On Her Own

No guns or weapons allowed

How many of you carry some sort of self defense tool or weapon on a regular basis?

How many of you ever want to go to places where those things aren’t allowed?

Without getting into the politics in play, suffice it to say that there are many places where a visitor isn’t permitted by policy or practice to bring in so much as pepper spray, let alone guns or knives or other such items. They range from workplaces to schools to museums to concert halls. I’m sure all of you can think of a few more. When that’s the case, here are four options:

You can try to sneak one or more weapons in anyway. You can learn deep concealment techniques, purchase variations of your usual weapons that are less likely to be found on you, and modify what you would normally carry by adding or deleting items. Some of those won’t be effective, though, because they’re harder to use, or harder to retrieve from how you have them hidden away on you. They also might be discovered anyway, especially if the venue ends up having metal detectors or if you are searched upon entry. The consequences can be steep and unacceptable, all the way up to losing your job or access to education to criminal charges or being ejected or banned from the event or the location. Only you can decide if those trade-offs are worth it if you are caught, and you must be honest with yourself both on your likelihood of having someone figure out you’re breaking those rules and if it’s acceptable to you – and the people around you – to risk those punishments.

You could not go to those places. It’s always a choice you are allowed to make, and one that you may feel is imperative for your safety and your ability to protect yourself from potential threats. The fact that you can’t bring weapons with you might be a clue you don’t want to be there, for whatever reason. However, that’s not always a true option. You may need to go there because you need the employment or the degree, for instance. Or you might want to prioritize your relationship with another person who wants to go and go with them instead of trying to talk them out of it, or because you can’t convince them to stay home and think it’s better to go with them than have them go alone. Or you just really want to see or experience that destination, so much so that not going isn’t really something you want to give up. It’s your favorite band playing a once-in-a-lifetime show, perhaps, or you won an all-expenses-paid dream vacation.

You can go and not worry about the potential dangers. The experience may be too exciting, too immersive, too incredible for you to pass up, and you can make the deliberate and conscious decision to enjoy it without concern for the risks to your personal safety. You can choose to trust the organizers of the event or the location to keep you safe, whether from what is inherent to the activity you’re about to participate in or from the classical bogeyman attackers and assaulters. There are, without doubt, times and places where that might be reasonable and appropriate, based on the type of place you’re going and who is running the show. Even when a particular one might not be one of those, there are good reasons to take the leap of faith and simply enjoy instead of letting your fears keep you from living.

You can learn and practice strategies that don’t require weapons at all. Situational awareness is a popular buzz phrase in these circumstances, though you’ll need to be careful about precisely what that means to you in the specific no-weapons place you’re going. After all, a crowded tourist attraction isn’t exactly where you can reasonably keep everyone more than six feet away from you, social distancing requirements or not. It might also be too loud or too chaotic by nature for you to use your usual tactics of looking for potential threats, so you’ll need to adjust what you’re paying attention to for the setting you’ll be in. Perhaps better would be to prepare yourself for techniques that don’t require you to bring tools along at all, like various martial arts or using improvised weapons. They may not be as successful against an attacker as your usual accoutrements, but thoughtful selection can result in solutions that are truly better than nothing.

That last one is my favorite, because it doesn’t require me to choose between the things I want to do and my personal protection. I may have to compromise a little, and give up total immersion into an activity so I can split off part of my attention to my surroundings, or take the time to work on my hand-to-hand skills regularly so they’re available when I decide to go to those places, but it’s worth it to me. But my priorities aren’t yours, so what about you? How do you manage places you can’t bring self defense tools and weapons?

Hi, I'm Annette.

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