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Self-Defense: Held Up at the ATM


An ATM is a terrible place to get caught in a self-defense scenario. Kevin Michalowski, executive editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, answers a USCCA member’s question about what to do if you end up stuck in this situation. He’ll talk you through several escalation scenarios, explaining when you should get out and when you should shoot.

Too Close for Comfort

It’s happened to all of us. You’re out on the town and need to stop for some cash. As you’re entering your information into the ATM, someone walks up behind you. You think he or she is a little too close. What do you do?

At this point, it’s just important to be situationally aware. If you think the next person in line is too close, you have a couple of options:

  • Hit cancel and walk away. You may need to lose your card and call for a different one, but at this point, that’s all you’ve lost.
  • Ask the person to give you some space. There’s no need to be nice all the time. Be firm when telling the individual to back up. If he or she wants to escalate things, walk away.
  • Cancel the transaction and offer to let the other person go first. He or she may just be in a hurry and not realize he or she is making you uncomfortable.

Avoid the Fight

What if things escalate? If the situation goes from feeling uncomfortable to dangerous, what should you do? The person has asked for your money. Now what? If you don’t see a weapon, back away. Find an escape route. And never, ever leave the area with an assailant. If the money is already out, give him or her the money.

Time is your friend in any scenario. Get yourself away from the threat, whether that be a knife or just the build of the assailant. It’s vital that you never turn your back on a threat and that you do not engage until force is threatened. Remember, you win every fight that you’re not in.

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