Skip to main content

Posted on June 8, 2020 by in Training



As I write this, looting and/or rioting has taken place in Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, New York City, Scottsdale, and Fayetteville. This is the type of violent social unrest that I have always been concerned about and one of the many reasons that I believe that Second Amendment rights are so important. A mobile, violent mob can be extremely dangerous and any concealed carrier who is forced to defend him or herself against one relying only on personal weapons and skill-at-arms is in serious danger of being grievously injured or killed.  My background is such that I have no personal experience with nor particular insight into dealing with mob violence.

However, I remember attending a short block of instruction taught by John Holschen at the 2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference in New Orleans that addressed the  subject of preparing for extreme violent events that go beyond more common criminal assaults such as robbery, road rage, sexual assault, and other violent crimes that tend to involve only a single victim or small party of victims.  John Holschen was a senior instructor at the JFK Special Warfare Center and Close Quarters Combat Master for the 1st Special Forces Group. He is well known within the civilian training community as an instructor’s instructor with skills and knowledge that can be of great value to concealed carriers in terms of successfully dealing with violent criminal actors. 

While a good portion of John’s 2019 block of instruction dealt with Active Shooters, the underlying theme largely revolved around movement. It recently occurred to me that some of the material John covered in this block would apply to situations involving groups of persons who have assembled in order to participate in mass protests that often become chaotic and violent. Intelligent movement and repositioning to either a safer or more defensible position should always be the number one priority for concealed carriers when it comes to mob violence. Concealed carriers might want to consider the importance of immediately developing a baseline plan for dealing with mob violence that may reduce the chances that they or their loved ones find themselves in serious danger with nowhere to go.

Riots and large-scale events involve multiple actors in an area that can vary from 360 degrees (all around us) to 540 degrees (all around us as well as overhead). It might involve close quarter contact at distances measured in inches or sniping from hundreds of feet. Concealed carriers should understand that the proximity of attackers and the weapons being used will dictate the most appropriate responses. The following three variables should be considered before taking action:

  1. What is the proximity of the threats, whether possible, probable, or actual?
  2. What type of weapons are being used? It appears to me that the injuries mostly sustained by innocent persons attacked by mobs were due to fists, feet, rocks, bricks, and clubs.
  3. What are my capabilities and potential responses?

The distance between potentially violent mob members and the concealed carrier can be roughly divided into four categories, which are Close Distance, Medium Distance, Medium-Long Distance, and Long Distance. Exact footages of each are impossible to set out. Regardless as to the distance between the concealed carrier and members of the mob, the recommended first action to take is to MOVE. Intelligent movement can accomplish multiple things, including the creation of distance. The more distance that the concealed carrier has to work with, the easier it is to successfully disengage. It also provides additional time to gather additional information such as the direction of mob movement and the best routes to take in order to fully evacuate the location as quickly as possible or move to a more defensible position fully prepared to respond with their concealed handgun. This is a good time to be carrying two spare magazines instead of one along with OC spray and barebones medical gear like a CAT tourniquet and QuikClot gauze.

For the purpose of this article, I am treating any group of persons who have gathered together for the purposes of participating in massed protest as a “Threat”. I have no objections to peaceful protests and support the right to do so, and over the years many positive things have taken place due to peaceful protests. Unfortunately, current conditions are such that many of the current protests quickly become violent as opportunists frequently loot, rob, vandalize, terrorize, and assault or murder others.  Obviously, I think concealed carriers should avoid voluntarily being part of or anywhere close to massed groups. One problem that concealed carriers should be concerned about is unintentionally coming into contact with members of a mob. This can take place on roads or highways when protesters attempt to stop traffic and in or around workplaces and homes.

Close Distance: I can see the Threat at a distance of only a few yards. The concealed carrier should move away as quickly as possible, and if attacked get off the line of fire (bullets, rocks, and bricks are all projectile weapons), control or manage the attacker’s weapon if necessary, and aggressively apply the force necessary to prevent serious injury or death. In order to accomplish this as safely as possible, unarmed skills and a concealed handgun with the ability to deploy it effectively are needed. OC spray can be especially useful for bridging the gap between verbal commands to others to stay back and deploying a concealed handgun. Concealed carriers should quickly exit the area at the very first opportunity as other members of the mob are extremely likely to close on them.

Medium Distance: I can see the Threat, but distances are such I can move and perhaps even avoid engagement.  Movement again is in order. Can I move away from the threat in order to increase distance, exit the premises, get behind cover in order to obtain protection from incoming rounds, or enter a secure location (improvised “safe room)?  Having rapid access to a concealed handgun is important if the threat of or use of deadly force becomes the concealed carrier’s only option. As always, concealed carriers should ask themselves if staying in place and possibly getting into what is at that moment an avoidable gunfight with legal and physical repercussions is in their best interest.

Medium/Long Distance: I cannot see the Threat, but I can hear it and probably have some general idea as to where it is.  This is a most excellent time to move towards cover, an exit, or an otherwise secure location. There is no guarantee that I will not run into the Threat under these circumstances, so having rapid access to a concealed handgun is recommended.

Long Distance: I probably cannot see the threat, maybe I can hear it, but I do not necessarily know where it is. It is not unheard of for snipers to be involved in mob violence. If I am unable to leave the area, moving to close cover is probably a good idea especially if the shooter is sniping from the high ground.  Assessing the fields of fire is critical, as it may be necessary to move to better cover. Concealed carriers should break contact altogether as soon as feasible.

Please note that this article reflects my personal take on only a portion of John’s presentation. It should be considered as only an attempt on my part to share my thoughts on the subject of preparing a basic plan for dealing with mob violence and does not address specific details on variables nor does it address specific tactics or techniques. If nothing else, hopefully it will encourage readers to form some plans of their own.

Steve Moses

Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (