Talking with the 'prickly man'
Geoff Metcalf interviews personal survival expert Walt Rauch

By Geoff Metcalf
Walt Rauch has a remarkable and fascinating history. He was an Army criminal investigator before entering the Secret Service. After his tenure protecting presidents, he wound up on the docks in Philadelphia serving felony warrants and living a life screenwriters try -- and fail -- to re-create. In Rauch's book, "Real World Survival, What has Worked for Me" he explains what survival methods have been the most successful for him during his 40 years of going in harm's way. Rauch shares practical information taken from first-hand experience to show his readers how to develop the ultimate tools of survival. WorldNetDaily reporter Geoff Metcalf recently interviewed Walt Rauch about the basics of surviving in an increasingly hostile society.

Question: Anyone can teach people certain skills. However, the one thing that cannot be taught -- at least I haven't discovered it yet -- you cover in your book. That's the attitude, the state of mind.

Answer: The state of mind of both you and the predator (or the one I call "other human" in the book) is the crux of real-world survival. If you don't understand what you are dealing with as far as a threat, and you don't understand the world around you, you have a choice: You can be food, or not. People tend to break everything down into predator and prey. I tend to pick a middle ground, which I call being a "prickly man." The concept is real simple. You leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone.

Q: An obvious question that often comes up is, why does a bad guy pick on one victim and not someone else who might be the same height, same weight, same age and same sex? How do you not be a victim?

A: I learned something from an old-time investigator in the Secret Service -- you need to go and observe those that are food and those that are not food in a particular environment. Pick a high-crime area (of course, politicians will deny you have a high-crime area), but pick one and go and people-watch.

Q: You make a great point in your book that in all these high crime areas, "people live there." And they live there without becoming victims.

A: That's what I'm talking about. Go watch the population. How do they survive? A young man walking down the street in the inner city -- you would not believe his head could articulate as much as it does. It never stops moving. They are always looking. They are always aware, or wary, because they need to, because the threat is there.

Q: In fact you have an entire chapter on just "awareness." I found the awareness chapter and the whole state of mind thing to be particularly fascinating.

A: At one point in the book I say, "Walk like a free man." That's with your head up and your shoulders back, looking at the world. In New York City, there are some people who say: "Don't make eye contact. Eye contact is the worst thing you can do. He's going to challenge you. You're going to get the 'why are you looking at me?' challenge." Well, you're going to get that anyway. You might as well stand up like a free man. You change how you look at the world, and you also change how the world looks at you. When you see a former military man walking down the street, is there any question he is a former military man? You can tell by looking at him. And he is also not food.

Q: It's more than just a matter of confidence. Part of the confidence comes from how an individual feels they are prepared to deal with a potential confrontation.

A: That's true. I have to admit after 40 years of carrying a badge in one way or another, although I'm on the downside of 60, I still don't back up from too much.

Q: I had an great-uncle who was a little guy. One day at the racetrack -- he was in his late sixties at the time -- some young guy gave him some abusive grief, and my uncle just immediately decked the guy. The predator outweighed him by about 80 pounds and was at least 30 years younger, but it was a matter of attitude and a visceral refusal to be a victim.

A: Your uncle sounds like he did everything right. He knew what he was going to do, and he did it. He didn't listen to the other guy; he acted. I'm not saying you should attack, but when you reach the point that you must, skip the small talk. You already know the story he's going to offend you with.

Q: One question I get asked too much is, "Geoff, I'm going to buy a gun. What kind of gun should I get?" It's like asking what kind of tie I should buy.

A: Any gun will do. Any gun. It doesn't matter. It happens to be the best defensive tool we have available to us in this society. Everything else is second. Things like pepper spray all have a failure rate. So as far as what kind of gun someone should buy, whatever gun they are comfortable with: rifle, pistol, shotgun, 22-rimfire single shot.

I had one client, a lady attorney, who kept a 22-bolt action single-shot rifle in her home. And she carried a single cartridge in her pocket. She had small children and was quite competent to fire one shot. She was not ill at ease with a single-shot 22 for in-home protection. The funny part of it is, her home was broken into. They stole the rifle. And she called me to buy another 22-single-shot rifle.

Q: I constantly rant about there being consequences to what you do and what you don't do regarding legislation and politicians. The same holds true even if you are defending yourself. There are consequences. Please speak briefly to "the aftermath."

A: Let's set up a hypothetical. You have had the confrontation and you have taken a life. You've shot someone or caused another person's death in self-defense. You are now looking at $25,000 minimum to defend yourself against the criminal charges. We haven't even gotten to the civil charges yet. There is a big price to be paid for defending yourself. Of course, you can die and avoid the bill.

Q: It's the old cliché: I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by six.

A: You have taken a life. You can't take that back. So the government and your fellow citizens hold you to a very high standard to justify your actions. You have acted on common law, so you may well be charged. The friendly cop is not going to come up, pat you on the back and tell you that you did a good job. One is dead and one is alive, and the cop's job is to arrest somebody. So whom does he arrest? He can't arrest a corpse. You're telling him you were attacked. He hasn't talked to the witnesses. So what is he supposed to do? Let you go before he knows the details of this confrontation?

So at a minimum, you should be taken into custody. If you are taken into custody, you should have a hearing. If you have a hearing, then bail should be set. If bail is set, you have been charged. If you have been charged, you need a lawyer. One runs from the first to the next. The lawyer charges between $150 and $400 an hour. It's the system. It's not a good system, but they can't just [let you go] and say, "good job."

If it's a small community and everybody knows you, the police officer might just leave you, but at the least he's going to take your firearm. If he leaves you with a firearm, he's guilty of neglect if you then turn around and shoot someone else. Yes, there is an aftermath to defending yourself.

Q: And in many cases, it is that concern on the part of the would-be victim, wondering if he should do anything and failing to recognize that he could die in the process.

A: That's a moral decision and a business decision they have to make themselves. On any given day, it may be better to give the $5 or $500 in your pocket and walk away. If you can walk away and it cost you $10, fine. It was a cheap confrontation.

Q: A consistent and difficult question is, what about the decision to carry a firearm in a region where you cannot get a conceal-carry permit?

A: It's a difficult question with a very simple but complex answer. We are all charged with obeying the law. Which law do you want to obey? The law of survival, or the law of the state? Again, that's a moral decision on your part. If you are in fear of your life, if you have a real concern, you have a responsibility to your family, to your children, to stay alive. Which law do you choose to break? I think it was covered in the Bible a long time ago.

Q: Whatever gun it is they choose, they have to know how to use that weapon.

A: They need to be as familiar with it as a knife and fork. And you can only gain that with hands-on experience. You don't need to go to a range five days a week and shoot a ton of ammunition, but you do need to be able to manipulate the weapon.

You and I have had the benefit of prior military service. In the military, they gave you the rifle and you carried it everywhere for months. At the end of that time, you knew it better than you knew a lot of other things. If a person were to buy a firearm, he should keep it at home, be sure it is empty, and generally operate it. Carry it around and dry fire it. Pick a safe spot, manipulate the action and pull the trigger. And get out maybe once a month to a range and fire.

They can go to a commercial range and rent a handgun. They don't need to learn to shoot past five yards. Not on the initial go-around. That's 15 feet, the size of a decent size room back here in the east. They need to be able to fire and hit a man-sized target at no more than five yards, with either hand, one-handed or two-handed, day or night, in all conditions. That's the limit of where their training should be.

Q: It helps to seek out someone to teach you as well.

A: Sure. To go and learn to drive from your next-door neighbor is not as good as going to a driving school. Unfortunately, and I must say this, there are as many pretenders as there are in other fields. You need to find someone, perhaps certified by the NRA, that would teach you home firearm safety. People need to find someone who purports to be able to train and then get references. And get references from the references. You are going to be spending your time and money and betting your life on his training.

Q: As the litany of bad laws increases, it has been reported that every time another draconian law is announced, folks flood into gun stores and buy stuff. Then they take it home, stick it in a drawer and forget about it. They think if a bad guy comes into their home, they can use their new gun. But that ain't enough.

A: Unfortunately, American males, by and large, think they are experts at drinking, driving and making love, and they do poorly at all three without direction or instruction -- and you can include firearms in that list.