Washington DC Middle School Field Trip: Defensive Tips

Hello All, I’ve been a USCCA member for a few years now, but this is my first post.

I’m going to embark on a 3 day 2 night field trip to DC with my daughter and her middle school class coming up in May. I’ve been looking over the laws for our nations capital, and it doesn’t look like self defense is legal there. You can’t carry your pistol, and you can’t carry your pocket knife. It does look like they allow some forms of non-lethal like pepper spray or taser (has to be registered?).
I am a big proponent of history (especially American History) and I’m instilling that same love for our history in my children. So we are going on this trip, even if our only protection is God (best protection anyway). We will be traveling with a group of 50+ by bus, so I don’t see us being a likley target of general burglary. We will be going to most of the monuments and muesems in the area.
My concern is that the safety rating for DC is pretty bad right now according to Neighborhoodscout.com. Scout gives them a 2 out of 100 (100 being safest) rating. That is worse than L.A., Chicago, and NY. Of course it is based on population density. On top of that, we have the illegal immigrants coming in.

Long story long… I’m reaching out to this community for any tips or tricks to navigate DC in the safest way possible. Does anyone have any experience with traveling there? Are there any legal self defense tools that I could employ (besides my hands), that I wouldn’t have to jump through hoops for or get tackled by local law enforcement?
I currently live in NC and enjoy the freedom to carry.
Thank you


@Patrick219 Welcome to our community, we are glad to have you. 50+ You are a brave man. :saluting_face:
One thing you can carry is a stout wooden cane, even if you don’t need one.
Have you notified the local Constabulary to your arrival? Maybe they can give you some cover or advice. Good luck. :slightly_smiling_face:


Welcome to the family brother @Patrick219 and you are in the right place at the right time. God bless you and be safe on your trip. I pray for traveling mercies on your behalf.


Have you approached the school about providing security?


I’m within a few hours of DC. Been there a few times, plan to be back in a few weeks. Here are some thoughts.

Stay off the Metro if possible. It’s a high crime area. I’ve used it the last few trips there, but still…

Plan your trip as much as possible. Know where you are going, how you are getting there. and when you are going. Use Google earth to get familiar with where you are going before you get there. Plan ahead for as much as possible. Read up on what you can bring to all od the areas you plan to go. This is just basic common sense.

Your best defensive tool to legally carry that you should already own is probably a tactical flashlight without a crenulated bezel. You should be able to get through security with this. Expect airport style security at all of the Smithsonian’s, Arlington Cemetery, and obviously the capital complex, etc. I agree with @BRUCE26 on the cane suggestion. It’s actually a better tool than the flashlight, but you likely have to buy one.

The last time I was in DC was the previous presidential administration. I’m sure a lot has changed. But the national mall where the monuments are was a pretty safe area. It’s pretty wide open with high visibility so you should be able to see trouble before you get close to it. Situational awareness and keeping your head on a swivel is your best friend.

Stay in groups. The buddy system is always a good idea. Don’t let your kids go to the restroom without you. I read a suggestion years ago to not use a urinal. Use a stall. The knock out game can be played on men standing at urinals.

Carry a trauma kit, external battery for your cell phone, and all the normal stuff you keep handy for emergencies.

Crazy suggestion here but very cool. If you go to the national zoo, go to the sea lion exhibit and take a water bottle with you. If you are at the viewing area where you can see the sea lions under water and throw the water bottle in the air the sea lions will “play” with you through the glass and do loops under water. Very cool. We’ve done this twice years apart. The kids and I spent more time there than any other exhibit. But if you go, you also have to see the pandas since most zoos don’t have them.

I’m not sure what age group is going, but the Holocaust museum is a must see, but only appropriate for older teenagers. Very sobering experience.

Enjoy your trip. Just because an area is high crime doesn’t mean everyone that goes there gets mugged, shot, etc. Refuse to let crime deter you from having a good time.

I agree with you that God is your best defense. Psalm 121:5.


Welcome aboard, great question?
Lived in the area for a while, short of becoming a gang member, or learning Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do in the next few months, be extremely aware of your surroundings. Consider and treat it like a 3rd world foreign country, one in which you wouldn’t stray!
Stay with a small likeminded group and have a plan.
Don’t let yourself become distracted. Trust your instincts!

Think you might be safer in Ukraine! Kinda serious, we’re sending in tanks to protect its people! At least you know what you’re walking into!

We’re all sorta comfortable while carrying, but I’ve never wanted to be in a situation that muscle memory tells me to reach for my hip and there’s nothing there! That will need to be overcome! That’s the fear factor.
Hope you have a fantastic trip, come home safely!




I agree with Larry130, the school should supply security. And the cane idea is also very important.


I agree with the cane suggestion, I have a Ka Bar cane that is made for defense. I learned about it here at USCCA if you look in the video library they have great information. And no I don’t need a cane but bought one for just this type of situation.


I’m NC also. My grandson and Granddaughter caught a train to DC and took a 2-day tour. They enjoyed. She is still in HS Grandson recent grad. They mentioned being approached at an eating place by what they thought was a homeless person. The person went away with no real issue. Caused then to go 360 from there on out though :us:


They don’t do it at home, what makes anyone think they will do it abroad! The school system IS the enemy, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re walking them into an ambush! This is what the left is proud of! Leading lambs to slaughter! Makes for great headlines and forces the Anti-gun issue! My comments are not meant to dissuade. Things have changed. I remember walking the mall and the reflecting pool, the cherry blossom trees, beauty all around. With a sprinkle of detritus.

It shouldn’t be like this, when I was in DC, another jewel turned to dirt by blue leaders, I never felt UNsafe. Today, you couldn’t pay me!


Carry OC spray and medical gear, and watch your back. Do NOT spend any time looking down at your cell phone, especially with your back exposed.

As society continues to decay, things have progressed from “bum rattling a cup of change on the corner” to “aggressive crackhead following you around inside a restaurant”. Be ready to use the spray if you need to.


@Patrick219 Come back and let us know how the trip went and what you learned. Please and Thank you.


Wear a BLM hat & antifa shirt, and carry “My body my choice” pamphlets.

A sad state of affairs indeed.


The last time I was there family members and I took the Metro to the Mall from a suburb. Having several yrs retail asset protection experience I noticed two characters get on at a stop. While one stayed by the door the other walked up the aisle and his eyes looked at every seat- (to me) obviously evaluating every bag, purse and pocket. He noticed me observing him and when we got off at the next stop he made some insulting remark ! As we exited the car I announced out loud to the riders to “be alert, there are pickpockets on board”. I’ve had a couple of other interesting pickpocket experiences and hundreds of shoplifting events. Today, kids have expensive cell phones, debit cards and backpacks that can magically disappear as they focus on something else or nothing at all. It might help if the kids are gently reminded of this several times leading up to the trip.


It’s been several decades since I’ve been to DC but I still fondly remember the museums. But even back then you did not want to stray from the main tourist areas. There were some really bad neighborhoods just a block away. Even in the tourist areas I would be alert for pick pockets and other nefarious types.

In 3rd world countries like DC I keep a throw down wallet in one pocket with a credit card and enough cash for the day. My real wallet is in a closed pocket or in a slim travel pouch worn inside my paints and only comes out when I’m safely in my room for the night.

For defensive measures. I would take pepper gel (if that is allowed in the museums?), a small sturdy flashlight and a tactical pen that does not look tactical. The cane idea is a very good one though there is a slight chance it may move you up the predator targeting list since they may view you as a weaker target. I would also recommend trying to take a few Krav Maga or similar classes before you go. You are not going to become an expert in a couple of classes but you can pick up some additional tools that would make you more effective than just trying to flail away on an attacker. Especially if you find a good instructor who is willing to give you a crash course focusing on a couple key skills.


Agree completely. However, doubt pepper gel is gonna get through security.

This is timely. I just learned that I’ll have a second trip to DC coming up.

Also, a good bag or pack can be used as a shield for something like an edged weapon. Of course, you could get a ballistic insert to stop bullets. But that adds expense and weight.


My entire life (50) I’ve always lived outside of DC (between 35-70 miles), but have worked in town for 28 years. I was just there all day yesterday, last night, and my younger son lives on Capitol Hill (closest large neighborhood to the Capitol). I carry all the time in the surrounding areas outside DC, but don’t have a permit for DC (may in the near future, but there’s so many restrictions, it hardly makes sense).

While I’d concur that I really have no desire to be down there, I don’t agree with most here about how bad it is. I’m sure the homeless scenario and crime has increased, but IN GENERAL, it’s very easy to walk around. Most, if not all of the monument areas are regularly safe. The Northwest (NW) quadrant is where “normal” people live and spend their time and is relatively safe to walk everywhere. Southwest isn’t a huge part and is mostly monument properties and such. But it’s the NE and SE that is easy to recommend you stay away from.

Given whom you’re traveling with, yes, it makes it a little more difficult to stay safe, but the group in general, in daylight, around monuments and such, really shouldn’t be a problem. The key is that your group fully understands to stay together and not get adventurous. Heck, just the traffic/roads could get that type of group into trouble. Don’t be out at night, but again, mostly because of the large group. Don’t use the Metro with that group, and definitely not at night.

It’s a great suggestion already mentioned to look up where you’ll be on Google Maps, use street view, and familiarize yourself with that. Most of the time, the street view reveals plenty about the area, although not always updated.

You can feel free to message me about specific areas and I can speak to them for you. Best of luck and stay safe!


Hello and welcome @BrianEG


Welcome to the family brother @BrianEG and we hope you stay with us.