COVID-19 — the coronavirus — is dominating headlines. In a mad dash to generate advertising money by playing to the worst of human nature, most mainstream news organizations are feeding hysteria because in their business, bad news is good news — and they make hay while the sun shines.
I will continue to do what I’ve done for years: wash my hands frequently and not eat finger-food without — you guessed it — washing my hands immediately before doing so. (Sorry, restaurant ketchup bottle. I didn’t want you to find out this way, but even I sneak off to wash my hands after touching you too.) As for my work here at the USCCA in the service of responsibly armed Americans, I will stick to what I know best, which is self-defense and disaster mitigation.
Keep Your Cool
Humans tend to obsess over what they enjoy and are accustomed to, and there are few sundries that we as a species have taken to more strongly than toilet paper. I’m certain a lot of you have seen and heard about the shortages. Some of you might even remember when Johnny Carson (kind of) touched off a similar situation with a monologue joke back in 1973. Unfortunately, scarcity breeds anxiety, and anxiety can breed violence.
I cannot stress this enough: If you are in a store and everything’s getting hot over who is going to leave with the last 24-pack of Angel Soft, just leave. Your firearm is for defending innocent life, not for negotiating. Humans managed for thousands of years without toilet paper, and though the lack of Sears catalogs and corn cobs in the average home will make for a slightly more challenging situation, you’ll get through it. As responsibly armed Americans, we do not use our defensive firearms to acquire supplies; we use them to help us survive violent encounters.
Plot Your Exit
As for how to escape a large store (picture Walmart or Costco) when everyone around you seems to have lost their minds, take a lesson from movie theaters. Every time you sit down in a theater, the opening programming points out that there are exits other than the entrance through which you arrived. This is important, as humans (and indeed all animals) are likely to, under panic, try to leave an area by the way they entered. Don’t let yourself fall for this one. Whenever you enter a building, take note of exits other than the entrance you used. Garden centers, indoor lumber yards and auto service centers within mega-stores often provide excellent alternative exits. Also watch for food courts and anywhere else that has an exit, marked “emergency” or otherwise, that can serve as alternative egress points. This should be common practice wherever you go, but pop those antennae up a little higher until everything gets back to normal.
Travel With Purpose
Speaking of “just leaving,” we here at the USCCA have been big proponents of what I call “get-home bags” for years now. If a major disturbance flares up wherever you find yourself, it is important that you have, in your vehicle (or on your person, if you don’t drive), the supplies necessary to safely get from wherever you are to wherever you need to be. This means a modest-but-trauma-centered first-aid kit, including several sterile bandages and a tourniquet, an extra magazine or two for the sidearm you’re carrying, a bottle of water or three, and a few meal bars. Staying hydrated and maintaining normal blood sugar levels help a human make better decisions. “Getting hangry” is the last thing that you want to be dealing with during a crisis. This is also an excellent time to remind everyone who drives that if the gas gauge is at three-quarters or below by the time you’re done driving for the day, it’s time to top it off. Don’t be trying to get home to your family in exceptionally heavy traffic only to run out of fuel.
Keep Your Options Open
Situations like the current toilet-paper rush are excellent reminders of why it is such a good idea to carry an intermediate force option such as pepper spray. This is the kind of circumstance under which you may be set upon by persons who aren’t evil or drug-crazed or bent on predation; they may just be angry and confused and panicked. If a stream of pepper-juice will get the job done — meaning it will allow you to escape safely — then it beats the heck out of guns getting drawn. As always though, the best possible scenario is that you’re never even close to violence and that you avoid danger before you’re forced to mitigate it.
Stay Calm, Stay Safe
I don’t know what is going to happen with the Wuhan Flu, and neither do you. I’m no doctor or even veterinarian, but the advice that I would offer right now is to not lose your horse sense. Just keep doing what you know you should be doing: washing your hands frequently, not coughing on people, avoiding areas that look like they could be trouble and taking care of yourself and everyone for whom you are, as I say, capital-R Responsible. You won’t be of any use to your family or community if you’re in jail over an assault beef you caught in a fight over the last bottle of hand sanitizer.
Stay alert, stay focused, stay reasonable and stay safe.
Concealed Carry Magazine