Sunday, April 29, 2007

Guns: The Cooper color codes, theory and practice

To paraphrase Jeff Cooper from his now-classic adaptation of the USMC states of awareness in Principles of Personal Defense:

White: Completely oblivious to surroundings, total unreadiness
Yellow: Relaxed awareness of surroundings, nothing out of the ordinary observed
Orange: Specific threat(s) identified, mental trigger in place
Red: Mental trigger has been tripped, appropriate action being taken

I think these are sound guidelines for anyone (and obviously for people who are carrying a concealed weapon), but I wonder how easy it is to apply them in real life. While theoretically we all should be in Condition Yellow as soon as we exit our homes, there are plenty of times in life when your focus or attention is on something else (the woman in the red dress). It's easy enough to be aware of your surroundings when you are standing or walking around, but what about seated in a movie theater? Or at a baseball game? Or attending a funeral?

Now, some may argue the standard for awareness in a crowded place might be relaxed a bit, but past experience tells us that you are sometimes no safer in a crowd than by yourself (the bystander effect at work). I think a more honest approach would be to acknowledge that there are some occasions when we let our guard down in public, and we should recognize when that happens.


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