I recently attended The Armed Parent/Guardian from Citizens Defense Research. Melody Lauer and John Johnston offer a lecture only option, which is what I signed up for. This class is “a fast-paced course designed around the thought, ‘What if my children are with me when I get into a shooting?’” While I don’t personally carry a gun, my partner does, and I need to be a part of this discussion.
There were about 21 students in our class. John said that a majority of the class sign ups occurred in the past two weeks. About four of us signed up to only participate in the lecture. Offering the lecture only allows all parents/guardians to begin thinking about the worst case scenarios without forcing guns into our hands. This was the first firearm class for several other students as well.
There was another woman in class who attended with her husband for the lecture only. While we were introducing ourselves I identified with her because her husband carries, and she does not. She didn't seem very enthusiastic to be in class, contrary to myself. Her husband also wore plaid the entire weekend, and Dan only wears plaid.
The Lecture Part I
A majority of the lecture was spent watching video examples of different types of violent encounters children may be a part of. These encounters included: abduction, as a tool of compliance, an indirect assault, and a direct assault. An indirect assault would be when the child is the unintended victim. Children somehow end up in the middle of the fight and get hurt. Usually if a child isn't the intended victim, the attacker won't move their attention to the child. A direct assault on a child is when the child is the intended victim. The videos and the content discussed in class were highly uncomfortable for several students.
Recently my niece and nephew were nearly the unintended victims of an assault that their parents and grandparents brought them into.
Children as the Unintended Victim
As my family was leaving our local zoo my sister and brother in law engaged with a woman who sped through a cross walk, nearly hitting several people. I watched in shock as my sister, with my niece in tow, began yelling with the speeding woman as she got out of her car. A mom nearby tried to de-escalate by reminding everyone that there was a child present. With the realization that my niece was near danger I ran to take her away from the violence that was unfolding. A few moments later I ran back towards the violence to remove my nephew who was carried into the situation by his grandpa.
The situation quickly escalated to my sister being grabbed by the woman in typical girl fight style before my sister put herself in front of the woman’s car. My sister was struck by the vehicle that had only moments before narrowly missed pedestrians. Thankfully she survived with only a fractured foot.
My niece and nephew were not the intended targets of the woman’s aggression. But by engaging in violence and having littles in such close proximity to it only increases their chances of being harmed. Even if you don't carry your child into a situation, they still could follow you into it.
During class I reflected on my response to the violence. John covered the typical danger reactions of people. These reactions are: fight, flight, freeze, fright, and shield. After this event I realized that my response was freezing. I was in shock as I tried to process what was happening. People whose first instinct is to freeze in danger are fairly quick and easy to obey commands. I will attest from my personal experience that this is true. Once the “oh shit” moment had passed and I was alerted to the fact that the two tiny humans were in potential danger I was quick to remove them from the situation.
The Lecture Part II
Melody discussed ways that we can try to mitigate violent encounters such as practicing awareness, and being hypervigilant in transitional spaces. Unfortunately, no matter how aware we are there are still “blitz attacks”. Violence rushing in with no prior warning.
This past summer while much of America was still locked down, my 3 year old niece, 2 year old nephew and I would often walk along various trails near our house. On nice days there would be people walking, running, and biking along the trail with us. One day as we neared the trail head a woman walked past and said to me, “just so you know, there is a man up ahead who just walked into the woods carrying a machete”.
What Would You Do?
I was alone with two small, tired, and hungry toddlers moving towards a potentially crazy man with a machete. I was terrified and dumbstruck. What was I supposed to do? We were in a safe part of town, there were other people passing on the trail, it wasn’t even noon. Every reason that I justified walking into the woods alone with two children, unarmed, was washed from my mind as I tried to quickly and calmly decide what to do next. I scooped up my nephew, made my niece hold her brothers hand and we continued walking. All I could do was pray that if we were attacked that I would have enough adrenaline to carry the collective 70lbs toward the car. I was ultra vigilant until we were off of the trail, and thankfully machete man was just part of the Parks and Rec workers.
After that day I intentionally carried my pepper spray whenever I went out with the kids. In that moment I wished I had a gun. Sometimes violence comes at us without any warning and that is terrifying.
The lecture portion of class was incredibly heavy. I was on the verge of tears multiple times as I thought about all of the worst case scenarios involving children. Several videos were highly disturbing and I looked away. I began asking myself “what would I do if I was the mom, and that was my child?” What would I do if next time the machete man wasn’t with Parks and Rec? While I still don’t feel comfortable carrying another man’s life in my waistband, I am significantly more interested in my self-defense options. I am considering starting jujitsu. My partner gave me a stronger flash light to use in lower light areas. I intentionally carry my pepper spray. Ultimately, in the event that I am with my partner when he draws his pistol I feel okay running away with our children.
While this is a topic none of us want to think about, we all know it is a possibility. Melody and John do a great job in the lecture introducing these thoughts before taking the class to the range to practice some techniques that could be used with children present in a violent encounter. If you and your children are ever around guns, you need to take this class.