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An Interview with John Farnam
Interview by Gila Hayes
Last month a Network member asked for instruction on how to make a personal threat assessment to determine what parts of his life require higher levels of vigilance to avoid or survive danger. My mind immediately went to our advisory board members, respected personal safety instructors all, and I determined to ask several how they advised students to evaluate the risks in their lives. As you might expect, the directions the resultant discussions went were divergent, and yet somehow they also dovetailed so well that the question was not who’s response to publish, but rather how to present all of the valuable information so our members learn the most!
I spoke with Farnam during an industry convention, the SHOT Show in Las Vegas in January. He generously set aside time to answer my questions, and his answers were certainly not what I expected. Farnam is eminently qualified to discuss risk assessment as he has been teaching armed defense for over 40 years. Another Advisory Board member, Tom Givens, was present briefly at the convention too, and while he has agreed to also weigh in on this question, but we must postpone his contribution to this line of inquiry until later.
Since Farnam is a riveting extemporaneous speaker, we’ll switch now to the conversational Q and A interview format familiar to journal readers, hoping to share a taste of a conversation with this master.
eJournal: John, you do a superb job teaching principles while not getting mired down in specifics that may not apply to everyone. You teach us how to THINK instead of telling us what to DO, so when a Network member asked for ideas to help him make a personal threat assessment, I wanted to know how you might have answered.
Farnam: Well, we have an expression in our business, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”
eJournal: How does that apply?
Farnam: When you’re a good-looking young person and you’re out and about and looking for romantic sorts of liaisons, your threat exposure will be a good deal different than when you’re married and settled down, don’t enjoy nightlife and spend your time at home. Or, when you travel a lot overseas or domestically, stay in lots of hotels and rent lots of cars, your exposure is going to be different than lots of people’s.
I tell my students, your life is YOUR life. You make a living however you have to, and things that aren’t important to me may be important to you. Within that prison of circumstances, let’s see what we can do to lessen your exposure.
eJournal: Do you mean without modifying their current lifestyle?
Farnam: I can’t guarantee that there won’t be any changes, just as when we talk to women carrying guns for the first time. As you well know, it is far more challenging for women to hide concealed guns than for men, due to fashions, body shape and a number of things that probably aren’t going to change anytime soon. Most women I know probably are not going to dress like men so they can carry a gun, so I say, “Look, we are going to try not to turn your life upside down, but when you want to be one of us–when you want to carry–there are going to be a couple of changes you have to make. We’ll try to minimize the impact, but if even the slightest change is more than you can bear, then you are going to have to go back to eating grass, because you can’t be one of us.”
eJournal: Good example, and really it applies to either gender. You have to make some adjustments to carry a gun. What else helps manage risk?
Farnam: Don’t go to stupid places; don’t associate with stupid people; don’t do stupid things. We will add to that, be in bed by 10 o’clock.
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