Jewelers and Self Defense
By Daniel Ballard Sept 2002
We enjoy the benefits of a luxury, glamour oriented business. Jewelry is fun to shop and wear. In a jewelry store basically everyone wants to be there. This makes for a great work environment. Especially when compared to a dentists office. So, everything is positive, warm and fuzzy, right? No negative impressions allowed. Keep the customer in a buying mood.
Unfortunately, the negative side stalks and hunts us down all too often. By this I mean the criminal element. If one is lucky, we might only face a burglary. That’s good because by definition, burglary occurs when no one else is present, and is therefore non-violent. A good insurance policy, safe and alarm system is all you need.
Sometimes we get assaulted or robbed. Robbery is when goods are taken from us in our presence. Usually at gunpoint. If you are equipped with smash proof showcases, or your goods are in a safe, the robber may force you to open the safe or showcase. I really mean “force”, a pistol whipping or bullet wound is the force applied all too often.
What is a responsible and moral person to do? Before 9-11, the word was cooperate and comply to avoid violence. Rape victims understand the peril of this approach. So did the passengers above Pennsylvania… If cooperation will do like simply laying down and allowing money or goods to be taken, fine. I do not ever suggest you escalate a less than violent situation. The difference is when the robber or rapist initiates violence in some way. Then we go to the “last resort” level circumstance. The nightmare scenario.
Self defense is a personal right that is so basic it is not even mentioned in the US constitution. Neither is access to food and water. Why state the obvious? Perhaps “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” implies this right. Please notice the order of this classic wisdom- First life, then liberty. Then happiness.
In my opinion, and when faced with a “last resort” solution, resistance is the preferred response. This is VERY controversial. Many experts will insist that if you cooperate, the bad guy will not likely get more violent. Well, maybe, maybe not. It is worth pointing out that likely the most (from police reports and archives) experienced civilian pistol gunfighter since the 1800’s is a former jeweler. He sold Rolex watches in Santa Monica until numerous gunfights with robbers then avenging gang members drove him out of town- at the behest of local police. He never fired the first shot, but he was wounded on several occasions, and saved his own life. He did kill at least one assailant. Since they shot first, we know cooperating was not going to save him. When asked why he felt he must close this jeweler said he was afraid for his customers. Later we’ll address how to sort out a dangerous situation from a violent one. Those who choose to be defensive arts students learn how to judge the need and meter the force precisely.
My opinion comes from a perspective that you should read in order to understand my opinions. I’m a fourth generation member of the Jewelry biz. Since 1986 I have worked for the gold refinery Precious Metals West. In 1987, I was ·unlawfully turned down for a concealed weapon permit. Others have successfully sued and received CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) permits good for one year. At the end of the year they refuse to renew, and the lawsuit starts all over again. LAPD has a bad habit of ignoring the law. They pay out millions in settlements every year. Rather than sue the LAPD (nearly a rite of passage where I live) I chose to train in legal and available methods of self protection. That meant in 1987 I began to seriously train in a defensive martial art system that derives from many styles.
Since I was old enough to follow instructions and hold a gun I was taken on shooting trips. When I went to work at PMWest in 1986 I bought a small size .45 pistol from Colt. I began to train with that gun at length. In 1996 I became an NRA certified instructor. In 1998 I began to go to defensive pistol competitions with the International Shootists Institute and the International Defensive Pistol Association. I am certified by IDPA as a safety officer instructor.
Self defense takes many levels. Every genuine expert I know on security, combat, and even military campaigns agree situational awareness is critical. Put simply, do not sleepwalk or daydream from place to place during the day. Keep your mind on the area around you to respond quickly. This helps even when a browsing customer finally looks right to approach. Here is my summary of how I go about being as safe as I can.
I teach what I call the survival triangle. Intelligence, awareness and training. That’s the triangle
Intelligence means you use your brain to evaluate your resources and abilities. It also implies a lack of panic and anger. If you are a big strong person you know you can depend on your natural strength for certain things. If you are a smaller person like myself, you may have learned not to depend on strength. Perhaps speed or agility would be the advantage. Intelligence keeps us away from dangerous situations like being out alone late at night wearing expensive clothes or jewelry in a bad neighborhood. A higher level of intelligence would have us learn in advance what we may face as we travel to unfamiliar areas of the nation or even internationally. Intelligence also gives us the understanding of our obligations, like learning the legalities of using force. This can be difficult, laws vary in the US, to say nothing of other countries. Sometimes we refer to intelligence as “common sense”, which has proven to be an oxymoron.
Awareness is all about observing your circumstances on a moment to moment basis. Is a car following you? Are you being cased for a carjacking or knock down mugging? Is there help available right away, or are you in an area with poor emergency response times? Where are the fire escapes in my hotel or office? At home, where are the escape routes and rendezvous points for your family in the event of a house fire?
Training is where a person like me comes in. If you are healthy and tolerant of physical strain, the martial arts are an option. Martial arts take time to learn. The simpler fighting arts like boxing and kickboxing take at least a year or two to get the average person up to a credible fighting level. More advanced systems like Aikido, Kung Fu, and Judo take much longer. Firearms can be learned very fast b y comparison, but safety is the first concern, then shooting skills.
If you are wealthy you may buy and learn to use advanced security technology like cameras, motion sensors and loud or silent alarms. Or, you may hire guards who possess high levels of training.
Credible self defense options include contemporary weapons of every description. The technology changes for personal weapons like anything else in recent years. Non lethal or less lethal weapons now are common. Pepper spray, mace, loud sirens, and incredibly bright blinding flashlights are sold all over to ordinary folks like us. These can be very effective when properly used. Knives, clubs, special tools like the “Kubotan” key ring all are effective. Guns work well, ask anyone who has been anywhere near a real gunfight. Someday we may have to address how to use a laser weapon. Who knows what the future holds. The trick is to live long enough to see the future as it happens. Some less or non lethal weapons are for police only, like tasers and rubber bullet shotguns. Too bad. It makes more sense to me to allow the responsible, trained law abiding guy access to all the less or non lethal technology on the market. Would you buy a .45 pistol for your home or self protection when you could get a real “taser” gun like police use?
Remember, self defense is about you, not your money or merchandise. Some states allow force to be used to protect property, but most do not. In my personal opinion, force is never an option for money or valuables. Some disagree, and I respect their opinion. I may have spent too many years training at a Buddhist temple. My immediate resources allow me to eat and live even if all my money was stolen.
Now that you have some idea of your options, lets see how would you choose among them. Right off the top you probably know if martial arts are for you, or if you would use a gun. Much of this is circumstantial too. Lets look at two hypothetical Jewelry stores. Lets say “Donnas Diamond Designs” is a small shop located in its own small retail building, and Daniels’ Gold Shop” is in a major shopping mall.
Both stores have plenty of inventory and a staff of four people. At Donnas’ she knows it takes the police at least five minutes to respond. Daniel’s at the mall has armed security guards that work for the mall. They can help in seconds. Donnas has a greater likely need for self protection, because five to ten minutes is an eternity under attack. Donnas’ also has walls that are likely to stop a bullet. Ordinarily, there are fewer people around than at the mall for Daniel. Donna might choose to keep a gun or two near enough to use as a last resort if attacked. This of course in addition to video cameras, alarms and all the standard deterrents.
Daniel is in a bad place for firearm based defense. The walls will not stop a bullet, and security response is very fast. So, no guns here just non lethal options such as pepper spray and the panic buttons to alert security. So you see how the store location, construction materials and surrounding environment all comes into play.
All this may seem terribly complicated. Well in some ways it is but some “common sense” (sorry for the oxymoron) shows the general direction.
Video recording is a wonderful deterrent to criminals. Some bad guys are just too determined though. They might just steal your VCR and tapes along with your money. My suggestion? Use the Internet to send that video signal to a recorder at another distant location.
A strong safe is another very good deterrent. But again the bad guys learn too. They learn to force someone to open the safe. If they try and suddenly discover you were smart enough to put in a time lock safe, or none of the employees who have been taken hostage can open the safe violence becomes likely. That can wind up getting employees hurt or worse.
Shatterproof/armored glass showcase is good to prevent loss of goods via smash and grab. The downside is that the criminals may just stick a gun in your ear and make you open the showcase. Or they might just beat you into compliance.
I can offer some general suggestions. Use every appropriate deterrent available. Equip with all standard stuff like safe, cameras, and viable routes to flee if possible. The next critical decision after you choose your methods-Understand the likely ways the bad guys might respond to each step you took. For example make sure you and your staff can open the safe or showcase on demand. Cooperate if you are not being hurt. Some career felons are very professional and calm. Try to read attitude and body language. Do not escalate the incident until someone is going to get hurt.
We are lucky at least one way-Those who are truly violent often act unstable and hurt or confront you from very close range. They use your fear and also your pain for perverse pleasure and to establish a veneer of control. Those guys often stand out right away, giving you the clue to escalate to just enough action or force to end the threat. The calm professional will speak instructions and demand compliance. He will likely keep some distance from the victim, he wants money and a clean escape not a fight or shootout.
Once you absorb the factors that allow you to intelligently decide among your options, act accordingly. Use your Awareness, your Intelligence, and your Training to the fullest of your ability.
·See California Jewelers Gun Rights below
California Jewelers Gun Rights
By Daniel Ballard
When I say in articles and conversations that my denial of a CCW permit is UNLAWFUL, this is my evidence.
It is drawn from the California law codes.
Quoted in part only, with bold added by myself.-
“Penal Code section 12027. Section 12025 does not apply to, or affect, any of the following:
(e) Guards or messengers of common carriers, banks, and other financial institutions while actually employed
in and about the shipment, transportation, or delivery of any money, treasure, bullion, bonds, or other thing
of value within this state.”
Well, I am a “messenger” and I do transport goods so this should apply to me and many of us in the trade. So lets see how California defines a financial institution. Again, this is drawn from the California Law web page, available to any who search. it out.
California Code Section 14161. “As used in this title:
(a) “Financial institution” means, when located or doing business in this state, any national bank or banking
association, state bank or banking association, commercial bank or trust company organized under the laws of the United States or any state, any private bank, industrial savings bank, savings bank or thrift institution, savings
and loan association, or building and loan association organized under the laws of the United States or any state, any insured institution as defined in Section 401 of the National Housing Act, any credit union organized under
the laws of the United States or any state, any national banking association or corporation acting under Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 601) of Title 12 of the United States Code,
any foreign bank, any currency dealer or exchange, any person or business engaged primarily in the cashing of checks, any person or business who regularly engages in the issuing, selling, or redeeming of traveler’s checks,
money orders, or similar instruments, any broker or dealer in securities registered or required to be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, any licensed sender
of money, any investment banker or investment company, any insurance company, any dealer in coins, precious metals, stones, or jewelry, any pawnbroker, any telegraph company, any person or business engaged in controlled gambling within the meaning of subdivision (e) of Section 19805 of the Business and Professions Code, whether
registered or licensed to do so or not, and any person or business defined as a “bank,” “financial agency,” or “financial institution” by Section 5312 of Title 31 of the United States Code or Section 103.11 of Title 31
of the Code of Federal Regulations and any successor provisions thereto. “
Based on meetings I had at the Los Angeles police commission in 2000 – The LA city attorneys office maintains that section 14161 does not apply to this instance. This is because it is from a different “Title” of the code. It is worth noting that the title that this code comes from does not contain a definition of financial institution. Section 14161 in fact is the only definition in the entire California Code. Dealing in 24kt gold is insufficient to operate under this code exception. It was said that because we are not a registered bank, we could not operate as shown above. I find this to be a dangerous and politically based decision.
Jewelers and Armed security..
An opinion article written by Daniel Ballard for the Jewelry trade and the self defense advocacy folks. NRA/ILA, CRPA and the San Fernando Valley NRA Members Council.
Those of us in the Jewelry business find we are a microcosm or the political world. We have our gun control advocates (The Jewelers Security Alliance policy is no Jeweler should keep a gun in the store for defense). We also have our defense rights advocates like yours truly. If we set familiar, almost clichÃ© arguments aside for a moment, we see the practical “where do we go from here” sort of thoughts. I’ve boiled the process down to some, of the key issues / questions. These come in a set of 4 levels. Planning, Implementation, Use & Aftermath. No matter what security systems you have, you go through the first two levels. If you have a criminal incident, you go through the last two.
I. Planning- Consider store & home layouts & travel routes. Examine Insurance implications for each facet of your security. As a plus, insurance requires safes, alarms, etc. Consider this, if the night alarm system is very good. then the determined criminal might try a smash & grab or shoplifting type of thing. If the showcases are hardened material, & the staff well trained, the next option for the bad guy is a armed attack of some sort. I’m not saying to stop using burglar alarms.’ I just want you to understand that the directions the bad guys take & why. Consider this when deciding about armed security guards or keeping a gun for defense. Most areas prohibit the use of deadly force to protect property on to protect life can lethal force be used. Of course, the guard or the gun increases your liability due to the risk of a accident or error. You, the owners are responsible for the actions of any one you have on the job..
2. Implementation.– You spend money. You install the equipment Alarms, safe, special showcases & perhaps special equipment like cameras. You contract with a security guard service. Your staff must be trained to use the locks, alarm systems, & anti fraud/shoplift procedures. They must practice these skills or they fade away. Then you hire the guards (if any) & train them in your needs. If you have a gun! plan on extensive training & regular practice. (unless you already have been shooting a very long time) Ask any sport shooter bow long it took him/her to get good at shooting.
3. Use- This depends on the situation. Every day the staff disarms the alarm, opens the safe, puts out the goods & at the end of the day reverses the process. Changing video tapes, logging in & coordinating with the guard are all easy routine tasks. When an incident occurs, using the resources properly is a necessity. The guard is no good if he is away for lunch. Do not settle into patterns with security measures. Let the bad guy get the surprises, if any. If the bad guy is not satisfied with a theft, and starts shooting or beating people, then your armed guard , or the police must be very good & very timely. (What is the police response time in your area:’) If you keep a gun, this will be the time to use it. Remember, only in defense of life or limb!
Is the gun accessible fast enough? Are you a good enough shot to hit only the bad guy? While you face the ultimate pressure of a lethal threat? When we look at target scores in practice, then at a contest, scores plummet. Why? Competitive pressure of course! This is still no pressure at all when compared to a real shooting.
4. Aftermath- No matter what crime occurs in your home or store law enforcement is going to be involved. If any but the smallest items are stolen, you’ll be talking to a claims rep from your insurer. If the incident is violent, then people will need paramedics at least, a coroner at worst. If you or your guard uses any but the smallest amount of force, you will need legal representation. Combat trainers teach that your body reacts many ways to violence including memory problems & physical shock symptoms. They insist that you need an attorney during the investigation that the police will start and finish. There are many documented cases of people not correctly stating the description of a criminal, or even the number of shots fired at him !
One guy I know fired 14 shots at an armed, shooting criminal and told the officers that he had fired only “a few shots, maybe as many as five or six. He made a terrible tactical error. He ran out of ammo & did not realize it. Then the police counted his 14 empty brass casings around the cash register. This guy never hit the crook. All the shots missed. Imagine the police officers thoughts after being told of a few shots & finding the 14 spent brass casings. No one was hurt in this shooting.
Lets review: Your insurance requires steps that escalate the bad guy’s confrontation with you. You spend the resources, & implement them accordingly.
Hopefully, you’ll never need them. Someday a crime may take place in your home or store. Will you be ready to do the right thing? I advocate that our right to self defense not ever be infringed by laws or “one size fits all” policies. These are promulgated by organizations that don’t face the reality of day in day out business. But, this calls for a huge responsibility to fall on the defender. Take the time, study all your options. then when you decide what all to do, act with intelligent and practiced ease. Every one (staff customers, family) depends on you acting correctly.