a wrong turn/come across it unexpectedly....Doors locked. Do NOT stop moving. Mobs are dangerous. If they get you out of the car, you could be beaten, crippled or killed. Do not let them get you out. DRIVE.
In a residential setting:
Most people have a problem with this, because we're talking about our homes as opposed to where we work. But again, the safest thing to do (if you can do so without going through the mob) is to get out of dodge. Yes, you may lose some "stuff"....but thats why we have everything documented for insurance, right? My neighborhood does only have 1 entrance/exit, so I've had to consider the possibility that fleeing isn't an option. So in that case..
Defending the home
Generally, as CHL holders we are trained to stay inside the house (and its tactically sound advice). While this is normally a good idea, mobs like fire, and burning things. So if one thug breaks down the door and is met with gunfire, they won't try to storm the house....but they might go ahead and set fire to your roof before they move on. In the LA riots, Korean shopkeepers on their roofs kept the mob moving on to other targets. In a mob/riot situation, the roof is a decent idea. Its not great cover, but pretty good concealment. It gives you a great view of the neighborhood, and you'll be able to see anyone trying to start fires, etc. Again in this situation a rifle or shotgun wins over a pistol.
For the TL,DR crowd.......My riot advice: Be aware of your surroundings, have a plan to get out or defend, be armed, and if you can at all...get the heck out of the area.
Feel free to chime in if you feel I missed anything important or am just flat out wrong.