Private Classes

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to run a pre-planned, scheduled, public class.  I’ve been limiting my training activities to private training requests and that’s been working well.

If you want to just learn to shoot, have a private class or have a group of people who all want to learn the basics of handguns or get carry permits, let me know.  We can work out a time and venue that best works for you.

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Ladies. Secure your purses at work.

Most women carry a purse which contains a wallet, makeup, contact lens supplies, “feminine products” and sometimes other myriad life supplies.  When they go to work, most simply find a discrete place to tuck it away since it’s too awkward to carry it around with them everywhere.

If you are one of these women, even if you work in a private company with controlled access and you implicitly trust your coworkers, you should consider taking extra steps to secure the most sensitive contents of your purse.  Your hiding place might not be quite as secure as you think.

Several years ago, a friend who used to store her purse in a desk in a back office of a private university department with limited access had her wallet stolen from her purse.  It happened at a time of day when people were in meetings and few were in the common areas to notice unauthorized visitors.

A couple of people went through the entire department, quickly going into offices and taking wallets and other items.  Despite being several doors removed from the common areas, the thieves knew where to look.  It’s suspected that someone in the cleaning crew tipped them off to the locations of all the goodies.  But that was never proven.

If you have a lockable desk drawer put the purse in it and lock it.  If you have access to a storage locker that’s reasonably close to where you work, go out of your way to use it.

If you have a lockable office, lock your door whenever you leave the office.  Consider asking your facilities people to put a door closer on the door and a lockset that defaults to locked and then carry the key on your person at all times (I’ve seen this a lot in offices located off of common areas such as those of a sales manager in a hotel or health club or a supervisor in the reception area of a hospital).

If you don’t have access to lockable storage consider placing your non-financial essentials in a toiletry/dopp kit bag and only carrying that in to the office, leaving your wallet secured elsewhere.  If you need access to your photo id or a credit card or a little cash while in the office, try carrying just those in your person in a pocket.  Use common about this sense, however.  If your parking facilities regularly have cars being broken into, obviously favor keeping your purse with you at work over hiding it in your locked car (and consider parking somewhere else).

The key thing is not to rely solely on obscurity to protect the assets in your purse.  I’ve seen the effort  it takes to clear up the fraud after a wallet theft.  A little daily inconvenience of securing a purse is worth the effort.

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The Pistol Magazine Loader That Practically Sells Itself

Those who regularly shoot handguns are probably well aware of the UpLULA universal magazine loader.  Compared cramming cartridges into magazines by hand or even doing it with the assistance of other designs of mag loaders, the Uplula makes the process as simple as cutting butter with a hot knife.

It works so well that you don’t have to tell others they should buy one*.  All you have to do is let them use it once, hence the “practically.”  Then they want one of their own.

A photo of the UpLULA magazine loader

The UpLULA pisol magazine loader for 9mm-.45 caliber.  There is a version available for .22-.380ACP as well.

Most of the time, when teaching my handgun fundamentals to someone, if a student has trouble loading their mags, I’ll lend them my UpLULA and show them briefly how it works.  Every time I’ve done so, they continue using it for the remainder of the shooting session because it just works.  Most of the time, they ask me where to get one.

I tell them to get it here because:

  1. It’s about one of the best deals you can get on it even compared to many of the other the big firearms accessory vendors.  Sadly some local dealers are charging up to $55 for them.  While I appreciate buying local, I won’t buy at 100% markup.
  2. It’s direct from the manufacturer.
  3. I get a tiny commission when you click through and buy one via amazon.com.

If you shoot an auto loading pistol with any regularity, this is one accessory that’s worth pampering yourself with.  If you shoot competition or attend any extensive, high-round-count classes, your thumbs will be thanking you for using one of these.

 

* But yes, I highly recommend you go buy one 🙂

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Secured Entry Ways That Aren’t

Apartment dwellers and those living in school dorms (a.k.a residence halls) put too much trust in the controlled access entries to keep unauthorized people out of the common areas of their buildings.  While they keep the honest people out, a person determined to gain entry will usually be able to do so without much trouble.  Why?

When entering or exiting a locked building, people would rather not be rude and tell strangers to let themselves in.  They’ll generally let the other person run and catch the closing door or even hold it for the stranger, even when they know they shouldn’t.

It’s simple human nature in civilized American society.  Even when people are very clearly instructed not to grant access to strangers, they still do it.

Broken Rules

To enter my gun club, an outdoor facility, you must use a key card to open the gate crossing the access road.  Members are told repeatedly, let yourself in, then let the gate close behind you.  One day, I arrived early and setup.  My wife showed up after me.  I was going to run up to the gate and card her in.  But by the time I had gotten up there another club member courteously let her in, despite not knowing her.

At my storage unit facility, I once had a stranger (to me) start following me through the gate after I opened it with my code.  I stopped after clearing the gate, hoping it would close in front of the other vehicle because, by contract, I’m not supposed to allow others except my guests into the facility.  I expected the other person to remember that obligation too.  But he didn’t.  Unfortunately his bumper blocked the optical sensor enough to keep the gate from closing.  After an awkward minute or two of waiting and realizing the gate wasn’t going to close, I moved on not wanting to spark a confrontation with a stranger.  I did my darnedest to follow the rules, but between the guy behind me not following them and the gate being blocked from lowering, rules got broken.  In all likelihood, he was authorized to be there.  But it’s not supposed to be my place to make that decision.

When entering hotels, late at night after the non-lobby doors are locked to guest only, I can’t count the number of times the person entering in front of me has held the door open for my convenience (not that you can’t just waltz on in through the front door of any hotel unchallenged at any hour of the day).

And having lived in dorms and apartments at points in my life, my supply of such stories is pretty large.

Monitors / “Guards”

College dorms often go to the next level and post staff during nighttime hours.  These people are supposed to challenge those who don’t appear to belong.  And they might, some of the time.  But eventually, complacency kicks in and monitoring staff stops watching for those who look like strangers slipping in on the coattails of authorized individuals.

Simple Solution

An in convenient to use prison gate.

An inconvenient to use Prison Gate courtesy Vince Mig.

Dorms and apartments that use keys or access cards will always suffer from our unwillingness to be rude and inconvenience others, our unwillingness to be inconvenienced, and the complacency of all actors involved.

While secured entries help keep the riffraff out, improving them to do much more comes at a high cost to convenience, a cost that most others are not willing to suffer even if you are.

So, you are best off resetting your assumptions about the effectiveness of your common entry security.  Just assume they don’t work that well and, instead, do what you can to keep unwanted people out of your apartment or dorm room.  Simply keep your doors locked ‡, even when you run down the hall to get the mail, go to the laundry room, visit a neighbor or use the community bathroom.  Then, put your key on a lanyard or clip it to a belt loop so you’ll always have it with you.

And in future posts I’ll talk about:

  • how to make keeping your doors locked as convenient as possible.
  • how to work with landlords or college staff to have locks rekeyed for greater security
  • and many other related topics

‡ Arguably the single, most effective technique for security your home, regardless of whether you live in a house, apartment, dorm, castle or car.

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Don’t be too flashy with your cash

There’s nothing wrong with having nice stuff and looking nice.  Just realize that when you have nicer stuff, not everybody that notices respects you for your success.  Some just view you as a nicer target.  Don’t go out and sell your new car for a used beater, start letting your grass grow long, and start keeping yourself like a slob.  Just make some simple changes.

For instance, I don’t use cash a lot.   But when I have a lot on me, I make sure that the wad of cash in my wallet doesn’t look like a huge amount.

Which of the following looks the most enticing?  The least?

Clearly, the thin pile of bills with the singles facing out broadcasts your wealth the least. Folding your cash with the large bills to the inside and separating some of your cash into a separate stack that you leave in your wallet or purse until you actually need it is a simple way to keep the people around in the check out line more in the dark about how much cash you have on you.

I don't always whip out cash in public. But when I do, I try not to look too wealthy.

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Next Refuse To Be A Victim class

RTBAV-180x147My next Refuse To Be A Victim class will be on Wednesday evening February 13, 2013 from 6pm to 9pm.  This one will be oriented specifically to independent teens and young adults.

Are your kids spending more time on their own now that they or their friends can drive? Are they heading off to college or moving out on their own? Give them the knowledge and confidence to keep themselves safe wherever they are.

Students will learn how to avoid trouble and, in the unlikely event they are faced with a situation, options for dealing with it whether it’s on campus, traveling to or from school or work, or running errands. Youth will leave with confidence and an increased awareness of their environment.

Event registration will open on January 2nd, 2013.  Pencil it in and if you want me to remind you when registration opens send me a note here.

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Businesses…be mindful of WHEN you fire someone

Screenshot from “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Event.” a video produced by the City of Houston, TX (view it here).

The recent workplace shooting at Minneapolis’s Accent Sign highlights a consideration that many businesses, especially small businesses, overlook.  The shooter was fired on Thursday morning and returned later that day apparently knew he was going to be fired and, upon receiving the news, decided to take revenge on staff.

Midweek and early in the day are generally bad times to terminate an employee.

Why?

1. If the person is unstable enough to take revenge impulsively, firing someone earlier in the day leaves a window during which the individual may return to seek out those he feels are responsible.  If you terminate near the end of the day, when most employees are leaving, so that any of his prior coworkers are gone from the premises.

2. Firing someone on any other day than end of the week, puts the individual in a position where he doesn’t have anywhere to go the next morning.  The departure form normality starts right away tomorrow.  If instead, you terminate on a Friday afternoon, the person will have the entire weekend to come to terms with what has happened.  No work tomorrow, when tomorrow is a typical weekend day doesn’t seem as jarring as it might earlier in the week.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily make sense for businesses running late shifts, round the clock shifts, or where staff regularly works seven days a week.  In these cases, timing of terminations should be chosen using the same principles as above.

Caveats

There can be downsides to this approach, particularly in large companies with high turn over.  Some corporations adhere to the above policies reliably and, consequently, have a corporate culture that is very wary about firings on Fridays, demoralizingly so.

There are no guarantees.  You may prevent a very impulsive person from returning immediately to work today or tomorrow.  But these practices don’t keep them from coming back days later if they are determined to wreak havoc.

There are times when immediate termination is justified and it can’t wait a few more days.  So be it.

In Summary

Businesses large and small, especially small, should factor in all of the following recommendations when performing the unwelcome by inevitable task of firing their employees.

Recommendation  1 – Perform terminations when those upon whom the individual may seek revenge are leaving the premises.

Recommendation 2 – Perform terminations at the end of the individual’s work week.

Recommendation 3 – Perform terminations with professionalism and respect.  Be direct.  Be final.  Dont negotiate and debate details.  Be supportive by asking how you want the company to address inquiries from future employers.  And don’t act like you expect the person to act irrationally as a danger…this is insulting, especially to the unhinged. *

Recommendation 4 – Prepare for the worse.  Have a security plan for if the person returns for revenge…as well as for any other disastrous situations.  It won’t matter most of the time if ever.  But when it happens to you and you are prepared, it will be worth it.


* You can read more about these termination techniques in Gavin De Becker’s book The Gift of Fear in the chapter titled Occupational Hazards.

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Refuse To Be A Victim for High School and College Students

On Saturday, November 10th, 2012, I’ll be conducting an abbreviated Refuse to Be A Victim class specifically oriented at helping high school and college age young adults learn what they can do to stay safe as they go off on their own, many for the first time in their lives.

The class description:

Are your kids spending more time on their own now that they or their friends can drive? Are they heading off to college or moving out on their own? Give them the knowledge and confidence to keep themselves safe wherever they are.

Students will learn how to avoid trouble and, in the unlikely event they are faced with a situation, options for dealing with it whether it’s on campus, traveling to or from school or work, or running errands. Youth will leave with confidence and an increased awareness of their environment.

This class is offered through the Lakeville MN Community Education program and will be shortened to 3 hours focusing primarily on the safety topics most relevant to the intended student age group of  grades 11 through age 21.

You can register by following this link, then select “Personal Enrichment,” and locate it under the title”Refuse To Be a Victim.” Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to directly link you to the program’s registration page.

I’m working on establishing similar community education hosted classes in other Twin Cities suburbs.

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Personally Safe LLC Mentioned in Star Tribune

I was one of many interviewed by Larry Oakes of the Star Tribune for an article he did on carry permits because MN recently crossed the 100,000 carry permit holder threshold.

Read Land of 10,000 Gun Carriers.

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What’s In Your Garbage?

Take a walk down around your neighborhood on recycling day and take a look at the boxes people are throwing out. You might be surprised to learn what sort of goodies your neighbors have recently acquired. So might burglars.

What was in one of my neighbors recycling bins.

Burglars will target houses based on a number of factors, the main ones being:

  • Are the residents gone?
  • Is there an alarm?
  • Are there attentive neighbors?
  • Does the house have good stuff to steal?

Burglars tend to steal stuff in order to sell it for the money. Items that are easy to carry and easy to pawn are what they want. Cash, wallets, jewelry rank pretty high for them. But so do consumer electronics.

Most people have electronics and few people register them or even record the serial numbers. So the risk of getting caught pawning them across town is low.

To be honest, in my nice neighborhood, the chances of finding good stuff to steal in any random house is high. But you don’t need to make it easy for them to know for sure. Don’t advertise your goodies.

My neighbor with the Pioneer 1022-K receiver and a XBox 360 w/ Kinect poking out the top of the recycling container and a box from a 40″ LCD (I didn’t photograph it) on the ground next to the container was broadcasting ownership of some $800-1000 of easily fence-able consumer electronics (plus the home doesn’t have an alarm system sign and is situated in a quiet bedroom community).

Take a little extra time to break down and cut up boxes and put them inside your recycling containers. If you just put out bundled cardboard, put the exterior faces of boxes facing the inward so you’d have to break open the bundle to see what the boxes were from.

Make burglars work a little harder to figure out what you own. Every little thing you do encourages the bad guys to go to move on to easier pickings.

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