“Whenever I happen to be in a city of any size, I marvel that riots do not break out everyday: Massacres, unspeakable carnage, a doomsday chaos. How can so many human beings coexist in a space so confined without hating each other to death?” – Emil Cioran

The Baltimore riots are a continuation of layers and decades of racial, economic, educational, and political issues that I’m not going to attempt to unravel or pretend to have an ultimate solution for. I have my own opinions, theories, and take on all of it, but I doubt my suggestions will be heeded by anyone soon. So, that leaves all of us with one simple reality: What will happen in the future, and what should we personally do about it?

Well, I can’t predict the future, and I doubt any of you can, either. However, it does appear that none of this is going away anytime soon, and the prudent person will accept that and live accordingly.

Here’s a short list:

1- Stay away from protests! Yes, if you work in a metro area one could suddenly flare up without warning, but we generally know where they are happening or where they will probably happen – we should avoid such places all together.

2- Don’t go anywhere without proper footwear. Look at the streets in the images from Baltimore – fire, broken glass, trash, twisted metal, rocks, bricks, etc… Be ready to move through serious debris!

3- Carry your gun! Concealed, and in a proper holster you can access immediately. Carry at least one spare magazine! Secure an ample supply of high performance self-defense ammunition as well as spare magazines and spare holsters. Now is the time to apply for your CCW permit, not during the middle of civil unrest.

Remember, your gun(s) are NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS – keep that information to yourself!

4- Carry a blade! You may need to cut or pry your way out of a vehicle or building. You may need to render medical attention and have to slit clothing to tear it way. You may need to slice your seatbelt, or someone else’s. We need to be able to cut things!

5- Carry a flashlight! Why? Because we need to see things! Lights also work as a passive defensive tool. Sending 200-lumens into a potential attackers eyes not only temporarily blinds them, it also gives us information: Who they are, male/female, approximate age, facial expressions, if they are wearing a mask, and most importantly, WHAT IS IN THEIR HANDS. People tend to throw their hands in the air to block the light being shown in their eyes – we use that moment to see what they are holding, if anything.

6- Carry a practical medical kit. A 4″ Israeli Battle Dressing is a good foundation. They fit in purses, and pants and jacket pockets. Expand on that as you find space on your person. A major wound treatment kit should be in your vehicle, home, and workplace at all times. Keep in mind that a small kit on your person beats a big one back at home every time.

7- Carry OC/Pepper Spray. Very few situations require shooting. Most encounters can be dealt with by the simple deployment of OC spray in the aggressors’ direction.

8- Have your vehicle in proper working order and do not let your gas tank get below half. Aside from the above mentioned medical kit, your vehicle should have a rifle with spare magazines, water, some basic food like power bars, a tow strap, jumper cables, Pry bar and large hammer, multitool, and blanket. A small duffle bag or backpack set up as a “grab & go bag” is probably a good idea, as is having extra eye protection and a pair of boots. You may decide to add additional items – do so as necessary.

9- Be ready to stay home for a few days. Those who live in or near cities may need to “shelter in place” until hostilities subside. That means food, water, light, heat, medications, sanitation, and security. Now would be a good time to update doors and door locks, and consider the addition of the 3M Security Film to your windows. Double check your fire extinguishers.

10- Form a plan with you family and loved ones. What will you do if the riot is on your block? What will you do if you are all in different locations when events turn ugly? How will your get the kids home? How will you get home? Are you prepared to ride it out where you are at? How will you communicate? If you need to leave, what is your escape plan and where will you go? How will you access emergency medical services during unrest?

This is by no means a complete list, only a starting place. I’m sure there are more comprehensive guides all over the internet – my goal here is to get you thinking.

And there is one more thing we should consider…

Most of us will not only survive rioting in cities, we’ll go on with life as usual. My concerns are not steeped in that. What I see as a game changing problem is this: There are 10’s of thousands of disenfranchised young men and women in this nation. My fault, your fault, nobody’s fault, it doesn’t matter – They exist, they’re a reality, and right or wrong, they are angry. It will only take a handful to jump ship and decide to join the ranks of a terrorist organization – Possibly training to be suicide bombers.

Outlandish thought? Hardly – the only reason it didn’t happen in the 60’s was that no one had thought of it yet. Yes, the Japanese employed suicide pilots during WWII, but the concept of the suicide bomber hadn’t been seen before the early 80’s. During the 60’s there were plenty of people across racial lines ready to go to war against their own nation – a few did, and they had no problem dying for their cause.

ISIL/ISIS/IS is recruiting from all over the world. We’ve recently seen American citizens detained while attempting to leave the country to join them. If we’re honest, it isn’t any stretch to suggest that there are a couple of dozen young Americans susceptible to the idea of joining and dying for a cause that claims to be fighting “the enemy” (however “enemy” is defined.) The threat already existed, and the sudden rise in tensions stateside is creating a perfect storm of potential.

Riots are serious, but they also tend to be very limited in scope and don’t usually change life as we know it. Now, imagine how life will change when we wake up one morning to find that 100’s of your fellow citizens were blown up in a shopping mall or at a baseball game. It’s time to start thinking about how we’ll deal with that.

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” – Isaac Asimov