Wikipedia separates gangs into twelve categories and then lists individual gangs within each category. For example, under the heading of Asian gangs, there are 19 individual gangs listed. Some of those even have sub-listings of subsidiary gangs. It's kind of like looking at a genealogy chart with parent gangs that spawn offspring gangs.
Here's the rest of the rundown after Asian with 19. These are listed alphabetically, just so you'll know I'm not trying to "dis" anybody by putting them lower on the list:
- Biker — 17
- Black — 19
- Diverse — 7
- Irish — 22
- Italian — 28
- Hispanic — 34
- Mid-Eastern/north African — 1
- Native American — 1
- Prison — 14
- Russian — 3
- White — 10
So that's 175 major gangs running the streets of America — Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. America, the country the rest of the world looks to for an example of the way life is supposed to be lived. A nation where anyone is free to work hard and prosper. A nation founded on principles of goodness and morality, where everyone can walk the streets free of fear from oppression. Whatever happened to that?
I have my theories about how we got in this mess, but the thing I want to focus on right now is the dimension of the problem. Let me break it down to a single city — Los Angeles. I pick on L.A. because I'm from there, and the city has been nicknamed the gang capital of America. Here are some more numbers that will show why Southern California gets to wear that distinction — According to the 2001 Drug Assessment conducted by the National Drug Intelligence Center, Los Angeles is home to 1,350 street gangs. Now, I know that is a lot more than the 175 in my previous list. But these 1,350 gangs are the wicked children of some of those "parent" gangs mentioned above. But wait, it gets worse. As of 2007 (three years ago), there were an estimated 150,000 gang members in L.A. And over the past three years, the numbers have grown.
You might think that as long as you don't become involved in a gang, you'll be safe — 'cause we all know the gangs are really after each other. Right?
A study published in the Jorunal of the American Medial Association, way back in 1995 (and it's gotten worse since then), showed that 1/3 of victims were not associated with a gang. What that means is that you can become a victim of gang violence while minding your own business. You might be sitting in a fast food restaurant enjoying your artery-clogging meal when gang members burst in to rob the place, and they shoot everyone just to eliminate witnesses. Which just goes to show how dangerous it is to eat junk food.
So what can you do to avoid this problem with urban survival?
- The best protection is to be aware of what's going on in your community and adjust your lifestyle to avoid problem areas.
- Don't hang around where the police officers are. The number of vendetta killings of police officers is escalating at an alarming rate.
- Don't expect the police to protect you. They'll show up to do the paperwork after you're dead, but the old "Protect and Serve" motto is not reality.
This next part is for you to take into consideration as it relates to your personal belief system. Maybe it will work for you; maybe not. You decide.
- Protect yourself by carrying a legal concealed weapon that you are fully trained to use in a combat situation. Now, that was a mouthful. In my world, the reason to carry a gun is to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming easy targets for the bad guys. But in order to do that, you must become exceptionally well trained in both the physical use of the weapon and the psychology of the use of the weapon. That doesn't come from putting holes in paper at the range one weekend a month. Sign up for a civilian combat handgun course. Ask for information at the local gun dealer, or the local shooting range, or do a Google search. Look for things like Civilian Arms Training, or Combat Handgun Course, or Tactical Firearms Training.
- Personal protection is an exceptionally high-stress experience, so the more you practice, the more capable you will become. The reason it's stressful for you is because you have a conscience and are, by nature, a compassionate and non-violent individual. What you have to understand is that gang members are not. They are cold-blooded killers who will drop you in a pool of blood as if you were nothing more than a character in a video game. They'll kill you for your tennis shoes. They'll kill you just for fun. That's their mindset, and unless you can come to grips with the nature of the enemy, you cannot stand on the same battlefield and win. A part of you must become capable of deadly force, and you must be able to know when that response is appropriate. Combat handgun training will help.