Armed Bandits Safety Tips

Tips to stay alive...Face to face with a gunman
Darryl Heeralal, Sunday, June 4th 2006, Trinidad Express

DO NOT try to be a hero if you are confronted by a gun-toting criminal.

It could cost you your life.

This is the advice from firearm expert, Lt Col Richardo Garcia, executive president of the Trinidad arm of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA). Garcia is also a certified firearms instructor.

Most recently, businessman Gerald Mazely was shot dead during an attempted robbery outside Republic Bank in San Juan, one of many people to have been killed during a hold-up in the last five years. He shot one of the robbers who subsequently died , but he (Mazely) lost his life in the process.

"Comply. That is the first thing you should do," Garcia told the Express yesterday.

"Life is always first, property can be replaced, life can't."

Garcia says the threat level of each situation should be assessed whether or not you are carrying a personal firearm and then decide action you are going to take. "The average robber is taking a risk. He is jumpy and uneasy and you don't want to aggravate the situation."

In the case that you are unarmed, Garcia advices that you comply with all instructions to ensure your safety. In some cases, talking to the robber, maintaining eye contact or even subtle movements might intensify the threat of being hurt and all precautions should be taken to follow instructions given by the man behind the gun.

In cases where you are carrying a personal firearm, Garcia says that three things must be taken into consideration even before thinking about taking any kind of action. Your level of training, make a threat assessment and taking into consideration whether your actions will endanger other life. "If you are not well trained in firearm use then comply," Garcia said.

"Your level of training must be taken into consideration. Any sudden movements you make going for your gun might cause you to get hurt if you are not trained properly. If you're not trained properly, you might fumble endangering your life and the lives of other people."

Secondly Garcia said that the level of the threat be considered, whether there are one or more armed criminals involved in the robbery. "If there are more than one robbers, you should comply. You might train your gun on one bandit, but the next bandit might have his gun barrel pointed at you. If there is more than one robber, comply and there are two or more armed criminals definitely comply." And thirdly if other people might get hurt when you open fire, comply.

In a previous interview Garcia had agreed that strict gun control laws are needed. "I am not an advocate of everyone carrying a firearm," Garcia had said then. "Gun control is necessary. You can't have every Tom, Dick and Harry carrying a firearm. Everyone has their own perception about the use of a firearm and that is why we need strict gun control."

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