ccw in riots

What To Do When Rioting Or Violent Protests Break Out

No country or civilization is immune from civil unrest, and there are occasional instances of rioting and violent protests that take place. How to survive a riot is not complicated, but does require a certain amount of awareness and knowledge.


It may seem that rioting and violent protests are more common now than they've ever been, and maybe there's something to that...but the fact is that the potential for either to occur is always present. Also, while it's good to have a concealed carry gun in a concealed carry holster this is one instance where it might not save you, as escape is a far more viable strategy.


Avoid Sites Of Unrest As That's Where A Riot Will Occur


how to avoid a riot

Where unrest is common, rioting and violent protests are more likely. Therefore, avoid such areas if at all possible.


While it is true that some events happen outside of what would otherwise seem a logical procession of events, the truth is that most riots or protests that turn violent are fairly predictable. They take place when and where you'd think they would. Protest parade and rally sites, particular districts and so on. Sports riots take place in and around sports arenas.


Therefore, avoid those areas at those times.

For instance, if you see that there's an "Antifa" event scheduled you'd do well to stay away. Those "anti-fascists" tend to get pretty fascist.


Granted, there may be situations in which this may not be possible, say if a person works in such an area and can't leave before trouble begins or if a person's home is in the area. However, if it is possible, avoid areas where unrest is most likely.


Flight Is Better Than Fight - Only Draw If Given No Choice


ccw during violent protests

In cases of civil unrest, flight is better than fight - but you don't necessarily want to jump straight into the 40-yard dash. Try to walk out if at all possible - running could attract attention. Nonchalantly making your way to the edge of the crowd and finding a means of egress is less likely to draw the interest of rioters bent on destruction of property...or people.


However, if that is not a viable option...run.

You might think that use of a concealed carry gun is a viable means of self-defense. It can be, but it isn't in truth the best option and for several reasons. First, in a riot situation where you are trapped "behind the lines" as it were, you are outnumbered - you may not be able to get many shots off before being overpowered if any at all. Secondly, it may also attract the attention of police and they aren't likely going to be able to deduce that you aren't engaging them.


Therefore, only resort to a gun if you have no other choice. If so, try to find a "leader" among any group of people looking to potentially harm you. Sheep may disperse if you strike the shepherd, as it is said - if you must, shoot that person first.


Do Your Best To Blend In With Protesters


avoiding violent protests

In the case of many protests or riots, the protesters have specific demographics in mind that they are protesting against - such as the wealthy or non-working class, whatever the definition of that happens to be.


If you look like the people they're mad at, you can become a target.

Therefore, you should do what you can to blend in with the crowd. Dress down if at all possible and ditch any clothing that gives you away as the kind of person they vilify; leave the suit in the office or stash it somewhere you can retrieve it later. If the mob happens to be wearing a particular color of clothing - such as black, as some anarchists are wont to do - it's best to wear something that will let you appear to be one of them, so as not to draw attention to yourself.


Wounded Things And Mobs Don't Go Uphill


ccw in a mob

One of the first things to know about mobs is that they usually don't go "uphill" and otherwise follow the path of least resistance.


Look for an uphill route out of danger. If, for instance, you happen to be in a city with some natural hills, those are likely good routes of escape. Mobs usually do not charge uphill or go up staircases.


In short, vertical space can keep you safe from an angry mob, but there's a difference between heading up a hill - which is flight - and heading up a few flights, which is hiding. Again, as long as you aren't a target of the rioters, both are viable means of escape.


Use The Crowd To Your Advantage


ccw in a crowd

The thing about riots is that the crowd usually is in some form of motion, heading from one point to another. Think of it kind of like a body of water; swimming upstream is very, very difficult if not impossible and worse still, can get you noticed by the rioters. Instead, go with the flow and head downstream, as it were.


You will eventually find some sort of let-off point, such as a side street, park or other area where rioting is not taking place. Use those to your advantage and flee to safety.


Police Are A Last Resort


how to survive a violent protest

This is not to suggest that police cannot be any help, but this is more to say that if you are caught behind the lines in a violent protest/riot situation, there may be no way for police officers to discern between you and the rioters. If you run up to them, they may be forced to conclude that you - like the crowd that surrounds you - are a threat.


If you feel you have no alternative, make sure that officers see that you're "surrendering" by placing your hands on your head and either kneeling or laying down. You may be taken into custody, you may even be charged.


Crowd control implements such as tear gas, water cannons and pepper spray are often deployed on unruly crowds, and your goal should be to escape harm. Therefore, be cautious as - again - you may not be able to be distinguished from one of the crowd.


This is also why it's important not to draw your gun unless there is no other choice. If you, as a person in the same area as an unruly mob, are seen with a gun...there is the potential for a tragic outcome.


Again, this isn't to say that a positive outcome cannot be achieved by "surrendering" to police, but bear in mind that their first priority is containment and control of the belligerents, rather than securing anyone trapped in the area.


Above All, Stay Calm



This seems obvious and anyone who has experienced anything going seriously haywire in their life knows how hard it is. That said, if there is one thing that is lethal in any bad situation, it's panic. Panic leads to making bad decisions even though they may SEEM good. Trust your instincts, but don't give in to panic.


If there is one universal when it comes to civil unrest, it is that the situation on the ground is fluid and can change at any moment. To get out unharmed, you need to be able to think on your feet. Losing your head will not help.



Sam Hoober  

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.