Curtist Sliwa is an activist and the founder of the Guardian Angels, a volunteer anti-crime organization. Founded in 1979 in New York, the group now leads unarmed safety patrols and spearheads educational programs in over 140 cities around the world. In 1992, Sliwa was ambushed by two gunmen from inside a stolen taxi in New York; he managed to escape but was shot repeatedly. John A. Gotti, son of the late Gambino family crime boss John Gotti, was charged with conspiring to murder Sliwa, but the case ended in a mistrial. Sliwa is currently a conservative radio talk show host.
Question: If someone threatens you with a gun, what should you do?
Curtis Sliwa: Well let’s face it. If you have physical abilities I say fight because there is a good chance you’re going to get clocked anyway. There is a good chance that you’re going to get capped for whatever reason. Oftentimes they don’t just rob you, but they humiliate you. They degrade you. It’s almost as if you were on fire in the middle of the street and they won’t even urinate on you to put out the flames. They just want you to be completely emasculated and then they shoot you anyway after you give up all your valuables.
So I say if you’re capable, if there is any window of opportunity you crash their party. You make the hunter become the hunted. Now if average everyday regular schlubs and putzes and schmucks and people who let’s face it, they don’t have control of their mental faculties, never mind their physical faculties: put your hands up in the air and give up everything like you just don’t care and follow the instructions, so it’s really based on your ability and your street smarts ability.
Question: What are some tactics that people could use if they find themselves in that situation?
Curtis Sliwa: The first, the most important move to master is run-foo. That means if you have a slither of an opportunity to get the hell out of there. Feet don’t fail me now, get your rear in gear, scrape the barnacles off your backside and fly, just keep running, running, running because that is what you really have to do. Second is distraction. Distraction is always an ounce of prevention. Keep talking, yell, shout, pick up an object, throw it in their direction, anything to sort of take their eye off you the prize because you’re the ATM machine and they got your pin numbers right on their knuckle and they want to yoke you and hit you so hard your mother feels the vibration so that you will accede to their will. But I got to tell you even if you just reach in your pocket and toss some change at them these guys would rather go for the change, believe it or not, it’s almost like a Three Stooges episode, than actually grab for you at that moment. It might give you that moment of opportunity to escape and then naturally the other is you’re like in a mixed martial arts match. You got to go yoke for yoke. You got to literally go blow for blow and try to battle your way out of their as if you were rock ‘em sock ‘em robots. So you really got three options at that point.
Recorded July 8, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller