Preparing for and Reacting to Riots

by Irish-7, Editor at Large

You must have been living under a rock if you have not seen or heard about the mass outbreaks of rioting that have been occurring in the United States, and elsewhere in the world.

With civil unrest reaching critical mass in certain sectors of society, ever-growing sentiments of political partisanship and the looming specter of cultural balkanization violence, destruction and mayhem are going to be the watchwords of the new decade, and a threat that everyone must be prepared to confront and avoid.


Riots are the expression of the mob, and the mob cannot be reasoned with, cannot be dissuaded, and cannot be stopped by an individual. They can only be avoided and if you’re caught up in one your only hope is to escape if you want to survive.

There is no other way. This activity shows no signs of slowing down, and chances are it will only become more frequent and that means you must be ready.

This article will arm you with the techniques, tips, information and procedures you need to detect, avoid and if necessary escape from a riot should one occur in your neck of the woods, whether you be traveling or parked at home.

Riots and Rioters: The Essential Details

Properly preparing for any threat is begun by first seeking to understand the nature of the threat- what are you dealing with, how can it hurt you, where is it found?

Riots naturally seem to be events that are the very stuff uncertainty I’m chaos, conglomeration of people that are completely wild, unreasonable and uncontrollable.

This is, of course, true but closing the book there will prevent you from learning what characteristics of a riot are indeed predictable, characteristics that you can use to inform your own response.

A riot is a mass outburst a violent activity that could be disorganized or organized, and is perpetrated by one group of people against another group of people, or even just society at large.

If you own a TV or have an internet connection, you are all too aware of what rioting looks like: entire buildings burned to the ground, storefronts smashed open and looted, vehicles and homes set alight or destroyed and the remorseless beating of anyone that comes against the rioters or is just perceived to come against them for any reason.

Ultimately, riots are fueled and stoked by anger and the wanton urge to destroy in retaliation.

Before we move on to the actual procedures and countermeasures for dealing with a riot should you encounter or be overtaken by one, let us spend some time learning about these essential characteristics of riots.

Reasoning with Rioters is Impossible

The old wisdom contained in proverbs you have heard about mob mentality are proverbs for a reason; trying to negotiate with, to say nothing of having a reasonable conversation with, a mob of people or even an individual that is part of a mob is almost completely impossible.

Once a riot has broken open, the people perpetrating the violent action will be swept up in a heady, deadly feeling of collective invulnerability, anonymity and a perverse, self-perpetuating feeling of righteousness.

It is extremely hard to curb the mob without overwhelming force. A riot is only over when the rioters decide that it is over and if their wishes for you run contrary to your wishes for yourself, you have a problem.

Riots are Often Spontaneous

Sometimes riots just seem to happen. They ouch off as if a spark came into contact with dry and fluffy tinder.

Sometimes, a riot can brew up out of an otherwise peaceful organized protest when agitators deliberately whip the participants into a frenzy, or occasionally when tempers flare after some perceived offense or slight is inflicted upon them.

This is why you must be on your guard and cautious whenever and wherever there exists an assembled mass of people who are connected by some ideology, interest or shared characteristic.

Even the most tenuous of connections are oftentimes enough to band people together for violent means.

Riots are Also Planned

In this era of decaying social relations, vastly increasing political partisanship and the cultural gulf that grows ever wider between various sectors of Western civilization, it is no wonder various groups will be organized in committing their violence, often going so far as to announce a riot or mass looting on public channels, including social media.

The brazenness of it is enough to make you faint, but that means you can use this open source intelligence to help keep yourself and your holdings safe.

You should never be caught unawares by a riot when known agitator groups and domestic terrorists announce their movements and their intentions for everyone to see.

Riots Self-Perpetuate

It is hard to say how long a given riot will last, only you should know that the more violent and out of control they get the longer they typically last.

There is something absolutely intoxicating how about giving into the sheer joy and bloodlust of wanton looting, beating and arson.

This goes double for any rioters that truly believe themselves avengers for some social injustice inflicted upon the group. As is always the case, the riot does not end once some nebulous objective has been achieved.

Invariably, violence for the sake of violence becomes reason enough to keep rioting, and is also the reason why riots seem to go on forever unless quelled with extreme force.

Riots Can “Jump”

No matter how contained a riot is, and no matter how many participants get arrested or taken down, riots have a way of jumping, meaning igniting somewhere else to ravage an entirely new part of town.

It has happened time and time again; just when you think things are starting to settle down for the day or night and most of the rioters have gone home, the calls will go out and the fires will blaze an entirely new area, starting the whole process over again.

A riot is only ever truly contained when every single last person who would participate in it has been arrested, driven from the streets or decide that the violence is done.

When you consider all of these factors together, you might draw the conclusion that a riot is perhaps closer in behavior to a natural disaster or some other phenomenon than a human-driven event.

It is easy to feel this way when you cannot understand the thought process or the rationale of the people committing such acts of wanton violence.

You don’t have to understand their motivations or their lack of reason; you just have to understand when, how and why riots form so you can be prepared to react accordingly.

Preparing for and Reacting to Riots: Your Plan

Always, Always Go Forth Armed

If it is lawful in your state, GET A CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMIT! Laws have changed considerably in the past 2 decades with respect to issue of licenses to carry a loaded firearm. Research your local laws.

Many states are now “Shall Issue” that were previously “May Issue”. This means, if you pass the required background investigation, the approving authority (usually the County Sheriff’s Department, state or local police) must give you a permit.

There are currently only around 10 “May Issue” states remaining. So, chances are the process is easier than you think. It is the prudent thing to do.

Being armed in a sustained attack is unquestionably better than being unarmed during any dangerous situation. It is not necessarily the “cure all” solution to every violent encounter.

Individuals must judge if and when to pull a firearm. With small groups of attackers, say 3 to 10 assailants, drawing a gun may be sufficient to defend your position. It is possible that the sight of a gun will scare the aggressors away, without even firing a shot.

But with a large group, 20, 50 or more rioters, shooting into a crowd may motivate the attackers to swarm on you.

Keep in mind the mob mentality! There is strength in numbers. Not only is there an air of invincibility with large groups, there is also the thought of anonymity.

Stay Informed

Be prepared by staying informed. Pay attention to local news to identify trouble spots. Before traveling, consider current events that can serve as a catalyst for violent crowds.

There are other factors that unruly folks use as an excuse to get out of hand, such as political conventions, government meetings and even losses (or victories) at sports championships.

The history of violent demonstrations in a particular city or town is also applicable, as is the ethnic make-up of the area. Do not go into an area that is experiencing social unrest unless you absolutely have to. Always plan your route in and out of an area, plus one or two alternate routes.

If you must travel into an area where civil unrest is predicted, or has already taken place, dress accordingly. Right now is not the time to go into any American city with an Bass-Pro t-shirt, Dickies trousers and Tractor Supply cap.

Likewise, if the G20 were meeting, don’t go downtown in a suit and a tie! The more you blend in, the less chance you have of being attacked.

Riots are more likely to break out in open areas, such as wide streets, big parking lots, town centers and squares. Recently, highways have been blocked by unruly crowds in Los Angeles and Houston.

This is a dangerous new twist in that on the freeway, there are limited access points for law enforcement personnel to respond. There are not side streets to maneuver and get away. If you are forced from your vehicle, you will be on foot in the dangerous neighborhoods where the crowds came from.

If you are somewhere that erupts with a violent “Flash Mob”, try to remain calm. Keep your cool so as to make sound and timely decisions. Your first reaction should be “Am I/we potential targets? How can I (or we) get away?”

Make observations: Which way is the crowd moving? How big is the group that is raising hell? Will they quickly walk right by? Where did I park? Can I get to my vehicle, or is that path blocked by police or rioters?

Be Prepared to Fortify and Escape Through Buildings

If you are exiting a mall, hospital, hotel, college dorm or other secure building, you may be able to turn around, go back inside and allow the crowd to pass. Large buildings such as these have multiple entrances.

You may be able to cut through the structure and exit in a safer location. If you are in a sporting goods store, jewelry shop, Sneaker King/Footlocker or other vendor that has a history of being plundered or looted, do NOT shelter here.

Bottom Line: If you can get into a safe, secure structure, do so! Stay away from the windows to avoid flying debris or bullets. An angry mob will use anything available as a projectile.

While you are inside, identify more than one exit in event the rioters gain entry. Don’t go back outside until a few minutes after the commotion ends.

Remember, “Curiosity Killed The Cat!” Never move toward a crowd of unruly people that appear to be edging for trouble with the police. The risks highly outweigh the benefits.

If you need to take a look around the corner, or walk a short distance for reconnaissance purposes, fine. For instance, if you need to scout a route away from the danger area, or verify the path to your car, that’s alright if it can be done quickly and you are not moving away from family members that require your protection.

This holds true ONLY if the mob is not upon you. Innocent people can be inadvertently caught between the rioters and police, merely by nosing into a crowd to check out the fuss. AVOID TROUBLE AT ALL COSTS. You are NOT a coward to flee a riot.

Get Clear of the Mob

While on foot, should you become trapped in the middle of the mob, DON’T run toward the police! Law enforcement personnel will identify you as one of the trouble makers.

Try to move laterally within the crowd to reach the edge of the group, then break away down a side street or duck into a safe building. Keep your footing! If you fall down, there is a risk of being trampled. Hold on to family members. An angry mob is the last place that you want to lose your children.


If you are in your vehicle and notice traffic obstruction from a large group of people, or you are stopped a traffic signal and a mob suddenly forms nearby, your options are somewhat limited.

Security experts recommend locking your doors and rolling up all windows. Avoid getting boxed in. Leave ample room to turn between your vehicle and the car in front of you. Ideally, you would keep a full car length.

When in your vehicle, you must be on your guard so that you do not come up on a mob of people and leave yourself no room to get away.

The best way to avoid this is simply to remain alert and aware of what is going on some distance down the road ahead of you.

Massive groups of people along with their riotous activities are not exactly difficult to spot. Use this to your advantage, and as soon as you see a glut of people clogging the road, it is time to turn around and head the other way while you still have plenty of room and time to do so.

On that note, all you need to do is get going in the other direction using the safest and most certain means.

This might mean jumping a median or a curb. It might mean simply putting the car in reverse and getting enough distance between you and the mob so you can turn around safely without pressure.

Try not to employ advanced driving techniques and directional reversals unless you absolutely have to since the chance that you might lose control the vehicle is higher executing any such maneuvers, examples being j-turns, bootleggers and the like.

If you are forced to make contact with any rioters using your vehicle, you have to be smart about it. First, you cannot simply run someone over just because they are in the wrong even if they are rioting.

All of the rules governing your behavior still apply, and that means you can only use lethal force against someone who is imminently preparing to use lethal force against you or your family.

This does not mean you just have to sit there and take whatever they are going to do to you until it is too late, you just have to be smart with the level of force you are using.

If your car is surrounded and overwhelmed by rioters who are growing violent it is certainly reasonable to start slowly pushing past them in your car.

All you’re trying to do is nudge people out of the way. If the violence escalates then you should accelerate clear, barging people out of the way.

Understand that the misapplication of force with your vehicle can result in you being charged with vehicular battery, reckless operation or some other charge. Certainly if anybody goes under the wheels that will be considered lethal force.

Lastly, no matter who you are facing directly ahead of you do not strike them at high speed, as this will activate most modern vehicles’ crash detection sensors setting off airbags, killing the engine and doing all kinds of other unfortunate things to your car under the circumstances.

Defend Yourself Against Rioters

If the time should come that you must defend yourself against the rioters you are going to be in a very sticky situation. Rioters may be emboldened by the thought that they won’t be recognized or caught because there are so many people in the area.

You need to consider the size of the aggressive group and your capabilities with the firearm that you are carrying.

Pulling your gun or a knife might be enough to hold off one or even a few assailants in other circumstances, but when you are embroiled in a violent crowd of dozens or hundreds the chances are you will be overwhelmed and have your weapon taken from you.

On foot, this is a virtual certainty. If you’re inside a vehicle and using a firearm you might be able to fend off people trying to get into the car and lay hands on you for a time, but eventually you will still be overwhelmed.

If you are inside your vehicle and forced to pull your gun stay in the car at all costs.

As always pepper spray is a good option for ranged non-lethal self-defense, but the preponderance of face coverings, gas masks, goggles and other headwear among rioters today will reduce its effectiveness somewhat.

Keep in mind many of these people are organized and are prepared for fights with police where they will be widespread and copious deployment of chemical agents.

Ultimately, each individual must evaluate the level of danger that you are in and decide which course of action applies to provide safety.


Recent events make it obvious that Socialist politicians will ignore what’s right , who’s wrong, the Constitution and any moral code to crucify people that use a gun to protect themselves.

The Main Stream Media will twist the facts, even outright lie to vilify people who suffer under the activities of these rioters.

Final Word

In closing, I will briefly recap important points for avoiding and reacting to social unrest. If possible in your area, obtain the required permit or license to carry a loaded firearm.

Check with the approval authority in your state, usually the County Sheriff’s Department, state or local police. STAY ALERT, STAY ALIVE! Know what is going on with respect to potential danger areas, towns and cities with a history of civil disturbances.

If you absolutely must enter an area where riots are likely, plan your route and two alternate roads in and out of the danger area. If you are out of your vehicle and an unruly mob forms, GET AWAY! Find a secure building with multiple exits, stay away from the windows/doors and wait until the crowd passes.

If you are caught in the middle of a rioting crowd (and they’re not attacking you), move laterally to the edge of the group and slip away at the first opportunity. If you are in a vehicle engulfed by a flash mob, roll up your windows, lock your doors and try to drive away.

Be prepared to take alternate pathways to get away from a mob while operating a vehicle, and learn how to use your vehicle as a tool and even as a weapon in order to protect yourself during a riot.

It is imperative but you do not become immobilized, or allow yourself to be surrounded by rioters.

Understand that any defensive action no matter how critical is likely to catalyze the mob against you and will result in severe reprisals. Avoidance and escape are always preferable to using force unless you have no other choice.

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[last update: 08/26/2020]

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9 thoughts on “Preparing for and Reacting to Riots”

  1. Irish-7, some very good points, years back I unknowingly drove thru a small riot and when I heard what was happening on the radio I was able to clear the area safely. Being alert to your surroundngs I thinkis key to survival.

  2. Another great weapon for use in a riot is the RedFlare Flare Gun. Nothing says get out of the way like a screaming, fiery, red ball of heat being fired directly at you….

  3. Another good article! I find so many people have no concept of situational awareness. . . . they are so busy texting, talking, tweeting, etc., they walk right into a bad event. I tell my wife and kids- stay alert look around, and look ahead. . .

  4. Thanks gang, for the words of support. I used the term “Security experts recommend…” rolling up car windows. I told my wife that I plan on hitting the buttons to roll the windows down. I don’t want to get sprayed with broken glass and I need some space to allow Smith, Wesson and the Governor to defend us. I also read about obtaining a flare gun for riots. I did not buy one yet.

  5. I liked the article (I7), I try to avoid crowds. I do not like being in a situation I have little or no control off or influence of. Since my wife is doesn’t see so well being born two an a half months early and very small at 5 feet. I have to keep alert both for her and me.

  6. Good Article Irish-7 , Got my CWP some years back, always figured if ever caught with gun by Cops,it would help me to keep it from being confiscated.(which they like to do around here) I always avoid crowds , the only place I might be in one ,is the local Wally World !! And if I need it ,I have a 22 shot clip for my 9mm pocket gun !!

  7. Back in the 1970’s, during anti Vietnam riots, many officers (myself included) often carried a simple road flare, in case we found ourselves trapped by the “peaceful protesters” of the day. Fortunately I never had to escape a trap and went on for 30 years before retirement.


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