If you’ve been paying attention to violent crimes in the past year or so, many have occurred in “Gun Free Zones.” If you’re headed to a location where firearms are prohibited, how can you be prepared to defend yourself in the event of  an assault or an active-shooter situation? The Arms Guide has a few suggestions to consider.

Disclaimer: TheArmsGuide.com is not a source of legal counsel. If you have any questions about the self defense laws in your state, consult a legal professional.

Alternative Self Defense Tools

In instances when concealed carry firearms must be forgone, some degree of self defense in gun free zones is still possible through situational awareness and through the advent of alternative self defense tools.  For example, every day I always bring with me my rifle, pistol, at least one knife, a ballpoint pen, a pair of handcuffs, and a flashlight.  If I approach a “gun free zone,” I first secure my firearms, but the other components of my “every day carry” (or EDC) stay with me. Handcuffs are not necessarily common concealed carry tools for civilians, but carrying a pair of cuffs is an old habit I picked up from working loss prevention over the last four years (using them to detain shoplifters). So, I like to keep a pair with me. The knife serves as a handy tool for every day tasks that can also be utilized as a self defense implement. The flashlight serves a similar role—a practical every day tool, but with self defense applications (especially those with high lumen output and crenelated bezel for striking). Like the light and pocket knife, the pen I carry (a custom-made .50 BMG ballpoint pen) has a utility function, but can also be employed as an alternative self defense tool. My .50 cal pen is surprisingly heavy and features a pointed tip. This tactical pen can be used as a striking device, similar to a small kubaton, or used as a stabbing implement… not to mention, a .50 BMG pen just looks cool.

Monitor Body Language

Body language is louder than spoken words.  Every mood has a body language that goes along with it. For instance, when someone is nervous, they’ll play with their hands, bounce their leg, or look unsure. Something I learned in law enforcement training here in Florida is that, often times, when someone is about to commit an assault, their heads are pointed down, body is squared up to the intended victim, and even the slight movements from others have a way of shake them up or startle them more than what would seem normal.

Maintain Situational Awareness

One of the most important things you can do for your self defense, whether in gun free zones, or when concealed carrying, is to maintain situational awareneess. Keep your head on a swivel. Look at others around you, and make eye contact.  Eye contact tells the person you know they are there, and that alone could deter a crime in some cases. Something else you may want to consider is to not put ear buds in both ears blasting loud music. Blocking out the sounds from your environment hurts your ability to be totally aware of what’s going on around you. Even when I’m at the gym, I only use one ear bud so that I can maintain a degree of situational awareness while I’m working out. Lastly, be wary about when you fixate on your phone, such as while talking, texting, or surfing the ‘Net while you’re out and about.  Many criminals will want to target those who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings because it makes those individuals easier to surprise. Constantly look around, make eye contact, tuck the phone and ear buds into your pocket for later.

Gun free zones can reduce your ability to defend yourself in a time-is-life situation by depriving a concealed carrier of their firearms. However, being aware of your surroundings, watching the body language of those around you, and being prepared with alternative self defense tools can help improve your odds of surviving, or better yet, entirely avoiding, a self defense situation. How do you protect yourself in gun free zones?


This article is courtesy of The Loadout Room.