Reader Jack M. writes:
In some of the gun magazines I see references to the “color code”… what is that?
Hey Jack, the “color code” is a great awareness tool used by street-wise cops that can help you be alert to threats and match force with the threat appropriately. Giving credit where it is due, the color code of awareness was originally developed by USMC Colonel Jeff Cooper (a giant in the field of defensive pistolcraft and a fascinating worldly philosopher. Well worth an on-line search).
Concealed Carry Color Code
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My paraphrase (and some modernization) of Cooper’s color code goes like this:
WHITE… Vacant. (No gun.)
Not-a-clue. Oblivious to environmental cues. Eyes on electronic device. “I want to be a victim” printed on forehead.
YELLOW… Relaxed awareness. (Gun in holster or safe but accessible in the closet.)
Where are the exits? Is anybody standing by my car? Any weird vibes? Occupied cars parked on the street?
ORANGE… Possible threat. (Hand on gun.)
What are those guys in baggy pants up to? Why is that guy watching us? What was that noise in the garage?
RED… Specific threat. (Gun out… Verbal commands… “Stop or I will shoot!”… FIRE!)
They are rushing us. That guy looks amped on drugs and has a knife. That noise was breaking glass.
BLACK… Total sensory overload causing paralysis. (You’re stomped or dead.)
It is impossible to continually operate in orange because it is so stressful, but it’s risky to operate in white especially if you have dependent persons to protect. The warrior mind-set is the color yellow relaxed awareness. From yellow you can instantly skip a step and go to action if you have to. If you are a civilian (without a sworn duty to law enforcement) in orange and you can tactically employ the “Nike defense” (run like hell) do it!
Clearly, you want to avoid areas and situations that are prone to orange.
Listen to what your gut instincts are telling you. It’s especially important when you are in public to get your eyes up and off your gizmo. Smart phone thefts are at epidemic levels and if you resist the grab you are going to get hurt.
Most crime victims go directly from code white to black and offer no resistance at all (which is why the bad boys troll for people in white).
Stay sharp out there and thanks for the great question.
Remember, this is not legal advice (know your laws), every lethal encounter is different and everybody has different needs and capacities.